ICONIC Esports Moments: Faker vs. Ryu

Anyone who has even a passing interest in esports has probably heard of Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime talent, a three-time World Champion, the face of League of Legends, and unanimously considered to be the greatest to ever play the game. But that wasn’t always the case. In 2013, he was still making a name for himself. A gifted, yet unproven player pulled from the ranks of solo queue to lead SK Telecom T1K into a new era. (Casting) However, with OGN broadcasts held behind a paywall and LoL esports still growing, many European and North American fans, who had heard the rumblings from Korea, hadn’t yet witnessed Faker in action firsthand.

But that all changed on September 7th, 2013, when Faker pulled-off a play that would stun his opponent and the world alike. This is the Faker vs. Ryu Outplay. It’s the grand finals of the 2013 HOT6iX Champions Summer and SK Telecom T1K are taking on the KT Rolster Bullets. SKT T1K had breezed through their group and the first two rounds of the playoffs, only dropping a single game.

But here they found themselves under serious pressure. The KT Rolster Bullets had seized a 2-0 lead in the series, before SKT T1K got on the board with two consecutive wins of their own to force a deciding game. (Casting) This was it – one last blind pick match to crown the champion. Faker locked in Zed. Ryu did the same. It was game on sports betting software.

KT took an early lead, but around the 20 minute mark, the tide began to turn in SKT T1K’s favor. (Casting) Within touching distance of his first LCK title, Faker overstepped and Ryu threw down the gauntlet. (Casting) In one of the most brilliant displays of decision-making and mechanical skill ever, Faker despite starting at a significant disadvantage completely outplayed Ryu to win the gutsy duel. The look on Ryu’s face and the absolute shock of DoA and MonteCristo told the entire story. (Casting) Before we get into the play It’s important to note that despite his team being massively ahead Faker’s not actually that far ahead of Ryu, at all. But, the one key item difference is the quicksilver sash which, at the time, could cleanse off the Zed ultimate and it’s damage.

The play starts with Faker taking tower shots and Ryu’s E, auto attacks, and blade of the ruined king active under tower putting the SKT mid-laner under half health after Ryu’s passive hits him. Faker then uses his own blade of the ruined king active to steal move speed and try to run away. At this point Ryu ignites him, hoping to clean up the kill before Faker gets away. Faker responds with his ultimate, making him invulnerable and allowing him to avoid damage from Ryu and his ignite Ryu responds with his own deathmark to avoid trading kills. He then misjudges Faker’s movement. Throwing his shadow upwards instead of down while Faker avoids it by jumping to his shadow downward.

Here, the item difference saves Faker’s life. He quicksilver sashes the deathmark and the ignite freeing him from all damage. He then sneaks in a ‘Q’, ignite, and auto attack against Ryu before dodging Ryu’s ‘Q’ and cancelling Ryu’s auto attack with a flash to the left. The slimmest of margins determines the end of this fight. As Ryu attempts to flash to Faker to secure the kill with an auto attack Ryu gets his auto cancelled once more this time by Fakers ‘W’ which he didn’t use this entire time.

Faker then uses ‘E’ to finish Ryu off. (Casting) When the clip hit the web, it exploded. The global League community marveled at Faker’s incredible exhibition and the young Korean star quickly became a household name.

You have to understand that for most Western fans in 2013, seeing the play for the first time was a revelation. Sure, the outplay didn’t alter the course of the game — SKT T1K was already poised to win, but it did change the course of League history. Everyone who watched that outplay knew that they were witnessing greatness and that Faker would be a player to keep an eye on for years to come. And the unkillable demon king has not disappointed. (Casting) Now, six domestic titles and three world championships later, it seems obvious that Faker was destined to become the greatest player of all-time. But it all started with an amazing outplay that put Ryu and the rest of the world on notice.