Looking back at Demon King Faker’s career path – Tears and Glory

With top form and a long history of achievements, Lee Sang-hyeok “Faker” truly deserves the title “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time) – the best player of all time. Of course, no success comes suddenly. Throughout his 10-year career, along with the aura of victory comes hardship, sweat, even blood and tears of a Legend and his teammates.

Humble beginnings

Lee Sang-hyeok became interested LoL after the game was released in Korea in 2011. In the 2023 World Finals Teaser, Faker said: “Heard League of Legends was going to be released in Korea so I started playing from then on.”


With his outstanding thinking and technique, Faker quickly caught the attention of SK Telecom T1 K. Faker, then still a teenager, sat down with his father, Lee Kyung-jun, to talk about his future plans. “At that time my mind was really blank,” Mr. Kyung-jun shared in an interview with ESPN four years ago. Then after a month of consideration and seeing his son’s determination, he agreed to fulfill Faker’s wishes.

“After a month, I asked Faker, is this what you want? And when I received the answer “Yes”, I just said: “Don’t give up. Please work hard, my child.”

First step successful

Faker joined SKT T1 K as a mid laner, his in-game name was initially “GoJeonPa”, then changed to “Faker”. April 6, 2013 can be said to be an important milestone for Faker when he officially had his first professional match in his career. No one expected a rookie rookie of SKT T1 K to be able to defeat Ambition, a player considered the No. 1 mid laner of the LCK at that time. This moment turned Faker into a notable name, and from here the era of the Demon King officially began.

Faker won the domestic championship with SK Telecom T1 in his first year of professional competition. From 2013 to 2017, Faker won three World titles (2013, 2015, 2016) and two Mid-Season Invitational titles (2016, 2017). He was honored as the “Invincible Demon King” because of his top talent displays.


Until 2022, Faker and T1 have won 10 domestic championships and many individual titles, including MVP in domestic tournaments and world finals. It’s no exaggeration to say that Faker has changed the League of Legends landscape, his creative playstyle and exceptional thinking have set new standards for excellence. Faker makes seemingly impossible moves possible, paving the way for many unique strategies in the LoL curriculum.

Difficulties and tears

In 2017, Faker faced harsh reality at Beijing National Stadium when Samsung continuously defeated SKT, placing the burden on him and his teammates. Samsung’s 3-0 victory finally crushed his hopes of winning a fourth world championship, Faker broke down crying right on the match table in front of millions of spectators. Since then, countless challenges have come to the young man, changing the lineup, even sitting on the bench as the final choice of T1.


Constantly trying but luck still hasn’t smiled, even CKTG 2018 was held in his hometown of Korea, he and his teammates also missed it. Despite countless difficulties, Faker still perseveres in training and of course, is devoted to T1.

From player to advisor

The turning point occurred at the end of the 2021 season when three talents of T1 Academy (Zeus – Choi Woo-Je, Oner – Mun Hyeon-jun, Gumayusi – Lee Min-hyeong) and Keria – Ryu Min-seok (previously played for DRX) joins Faker as T1’s main roster.

With many years of experience, Faker’s role gradually changed from player to advisor. Not only an “idol”, Faker is also the eldest brother who wholeheartedly takes care of his juniors. At LCK Spring 2022, Faker and his teammates ended the season with 20 wins – an achievement that seemed impossible for a team that had just been formed not long ago.



“I just hope my teammates are free and capable of making their own decisions,” Faker shared in an interview with Upcomer in 2022. He confidently said that as long as they keep calm and If they are careful during Worlds, they can be invincible against all opponents.

Once again tears threatened to fall

However, no one can predict anything in life. Even though they reached the MSI Finals, T1 lost bitterly to Royal Never Give Up with a score of 3-2. In LCK Summer 2022, they lost for the first time to Gen.G. Then, at Worlds the same year, despite high expectations, DRX finally destroyed T1 and Faker also with a score of 3-2.


Disappointment struck, but Faker was able to hold back his tears to comfort his teammates. In the interview immediately afterward, he still gave them praise even though the results were not as expected: “From the bottom of my heart, my teammates did very well.”

Faker and changes

The 2023 season comes again and the story is still the same, they finish in 2nd or 3rd place and don’t have any titles. Criticism is increasing, people are questioning Faker’s abilities, some even suggest he retire. Everything seemed to hit rock bottom in the summer when Faker revealed that an arm injury had caused his performance to decline and forced him to take time off to recuperate. This also caused Faker to drop to 5th place in T1’s squad.

Concerns increased when it was not known whether Faker would recover in time for the Summer Playoff round, but luckily, his return promptly reinvigorated the team. Fans and analysts began to evaluate Faker’s performance after his return.


At this time, Faker’s perspective on winning and losing also gradually changed. “I learned to think of them as stepping stones and most importantly as how we can improve in the future,” he said, recalling his losses.

“Even though my initial goal was to win, now what I care about more is the process and thinking behind each match. I need to approach each step with humility and maximum effort.”

Victory smiled

At Worlds 2023, T1 proved to be dominant, losing only one game to Gen.G in the Swiss Round and easily taking revenge on Bilibili Gaming after a 2-0 loss at MSI. Faker and his teammates not only demonstrated top skills but also maintained composure and confidence.

Many compliments were given to Faker and his teammates for the records they achieved, but in the interview after winning against LNG in the quarterfinals, he only humbly said: “I don’t care about records.” green. I just want to focus on preparing for the upcoming matches.”


T1 won convincingly against Weibo Gaming with a score of 3-0 in the finals on November 19, bringing the fourth championship trophy in the Demon King’s career. Officially winning the throne after 7 years of waiting is a clear testament to Faker’s competitive ability and discipline. In addition to holding the most LoL titles, he also shows a deep understanding of mechanics, strategy, as well as vision and leadership.

Faker is a player and advisor – the person who, along with his teammates, sat on the throne for the 4th time at the World Finals. Winning but not arrogant, talented but still trying hard, all create Faker, an “Invincible Demon King” in the hearts of fans.​

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