© Daebong Kim
We asked T1's Faker about his first viral moment in esports
The latest video from our In The Moment series sees Lee 'Faker' Sang-hyeok talk about one of his earliest viral plays – his LCK debut against CJ Entus Blaze in Spring 2013.
To say that T1's midlaner, Lee 'Faker' Sang-hyeok, is a legend in the esports world is an understatement. Considered by many to be the greatest League of Legends player of all time, the Seoul native is responsible for some of the most memorable moments in the history of esports. Arguably the first of these viral plays was his SK Telecom T1 2 professional debut against CJ Entus Blaze, at the time the biggest contender for the top spot in the Korean league.
Back before Faker was known as the 'Unkillable Demon King', he was just another promising player stepping up to the SKT roster – in fact, SKT1’s secondary roster at this moment in time. But his performance in that fateful 2013 game would cause the entire scene to sit up and take notice. At the time, CJ Blaze's midlaner Kang 'Ambition' Chan-yong was considered the best in South Korea, if not the world, so the pressure was certainly on the then 16-year-old Faker to push himself to his limits. Take a look at the latest In The Moment video to see how it all went down.
How Faker made his debut
Scene: Champions Spring 2013, Week 1. Faker went for an unconventional champion pick, taking Nidalee for an unusual poke combination. The gambit quickly paid off when Ambition and Faker met in a lane fight. Faker launched his offensive with basic attacks and his Q as Ambition defended the tower and attempted to farm minions.
After hitting Ambition with his javelin, Faker initiated his WQE combo, taking down the defender. With Ambition out of the picture, SKT 2 were free to tower dive, taking down the tower in an easy 4 vs 2 fight. Utilising Fiddlesticks and Jarvan IV, SKT 2 executed a well-rehearsed tower dive in the bottom lane, setting them up for a convincing win. Faker ended the game with six kills, seven assists and zero deaths – quite the debut.
While tower diving is a frequently used strategy in modern League of Legends, back in 2013 it was a little more unusual. Faker describes this game as the result of two to three months of intense preparation on the part of SKT 2 and its coaches, to put together the most effective team strategies possible. SKT 2's opponents were unprepared for the tactics they employed and, as a result, couldn't repel the attack. SKT 2 took the series 2-0 and eventually topped Group A at the end of the season before claiming third place during the playoffs.
Faker's legendary status today
Now, almost a decade later, looking back on this match is a reflective moment for Faker. As he observes, the other players in that match have all retired from professional play, while Faker is still going strong as one of the highest-ranked players in the esport. It's a testament not only to Faker's longevity, but also his ability to self-analyse, that this moment still feels so significant for him.
While Faker's family didn't quite grasp the significance of this victory – "I think they just thought, 'well that's nice that he won,'" he says – the League of Legends community will no doubt remember it for what it was, the start of a legend.