League of Legends: T1 CEO says Faker rejected LPL contract worth US$20 million

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Faker rejected US$20 million offers from Chinese Esports organizations during his time as a Free Agent last year. (Photo: Riot Games)
Faker rejected US$20 million offers from Chinese Esports organizations during his time as a Free Agent last year. (Photo: Riot Games)

T1 CEO Joe Marsh revealed in a podcast with Yiliang "Doublelift” Peng on Thursday (7 April) that the org’s League of Legends (LoL) star midlaner, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, previously received and rejected a US$20 million per year offer from a team in China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL).

According to Marsh, the offer was made during the 2021 offseason when Faker was a free agent.

Faker's decision to stay with T1 for the 2022 season has proven to be a fruitful one, as they recently completed a perfect run in the LoL Champions Korea (LCK) Spring Split, with the player himself netting some amazing achievements.

Given his dominance in LoL, it’s no wonder that Faker has received some generous offers in the past.

In 2020, it was reported that Faker rejected a US$10 million per year contract to play for a team in the League of Legends Championship Series in North America.

Almost two years later, Faker would receive offers twice that price from various Chinese esports organisations, according to Marsh.

In the 2021 offseason, when Faker’s contract expired and he became a free agent, Marsh recounted that he had flown to South Korea to meet the player and his family to sort things out.

He mentioned that Faker’s father, who has been helping to manage his son’s career, has always been upfront with the offers that are coming to them, including the US$20 million offers from China.

However, Faker chose to stay with the organization for various reasons not related to money.

“He doesn’t need money, he has money. He’s super successful [and] he has really strong investments in Korea. I mean there’s literally a building he owns called Faker Tower,” said Marsh.

“It’s about the other intangibles and developing those relationships and making sure that you built a system with infrastructure around that he feels good about that he feels he can build a winner [team],” the T1 CEO said.

Developing a relationship with Faker and his family was key to keeping him in T1, Marsh added, as family is important to the player.

Faker went on to sign a new three-year contract with T1 that year, and was also made part-owner of the organization in 2021.

“I am excited to continue playing for T1 and am thankful for all the fans around the world who have supported me all these years,” Faker said in a press release last year.

“I am honoured to become a part-owner of T1 and look forward to working with the leadership team beyond my playing career. I love this team and am proud to help mould the future of this organization.”

Faker is the most decorated LoL Esports player of all time, adding an undefeated perfect split to his accomplishments after winning the LCK Spring Split on Saturday (2 April). Photo: Riot Games
Faker is the most decorated LoL Esports player of all time, adding an undefeated perfect split to his accomplishments after winning the LCK Spring Split on Saturday (2 April). Photo: Riot Games

Faker is considered by many to be the G.O.A.T. of LoL, thanks in large part to the sheer number of titles and achievements he has accrued throughout his career thus far.

With T1, Faker has won three World Championships — two of which were back-to-back, as well as two Mid-Season Invitational titles, and 10 LCK titles.

Faker is notably the only LoL player thus far to have amassed 10 regional titles and a back-to-back World Championship.

Faker was also part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia – Entertainment & Sports 2019 list, won the 2018 David Yan Award for Most Beloved Gamer, and was named the 2017 Best Esports Player at The Game Awards.

On top of the titles, Faker holds some impressive records in LoL Esports history, having played 74 champions as well as more than 1,000 games throughout his career.

He also holds the record with the highest win rate in the LCK, at 67.7%.

In a TV show in 2020, Faker said that he only spent an average of 200,000 won (or US$170) monthly, with the rest going to charity and his investments.

One such investment is Faker Tower, located in 114-12 Hwagok-dong in Gangseo, Seoul. According to reports, Faker's company is on the top floor, while the rest of the floors are leased to other tenants, and include medical facilities and cafes.

T1's strength isn't just about Faker, but also the homegrown talent the organization develops from within. Photo: Riot Games
T1's strength isn't just about Faker, but also the homegrown talent the organization develops from within. Photo: Riot Games

The T1 CEO also briefly talked about developing homegrown players from within through T1 Challengers, where top laner Choi "Zeus" Woo-je and jungler Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon came from.

With the addition of Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong as the AD Carry — after being in a substitute role in T1 since 2019 — and Ryu "Keria" Min-seok as the team’s Support since 2020, the team have been in perfect sync.

All members of T1’s main roster received honours in the 2022 Spring All-LCK teams, with Faker, Zeus, Gumayusi and Keria making it to the All LCK-First team, and Oner making it to the All-LCK Second Team.

If the sheer number of accolades is not enough to capture T1's dominance in the LCK, then maybe the numbers behind their perfect Split can paint a clearer picture.

T1 had a solid start in Season 2022, breaking records all season and winning their 10th title undefeated in both the regular season and the playoffs. This also marks Faker’s 10th regional title, making him the only LCK player with such a record under him.

T1 will be representing the LCK at the Mid-Season Invitational, where T1 will face 10 other regional teams on the International Stage. MSI 2022 will take place in their home country at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center (BEXCO), South Korea, and will begin on May 10.

Anna is a freelance writer and photographer. She is a gamer who loves RPGs and platformers and is a League of Legends geek. She's also a food enthusiast who loves a good cup of black coffee.

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