[The Makers of Faker] PawN to King: The Player that Pushed League of Legends' Greatest

This article is part of The Makers of Faker. Click here to navigate and learn more about the series.

Defying God can immortalize you. It shows the power of the greatest competitors, as bringing them down to earth can etch one’s name in history — we’ve seen it for some time. Andre Iguodala clinched the NBA Finals MVP for his important defense against LeBron James. Buster Douglas is remembered most for his upset victory against Mike Tyson, defying 42:1 odds. If there’s one figure in League of Legends like this, it’s Heo "PawN" Won-seok.


PawN, though celebrated as one of the game's World Champions, is forever linked to Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. His consistent victories against the icon earned global attention, cementing PawN as not only one of Faker's fiercest rivals but also a pivotal figure in his career. 


Gambit (Late-2013)



What’s funny is that PawN's rise to prominence began with facing Faker at the WCG 2013 Korea Qualifiers. Fresh off his Season 3 World Championship win, Faker was already considered the greatest of all time. In addition to the Summoner’s Cup, he earned his first domestic title and made headlines with his famous Zed play. He had proven his mettle against top players both domestically and internationally. Every challenger only added another skull to a mountain of shattered bones and bad scorelines.


Source: LoL Esports


PawN had to confront that juggernaut. He was relatively unknown, with his only spotlight moment being ensnared by a Thresh hook. His tenure with MiG Blitz was brief, ending in the group stage of Faker's victorious tournament. He joined a new team — the little brothers of the much more famous Samsung Galaxy Ozone. Most viewed him as dependable, but hardly anyone ranked him alongside the league's golden boy.


For Faker, the match was another step toward greatness. For PawN, it was a breakout moment.


It was reminiscent of Faker’s debut against Ambition. Samsung Blue dominated the series. PawN, wielding Nidalee, secured three kills against his adversary in the first game alone, two being solo kills. With an early triple kill in Game 2, he ensured T1's exit from the tournament, heralding his own arrival.



While there are caveats to this matchup, notably its timing soon after Faker's Worlds victory, the match remains noteworthy. Despite T1 probably not being in peak practice form due to the recent championship, the series defined both PawN’s emerging career and his evolving rivalry with Faker.


It was the first honest look at what PawN was like as a player (his first time competing with a capable team). One thing visible right away was his appetite for attacking. He was belligerent, even in comparison to someone as bloodthirsty as Faker. While the T1 mid laner was known for his fiery aggression, PawN's intensity burned even brighter.



Yet, as ferocious as he was in the lane, much of PawN's impact came with ample support from his team. In their first showdown, an assist from a roaming top laner was instrumental in his lane success, setting him on a trajectory to dominate. In contrast, during the subsequent match, Samsung Blue's dominance was so pronounced that PawN's triple kill seemed almost a footnote. While his individual feats were commendable, the strength and coordination of his team often overshadowed them.


But what truly set PawN apart, especially in the eyes of the fans, was his performance against Faker. Not just for the early leads he could carve out for himself, but for how he stifled the very essence of what made Faker 'God' in the Rift. By matching, and even outpacing Faker, PawN managed to offset the early game advantages that usually heralded a T1 triumph. “PawN really was a Faker neutralizer,” Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles told Inven Global. “So in a way, he was willing to make personal sacrifices and allow his teammates to carry, in order to be the most annoying player possible to Faker.” 


He’d become even more annoying. Way more. 


Damiano (2013-2014)


Initially, many considered PawN's triumph over Faker a fluke, fueled by suspicions of T1's perceived lack of effort in the event. T1's undefeated streak at PANDORA.TV Champions Winter 2013-2014 only seemed to confirm this.



Among the bowling pins in T1's strike was Samsung Blue, with PawN falling as swiftly as his teammates. During their quarterfinals, Faker utterly outperformed PawN, taking the series 3-0. But as the tournament concluded, so did Faker's reign, paving the way for PawN's ascent.




PawN's success stemmed not from personal evolution, but a roster change. As dade replaced him in Samsung Blue, PawN transitioned to Samsung Ozone. This move was fortuitous: one of the sole player who had challenged Faker was now on the only team that historically challenged T1. Though T1 had bested Ozone in their recent confrontations, Ozone's core remained the main force that had consistently beat them. When inquiring then Ozone-coach Yoon "Homme" Sung-young about the decision, he cited PawN's excellent laning and champion pool as the last puzzle piece to complete their roster.


Source: League of Legends


The HOT6iX Champions Spring 2014 marked a turning point. With Lee "PoohManDu" Jeong-hyeon battling health issues, T1 showed vulnerabilities. Faker, despite his brilliance, stood alone in a faltering team. Their team fights were lackluster, their macro inconsistent, and no one else stepped up to carry the games.


The tournament was also pivotal for PawN, offering him an opportunity to advance. Joining Ozone, he spotlighted his distinct playstyle. With Choi "DanDy" In-kyu and Cho "Mata" Se-hyeong dominating their roles and creating vision, PawN's assertiveness meshed well, forging a formidable synergy. 


Not only were DanDy and Mata great, but Gu "imp" Seung-bin was in contention for the best AD carry in the world. Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok was a proficient top laner — a master of adaption. Compared to the loud-and-proud demeanor of dade, PawN allowed a great team to reach perfection. 



Despite Ozone's star-studded lineup, which could suggest PawN merely rode on his teammates' success, he played an integral role. A mechanical prodigy, he often willingly took a back seat for the team's benefit.


When Inven Global discussed the subject with League of Legends coach Peter Dun, he reflected on how valuable PawN was in helping his jungler and support to succeed, stating, “He was one of those players that always made his jungler look good, even if he wasn't necessarily playing for his jungler. Faker more forced you to react to him, and would draw attention into his lane, whereas PawN was the player who would spread his pressure more aggressively. He was very effective at utilizing his jungler and support to get the advantage he wanted. This made him a very effective strong side player.”


PawN was always there when his team needed him. Though partial to power picks like Yasuo, his adeptness at counter-picking greatly boosted the team. Yet, his most defining role in Ozone was becoming an ever-deepening thorn in Faker’s side — most often in the form of nullifying his impact as much as possible. 


It would be misleading to depict PawN as a singular nemesis with an uncanny knack for defeating Faker. In hindsight, even instances where PawN had a clear edge over Faker in the lane weren't analyst. “I don't necessarily think it was PawN in particular who was good versus him,” analyst Kelsey Moser told Inven Global. “You had a lot of one-off mid laners who could get solo kills — EU mids at international tournaments like Febiven or Caps.” Primarily, PawN's ability to assume a neutralizing role, his synergy with arguably one of the most talented lineups, and several high-profile solo kills cemented his reputation against Faker. And being the first with such prominent dominant displays against Faker earned him the title "God killer."


Source: League of Legends


At WCG the previous year, PawN emerged as an obstacle in Faker's tournament streak. Now, he was like tire spikes, halting Faker at every turn. He literally prevented Faker from winning any more tournaments in 2014. Ozone dashed T1's hopes at the HOT6iX Champions Spring group stage. Similarly, in the decisive match of the SK Telecom LTE-A LoL Masters Finals, Ozone emerged triumphant. In the quarterfinals of HOT6iX Champions Summer 2014, T1, facing Ozone (renamed Samsung White), seemed poised for victory. With Faker leading fiercely, they clinched the series' first game and had a strong start to the second. But PawN and White rallied, transforming the next matches into a nightmare for T1.


Time and again, PawN thwarted Faker—either by diminishing his impact or besting him decisively. Their encounter at the Regional Finals Tiebreaker was the most notable, intensifying the perception of PawN as Faker's nemesis. T1 and White were neck-and-neck in circuit points, both vying for the second seed at Worlds.




Faker's 0-3 performance was indefensible, leaving even his most die-hard fans without excuses. It wasn't just about DanDy's masterful ganks or Faker's team faltering against White. Against PawN, Faker seemed outmatched, getting solo killed in every game. “Our plan was just having me survive the lane while other four members made plays,” PawN reflected. “But since I solo killed Faker, the game exploded.” Faker's own introspection shortly after revealed deep regret: “I would agree that our game against Samsung White for the second seed for the World Championships has been the worst moment of my career. I personally played very poorly and made a lot of mistakes in that series.” 


While Faker missed his chance at Worlds, PawN seized his, delivering one of the tournament's most memorable runs. Besting every mid laner, he etched his team’s name alongside Faker's on the Summoner’s Cup.


Source: League of Legends


Yet, the tide seemed to turn for Faker. T1 restructured in 2015, and with PawN, like many elite Korean players, lured to China's lucrative offers, Faker's road to dominance seemed clear, given the perceived skill disparity between the regions.


En Passant (2015)


The 2015 Mid Season Invitational finals pitted T1 against EDward Gaming, and opinions on the favorite to win were split. Although T1 had faltered against the GE Tigers earlier that year, they reclaimed their title as Korea's best. Every time Faker took to the Rift, swapping games with another mid, he sparkled as the star everyone cheered for. 


However, PawN and EDG couldn't be underestimated. They had dominated competitions leading up to this, and recent results suggested that China was the superior region. PawN wasn't your typical star player, but he excelled in his new role—a point emphasized by former LPL writer and talk show host, Michale “Drexxin” Lalor.


Source: League of Legends

“PawN was incredibly flexible,” said Drexxin. “Although it sounds cliché, he rapidly adapted from Worlds 2014 to the 2015 LPL Spring, adjusting to a new team, language, and environment. He could carry when he needed to but was supportive in the sense that he'd let others be the star, too.”


Still, when Faker's on, it’s hard to count him out — especially when paired with a team suitable to his talents. The problem was, Faker wasn’t on. He wasn’t even in the game. In the finals' initial three matches, T1 chose Lee "Easyhoon" Ji-hoon, which led them to a 1-2 disadvantage. Yet, in Game 4, with everything on the line, Faker entered and single-handedly carried the team to victory, pushing it to a decisive Game 5.


Source: League of Legends


With the momentum of a recent Korean championship and a formidable roster behind him, victory seemed destined for Faker. His triumph over PawN in Game 4, contrasting his struggles in 2014, hinted at an end to debates about their rivalry. 



Before the match, a teammate remarked on their unbeaten record in crucial Game 5s. Their coach added another layer: He, alongside Bae "Bengi" Seong-woong and Faker, had never tasted defeat in any finals. The stage seemed set for glory, especially as Faker selected LeBlanc for the match, a character he had never lost a professional game with up to that point. It was the storybook finish — the fabled comeback story after a year of heartbreak. Faker locked LeBlanc in. PawN’s reaction?








That was all he had to say after Faker selected his most confident pick. He expected it. He hoped for it. And he was ready for it. PawN countered the signature champion with a strategic Morgana. In fact, EDG’s entire composition centered around neutralizing Faker’s LeBlanc. 


Faker faced multiple challenges. Sivir’s spell shield nullified his burst damage. The tankiness of Alistar and Evelynn prevented his favored aggressive dives, while Maokai's abilities hampered his playmaking. Compounding these challenges was PawN's Morgana, using Tormented Shadow to pressure Faker and Black Shield to guard his team. 


It’s a testament to Faker’s immense gravity. “The entire strategy of EDG was to neutralize Faker,” Dun stated regarding the Morgana pick. “It didn't win the game. It just neutralized Faker. To put PawN, arguably one of the best mid laners in the world (top five, maybe top ten), on a neutralizing pick just to go even with Faker — it shows you where we were then.” But despite the compliment paid to Faker, it also proved effective. PawN defeated Faker yet again in what was the most high-profile loss of his career.


Source: League of Legends


A potential decline in his form was very possible following such a defeat on a grand stage, especially against an opponent who had bested him for over a year. It had to sting. And given his stellar career and vast fanbase, Faker could easily have retreated. After all, lesser setbacks have seen other greats diminish.


But that’s what distinguishes the legends from the rest. Their relationship with their “kryptonite” isn't a one-sided affair. Such confrontations don't just elevate the underdogs; they push the greats to be even greater.


Consider Andre Iguodala: His perceived strong defense against LeBron James in 2015 earned the Golden State Warriors a title and him a Finals MVP. Yet, this very challenge spurred LeBron the following year to execute one of the most unforgettable moments in sports, bringing Cleveland its first championship.


Similarly, Buster Douglas' victory over Mike Tyson remains a monumental upset. While this triumph significantly boosted Douglas' boxing reputation, its impact on Tyson was transformative. Reflecting on that defeat, Tyson once said, “I needed that fight to make me a better person and fighter and to have a broader perspective of myself and boxing.” True to his word, he returned with renewed vigor, securing two heavyweight championships.


Like the legends before him, Faker is unyielding. He doesn't wallow in defeat; instead, he mends every setback with resilience. Each time whispers of decline surround him, he refuses to falter. Instead, he gets stronger and Stronger and STRONGER and STRONGER.


That's the essence of Faker. And that's what he showcased this time.


After MSI, his training intensified. He honed his strategies, deepened his champion pool, and built stronger synergy with his teammates. He’d need it. By the time Worlds 2015 approached, the stakes were high. It had been a year since his last international victory and two since a Worlds triumph. Even as the undisputed best of all time, the looming threat of another player eclipsing his legacy was very real.


Source: League of Legends


He wouldn’t let that happen. His 2015 Worlds performance stands as one of the tournament's most remarkable feats. The highly anticipated rematch between Faker and PawN, however, felt almost mundane. Instead of the intense revenge duel fans envisioned for the World Finals, this confrontation was just in the group stage. Watching it was like witnessing a deity smiting a mortal; PawN seemed outmatched. That’s how good Faker looked. While injury and team issues had diminished PawN's level, the true story was Faker's ascent to an unparalleled form. Throughout the tournament, he dominated every opponent, not just PawN.



While not the storied battle fans envisioned, it was precisely the matchup Faker desired. Watching it remains a cathartic experience, showcasing Faker's unmatched skill. Every spell from his Ryze seemed a retort to the trials PawN subjected him to throughout their careers. After another Worlds victory, Faker cemented his reputation as the game's pinnacle player. Like a sudden thunderclap, his rivalry with PawN concluded. 


Source: League of Legends


PawN never again was considered a worthy rival to Faker. The two competed against one another, but never with the same energizing context as before. He remains, however, a defining opponent in Faker's legacy, consistently landing arrows in Achilles’ heel. Beyond his own impressive legacy, PawN has left a mark on League of Legends' history, playing pivotal roles in Faker's most stunning defeats and remarkable comebacks. More than most, he has shown truly how special of a player Faker is.


PawN pushed Faker, and Faker pushed back.

Sort by:

Comments :0

Insert Image

Add Quotation

Add Translate Suggestion

Language select