SK Telecom, one of the most prominent League of Legends organizations in the world, currently sits in third place in the LCK in South Korea. Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok continues to be the bedrock of the team, though he hasn't been on flashy, play-making champions like he has in the past. We caught up with Faker just before the Lunar New Year break.
ESPN: You have just claimed a victory with an overwhelming performance. How are you feeling?
Faker: We've won on a 2-0 match score. We had lost a match before this. Because of that, today was a very important match for all of us. Now that we've won the match in a perfect performance, I think everyone can rest a bit easier [during the break].
ESPN: It was indeed an overwhelming performance. It felt that SK Telecom T1 had changed its play style to be more aggressive than usual today. Could you also share your thoughts on this?
Faker: Before the match, there was a conversation to let the players play more ... freely. Also, the teammates made very few mistakes while claiming advantages in the games. I believe that is why we were able to close the games out with relative ease.
ESPN: It was almost a perfect match. However, is there any part of the match you think you could have done even better?
Faker: In Game 1, I died once. In Game 2, I also dove into the fountain and scored a death. I think I am regretful that my KDA dropped as a result of this.
ESPN: Are you perhaps inspired by Chovy and are now watching out for your own KDA?
Faker: I don't feel particularly concerned over it, but it's better not to die whenever possible.
ESPN: In Game 1, SKT picked Akali, then sent her to the top lane. When that happened, some fans may have felt disappointed. There are many people waiting for you to finally play Akali. Faker, do you plan to play Akali someday?
Faker: I believe that I can pick any champion. I think I can play any champion with mastery.
ESPN: You've playing Galio and other tank champions a lot. That may also be a testament to just how effective your Galio pick is. Could you also tell us more about Galio and what leads you to pick him often?
Faker: I think that Galio is a champion that allows me to make proactive plays. Therefore, I continue to pick Galio based on my team's needs.
ESPN: Before this match, you played against Griffin and suffered an unfortunate loss. What kind of feedback did the team receive after the match? Was there any internal change within the team?
Faker: We, unfortunately, lost 2-0 against Griffin. However, there still is a long stretch of [the spring split] ahead of us. We discussed how we can continue improving, one step at a time, throughout this period. Rather than trying to overhaul everything immediately, we thought we would progressively change our playstyle.
ESPN: The 2019 Mid-Season Invitation was announced recently. Faker, have you heard of that news?
Faker: I heard that MSI will be held in Vietnam this year. Vietnam is a region that I haven't been to before. I've heard that I also have a lot of fans in Vietnam. So I think the fact that the MSI is being held in Vietnam will be very fun. Also, we can only attend MSI if we win the spring split. Rather than focus on the MSI itself, we will continue to prepare around the spring split.
ESPN: Currently, Griffin and SANDBOX Gaming are placed higher than SKT. You, Faker, will be determined more than anyone to qualify for MSI. What does SKT have to focus on or improve upon in order to overtake these teams and climb closer to your goal?
Faker: First of all ... Griffin and SANDBOX Gaming has had their teamwork together for some time. That is why I believe that they have been showing a good performance so far in the spring split. So if [SKT] can also get our teamwork together while also improving on our individual play, I believe that we will be able to beat them later [in the split].
ESPN: The Lunar New Year is upon us, and the LCK players will be getting a short break. Do you have any plans during this time?
Faker: I will be going on a trip with my family and rest up. Also, I've recently fallen behind on reading, I haven't gotten to read books. When I'm there, I'll be reading books, finding some inner peace.
ESPN: What kind of books will you be reading? Is there a particular book that you've been meaning to read, but haven't been able to do so recently?
Faker: Hmmm ... I've been wanting to read some scientific books recently, I guess ... I'll just pick up whatever book I see, then take it [on my trip] to read.
ESPN: Finally, there are many fans [reading] this interview. If you could say a New Year's greeting or share your resolutions, it would be appreciated.
Faker: SKT has constantly been in third place leading up to this break. We'll work hard to make our climb up to the first place. Our team still lacks in many aspects, but we will show you a better performance from now on. Thank you.