Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok debuted on the OGN Champions 2013 Spring tournament stage eight years ago today, April 6. In those years, the Unkillable Demon King has won three World Championships, two Mid-Season Invitationals, four League of Legends Champions Korea regular season top finishes and seven playoff titles. Faker is synonymous with League of Legends and as fans have watched him grow from a rookie mid laner with insane mechanics to the face of the T1 franchise, he has created some iconic moments that stand out in the world of esports.
These are the eight moments that define Faker’s eight year career.
A historic debut
Faker stood out in just his first game as a professional, with a solo kill on Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong. The then 17-year-old had just been plucked out of solo queue and was on his organizations secondary team that eventually became the main SKT T1 team that we know today. He came onto the rift as Nidalee against Ambition’s Kha’Zix. The two exchanged damage and farm until about six minutes into the game, when Faker killed the veteran player under his tower.
The play was so shocking at the time that caster Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles thought there might have been a computer or gameplay error.
Zed 1 vs. 1
The play that showcased Faker’s mechanical skill and launched him into infamy, is his Zed mirror matchup out-play against Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook. In the OGN Summer 2013 Final, Faker’s second professional tournament, his team went up against a formidable KT Bullets that was hyped as the next World Champion.
As the series went into its fifth and final game, the original Korean setup had teams face off in a blind pick format with no bans. Players could pick whatever overpowered champions they wanted and create mirror matchups to prove who was better on the same champion. Ryu and Faker faced off towards the end of the game as KT Bullets had all but lost.
Ryu found Faker separated from his team and attempted to take him down as his base was in shambles. The KT Bullets mid laner was dispensed in one of the most stylish clips of League of Legends ever, accompanied by an iconic call from Erik “DoA” Lonnquist.
Faker’s sole pentakill
Despite his long tenure as a professional player, Faker has only recorded one pentakill in his career. In 2015, Faker and STK went on their most dominant run as an organization. They won Champions Spring and Summer regular season, playoffs and eventually the World Championship that year. His pentakill came in a Spring matchup against NaJin e-mFire at the end of a three-match regular season series. SKT had secured the game and were picking off NaJin players in their own jungle, preparing for the final push.
Faker first caught out the enemy Ahri, finished off the Najin jungler and then ran down the rest of his opposition with the help of his teammates. He secured his fifth and final kill under the enemy’s nexus towers to secure his only pentakill on one of his signature champions, Leblanc.
Champions Korea Finals Cassiopeia ultimate dodge
During SKT’s dominant run in 2015, Faker outplayed yet another KT mid laner in a stylish end to the Champions Korea era. This series was Faker’s return to the spotlight, as Lee “Easyhoon” Ji-hoon had taken the majority of the mid lane starts that split. But Faker played all three games this series, and then the lion’s share of the team’s World Championship games, effectively claiming his starting spot back.
At just past six minutes into the game, Faker and his support go deep to dive the enemy Cassiopeia. Faker ends up underneath his enemies tier two tower, as she tries to petrify Faker’s Riven to stop the attack. Faker flashes to close the distance and turns around to dodge the ability. The play was so mechanically intensive that his support was stunned by Cassiopeia as Faker finished off his opponent.
The Vayne roll
In the introductions for the 2015 World Championship Finals, Faker put some spice on his walkout. Facing off against fellow Korean squad KOO Tigers, SKT were at the end of one of the most dominant Championship runs to date, dropping only two games the entire event. This tournament also marked Faker’s return to the starting lineup, as Easyhoon had claimed it for a large chunk of the 2015 season. As the announcer called his name and role, Faker trotted over to his spot next to his teammate Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong.
Just as he reached his mark, the SKT mid laner lowered his head and went into a roll, just like the champion, Vayne. He stood up from his introductory tumble and raised his fist to the cheering fans.
4000 Elo shockwave
At the 2017 World Championships, Faker and his SKT crew pulled off the biggest comeback the stage had ever seen in a single game. The team was down 9,100 gold to EDward Gaming at 25 minutes into the game. EDG put SKT into a hole early, drafting an aggressive early-game composition and proceeding to win every fight, taking objectives across the map.
Before the fated play, EDG had taken two Drakes, a Baron, seven towers and one inhibitor. The Chinese team was setting up for a Baron into a final push, but SKT and Faker saw an opportunity to engage in the mid lane. Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan spotted an angle on Rakan, knocking up three EDG players as Faker and the rest of the team piled on spells and crowd control.
Faker hit a four-man Shockwave off of the engage to give SKT its first four kills of the game. After the incredible play, SKT took what objectives they could and started their comeback.
Faker lets the tears flow
The 2017 World Championships was a sad era in the Faker legacy. As the team fought its way to the Grand Finals and a shot at another Summoners Cup in China, another LCK squad was stomping its way through the other side of the bracket. Even so, Samsung Galaxy and SKT had a tight record before meeting in the finals.
Samsung Galaxy had the regular season head-to-head at 3-1, while SKT swept them in the Spring Playoffs. The two teams had just met the previous year in the finals as well, with SKT taking that series and the title 3-2. SKT slogged through their side of the bracket this time out, beating both Misfits and Royal Never Give Up 3-2.
Faker and STK were eventually swept in the series, as Samsung Galaxy became the first team to beat Faker in a World Championship final. It was the first Worlds tournament that “God” had made it to, but did not win. As the Samsung Galaxy players came to shake hands, Faker can be seen sobbing into his keyboard. He reluctantly rises to congratulate the victors, before sinking down into his chair to continue to grieve the loss. Faker with his head in his hands is one of the most iconic images in League of Legends esports history.
He’s still got it
In the LCK 2021 Spring Split, T1 has had a musical chairs roster. The team has debuted a few rookies while also trying out some of their younger players. With that experimentation, Faker has seen less of the spotlight this season. However, T1 did hand the reigns back to the eight year veteran for the final few regular season series’ and playoffs. In another year where the best player to ever pickup a keyboard was benched for a period of time, Faker made the most of every start he was given.
In this career highlight, Faker dances around the team fight as he hits every DRX player with Zoe’s abilities. As the messy fights winds down, it is left to Faker to clean up the fight as the rest of his team’s carries have fallen. After utilizing everything in his champion’s kit, picking up abilities left and right, Faker ends the fight with a double kill.