How Faker Became the King in Esports

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok is a Korean Esport League of Legends player that is regarded as the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T). With his aggressive playstyle and dominant mechanical skill, Faker has proven that he can perform at the highest stage of competitive MOBA games. He is currently signed with the prestigious SK Telecom T1 as their midlaner and plays alongside his teammates Kim “Hanlabong” Dong-ha (Toplaner),  Kim “Clid” Tae-min(Jungler), Park “Teddy” Jin-seong( Bot Laner) and Lee “Effort” Sang-ho (Support).

Faker with SKT T1 logo

Watching Faker destroy his enemies in action is an amazing sight. I was able to analyze his skills throughout the years and what stood out to me the most was his dedication to play the game to the best of his ability. He spent hundreds of hours crafting and perfecting his skills to improve in the big arena of Esports. I was able to pick up some key features of his playstyle that anyone can use to become better at the game.  

Micros of League of Legends (LoL)

To understand why Faker is regarded as the best player in the world, we must first define what the ‘micro’ of League of Legends are. One of the most fundamental things that must be mastered to compete on the highest level is the ability to have a decent creep score (CS) throughout the game. CS is acquired by last-hitting neutral jungle creeps or the enemy’s creeps in order to earn gold and experience. An example of this is shown below:

League of Legends CS

            (Sang-hyeok has mastered this and averages close to the highest amount of CS possible, which is 10CS per minute)

 Faker has also mastered other important fundamental abilities including map awareness (knowing where your teammates and the enemy jungler are at any given time), wave control (controlling creeps for easier ganking) and rotations (going to other parts of the map when necessary). That being said, it isn’t surprising that he averages twenty-thousand views on Twitch when he streams, which is rare but entertaining.

Mechanical Play

The extent of Faker’s mechanical skills in League of Legends are endless. His dodging abilities are unbelievable and is a necessary component towards his aggressive playstyle. By dodging an important skillshot that causes crowd control effects, his kill potential on enemy champions are greatly increased. Here is a link to one of his most memorable moments showcasing his amazing ability to dodge and outplay his opponent when he is about to die:

Mastering this style of play can greatly increase the chances of someone winning instead of losing. It looks complex, but the reason that Faker was able to win that one on one was his ability to read his opponent’s reactions and decisions. LoL is more of a “mindset” game, than it is of mechanics. Having the right mindset and identifying win conditions throughout the game will lead to more wins and improve your game just like Fakers.

Another considerable skill in Faker’s mechanical play is his positioning. Based off his champions weaknesses and strengths, he positions himself onto an advantageous spot. This can be tricky at times because it requires to read the enemy champions movements and then make a  reasonable adjustment. In LoL, one mistake on the position of your character at the later stages of the game can make the difference between winning and losing. 

Champion Pool/Flexibility

LoL is a strategic game that rewards players that master different champions. Every Champion in the game is countered by another set of champions. The champion pool in the midlane role is extensive with mages, assassins and bruisers. Faker has mastered most of them to their outer potential and can easily win matchups because of his advantage to adapt. Here are some statistics that prove his flexibility in playstyle. 

Faker Champion statistics

I understand that mastering a set of champions can be tricky and disorientating. It is not necessary to master multiple champions to be good at the game but can make the hustle of climbing and becoming a pro considerable easier. However, there are players called “one tricks”, which use and master only one champion. Many streamers and high division players fit into this category, but the effects talked about can be seen.

Team player/Leader

 SK Telecom T1 has built the team around Faker’s ability to dictate and call out plays. Since LoL is a team game, cooperation and chemistry is an important part to winning. The team follows Faker’s extreme and aggressive playstyle to crush their opponents in the Esports arena. At one point, the team went to four consecutive Worlds wins, an event were all the best teams from different regions come together to claim the title of “Best in the World”. They have made it to five world appearances, only lost once. 

In SoloQ play, where you queue up as a single player to join a random team, winning streaks can seem impossible to achieve. Players can be unskilled and make stupid decisions because of mistakes made on micro and mechanical play. However, there is one simple solution towards solving this problem, and that is dominance. By being involved in a lot of plays, you can gain the trust of your teammates and be labeled as the leader. This comes with perks and allows you to take the fate of the game into your own hands.

Conclusion

Winning streaks aren’t given, they are achieved by practicing and taking the necessary steps into your own hands. Faker wasn’t born with the natural talent and skill that he has today. It has been a mixture of practice, motivation and sacrifices that made him the legend he is today. 

LoL is one of the most competitive games in the world and to make it towards the top requires extensive research into the micros and mechanical plays, I have detailed. There is also an option to take the journey with a teammate as rank and other game modes allow you to take with multiple players. As always have fun before trying to become a pro.

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