On November 18, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s contract with three-time world champions SK Telecom T1 will come to an end, thus starting another period of free agency for the best League of Legends player in the world. After failing to make it to the LoL World Championships Finals for the first time since 2014, there is no telling where the “Unkillable Demon King” will go. In this series, we’ll be looking into possible destinations for Faker once his free agency begins.
From Korea, we hop across the sea to China to look at another organization with a chance at snagging Faker, Edward Gaming.
Despite being one of the play-in teams in this year’s Worlds EDG still managed a respectable 5th-8th place finish, bowing out 3-1 to the surprise grand finalist Fnatic. The key player in their impressive run was Lee “Scout” Ye-chan who, after having his share of highs and lows with EDG, finally seem as if he has gained his ascendancy with his performance at Worlds.
Should EDG be in the hunt for Faker, they will have to make some big decisions about Scout’s place in the team. Unfortunately for the latter, it won’t be the first time his status in a team was jeopardized by Faker.
Back in early 2016, Scout was still a mid lane trainee with SK Telecom T1 languishing in Faker’s shadow. While he may still have developed with SKT by learning from Faker in the sidelines, Scout opted to bet on himself to start regularly on another team. After struggling with consistency, he got his break when Heo “PawN” Won-seok went down with a back injury when the latter was with EDG back in 2016. But even if Scout has proven himself since then to be a strong midlaner in his own right, Faker simply outclasses him. Throughout Scout’s tenure, EDG have always struggled with their midgame play, throwing away what early leads they may get from their strong laners by executing and trading poorly in midgame clashes. Faker can be that stabilizing presence that will lead them in snowballing with their early advantages to victory. Scout, for all his worth, just cannot bring that kind of impact to his team yet.
Though I must note that I say Faker can, and not Faker will. On paper sure, it’s an easy choice to make. But the style of play that EDG has been running, with success mind you, is far from what Faker was used to in SKT. Scout is central to that style of play. If you replace him with Faker all of a sudden, you can’t be sure that such a shift will be for the better. Yeah, Scout can never be Faker, we know that much from their history, but Faker, in turn, can never be Scout. At least, when it comes to the style of play that the latter embodies in EDG.
These are some of the difficult decisions that organizations have to make when deciding their future. Would they gamble everything on bringing in the best player in the world despite issues with him fitting in? Or would they bank on the roster they have to eventually reach a breakthrough that can hopefully bring them a championship?
Edward Gaming will have to make a decision come November 18.