Being the best in the world at a game that is played by more than 100 million people is not easy. Yet, Lee Sang Hyeok, also known as Faker, proved to be the best at it and dominated the game since his first appearance in the esports industry.
If there is Michael Jordan in basketball or Tom Brady in football, there is Faker in League of Legends. The South Korean entered the world of esports when he was 17 years old and signed a contract with the SK Telecom T1, a South Korean League of Legends team. He was on the team ever since and have accomplished numerous feats with the organization.
The Rise Of Faker
After dropping out of high school, Faker joined the team in 2013 and gained success as well as fame immediately. His individual performances shocked the fans and won his first World Championship in his first year with the team. He then won two more World Championships in 2015 and 2016.
In traditional sports, one of the key factors that measure a player’s success throughout their career is the number of championships. Evaluating the career of esports professionals should be the same. Faker has won three World Championships by the age of 20 in just four years.
Faker also won multiple championships in the LCK, League of Legends Champions Korea. Overall, he has nine championships, with seven of them from the LCK spring split. He was the first player to get 1,000 and 2,000 kills in LCK history and remains the only player to hold the record.
In addition to his championships, his individual skills and IQ of the game have been remarkably noticeable. He performed plays that no one had shown or done before, picked champions that have never been done in the mid-lane, and exhibited smart plays that showed his agility and knowledge of the game.
By the end of 2016, Faker was proclaimed as the best mid laner and overall player in the world.
The Fall of Faker
However, there was a big downfall to his career. After back-to-back championships, Faker lost in the 2017 World Championship Finals. The team was expected to win, and millions of fans gathered in Beijing, China, to see the GOAT.
They lost to the Samsung Galaxy without winning a single round and were utterly crushed. Devasted, SKT T1 looked to overcome the next year.
Unable to surmount the damage, Faker went through a tougher time in 2018. SKT made a huge roster change prior to the start of the season.
However, it did not deliver any success. They did not win or make the playoffs for both the LCK splits and did not qualify for the World Championship.
The Comeback Of Faker
After two years of hardship and failure, Faker regained stability, and 2019 was a stark improvement for him. SKT T1 reclaimed their throne in Korea by winning two more domestic titles. They qualified for the World Championship that year but fell short in the semifinals against G2 Esports.
Even though he did not win the World Championship, Faker was happy to be back on track with his new, young teammates and believes that their future is bright. During an interview after winning the LCK Spring Split in 2019, he showed tears after mentioning his former teammates and apologized for his immature and any silly attitude that he showed during their run.
As of 2020, Faker has held another trophy during the LCK Spring split and is currently competing in the LCK Summer Split. Although they were qualified for the 2020 Mid-Season Invitational, they did not make it as the competition was officially canceled due to the coronavirus.
He is still undoubtedly the biggest name in League of Legends and one of the biggest names in global esports.