LoL Bios: Building a Championship with Faker

This article is part of our LoL Bios series.

The cold, purified breeze coming from the elevator’s air conditioning vent does nothing to warm your fiery skin. Great beads of sweat form on your brow as the floor counter ticks ever upward as you slowly approach the penthouse at the top of Drumpf Tower. You make a futile attempt to wipe the sweat from your brow, but it returns with a vengeance the moment your hand leaves your face. It’s too big of a day for you to escape your nerves.

Today is the day you’ve been both longing for years. Today is the day that all of your work as an Esports Manager will either be vindicated or controverted. Today is the day that you interview for you dream job as the League of Legends manager of the biggest esports franchise in the world: Ronald Drumpf’s Covfefes.

Your navel-gazing is all at once interrupted by a harsh ding from the elevator’s speakers. You’ve reached the top floor. It’s time for the plot to move on, and yet you can’t help but feel that it might be safer to simply hide in the safe confines of the elevator.

Thankfully, you’re a bold sort, and not given to pithy activities like self-reflection. As the elevator doors swing open you walk through the doors like Kevin Spacey from House of Cards -- after all, nothing screams decisive like imitating a fictional pseudo-dictator. Luckily for you, you seem to have immediately struck a positive chord, as the great mountain of a man lurking behind the gold-trimmed desk at the other end of the room beams at you. He is none other than Ronald Drumpf himself, and you can’t help but note that his gloriously tanned skin and lustrous orange hair is only more beautiful in person.

Drumpf waves you toward the chair in the middle of the room, the only piece of furniture in the room aside from his desk. You quickly deduce that this penthouse is the base of operations from which Drumpf runs his fledgling esports empire. The televisions showing 24-hour esports coverage and the banner with “Covfefe” printed on them that line the walls were a subtle hint, but you’re a smart enough man to read between the lines.

“An excellent stride,” the great Drumpf begins, “It draws all eyes towards you. I like a man who knows what’s most important in life like that.”

He reaches his hand out to you and you meet his grip with only a tinge of trepidation. Ronald Drumpf is famous for his ability to judge men by their handshakes. His hand closes around yours like a bear trap, and you resist the temptation to relax like a freshly-slain stag. Instead, you resist his attempts to draw your hand towards him, and your hands shake in a position that is firmly in the middle of you both. Drumpf seems both amused and annoyed at the same time.

“Let us begin. You’re here because I’ve been told there’s no better man to start up my League of Legends Team. I’m too busy managing my Call of Valor and Pre-emptive Strike: National Defensive teams to handle League of Legends myself.”

After a moment of reflection, you decide that it’s too late to back down from the brave facade you’ve thrown up.

“There’s no one better.”

“Excellent! Your resume is impeccable, but I do want to ask you just one question. There’s many other applicants for this position, so make sure you answer right! I’m willing to invest a quadrillion dollars to make sure this team is the best in the world. My question is this: who’s the first player that I should send a Covfefe jersey to?”

The Best Player in The World

For a moment, you can do little but stare at Drumpf, dumbfounded. The answer is just so obvious. That’s the only question you need to answer? Something about this strikes you as fishy. It’s just...too easy.

“Well, with that kind of money you can attract all of the best talent in the world,” you start, hoping that the question isn’t some kind of trap. “It would be silly to not start with the best player in the world, then, and there’s no question that Lee “Faker” Seong-hyak is that. He’s the star of SK Telecom T1, the best team to ever be. He’s led them to 10 consecutive victories at the World Championship, and earned the MVP in every single one of them. He’s not just the best player in the game right now, he’s a living legend and the single best player to ever exist.”

The answer seems to satisfy Drumpf, who nods and leans backwards in his chair. It was almost as if he expected your answer which, upon reflection, was likely the case. A seed of terror takes root in your mind unbidden as you realize that every candidate would almost certainly give the same answer. Should you have gone against the flow and claimed that another player was more worthy than the Unstoppable Demon King himself? Perhaps Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, the eternally unlucky carry of Team Solomid was a more fitting answer?

“That’s a good answer. The only answer, really. Any man that doesn’t know that Faker is the best player in League of Legends isn’t worthy to dust my banners. That was just the setup question. The real question for you is far more complicated.”

The beads of sweat make their return, as you realize that your misgivings about how easy this interview was shaping up to be were justified.

“Everyone knows that Faker is the best. Korea even renamed their capital city in his honor after he brought home his 7th Worlds Title. Anyone can parrot a well known fact like that. What I want to know is why you think he’s the best, and why he should be the first man on my team. Why is he the one that will ensure that the Covfefes become the most feared team in all of League of Legends?”

You nearly breathe a sigh of relief as you realize his follow-up question is no more difficult than the first. For a pedestrian viewer that knows little about the game, this might be a difficult question, but not for you. You’ve studied the works of the finest analysts in the world, both on Reddit and Twitter. You’ve watched the highlights of every match SK Telecom T1 have ever played on the international stage. You’re confident that you know everything there is to know about Faker.

Faker, Faker, Playmaker

With a brisk motion you reach into your suit pocket and draw forth your phone and open Youtube. After a quick trip to your bookmarks you turn the phone towards Drumpf as it plays a montage of some of Faker’s greatest moments.

“Why is Faker the best player in the world? There’s three reasons, but I’ll start with the first and most obvious one. The man is a playmaker. Lesser players wait for their moment in the spotlight, for the moment when the flow of the game will give them a chance to show their worth.”

“Faker isn’t like these lesser players. Faker doesn’t wait for the enemy team to fall into his clutches, he reaches out and puts them there himself. The man breaks games in half like no one else, and he brings an X factor to every game that he’s in that simply cannot be ignored.”

“Take, for instance, one of his earlier World Finals where he played against Samsung Galaxy back in 2016, back before SKT bought out every other company in Korea. There’s a moment at the end of the first game in that series when it seems like Faker was caught out. The game had gone incredibly long, and so a catch like that was more than enough to end the game on the spot, but Faker turned the play entirely on it’s head. A lesser man would have only thought about how to escape and keep the game alive. Not Faker, though. He used the opportunity to do what no one expected: push forward and remove Samsung’s ADC from the equation. His team won the game barely a minute later, when just a couple moments before, the game was balanced on a knife’s edge.”

“It isn’t just teamfights where Faker shines, though. He can break the game open from the very beginning. Take this example from 2017 when Faker faced Sun “Mickey” Yong-min, a mid laner who was on the rise in Korea at the time, for the first time that year. This was a player well-known for his laning ability, and Faker made him look like an amateur. He’s even been known to do that on the international stage, like when he earned a nearly 50 CS lead against one of his greatest nemeses during MSI 2017.”

Durmpf nods sagely, clearly hanging on your every word. Yet there is a crease on his forehead, and you can tell that something is troubling him.

“That’s all well and good,” he says, his baritone voice filling the room. “But I don’t want my first player to be a prima donna. It’s obvious that Faker is the greatest playmaker on Earth from what you’ve showed me, but that can be a liability as well as an asset, no? If a player is always focused upon playmaking, doesn’t that mean they will demand their team warp to accommodate them?”

“I would agree that for the normal player that would be the case, but Faker is no normal player. The man makes plays as if he was born to do so. It’s not something he needs to focus on any more than you or I needs to focus on breathing. In fact, that leads me straight to the second reason why Faker is a must-pick for your team!”

Faker’s Champion Ocean

“Faker’s playmaking ability is excellent and all, but it’s not the greatest reason to put him on your team. Playmakers come and go, and most of them can only break the game open with a few specific champions that they’re well practiced. For Faker, though, the champion barely even seems to matter!”

“Oh? So are you telling me that he could carry a game while playing a support champion?”

It takes all of your self-control not to smirk. Drumpf followed exactly the line of reasoning you were hoping for. With a flourish you close Youtube and instead navigate your phone to your favorite esports wiki, where you look up Faker’s career stats.

“As a matter of fact, yes. Take a look at this.”

You once again hand your phone over to Drumpf, who takes a keen look at the screen and smiles.

“As you can see, one of Faker’s most prolific champions is actually Lulu, a supportive champion. In fact, when Lulu was a strong pick Faker wasn’t just proficient on her, he was the best in the world on her. Why? Because he knew the champion so well that he could build unorthodox carry-oriented items on her and play a carry and support role at the same time.”

“Faker has always understood one of the most fundamental facts of competitive League of Legends. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and let another member of the team be the hardest carry. Even when he was known as the best player in the world back in 2015, he was more than willing to play Lulu or Lissandra and use his utility to help empower his teammates Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-Hwan, both of whom were world-class talent on their own.”

Drumpf nods.

“So he’s the sort of player who knows when to shoot the ball and when to pass it, is what you’re saying?”

“Exactly right, sir. I couldn’t think of a more apt comparison myself.”

Was that a smile? You suppose that it’s true that no one is truly immune to flattery.

“What’s truly remarkable, however, is how seamlessly Faker moves between different mind sets. Few players ever master more than one style of champion, but Faker has mastered them all. It took a player like Lee “Crown” Min-ho, the second-best mid laner in Korea back in 2017, almost an entire split to learn a single champion, and even then he always seemed uncomfortable when switching between champions with different focuses in between games.”

“Faker has never had any such issue. He can play Lulu one game and pivot to an assassin the next. One game he might play a back-line mage like Viktor flawlessly, and then the next he’ll lock in a tank pick like Galio and play it just as masterfully. Faker doesn’t just have the widest champion pool on the planet, he also has the versatility and ingenuity to make use of it on a lark.”

“The widest champion pool on earth you say? That’s a pretty bold claim, don't you think?”

“I do, but it’s not one that I make lightly. We’re talking about a player who has taken Master Yi, Irelia, and Olaf into the mid lane.”

“Are those exceptionally unusual picks?” Drumpf asked, seemingly curious from what you can tell.

“It would be like telling your football team to put the punter or kicker in as the quarterback. They are picks that were so unexpected that his opponents didn’t know how to react, and they were effective enough that he ended up warping the global metagame all on his own.”

Drumpf considers your words for a moment, then stands and turns his gaze out the window.

“Well that definitely sounds impressive, but I am concerned about just one more thing. How sustainable is such performance? I don’t want to spend my money on a player that’s incredible now, but will flame out in just a year.”

He gestures towards one of the many banners that line the halls, and his meaning is not lost on me. “Make the Rift Great Again” they all say, which you recognize as the slogan that the Covfefes have already adopted. A bit ham-handed, you think, but certainly effective at communicating the Drumpf’s intentions.

“I don’t want the Covfefes to be a team that is written about in the history books of esports, I want it to be a team that’s always relevant, one that never fades into memory.”

For a moment you’re shocked, but you recover quickly. How could one even be worried about Faker’s long-term performance after looking at his pedigree? After all, he’s been the best player in the world for nearly as long as international play itself has existed. Every one of SKT T1’s trophies has his name carved on it for a reason.

The Unstoppable, Immortal Demon King

“You needn’t worry about that, sir,” you say at last. “Faker is nearly as old as the game itself, and I can assure you that his prime isn’t in the past.”

“Oh? You have my attention now. Do tell.”

“Well there’s two reasons why I’m confident that Faker will continue to be a force for years to come. The first is the far simpler reason, one that should almost be self-evident.”

“And that is?” A tinge of annoyance crosses into Drumpf voice. You think it best to tone your language down slightly.

“Well, sir, it’s just that Faker has won more World Championships than not at this point. While I would agree that talking about someone’s past won’t give you a perfect look at their future, it certainly does help. The fact of the matter is that winning a World Championship doesn’t make you the best player in the game, but winning the majority of them certainly does. They’ve made so many skins commemorating SKT T1’s Worlds victories that they can’t even dress the champions in SKT T1 uniforms anymore since they’ve done it so many times!”

“No one talks about Wonseok “PawN” Heo as if he’s the best mid laner in the game, and that’s because he wasn’t able to ever replicate his success. Sure, he won a single World Championship, but then what happened? He only managed to make the finals of a single international tournament after that, while Faker went on to win Worlds twice more, not to mention their victories at other international tournaments. Frankly, Faker is already the most consistent player in history, but I also have a good reason to think that will keep being true in the future.”

“What reason do you have to believe that? Do you have a magic crystal ball tucked away in that suit of yours?”

For a moment you both simply stare at each other, while you try to guess whether Drumpf was making a joke or not. At last you decide to risk it and laugh anyways. He joins you, and you’re glad that his loud and raucous laugh covers up your sigh of relief.

“I know that he’ll keep being the best because he loves the game. Most professional players stop enjoying the game quite early on in their careers, but not Faker. You can always tell that he’s still as much in love with League of Legends as he was the first time he played it because of how he acts.”

“Riot once surveyed a large swath of the professional players at Worlds and asked them what they would change about the game if they could. Every one of them save Faker talked about a problem in the game’s mechanics, be it certain champions or lane swaps. Faker would have none of that, though. He went on to talk about how he hoped Riot could change the game so that people could get along better while playing it, so that they’d enjoy it more. League of Legends is still, above all, a game to Faker, and one that he loves enough to pour his life into playing it.”

“I imagine the nice paycheck doesn’t hurt either.”

“No, I imagine not.”

The large man finally returns to his chair before staring at you so hard that you wonder if there’s something on your face. Perhaps more sweat drops?

“Those are some pretty good answers, I must say. You’ve done a fine job of selling me.”

Inwardly, you breath a sigh of relief. You had been worried about the third point and though it weaker than the other two, but Drumpf seems contented enough. Now for the big question, the one that your hopes and dreams are relying on.

“So, do I get the job?”

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