On November 18, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s contract with three-time world champions SK Telecom T1 will come to an end, thus starting another period of free agency for the best League of Legends player in the world. After failing to make it to the LoL World Championships Finals for the first time since 2014, there is no telling where the “Unkillable Demon King” will go. In this series, we’ll be looking into possible destinations for Faker once his free agency begins.
Let’s start with the possibility of him resigning with his current team, SK Telecom 1.
Faker is the face of League of Legends, and because of him, SKT has long been the premier franchise in the scene. When you think of Faker, you imagine him standing cool and triumphant in his signature red SKT jacket. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of him wearing a different jersey.
After Faker and SKT faced a humbling defeat to Samsung Galaxy back in Worlds 2017, many expected that the team would make the necessary changes to bring them over the top once more as Faker continues his prime. Instead, the team continually saddled him with woeful teammates, especially in the jungler position. SKT deciding that Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan was somehow a worthy starting jungler, among other things, was the team shooting itself in the foot. The departure of head coach Choi “cCarter” Byoung-hoon early this year, which diminished the team’s drafting and strategic capabilities alongside the subpar talent surrounding its star, didn’t help either.
Having the GOAT on your team can only take you so far, Faker needs to be surrounded with the proper supporting cast to help him on his way to the championship. While SKT’s ownership did prove that they can splurge on free agents during the offseason, they failed to do so on the right ones. At this point, the team has shown that they don’t deserve Faker anymore.
It seems as if they got the message too, as Faker has been recently benched along with teammates Bae ‘Bang’ Jun-sik and Wolf. He has reportedly even skipped SKT’s scrims. Yeah, he’s gone.
With all that said, there are interesting parallels that can be drawn between Faker and another all-time great in another sport, LeBron James. Both are the faces of their respective (e)sports, both sport the title ‘king’ in their respective monikers, and both have had their talents wasted by their respective teams. Maybe Faker would do well to follow in LeBron’s footsteps.
LeBron dragged the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007 despite a mediocre supporting cast, then jumped ship to the Miami Heat in 2011 when they failed to build a championship-worthy roster around him. After winning a couple of rings in Miami, he moved back to the Cavs, but only after making sure he would have a couple of superstar teammates around him. Fast forward to this year, when he dragged yet another mediocre Cavs team to the Finals, LeBron hightailed it to the Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron could do all that because he’s the best player in the NBA. Faker could do it too if he wants to, and right now it’s the most sensible decision he could make.
When LeBron left Miami and then Cleveland for the second time, he owed his teams nothing because he won them championships. The same goes with Faker too, he bestowed upon SKT worldwide fame, four world finals, three Summoner’s Cups and a trophy case so full they had to go out and buy a second one.
The Unkillable Demon King needs a new kingdom if he wants to continue his reign. He needs to take his talents to somewhere else.