Whenever people think of SK Telecom T1 and their unrivalled history of success, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is the icon that immediately springs to mind.
Faker has been a part of the SKT dynasty since the very beginning and has won every possible trophy for the Korean heavyweights. The star mid laner is a constant; whether his team plays well or not, Faker always rises to the occasion.
With their backs against the wall, 1-2 down in SK Telecom T1’s 2017 World Championship quarter-final against Misfits, the Koreans appeared to be in serious jeopardy of losing their crown.
It is during SKT’s clutch moments that you can see just how important and valuable Faker is to this team.
The series began with an archetypal Faker performance; ganking top lane early and granting Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon first blood. From there the game snowballed at the pace of maestro mid laner, ganking the side-lanes while keeping himself ahead in farm. Faker ended the game with a perfect KDA and 87.5% kill participation.
The series took an unexpected turn in the second and third matches, as European underdogs, Misfits pulled ahead with great performances by Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun and his out-of-meta supports. But cometh the hour, cometh the man: Faker regrouped and locked in Ryze for Game 4.
Predictably, Faker emerged from his lane against Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage with a league, having drawn attention to himself and allowing his teammate to take objectives.
As the game progressed, Faker’s scorn focussed on Steven “Hans sama” Liv, drawing Sejuani and Sivir ultimates, teleports and flashes as Misfits attempted to respond to the mid laners plays in the midgame.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 20, 2017
Whilst Hans Sama’s Sivir survived, Misfits plans and ability to make plays was crippled by Faker’s proactivity. As the game entered its critical late game phase, Faker isolated and zoned out Sivir, preventing Misfit’s carry from doing damage in team fights whilst his teammate, Bae “Bang” Jun-sik free hit from the backline.
In the end, SKT’s comp scaled as was required and proved too strong for Misfits to deal with. Faker’s Ryze ultimate prevented the European’s escape and levelled the series.
Game 5 was once again ‘The Faker Show’. Misfits tried hard to put Faker behind early and snowball PowerOfEvil’s Syndra, but the ‘Demon King’ stood strong: dodging Sejuani’s ultimates, Thresh hooks and Syndra stuns to cling on to the mid lane turret.
Despite the pressure directed towards the mid lane, Faker would continuously push and disappear, causing Misfits to play safe expecting a potential gank.
Faker was a one-man-army at times and despite all Misfits effort, was ahead of Syndra by 40 CS at 30 minutes, stalling out the game and allowing his teammates to catch their breath.
— Steven Liv (@HanssamaLoL) October 20, 2017
While SK Telecom T1 is perhaps not the team it used to be, Faker’s prowess is evergreen.
Able to carry even under immense pressure, a laning phase second to none and impressive team-fighting and map movement, Faker remains head and shoulders above the competition.
The uncontested ‘greatest player of all time’ is being required to play better than ever to retain his World Championship title, fortunately for SKT, Faker is more than up to the challenge.