During every League Of Legends off season, the community speculates about many players, teams and the amounts of money these players and teams move. Every year the signings the esports community looks forward to are different, but there is one player who raises passions around the world. Every year there are rumors about his departure or renewal, but rarely do they end up coming out with information. Last year we even talked about his possibilities in the market.
We’re talking about the world's best known esports player, the most wanted, nicknamed demon king. Today we’ll look at all the details about Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok's off season. How real the offers he received were, and how close Faker came to accepting them.
Faker's 2023 off season began after one of the toughest defeats of his career; in a thrilling Bo5 played to the full 5 maps, he lost the Worlds final with T1.
Despite the fact the LEC off season was practically over, with the majority of teams reaching verbal agreements with their players already, Faker decided to start listening to offers from all over the world.
According to sources close to the LoL leagues globally, Faker reportedly received considerable interest from the following teams: LNG Esports, Weibo Gaming, T1 , Team Liquid and FlyQuest.
To understand how the monetary offers that teams like LNG Esports or Weibo Gaming were able to offer work, we recommend that you read our piece on how the LPL market works, as well as its restrictions.
With the LPL’s salary cap in place it meant Chinese teams could secure a minimum salary, but not a fixed or high salary until the organization completely closed the roster, which obviously would be built around Faker with his decision-making power.
Still, these two offers from Weibo Gaming and LNG Esports weren’t the most appealing for the legendary Korean mid laner. Sources close to BLIX.GG can’t provide an exact monetary value to the offers, but both teams were willing to apply the salary exceptions allowed by the Chinese league to Faker’s salary.
In addition to these offers from China, Faker had two offers from North America, one of which he was considering up until the last moment.
According to sources close to BLIX, FlyQuest made Faker an offer where the mid laner would be paid annually between $3,000,000 and $5,000,000 USD, plus bonuses. But BLIX can also confirm this offer was lower than Team Liquid’s offer.
Multiple sources confirm the offer Team Liquid made was higher than the FlyQuest figures previously mentioned. In addition, sources close to the environment claim that Faker was seriously considered playing for Team Liquid; who’s roster ambitions included considering multiple Korean-speaking and multiple world-class players for roles, just in case Faker took the offer and decided to play in NA.
Sources also confirmed the contract Faker currently has with T1 is similar in value to Team Liquid’s offer. And T1 looked at options for Faker’s replacement in the eventuality he decided to take Team Liquid's offer.
It should be noted that in the current esports environment, the figures offered above would be difficult to match, since the vast majority of orgs are now battling decline in profits and the global recession.
Some time ago rumors surfaced that Faker received offers that reached $20,000,000 USD annually. BLIX.GG's sources cannot confirm this rumor, but they are aware of a proposed offer in China, prior to the implementation of the salary cap, that exceeded $10,000,000 USD.
Faker, T1 and Scout decision
In addition to the above offers, and as expected, T1 was interested in renewing Faker. However he decided to explore all his options and additional offers before making his decision to renew with the organization which has been his home since its inception in 2013, a decade ago. (Faker’s also been a partial owner in T1 since 2020.)
With Faker scouting the market, T1 wasn’t going to sit idly by. So of course they were scouting potential players to replace the Unkillable Demon King.
The name that was tossed around the most and the one which T1 showed substantial interest in was Lee "Scout" Ye-chan; current midlaner of LNG Esports and a former player for the org in the SK Telecom T1 days. Scout’s promising record included winning Worlds 2021.
There’s a high probability Scout would have been T1's midlaner this season if Faker had accepted Team Liquid's offer. The club even had direct negotiations with the player.
However, Faker finally decided to renew with T1 for three more years, which was the orgs preferential outcome. As such, there was no possibility for them to continue negotiating a deal with Scout.