His name gets mentioned all the time and if you play well then you will be compared to him. If someone says that you are the next Faker that’s one of the biggest compliments you could ever get. So, who is he?
It doesn’t matter if you have been playing League of Legends for years or you only watch the esports games, you must have already heard this name in this industry at least once. This “Faker” guy seems pretty famous, doesn’t he? His name gets mentioned all the time and if you play well then you will be compared to him. If someone says that you are the next Faker that’s one of the biggest compliments you could ever get. So, who is he?
Lee Sang-hyeok was just 15 years old when he first started playing League of Legends, which was in 2011. We can safely assume that he would’ve joined sooner, as he registered as soon as the Korean server opened and began getting into normal games and eventually ranked matches. The amount of game time or hours he had devoted to the game allowed him to excel with a relatively short learning curve, compared to other players who can take up to 5 years to perfect their skills. Let’s just say he was mechanically gifted from the beginning. At first, he only played casual games. But after a while, League of Legends wasn’t able to match him up with people of the same skill level, so he would have been sitting in queue for hours on end just like many pro players back in the day. Instead of waiting around, he began playing ranked games.
It didn’t take very long for him to reach the top of the ladder and Korean teams quickly began taking interest in him as soon as he hit the number one place on solo queue. After several offers from esports organizations, Faker joined the team known as SKT T1. More specifically, he became part of their second team at the time, SKT T1 2. Then came the boost of his popularity. He played in 2 games before HOT6iX Champions 2013 Summer, but that was the one that finally decided his fate. SKT T1 got first place and ever since then, Faker has been the most popular player ever. In that year, his search trend went up by 675%. You can take a look at this graph on Google Trends and see how this all affected his career, it’s actually really interesting!
Faker has been a dominating and aggressive player ever since he was in the public eye. But there is way more to his popularity than you would think.
Even Esportspedia’s page about Faker tells us some very specific info on why he is so popular. They explain that he is “known for his aggressive play and impressive mechanics”. And of course, we cannot argue with that. This is one sentence that can perfectly describe why people look at him in awe. Because he knows the game inside and out. Farming and poking both rely on mechanics and that means that every single mid laner should perfect it. This might just be the reason why he turned out to be so great at the game. But knowing the technical part is not the hardest thing to do. Anyone could read about how long Morgana’s stun is or how many seconds have to pass between each of your auto attacks. But using that kind of knowledge and applying it to real-time gameplay is much harder.
When someone knows these things they won’t be able to tell you numbers. Mainly because they have no idea, as it’s muscle memory and experience. It takes an extensive amount of time to learn how to use mechanics to your advantage, but once that’s done you are still not all the way there. You also need to use this advantage. Faker has managed to turn things up a notch by being insanely aggressive whenever he can in order to punish his opponent. So if the enemy isn’t prepared to deal with the poking then they will quickly find themselves in a ton of trouble. After that all they can do is flash or pray that they don’t get caught. In most cases, it’s the latter, as they have likely already used their flash because of the same situation.
Faker is not one to be very egotistical and stuck-up. He is a very genuine and humble person and gamer, which is why the people who have done interviews with him have been very happy about it. The thing is: most League of Legends players let their fame get to their head a little bit. They think their skills are top notch and that they are the king of the world. Well, that’s not the case with Lee. We don’t mean to say that he is not aware of his skill level. He knows exactly what he is capable of doing and what he is not. He doesn’t rush into a fight if his chances at winning are low and he openly talks about how SKT T1 will win a championship. Just like it’s no big deal. But he is not egotistical about this at all, which is why people love him. It’s simple confidence and a sense of calm, cool and collected personality. In an interview, he explained why he picked Ryze, even though he hasn’t played him in a tournament before. Do you know what he said? That it was simply because this champ gets banned very often in Korea and he wanted to take the opportunity to play him. We get it, League of Legends should be a source of fun… But in a tournament? This move is either very stupid or brave. You can decide which one you think this was.
As we have said before, HOT6iX Champions 2013 Summer was the first game that he excelled in. The most memorable moment begins at 52:50, when he survives an almost impossible encounter and manages to 1v1 an enemy on super low HP. If you watch the original narrated version of it, then you will clearly hear one of the commentators shout “Faker, what was that?!” This sentence was repeated several times throughout history when Lee managed to pull off such stunts. The next huge tournament was All-Star Paris 2014. In their last game, by the 15 minute mark, the team had a solid 12:1 lead kill-wise, 3:0 lead turret-wise and had a 10K gold lead. At this point, it was very clear that they won mainly because of Faker’s teamwork. He might not have had the most kills, as their top laner was the snowballing one in this game, but his input was still very much necessary. And in the end, they dominated the tournament.
After that came SBENU Champions 2015 Summer, SBENU Champions 2015 Summer Playoffs, the World Championship 2015 and All-Star Los Angeles 2015. All of which were excellent tournaments that Faker and his team absolutely dominated. These games proved that he was very worthy of his popularity and that his skills were still on point. Then, 2016 was probably the highlight of his whole career. He won 50% of the tournaments he entered and even the rest didn’t turn out to be much worse. The team’s worst performance was at LoL KeSPA Cup 2016 when they “only” reached the semifinals. Let’s be honest though, that’s not bad at all. Unfortunately, the team began to fall apart somewhat. They were on a losing streak and only now are beginning to get themselves together. We are hoping that they will have more success in the future.
March 5th, 2020 the living legend, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok reached 2,000 kills in the LCK. In T1’s match against Afreeca Freecs in the 2020 League of Legends Champions Korea Spring Split, Faker successfully added 12 kills and tallied his total up to 2,000. Faker collected 9 kills with Orianna in Game 1 and added 3 more kills in the following game with Zoe. Faker is the first player in LCK history to reach 2,000 kills.
The unkillable demon king has been in the scene as a member of SK Telecom T1 since 2013, leaving countless highlights in various competitions. He has won the LCK championship 8 times, the World Championship 3 times and is the most decorated player League of Legends has ever seen. Recently, Faker re-signed with T1 on a 3-year contract that spans to 2022 and became part-owner of the team. With his 2,000th kill down, he’s still moving forward to gain more.
We hope that you have read about certain things here you didn’t know about before. Faker is a player we should all admire and learn from, it doesn’t matter what skill level we are at. But since the majority of League of Legends players are silver and gold, we highly recommend watching his stream and trying to learn from him. At least a little bit!