South Korean League of Legends (LoL) powerhouse T1 have been in deep trouble since superstar midlaner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok was forced to take a break due to a wrist injury earlier this month.
Faker missed his seventh match in the LoL Champions Korea (LCK) on Thursday (27 July) where his team lost 1-2 against DRX, one of the league's lowest-scoring teams this season. This is also T1’s sixth loss since Faker took a break.
Although acting T1 coach Im “Tom” Jae-hyeon revealed in a post-match interview reported by Naver last week that Faker is set to return in the LCK Playoffs, fans are worried about the team’s chances to even make it to the next stage as T1 dropped to fifth place in the league with a 7-8 standing.
“The player’s condition is the most important, but until Playoffs, we are focusing on treatment, with the goal of returning,” Tom said.
And according to the acting coach, Faker sometimes uses his left hand when purchasing items and lowers his right arm under the desk, presumably to rest.
Faker has been on a treatment plan since his absence, which started with a break from the game for more than two weeks as he underwent medication and physical therapy.
He had then been spotted practising on ARAM (All Random All Mid) since 18 July and then trying his hand on Arena before going on Solo Queue on Saturday (22 July).
Faker has since been spending most of his practice time on Arena and a few solo queue matches in between.
T1 on a losing streak since Faker’s absence
Since Faker’s leave, T1 have substituted him with T1 academy player Yoon “Poby” Seong-won, who lacks significant competitive experience.
However, not all of T1’s problems were because of the substitute mid laner. The other four players on the team haven't looked as sharp in most of their games since the three-time Worlds champion took a break.
T1 got swept by DRX and Gen.G on week 5, before accomplishing their first and only win on week 6 against Nongshim Redforce, the LCK’s weakest team this season.
They then continued to bleed out, incurring losses against DPlus (Former DAMWON KIA Gaming), Hanwa Life Esports (HLE), Brion, and their most recent game against DRX.
Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong admitted in the post-match interview reported by Naver on 21 July that all the members of T1 have also had to deal with “psychological” issues, which usually manifest as “pressure and impatience.”
He also said that it’s important for every player to control their mind to overcome the psychological aspect. Acting coach Tom also added that the players have been receiving psychological counselling.
Faker offers support and advice to the team while in recovery
In Thursday’s post-match interview reported by Inven Global, Moon "Oner" Hyeon-joon said that Faker had been focusing on solo queue and treatment. However, the team’s mid laner still continues to offer support to his team.
“Faker actively provides feedback and support to boost team morale, such as offering advice to Poby or attending scrim sessions to observe and offer guidance.”
Two days later, T1 announced that Faker was going to take a medical break to rest and undergo treatment.
With everyone still awaiting the Faker’s return, T1’s members must continue to hold the fort, with only three more chances to win to rise from their current rank and secure a good spot at the LCK Playoffs.
LCK’s top six teams will be advancing to the Playoffs, so T1 would need to rise in the rankings or at least keep their fifth place spot.
This will definitely prove to be an uphill battle as T1 will face KT Rolster, this Summer’s LCK strongest team, on Saturday (29 July). They would also have to make sure that they win their matches against Kwangdong Freecs and Liiv SANDBOX to keep a spot in the Playoffs.
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.