On Feb. 6, T1 defeated Fredit BRION in the 2021 LCK Spring Split. It was a clean 2-0 victory for T1 to collect the team’s fourth win of the season and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s 400th career win. After the match, Faker joined the media for an interview.
Congratulations on today’s win, and on your 400th win. How do you feel?
Fredit BRION and we didn’t face off in our best conditions, but I’m satisfied that we won. The win feels more valuable since it’s the first 400 wins.
You’ve been playing in the LCK for nine years. It’s not easy to keep playing in one league, one team. You would have gotten many offers from foreign leagues, but why did you choose the LCK and T1?
I stayed because there are many fans in Korea that like me and I thought playing in one league for a long time is a very valuable experience. There would be other reasons, but what I mentioned now are the main reasons. My current goal is to get good results while being active like this for a long time.
Playing in 600 games and winning 400 games is a record far ahead of other players. Do you think these records will be broken one day? And do you hope they would get broken?
These records like games played or wins can be broken in the future. The esports scene will grow more and I believe LoL will go for very long. These records could be broken within a few years to ten years, and if the esports scene gets bigger, my records getting broken would be inevitable.
You’re a veteran and the other players in today’s roster are quite young. According to a recent interview with Zeus, he said that you kept them grounded in moments where the team could falter, especially in the mid-late game. How do you feel playing with relatively younger players, and how do you keep them grounded?
To feel that I’m much older than them, I didn’t think there was that big of a difference. The actual age difference is quite noticeable, but I still try to be comfortable with them. In their shoes, I’m a veteran and there would be parts where they may not be uncomfortable around me, but I do think they feel more secure in the game.
With today’s win, you’re at a 50% win rate, but there’s still far to go. There’s one game left in the first round. How high do you think you could go and what would be your goal?
We still make many mistakes as a team and the synergy lacks. But I still think Round 2 would be better than Round 1. I’ll do my best so that we could beat teams like DWG KIA or Gen.G, teams that we lost to in the first round. At the end of the day, I want to win the championship for the spring and I’ll be doing my best so that I could win the championship.
It’s like the Warring States Period in the LCK. Did you predict that the standings would be this close apart among the teams?
This year, the strong teams slipped a bit, so there isn’t a clear top 1st team. In our situation, I think it’s better for us. The more the league goes on, the teams analyze more and study other teams, so I think it would become harder and harder to have a dominating 1st place team.
Today’s roster was Zeus, Ellim, Faker, Gumayusi, and Keria again. Many fans are asking if T1’s roster would be fixed and stabilized like this. Would we be able to see this same roster again? What’s your opinion on T1’s roster changes?
I played in two consecutive matches. Our 10-man roster consists of all very good players, so I think it’s early to say that it would be fixed. Deciding the roster is up to the head coach, so I don’t think I have much of a say in this. We’re still in the spring season and all ten players are good — I’m not sure how it would end up.
According to a previous interview, you said that you had a difference in opinion with the head coach. What’s different?
I had said direction back then. I don’t think I could explain more details. I don’t know how the fans or the public thinks about this; I believe there would be so many assumptions and suppositions. Rather than supposing what’s happening… We have a lot of differences between each other for now — I’m quite assertive and the head coach is as well, so obviously there could be differences in opinions. It would be good if you understand it this way.
We’re still adjusting to each other so I think things will get better in the future. The players follow the head coach very well and I think it’s positive that the team is looking in one direction.
The new coaching staff really has a lot of passion for the game and they analyze the game very well. I’m also following them well and gathering things together, so I think it would be good if the fans trust us a bit more. Before discussing who’s right and who’s wrong, I hope you don’t worry too much. Rather than criticizing a specific person, I hope you have faith.
You’re the most decorated player in the world. What other achievements would you like to achieve?
I’m older than I was before. But I think aging isn’t that related to performance. My goal is to get more championships so that I could prove that aging isn’t related to performance.
Recently, players all around the regions say that the prejudice toward aging curves is worse than it actually is. Some players say that they want to get rid of that prejudice by showing better performances as well. What do you think of that? How do you think the fans see it, and how do you want to change it?
What I say is mostly from my own experience. I did see a few theses about it... But discussing this fully out of my own experience, I rarely feel that my mechanics declined due to my age. I’ve been playing as a pro gamer for nine years, and since I’m sitting most of the time, I don’t think my health would always be in the best condition. Other than this part, I don’t think it’s much different and I think I could still improve depending on my effort.
The average age of pro gamers is still young, but I think it’ll raise in the future. To break the prejudice, I think the only way is to win the championship myself as a pro gamer. The best way would be to work harder to reach that goal.
As you said, to prove yourself, you’d have to win the championship. Which opponent do you think would be the biggest obstacle?
We haven’t played against all the teams this season yet, but I think we could beat any team this year. It was similar last year, but I think it’s even better this year. If we just adjust our performances and improve our synergy, we could win.
You’ve been playing the same game for a long time. It’s been a long time, and you could grow sick of it, but is LoL still fun for you?
I’ve gotten a lot more interested in LoL recently, so it’s very fun. There were points in the past where it wasn’t fun or more fun, but right now, I think it’s a very enjoyable game for me right now.
Any last comments?
We got two straight wins now. We still have a long way to go, but we’re doing our best to go in a better direction as a team. Please trust us and keep cheering for us. Thank you. Happy [Lunar] New Year’s.