Player profile: Faker

League of legends Faker playing for SKT
Faker - Powder Flickr - CC BY-ND 2.0

Who is Faker?

Lee Sang-Hyeok, better known as Faker, is the most famous League of Legends player of all time. 

An icon, since his debut in 2013 the South Korean has been competing at the top elite level of his region, where he has starred in over 600 matches and conquered more than 9 League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) titles. 

At an international level  Faker has won three world championships, two Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) events and one Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) championship, among others.

His great displays of skill have led him to be considered as the overall best League of Legends competitor ever.

Currently Faker has competed the most number of seasons under the same organization uninterruptedly, and his accomplishments are unlikely to be surpassed when considering the exceptional rarity of his case, as he has been active for more than eight years. For the time being, he has an agreement for one more year; with it he would exceed the average age of retirement for a League of Legends professional competitor, roughly estimated to be around the average age of 25.

Among other achievements, Faker has the highest amount of kills in the LCK, with over 2000; he is the player with the most amount of world titles, sharing three with his retired teammate Bengi; and is the first player to ever reach 600 games in the LCK. At an international level Faker also holds more than 100 victories.

Throughout his years of competition it is estimated that Faker has earned more than $1,300,000.00 in over 50 tournaments. 

On top of having signed a lucrative contract with T1, currently speculated to be around 2,5 million USD a year, Faker gets an additional source of revenue  thanks to his sponsors and Twitch broadcasts. Faker streams tend to exceed 30k viewers on average.

With different sources of revenues factored in, Faker clearly receives a salary worthy of the athlete he is.

Position and play style

Faker´s role in professional play is that of a midlaner, where historically he became renowned due to his outstanding play with assassin champions such as LeBlanc, Zed, Akali and control mages like Ryze, Syndra or Azir; however, Faker is more than capable of playing pretty much anything.

An innovator, Faker is particularly characterized for his domineering style in lane, but also for his ability to exert pressure around the whole map, displaying numerous type of rotations. 

Nevertheless, Faker is no stranger to changing styles and at times has taken a less flashy and more team-oriented approach. Evidence to this was his performance at Worlds 2021, where instead of carrying he chose to act as an enabler, working with fewer resources than normally expected for a mid lane player.

It is important to emphasize the attitude of South Korean; for despite holding the undisputed status of a star, Faker has always presented himself to the press, fans and teammates as a humble person. Faker treats the latter as if they were a second family.

While not a particularly temperamental player, from time to time he has been seen slightly crying after losing an important match or startled with himself after a blunder. His usual, nevertheless, is to be calm even in adverse situations, his mind fixated in attaining victory.

Faker´s competitive career

Faker began to play League of Legends in 2011, and two years later he abandoned his high school studies to focus full time on the game´s competitive scene, being promptly hired by SK Telecom T1 and swiftly becoming the team´s most symbolic player.

Faker´s name began to be noticed among fans almost immediately after his debut, but his in-game fame was completely immortalized at the finals of the 2013 LCK, when he turned around an intricate 1v1 Zed mirror duel against his formidable opponent, KT Ryu.

From the extremely brief yet spectacular fight came out one of the most well-known plays in all of esports. It was so due to the incomparable-for-the-time mechanical skill Faker displayed in a situation that in the hands of any other player would have surely ended in disaster.

That same year SKT won their first world championship, to which they had arrived with great expectations thanks to the performance displayed in their region. Faker did not disappoint.

The next year, 2014, was upsetting both for Faker and SKT. The team saw itself unable to revalidate its claim to the world cup after failing to qualify for the tournament, and SKT´s directive was forced to implement changes for the next season.

The need for player shuffling was also brought by regulatory changes which forbid the presence of two separate rosters from the same organization inside the same competitive region. Under kkoma´s leadership, the team´s main coach, the solution found by SKT was to merge the most effective members from both SK houses, SK Telecom T1 S and SK Telecom T1 K.

Thus was the dangerous botlane comprised by Wolf and Bang combined with Faker. For its time this configuration was nothing sort of a “Dream Team” which, after an initial adaptative split, did not take long in bringing strong results, albeit it implied the occasional substitution of Faker by Easyhoon in certain matches.

After the second split SKT proved itself unstoppable, earning two world and two MSI titles consecutively, a historic milestone which will probably never be surpassed. The feat could have been even greater had SKT not fallen against Samsung Galaxy in the finals of what could have become its third world championship victory in a row.

After Worlds 2017 SK Telecom T1 suffered a few readjustments which did not prove effective and led them out of Worlds 2018, tournament which marked the end of hegemony for the South Korean organizations which had topped the last three world championship finals.

Thanks to his status as the team´s talisman, Faker was one of the few things left untouched after further modifications; he kept leading the midlane with middling success in South Korea, returning to Worlds only to be defeated by G2 Esports in 2019.

In 2020 SK Telecom T1 renamed itself to T1; as a curiosity, Faker became one of its coproprietors.

SKT won the spring split, yet a weak showing during the summer left its members out of the world championship.

2021 was a good year for SKT. While unable to replicate the success of past seasons, the South Korean team got strong results in the LCK and even managed to advance to semifinals at Worlds, falling to DWG KIA, a very powerful team in its own right.

2022 would be yet another great year for Faker, proving that he was still a League of Legends titan. Displaying yet again his mechanical prowess on top of being the team’s leader and effective coach, T1 would be unbeatable during the Spring split at the LCK (18-0); the team would also win the playoff and secure a second place at the MSI. Despite not winning anything else that year, T1 would get a second place in every other event. At Worlds 2022 T1 would lose the finals against DRX with a 2-3 score.

Fun facts about Faker

  • In an interview for South Korean television Faker claimed that he was saving money for when his competitive career would end, and assured that his monthly leisure expenses ascended to just 200 dollars.
  • Faker has been the protagonist of several memorable moments outside of his games. Two of the most famous were his barrel roll when introduced at a tournament and his broccoli eating celebration after winning the 2015 world cup; the latter celebration was reflected in the promotional animated videoclip “Ignite” for Worlds 2016.
NameLee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok

Source: Faker´s twitter
BirthdateMay 7, 1996
BirthplaceGangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
TeamsSK Telecom T1 (2013-2019)
T1 (2019-present)

Also available in: Español

Ricardo Hernandez

Ricardo Hernandez

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