T1 star Faker named among athletes to watch at Asian Games

Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Game

Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok’s fame and impact transcend League of Legends and esports — so much so that he has been named as one of the athletes to watch at the 2022 Asian Games.

The T1 mid laner is one of the six LoL players who have been called up by Kim ‘kkOma’ Jeong-gyun to represent South Korea’s national team at the 2022 Asian Games, where seven esports tournaments will be official medal events.

Faker is still trying to find his best form after sustaining an arm injury that kept him on the sidelines for a month during the summer split. He returned to action closer to the end of the regular season, inspiring a miraculous turnaround that saw the team finish second to Gen.G at the LCK Summer Finals.

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Despite his current struggles, Faker remains one of the faces of esports, and his huge popularity was on full display on Friday, when he and the rest of South Korea’s delegation were greeted by dozens of fans at the Xiaoshan International Airport, many of whom held signs with Faker’s name.

As esports will be making its Asian Games debut, news agencies Reuters and AFP included Faker on their lists of athletes to watch at the multi-sport event, putting the mid laner on par with some of the continent’s best sports stars.

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“South Korea’s Lee Sang-hyeok, better known by his gaming handle ‘Faker’, will be one of the biggest drawcards at Hangzhou,” writes Reuters.

“Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok is a legendary figure in esports and widely acknowledged to be the best League of Legends player of all time,” AFP notes. “Added to the incentive to win Games gold for him and his South Korean team-mates is the fact that doing so will also exempt them from having to do military service back home.”

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But despite the media frenzy surrounding him, Faker may find playing opportunities limited in Hangzhou. He will be fighting for a starting berth with Gen.G’s Jeong ‘Chovy’ Ji-hoon, who was named the MVP of the recent LCK Summer Finals.

South Korea will play its first match at the Asian Games on September 25 against Hong Kong. If the team tops Group A, it will face Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals, with a semi-final clash against China on the horizon.

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