T1 Faker sat down with Esports.gg for an exclusive interview. Faker spoke about career longevity, what motivates him and a surprise for the fans.
There is no doubting Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok is the greatest League of Legends player of all time, and one of Esport's biggest treasures. Faker's accomplishments and career longevity are unparalleled in professional League of Legends. Many great players have come and gone, but the one constant is T1 Faker playing at the highest level.
Esports.gg's Jordan "Marn" Marney had the privilege of sitting down with Faker following their dominant victory over hometown favorites Cloud9.
Fakers' advice for the new generation of League players
It is crazy to think that Faker won his first World Championship at the age of 17. It was in the Staples Center in Los Angeles that T1, previously known as SKT, would hoist the summoners cup for the first time. Jumping ahead to 2022, a 26-year-old Faker is still finding success at the highest level and is fighting for his fourth world title and his third on North American soil.
League of Legends is an ever-evolving game with Riot always looking to take the game to the next level every single year. Many of the players that Faker played alongside in his first Worlds run are now retired and are working behind the scenes. Only Jeong "Impact" Eon-young who is also competing at Worlds 2022 under the Evil Geniuses banner remains from the original SKT lineup in 2013.
In our interview with Faker, the Korean superstar gave a simple yet effective piece of advice for any new players hoping to have a long career like himself.
"The most important thing is for the new players to improve themselves continuously. So if they find their weaknesses or if they learn something new, they will have to adjust to it to make themselves better."
Facing familiar foes in Scout and Jensen
Faker is currently competing with two legendary mid-laners who have also reinvented themselves time and time again. In 2017, T1, C9 and EDG squared off in the same group at Worlds 2017. The Mid laners at the time? Faker, Lee "Scout" Ye-chan and Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen. These are the same three mid-players playing on the same teams as they did in 2017.
Both Scout and Jensen have had storied careers that were only achieved through hard work and determination to keep them at the very top. Scout started off his career as an underling to Faker and years later he lifted the summoners cup in 2021.
Jensen broke the record for the most consecutive Worlds appearances with eight, dating back to his first appearance in 2015. Jensen and Faker's first encounter was a memorable one. Ahead of their opening group stage game in 2016, Jensen posted the infamous tweet, which Faker responded to through a schooling.
When asked about his matchup with Jensen last night, Faker had fond words to say about the LCS Mid laner.
"It's always fun to face a player who's experienced a lot because the player demonstrates different play styles. I really enjoyed the match today with Jensen."
Faker on his Worlds 2022 motivation
Although Faker would tell you differently, he has nothing left to prove in League of Legends. Across his storied career Faker has lifted five international titles, which includes three World Championships. Many players would settle for one international title and be content with their career. Not Faker.
It takes a larger than life competitor to have the will power to 'go again' after winning the biggest prize in their chosen field. Although Faker has not tasted success internationally since 2017, the unkillable demon king still sets extremely high expectations for himself, his teammates and his orgaization.
Even after climbing the mountain so many times, Faker explains he has different motivations going into every World Championship. This is a scary prospect for the younger players. Faker is always going to be at his best because he has something left to prove.
"I think that motivations can not be the same all the time, so I have different motives coming to this Worlds. My biggest motivation in this Worlds is to improve myself and play at my best."
How Faker tries to help his young teammates excel on the biggest stage
Although Faker has very high standards for himself, he attempts to not apply the same pressure on his teammates. The T1 setup for 2022 consists of many young players who have not tasted international glory thus far. "They're [his teammates] already doing so great on their own that I’m not particularly giving any advice but I try to make them comfortable"
Faker just wants his teammates to feel comfortable, because when they are comfortable, they are at their best.
T1 returns to action tomorrow when they will play all three opponents as they push to win their fourth League of Legends World Championship. At the end of the interview, Faker hinted he may have a surprise performance to put on for the fans if they make the finals.
"If the situation allows me, I might prepare a special performance for a Worlds finals, but I’m not going to spoil it."
This interview was conducted on Monday October 10 following T1's victory over Cloud9.