Arguably one of the greatest, and certainly one of the most famous, esports players in history, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok reportedly turned down the opportunity to move to the United States to play for a League of Legends LCS team prior to signing with his current team, T1, once again.
The popular mid-laner, who has become a cultural icon in his native South Korea thanks to his esports exploits with T1 (formerly SK Telecom T1), revealed the opportunity afforded to him in a Korean talk show called Radio Star.
During the show, Faker revealed that with the news his contract with T1 would have expired towards the end of 2019, one NA LCS organisation contacted him with an offer for him to leave South Korea to come and play for them for the 2020 season onwards.
Faker also confirmed that the organisation had essentially offered him a ‘blank cheque’ for him to come and sign with them. Essentially meaning that Faker could state his own terms and his own salary and package, to tempt him into signing with the team. A move which would have undoubtedly seen Faker become the esports player with the largest salary in the LCS and perhaps in the world today.
Speaking on the show Faker admitted that he hadn’t “seen the contract myself” but that he believed the offer essentially meant that he could have stated any price to sign for the team.
Leaving South Korea
The move would have been a remarkable one for a number of reasons, not solely the financial aspect. Faker, widely regarded as the best and most influential esports player of the decade, would have been forced to play outside of his home nation of South Korea for the first time.
However, despite speculation at the time linking him with a move away from T1, possibly for the LCS but also potentially for another LCK team, Faker quickly ended speculation over his immediate future by re-signing with T1 in November 2019.
On the Radio Star show, Faker explained that he decided against moving to the United States for a number of reasons including not wanting to let his legions of fans in South Korea down and the fact that it was personally much more convenient for him to remain in Korea and as part of the LCK, especially with what is now a revamped T1 team.
Faker’s new contract with T1 takes him through until November 2021, when once again it is likely his future will be the subject of intense speculation.
Roster Moves Improve Odds for T1
Faker’s decision to stay with T1, combined with a number of favourable roster moves over the closed season, has meant that the esports betting odds on T1 having a better time of it in the LCK Spring Split have improved. The team are now the joint second-favourites to win the Spring Split in the LCK with DragonX, both rated as 7/2 chances to land the victory. with Gen.G the 11/5 favourites.
It is going to be interesting to see how Faker and his new team perform in both the Spring and Summer splits in the LCK this year and whether his decision to stay in South Korea offers him the chance to play on the world stage in the LoL World Championship later in the year.
Image courtesy of Invenglobal / MBCentertainment