In 2023, the GOAT of League of Legends, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, embarks on a quest to reclaim his throne at the LoL World Championship. Interviewing on Asset Day and a solid win over Cloud9 with Inven Global and Inven, he stands just a victory away from the knockout stage. Facing challenges from past setbacks to recent injuries, Faker's unwavering determination shines through.
Acknowledging formidable contenders both in the mid lane and across the Rift, his spirit remains unbroken. For Faker, this championship isn't just a title—it's a testament to his resilience, growth, and undying passion for the game. Speaking with him, it's obvious he lives and breathes those qualities.
How does it feel to play at Worlds in Korea?
Since it’s held in Korea, the preparation process is smooth and comfortable. That should be an advantage for us. However, we prepare for the games indoors, so it’s not that important where we play.
It could be comfortable playing at home, but it could also mean more pressure. How is it for you?
Actually, I don’t feel much pressure. I know the fans’ expectations, so that motivates me more to do well.
You lost in the finals at Worlds last year. How was it different from your finals loss in 2017?
I felt sad and regretful after the loss in 2017. It was the same last year, but I was able to think more about how I could move forward after the loss.
You weren’t able to play for a while due to the wrist injury, and the team suffered a losing streak during your absence. How did you react?
I was sad to see my teammates lose after I had to take a break, and I wanted to return from my injury as soon as possible.
As soon as you returned, the team performance got much better and you reached the finals right away. How did that feel?
I didn’t expect that we’ll reach the finals right away. I’m satisfied that we got decent results.
You said that you motivate yourself by seeing yourself improve. It would have been hard to do that during your injury. How did you motivate yourself?
My injury was a good time for me to look at myself objectively, and the team from out of the game. I also had more time to look after myself.
If you look further into the future, what do you see yourself doing? Are there any areas you’d like to focus on after retirement?
Currently, I’m still active as a pro gamer, so I only concentrate on the game. I don’t have any thoughts about what I’ll do in the future.
You’ve been at the top of the scene for so long, and everyone recognizes you. Do you ever miss being unknown?
I miss being able to walk around freely in Korea a bit, but everything has pros and cons, so I don’t really miss those days.
Which teams do you see as favorites at this Worlds?
Gen.G and JDG have been getting good results this year. They’re the strongest favorites. Besides them, the LCK teams are really strong.
How about the mid laners? Who are you aware of the most?
Among the players that reached Worlds, I think Chovy is the best.
What do you think about the level of play Chovy has been showing in the past few years?
Chovy seems to have improved a lot compared to the past. He got rid of his weaknesses and has been playing steadily. I think his stability is really great.
You won the gold medal along with players you would face as opponents. Do you think playing on the same team helped you in understanding their plays more?
Since we played together on the same team, we know better about how each other plays. I think it’ll be interesting to play against them.
How do you feel about the Swiss Stage format?
It’s a new format, so I was looking forward to playing it. Now that I’ve played a few games, it’s really fun and interesting, since there’s more tension in each game. Also, it seems that the fans have more interesting games to watch, so I’m satisfied.
Isn’t it more difficult to prepare for the games?
We have less time to prepare, and since the matchups are random, we need to stick more to the fundamentals. We may not be able to prepare a team-specific strategy, but it’s good since we can improve more in terms of dealing with situations right away.
You’ll reach the knockout stage if you win your next match. Since you could face Gen.G or JDG if you advance with a 3-2 record, you would want to win in Round 4.
I believe we can reach the knockout stage with a 3-1 record. Even if we were to face JDG or Gen.G, I’d be happy to play against them. I believe we’re good enough to beat them, so I’m not too worried about them.
What’s the biggest threat to you at this Worlds?
The most important part is keeping a calm mental state. If we’re able to do that, we’ll get good results in the upcoming games.
Lastly, what does this Worlds mean to you?
This Worlds is another challenge for me and another place where I can learn. I will try to learn and practice as much as possible in the time I have.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.