November 20, 2023 10:17
Korea's T1 led by captain Lee Sang-hyeok, better known by his nickname "Faker," defeated China's Weibo Gaming (WBG) with a 3-0 score in the League of Legends World Championship final in Seoul on Sunday.
After the game, Lee took off his headset and smiled brightly. He is usually known for his poker-faced expression, rarely smiling even after significant victories. However, on this day, he showed a broad smile.
It was his first victory in seven years, following wins in 2013, 2015 and 2016, becoming the first-ever four-time winner in the history of the World Championship. T1 also became the first team to win four times.
Lee is often compared to basketball great Michael Jordan and football legend Lionel Messi -- such is his dominance in the e-sports world. His three previous World Championship wins were all achieved by leading the team from the front. The prime years for a professional gamer are usually from the late teens to the mid-20s. At 27, Lee is considered a veteran in the e-sports community and there was speculation that he may be over the hill as his performance had become less dominant in recent years.
He failed to win any of the five domestic and international tournaments in which he competed since 2022, finishing as the runner-up every time. He also suffered a 3-2 defeat against DRX in the LoL World Championship final last year, but he defiantly revived himself this year.
The championship, held annually since 2011, is as popular among young fans as the FIFA World Cup is among football fans. This year's event, which started on Oct. 10, drew an estimated 200,000 fans from home and abroad. In Seoul's Gwanghwamun Plaza, 15,000 people gathered to hold a street cheering event for the final, marking the first time such an event has taken place for e-sports.
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