Childhood & Early Life
Lee Sang-hyeok was born in Seoul, South Korea, on May 7, 1996. He was the youngest child in the family. He has an older brother. Both the brothers were raised by their father, Lee Kyung-joon, and their grandparents, as their mother has mostly been absent from their lives.
Both the brothers were avid gamers as they grew up. Lee Sang loved solving intricate puzzles and playing video games. This helped him become a professional gamer later in life.
He exhibited his analytical skills as a teenager, when he started creating custom maps for games such as ‘World of Warcraft III’ and the ‘MOBA’ title ‘Chaos.’
He was always on the lookout for more games to play. ‘League of Legends’ was already a world-renowned game in 2011, when Lee discovered it accidentally. Once he started playing the game, he got addicted to it. Within months, he became proficient in the game.
‘SKT’ from South Korea was one of the teams competing in the ‘League of Legends World Championship,’ and they planned to hire gamers to play for their team. ‘SKT’ discovered Lee in 2013 and got in touch with him. This was a dream-come-true opportunity for Lee, and he decided to drop out of high school to be on the team and excel as a gamer.
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Lee played ‘League of Legends’ in the solo queue before he was picked up by ‘SKT’ and was put into their team with four other gamers. He used the pseudonym “Faker” as his gaming nickname. His team was dubbed the ‘SKT T1 K’ and was officially unveiled to the gaming world in February 2013. The team exhibited their skills at the ‘Olympus Champions Spring 2013’ and secured the third spot by the end of the tournament.
Soon after the tournament, Faker grew to become the best “mid laner” in his team. His team then participated in the ‘HOT6iX Champions Summer’ the same year and performed exceedingly well. The key element of ‘SKT’s grand victory was Lee’s performance, which reached its peak in a game against the ‘KT Rolster Bullets.’ His perfect outplay against his opponent, Ryu Sang-wook, became one of the most iconic moments in the history of ‘League of Legends.’
The victory also gave ‘SKT’ a direct entry into the third season of the ‘Korea Regional Finals’ and they faced the ‘Bullets’ yet again in the finals. This time around, ‘SKT’ emerged victorious with ease and became the top contenders for the ‘Season 3 World Championship.’ Faker’s performance matched the expectations of his fans, and he won his team their first world championship. Thus, by the end of the first year of his professional gaming career, Faker was tagged as the best player in the world.
Before the beginning of the 2014 season, ‘SKT’ merged both their teams, ‘SKT S’ and ‘SKT K,’ into one, which was then called ‘SKT T 1.’ Faker retained his position as the “mid laner” in the team. In the beginning of the season, the team aced the ‘PANDORA.TV Champions Winter 2013–2014.’ The team later won the ‘Samsung Ozone’ championship. Faker’s role in the victory earned him the tag of the best ‘League of Legends’ player of all time.
The team then competed in the ‘All-Star Paris 2014’ and aced the tournament in their usual fashion. The team arrived in Korea yet again and participated in the ‘HOT6iX Champions Summer 2014’ tournament, this time as the ultimate favorites. However, they failed to make a mark in the tournament.
At the beginning of the next season, most South Korean players left for China to play for Chinese teams. Apparently, the Chinese teams offered higher salaries than the Korean teams. Faker declined the offer and chose to play for ‘SKT’ instead. In the 2015 ‘World Championship,’ Faker led his team to a grand victory, while losing only one game in the entire competition. This time around, he was not the only “mid laner” in his team and was backed up by another player named Lee "Easyhoon" Ji-hoon.
The 2016 season started with a victory in the ‘LoL Champions Korea Spring Split,’ which led to a direct entry into the 2016 ‘Mid-Season Invitational.’ Despite being the favorites at the beginning of the tournament, ‘SKT’ struggled to live up to expectations. However, they made a comeback in the elimination round. They ended the tournament with a clean victory in the finals against the North American team ‘Counter Logic Gaming.’
After easily qualifying for the 2016 ‘World Championship,’ the team performed exceedingly well throughout the initial stages and continued the performance in the subsequent rounds. In the finals, ‘SKT T1’ defeated ‘Samsung Galaxy’ to win the third championship title. By the end of tournament, Faker was voted as the ‘Most Valuable Player’ of the tournament.’
In the 2017 ‘World Championship,’ ‘SKT’ stole many glorious victories to reach the finals against ‘Samsung Galaxy,’ mirroring the previous year’s finale. However, the ‘Samsung’ team was better prepared and did not give Faker any chance to score against them. Faker was ultimately deceived by a “flash Varus ult” move by his opponent, and ‘Samsung’ ended up winning 3–0.
Lee Sang-hyeok wishes to resume his studies once his e-sports career is over.
Lee has a very shy nature and does not speak much about his personal life. Additionally, he does not know English and gives interviews with the help of a translator.
After a disappointing loss in the 2017 ‘World Championship’ finals, Faker was so stunned that he was escorted by his teammates to shake hands with the players of the winning team, ‘Samsung Galaxy.’ This incident was heavily reported by the media.