Faker Domestic Career
Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok began his LoL career on SK Telecom. He was originally a part of the SKT T1 2 lineup that was built around him. Together with his teammates, he played in 2013 OLYMPUS Champions Spring. Despite being complete newcomers, SKT T1 2 showed up in the group stage, securing a playoffs seed with a 3-1-1 record (wins-ties-losses).
In the Quarterfinals, they scored a confident victory against Najin Shield, but the following match had them losing 1-3 to MVP Ozone. Still, SKT T1 2 regained their composure and defeated CJ Frost in the third-place match. As for Faker, his acute game sense and mechanical prowess made him one of the best mid laners in the league.
After the tournament, SK Telecom released its other lineup, and Faker’s team was renamed to SKT T1. Under this new flag, they entered 2013 HOT6iX Champions Summer. Their performance grew even stronger, and SKT T1 breezed through groups without dropping a single game. In the playoffs, they dismantled Jin Air Falcons and took down their previous nemesis, MVP Ozone. The finals against KT Rolster Bullets came down to the wire, and SKT T1 had to pull off a spectacular reverse-sweep to claim their first trophy.
With that, they got seeded into the last round of the Regional Finals. They once again clashed with KT Bullets, pulling off a 3-1 victory. and qualifying for their first World Championship. After the event, SK Telecom picked up another 5-man lineup, and Faker’s team became known as SKT T1 K.
SKT T1 K started the new season with 2013-2014 PANDORA.TV Champions Winter. This time, their dominance reached unprecedented levels. SKT T1 K took over the group stage and crushed Samsung Blue, KT Bullets, and Samsung Ozone in the playoffs without losing a single game. This run went down in history as the strongest OGN performance to date.
Their success was short-lived, though, as SKT T1 K had to release their support—ManDu—due to health issues. His replacement, Casper, didn’t provide the same presence, and the entire team struggled in 2014 HOT6iX Champions Spring. They barely made it out of the group stage with a 50% win rate and suffered a crushing defeat in the Quarterfinals against Samsung Ozone.
ManDu came back to the team for 2014 HOT6iX Champions Summer. SKT T1 K entered the tournament with high hopes, but inexplicably, they ended up performing the same way they did in spring. A 1-3 Quarterfinals loss to Samsung White put an end to their playoffs run, and SKT T1 K had to play a tiebreaker against the same opponents to fight for the second Worlds seed. In a predictable fashion, they lost the series and were knocked down to the Regional Finals.
But this wasn’t a start of another Cinderella story, and a 1-3 defeat against Najin White Shield eliminated them from the competition. And just like that, SKT T1 K missed out on the 2014 World Championship. In the off-season, OGN changed the sister team rules, and SK Telecom were forced to merge their lineups into SKT T1. Faker stayed as the starting mid laner, although he had to share playtime with Easyhoon.
Even though SKT T1 showed up in the preseason tournament, they struggled to catch up to GE Tigers in 2015 SBENU Champions Spring. With an 11-3 record, they finished the regular season in second place and secured a bye to the Semifinals. There, they defeated CJ Entus in a close 5-game series and went on to face GE Tigers in the finals. Surprisingly enough, SKT 3-0’d the same team that challenged them during the regular season and claimed an OGN trophy as well as a 2015 MSI ticket.
SKT ramped up even more in 2015 SBENU Champions Summer. They towered above the competition, and their 17-1 record made them the best team during the regular season. And even though KT Rolster tried to challenge them in the playoffs finals, SKT sealed the deal with a dominant 3-0. This win also earned them an invitation to Worlds.
In the off-season, SKT went to the 2015 LoL KeSPA Cup. They took out SBENU Sonicboom in the Quarterfinals, but they fell short in the following match against ESC Ever.
Even so, SKT T1 came out strong for the 2016 LCK Spring Split. With a 13-5 record in the regular season, they secured a third-place finish and readied themselves for the playoffs. Then, they went on a winning streak, defeating the likes of Jin Air, KT Rolster, and ROX Tigers to claim another OGN trophy.
SKT had an even better showing in summer. This time, they managed to finish the regular season in second place, which meant they got a bye to the Semifinals. They kicked off the playoffs with a 2-0 lead over KT Rolster, but inexplicably, their opponents picked up the slack and pulled off a devastating reverse-sweep by KT Rolster. Even so, SKT collected enough Circuit Points to qualify for the 2016 World Championship.
Afterward, SKT attended the 2016 LoL KeSPA Cup. They showed a lot of promise with a 2-0 victory over MVP, but the subsequent loss to ROX Tigers eliminated them from the tournament.
The organization entered the 2017 LCK Spring Split with renewed vigor. SKT dominated the regular season and their 16-2 record earned them a seed to the playoffs finals. There, they 3-0’d KT Rolster, and Faker once again cemented himself as the best mid laner in the league.
However, more issues appeared in summer. Due to unstable side lanes, SKT lost a lot of ground and finished the regular season in fourth place. And while they managed to redeem themselves with playoffs victories against Afreeca Freecs, Samsung Galaxy, and KT Rolster, they couldn’t overcome Longzhu Gaming in the finals. Still, this showing was enough to qualify for the 2017 World Championship.
In the off-season, Faker attended the 2017 LoL KeSPA Cup. SKT kicked off the tournament with a confident victory over Griffin, but a 0-2 loss to Longzhu Gaming put an end to their run.
Faker International Tournaments
Faker went to his first international tournament—the 2013 World Championship—as a part of the SKT T1 lineup. His team tore through the group stage, but it was only in the playoffs that it reached its peak. After 2-0’ing Gamania Bears in the first round, SKT squared off against Najin Black Sword in the Semifinals. Both teams traded blow for blow, and SKT barely squeezed out a 3-2 win.
The finals against RNG were seamless in comparison and the Korean powerhouse claimed the trophy with a confident 3-0 victory. Faker was the clear-cut superstar, and his standout performance earned him the title of the best player in the world.
His next international showing was the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational. With a staggering 5-0 record in the group stage, SKT looked set to finish first at the event. But inexplicably, they were challenged by Fnatic in the Semifinals. And while SKT T1 managed to score a narrow victory, they fell short in the finals against EDG.
Faker put on a clinic at the 2015 World Championship. SKT were a cut above the competition—so much so that they didn’t drop any games before reaching the finals. There, they scored a 3-1 victory over KOO Tigers to take the gold medal.
SKT replicated this success at the IEM Season 10 World Championship. They breezed through the group stage with back-to-back victories against CLG and Qiao Gu Reapers. In the playoffs, they took down TSM and Fnatic without losing a single game.
They encountered some hardships at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. SKT T1 had a middling showing in groups, qualifying for the knockout stage in fourth place. But the Korean powerhouse picked up the slack and dismantled RNG and CLG to win the tournament.
Then, Faker made his presence known at the 2016 World Championship. With his help, SKT secured a 5-1 group stage record and advanced to the playoffs. In the Quarterfinals, they took down RNG with a 3-1 score before facing their strongest opponents in ROX Tigers and Samsung Galaxy. Both series came down to the wire, but in the end, SKT managed to score two 3-2 victories to claim their third Worlds trophy.
SKT T1 took part in the 2017 Rift Rivals (LCK-LPL-LMS). They kicked off the event with confident victories against Flash Wolves and Team WE. But unfortunately, they couldn’t keep the momentum going and lost to Team WE in the finals.
At the end of the year, Faker went to the 2017 World Championship. This time, SKT had a much shakier showing, and they had to rely on their late game expertise to come back from numerous deficits. Their playoffs series against Misfits and RNG went the full distance, and SKT T1 often found themselves on the brink of elimination.
Still, they regained their composure and reached finals. There, they clashed with a fellow LCK team, Samsung Galaxy. However, their lineup was far too unstable to challenge Samsung’s controlled playstyle, and for the first time in LoL history, SKT finished the World Championship in second place.