The first inductee in League of Legends’ Hall of Legends began his journey before most of us, with an intriguing story of how he became a competitive player.

Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok, the first League of Legends (LoL) player to be inducted into the Hall of Legends, is celebrated for his immense achievements, influence, and contributions to LoL esports. But one question remains: when did Faker start playing LoL — the game that truly changed his life?

Faker’s legacy traced back to 2011

While LoL launched in North America and Europe in October 2009, it only debuted in South Korea in 2011. That was the year Faker started playing LoL, at the age of 15, unknowingly beginning a journey that has lasted over 13 years.

In the recent Hall of Legends: Faker documentary, it was revealed that he started as a very casual player under the name 고전파 (Go-Jeon-Pa or gojeonpa), only playing Normal games because he was too afraid to play Ranked games. His Elo rating eventually became so high that his Normal game queue times grew excessively long, prompting him to switch to Ranked games.

Nearing the end of the second season of ranked play in 2012, Faker was ranked second on the Korean ladder, and by the following season, he claimed the top spot.

While attending Mapo High School, the same institution as fellow South Korean pro player Kim "Deft" Hyuk-kyu, Faker approached his father with a proposition: dropping out of school to pursue a career in esports. His father granted his request a month later.

Faker's first professional game

Before Faker was known as the "Unkillable Demon King," he was a promising player on SKT’s secondary roster. Faker initially played with an amateur team that included Bae "Bengi" Seong-woong and Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho. Later, coach Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun of SK Telecom T1 offered him a position on the team. Faker was officially announced as the first player for the sister team SK Telecom T1 2 on February 6, 2013, changing his gamertag to Faker.

Impact (Left) and Faker (Right) during their time in SK Telecom T1 K (Image via LoL Esports)
Impact (Left) and Faker (Right) during their time in SK Telecom T1 K (Image via LoL Esports)

The team was fully revealed on February 28 as SK Telecom T1 K, with members Jeong "Impact" Eon-young, Bengi, Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin, and Lee "PoohManDu" Jeong-hyeon.

The team debuted in Champions Spring 2013, and in their opening match against CJ Entus Blaze in April 2013, Faker secured First Blood using Nidalee against Ambition, one of South Korea’s top 3 midlaners at that time, recording his first kill and win in his esports career.

Faker’s 11 years and counting

Faker’s journey has been full of ups and downs over his 11-year esports career. He has accumulated numerous local and international trophies, including four World Championships, two Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) titles, a gold medal at the 2022 Asian Games, five in-game skins representing his greatness, and has his own Faker Temple built in South Korea. However, he has also faced challenges, such as enduring a severe hand injury and missing out on Worlds for several years.

Faker won Worlds 2023 (Image via LoL Esports)
Faker won Worlds 2023 (Image via LoL Esports)

Despite these challenges, Faker has no plans to retire anytime soon. His contract with T1 is active until November 2025, and fans around the world are eager to see how far the LoL Greatest of All Time will go.

Stay tuned on to get to know more about Faker.