To an athlete in sports, the term "habit" is usually only seen in a negative light. If the sport is one geared towards breaking personal records, the effects of a bad habit could be minuscule. But the same cannot be said for sports where players go against other players in a live setting. For example, in baseball, organizations deploy analysts that pay close attention to their rival teams' pitchers to find certain habits that they display before making a certain throw. Organizations pinpoint and take full advantage of the slightest hints to predict their opponent's next move and to further strengthen their own moves.
The same can be said for video games. In fighting games, the side that figures out his or her opponent's most frequently used combos and patterns will be more likely to win. In RTS, players that tend to send patrol units at a specific time when playing certain builds are usually more easily countered. To prevent this from happening, many players put in immense effort to diversify their playable character(or race) and play dynamically.
Similarly, in League of Legends, it's well-known that teams analyze their rival jungler's pathing before a game to predict their whereabouts in-game. They can use this information to either counter-jungle or gank. And currently, there is a player that is being frequently mentioned by the community for having this kind of "bad" habit.
Coming into the Spring Split of 2018, there were a number of moments where Faker was caught off-guard while recalling and was killed as a result. If the deaths were caused by the enemy making outstanding plays or keen predictions, criticism wouldn't have been necessary. However, most if not all the deaths either involved Faker dying while recalling in a very open area or due to Faker not reacting fast enough when he was found; most of the time, these deaths cost his entire team the game. Let's take a look at game 3 of the SKT vs. JAG matchup in Round 1 - the series that started SKT's 5th consecutive losing streak.
Playing the longest game to have ever been recorded in League of Legends competitive history, SKT had the lead for the majority of the set. Although JAG caught up with SKT to a certain extent and was ready to pull off a comeback, they couldn't properly retaliate due to Faker's Kassadin. But at approximately 93 minutes into the game, Kassadin was ambushed by UmTi's Kha'Zix while recalling, and the game came to an end immediately after.
Although the credit goes to UmTi for making such an accurate prediction, Faker is also at fault for recalling at such an open area. The mistake could've been due to the prolonged series; having played 2 games before a 90-minute long game could definitely lower the concentration of any player. Yet Faker continued making this mistake several times during SKT's losing streak, and we gradually started to suspect that these "mistakes" were more than unfortunate flukes.
After their series against JAG, SKT went on to play against KT. And in game 3, Faker played Vladimir against Pawn's Azir. The flow of the game seemed to have favored SKT as both the midlane and botlane had a CS advantage over KT. But at 18 minutes, Faker died in the midlane, and the flow of the game shifted.
At the time, Faker was recalling while hugging the wall at the topside of the midlane before being ambushed by Score and Pawn, and it was reckless of Faker to have recalled from that position, especially considering the fact that KT had completely taken over vision in the topside of the river. In addition, Vladimir was already at half health.
Faker continued to make risky recall attempts during his next series against AFs. In game 1, although SKT faced a small deficit in the early-game due to Untara being ganked in the toplane, Faker and Blank took back the advantage by killing both Kuro and TusiN in the midlane. After attempting to recall near the enemy tower however, Faker was killed by Kuro who returned to lane with teleport. As a result of this mistake, Kuro took back the lead in the lane and even took down SKT's outer midlane turret, opening up the map for AFs.
And just last week, while playing against AFs in Round 2, Faker played Ekko against Kuro's Taliyah. SKT's composition revolved around the midlane and botlane taking the lead, but at about 10 minutes into the game, Faker, yet again, attempted to recall in an open area - giving the lead over to Taliyah. In the end, with their leads in both the lanes and with objectives, AFs took the game.
In addition to the dangerous recalls, Faker has also shown multiple questionable uses of teleport and Hero's Entrance.
During SKT's series against MVP in Round 1, Faker used Hero's Entrance without paying attention to his immediate surroundings. After having his health brought down, Hero's Entrance was ultimately canceled and Faker fled for his life. There was also a moment where Faker attempted to use teleport from an area that was visible to the enemy team, leading him to another death.
One of Faker's habit is that he likes to browse the shop during his recalls, which delays his reaction if an enemy happens to attack him. If you watch Faker's personal streams, you can often find him looking around the map or browsing the shop when his recall is a couple seconds away from finishing.
The biggest problem is that Faker's reactions to his recalls being forcefully canceled is slow. His solo queue habit of "eye-shopping" during the recall animation seems to have carried over to the professional scene.
Currently, SKT is placed 5th in the LCK standings with a score of 6-6. Having watched them climb from 9th place... we can't help but think that SKT could've safely secured their spot in the playoffs had they paid a bit more attention to a few small details. Also, the poor outcomes were only intensified by the overextended aggression of SKT; they often tried to find ways to even out the score after facing a deficit.
SKT has won a total of 3 World Championship titles, and in addition, just last year, even in difficult times, SKT managed to make it to the Worlds Finals. At the center of all that glory, Faker has always stood tall. But through this Spring Split, we were able to witness and conclude that Faker isn't a perfect player and that SKT isn't a perfect team.
The League of Legends esports scene has grown into an even more fierce and competitive environment - requiring near-flawless planning and execution to overcome the tough competition. Can Faker fix his bad habits moving forward? MLB pitchers in the past have been able to fix their habits, and they sometimes even use those conquered habits as tools by putting on an act to confuse their opponents. Whatever the case might be, in order for SKT to reach greater heights once again, it is necessary for Faker to fix his "Recall Disorder" before moving on.