The 2018 League of Legends World Championship had a lot of things going for it: a fun meta, amazing games, and a new team being crowned as the best in the world.
But there was one thing we were missing. A team that defined itself by winning Worlds and a player that had made the tournament his personal playground. It just didn’t feel quite the same to have Worlds without SK Telecom T1 and its star mid laner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok.
That omission was rectified this year when SKT rebuilt around Faker and tore through the LCK. And so far, they’ve given us quite a show. The remaining four teams are all super talented, but none have as much history as SKT.
To celebrate and add to that history, we found Faker’s five best plays from the group stage and ranked them.
5) Faker wrecks Fnatic
The first play is exemplary of how SKT found their way back to Worlds with an improved supporting cast around Faker. His mid lane Tristana in the first group stage game vs. Fnatic wasn’t the best we’ve seen on that champion. Despite getting first blood courtesy of a level one invade, he made some errors to show that the man nicknamed “God” is occasionally human.
None of that mattered, though, because SKT’s bot lane came through with a fantastic counterpick in the Kayle-vs-Garen matchup. ADC Park “Teddy” Jin-seong has been SKT’s most consistent player all year and SKT wisely invested resources into getting him ahead. In this game-ending play, Fnatic threw everything at trying to burst down SKT, but Faker simply said “no” with a well-timed Tristana ult. This isn’t really the most insane play, and that’s why it’s only ranked fifth on our list. But don’t worry—it only gets crazier from here.
4) Go for the end
SKT kept experimenting in their next game vs. RNG. Maybe it was a sign of how highly they thought of their own level that they were willing to let Faker pull out Twisted Fate and splitpush to victory.
This isn’t a typical SKT play at all. Splitpushes usually come from the top lane and SKT actually had a great setup for Kim “Khan” Dong-ha that they mysteriously abandoned. In the past, this would have spelled trouble. But in this game, Faker just decided to end things himself.
Sometimes the best player just has to take things into his own hands, and even though he died in Mordekaiser’s death realm, that also kept the Mordekaiser from seeing what was happening to his Nexus. We can only imagine Faker saying on voice comms, “I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.”
3) Huni’s return
One of the funnest storylines of SKT’s group was that of Clutch Gaming top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon getting reunited with two of his former teams, SKT and Fnatic. Huni had gone on long Worlds runs with both teams and wanted to take them both down.
That didn’t work out quite like Huni might have expected, because Clutch went 0-6 in the group stage. Their first game with SKT was basically over after Faker came in for a countergank in the bot lane, threaded a shuriken onto Clutch jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, and zoomed in for the execute. Then, to make matters worse, Huni teleported into his immediate death, donating another kill to the totally overpowered Akali.
2) Faker bamboozles Clutch
Possibly looking for some revenge later in the game, Clutch sent four people to the bot lane to deal with Faker’s Akali. At this point, they weren’t looking to win the game—with SKT also pushing down mid lane, this was a bad strategic call. But Clutch weren’t looking to stall things out, they just wanted to kill Faker.
That’s better said than done. Faker has pulled off some amazing escapes in the past at Worlds, but we’re not sure he’s ever gotten out of a four-vs-one scenario with such ease. He didn’t even have to burn flash. Akali is a busted champion, Faker is a busted player, and together, they’re giga-busted.
1) Faker’s Greatest Escapes, volume two
Not to be outdone by Clutch, RNG also tried their damnedest to kill the Unkillable Demon King, another one of Faker’s nicknames. The crazy part about this play was that RNG actually won the fight and were in position to turn it into a greater advantage. But even in that moment, they just couldn’t resist the urge to chase Faker. That’s the power of the best player in the history of the game tilting his enemies.
Count out what RNG burned chasing the Twisted Fate: Zoe used flash (her real one), Lee flashed just to get insta-stunned, and Mordekaiser probably would’ve flashed if he still had his. And Faker still got away.
The craziest part of the play was when Faker dodged the Lee Sin Q—totally blind. He didn’t even see it coming out. And still, he somehow had the game sense to dodge up—toward the RNG base and farther from his own. Who does that? The rest of it is simply him clicking as far from RNG as possible and a couple nice, perfect-frame gold cards.
But that dodge. That dodge is why Faker is Faker, and it’s why this Worlds is so much better with him still in the fight.