The “What if..?” phenomenon is something that has always stimulated the human brain and made it work its magic. We always wonder about hypothetical scenarios which might have happened but didn’t come to fruition for one reason or another. League of Legends is no exception to this. There’s a ton of scenarios or moves that could have played out and might have had major changes on the scene as we know it today.
To kick off our new “In a Parallel Universe” series, we will be exploring today one of these hypotheticals which is probably one of the biggest ones. If it came to fruition, it might have had a drastic influence on not just the people involved but the whole LoL scene as a whole. What if Faker had ended up joining North America’s LCS? Teams within both the LCS and LPL have shown clear interest in Faker, with one LCS team being rumored to have offered Faker a blank cheque. But to start off this hypothetical scenario, we first need to establish what time period would have been ideal for Faker to join the LCS.
Considering the reputation and history of most North American teams being “chokers” at international events, Faker joining the LCS at any point in time would be beneficial for the league as he would instantly raise the level of competition within the region. But perhaps the most curious and “ideal” time would have been right after the 2016 World Championship. This time period was a good hypothetical option for two reasons. The first reason was SKT’s run at 2016 Worlds. Many people simply celebrate SKT’s achievement of winning Worlds two years in a row, but it’s often forgotten that their road to the championship was riddled with problems and their 2016 title is by far “the least dominant in the organization’s history”. It wouldn’t have been insane to imagine Faker wanting to leave SKT after having achieved everything that he could with the team, especially after SKT’s decline in performance.
The second reason would be the state of the LCS after Worlds in 2016. Although CLG and TSM both failed to make it out of groups, TSM was still touted as one of the teams that could make a deep run in the tournament. This was after their dominant Summer Split and 3-1 win over Cloud9 in the LCS finals. Their group wasn’t the easiest with LPL powerhouse RNG and eventual finalists Samsung Galaxy. So in that sense TSM not making it past groups isn’t that far-fetched. Despite C9 being the only NA team to reach the Quarterfinals, TSM’s potential as a team despite their failure inspired the LCS and the fans as a whole. It gave hope that with the right mindset and preparation, the LCS could challenge the top teams during the following year. A huge name like Faker joining the league might have been enough to raise the level of the competition within it to where NA teams could have been strong challengers for the Eastern and European teams during 2017. Now that we’ve established the time period, it’s time to tackle a more interesting question.
If we assume that Faker joins the league for the 2017 season, the biggest question in everyone’s mind is which team does he join? What would be the best environment for someone like Faker?
We run down the list and the choices aren’t many. The top teams at that time in North America were Cloud9 and Team SoloMid, with a rising Phoenix1 being the faraway third choice. Right off the bat we can rule out Phoenix1. Someone of Faker’s calibre would likely never move to another region to join a low-profile team. At the time P1 was a solid team and was doing well within NA, but they simply don’t have the prestige or brand recognition that C9 or TSM have. Now that we’ve narrowed down the choice to C9 and TSM, we simply need to pick which team would better suit Faker.
While Cloud9 had Jensen at the time and wasn’t in need of a mid laner, there’s no doubt that replacing him with Faker would be an attractive option for them. Nevertheless C9’s more relaxed and player-friendly approach might not be the best fit for someone like Faker who practices a lot and grinds non-stop in order to stay one of the best in the world. So what does that mean? I’m sure you’ve already figured it out by now.
Faker joining TSM while being ridiculous on paper makes more sense than you’d imagine. For one, TSM is known as the “try-hard” team in NA that practices probably the most out of any other squad and values results over anything else. This serious and stern approach to the game would be a solid fit for someone like Faker. TSM’s popularity within the LoL scene would also mesh well with Faker’s own popularity as a player. Both the team and Faker himself would attract more eyes and attention to the other, which would be beneficial to both parties. Now that we’ve covered why Faker to TSM wouldn’t be so bad, it’s time to answer the question that many of you are asking yourselves right now.
What happens to Bjergsen then?
Assuming that Faker joins the 2017 Spring TSM roster, what happens to Bjergsen then? Would TSM really remove their star player in order to put in Faker? The answer is simple, they don’t need to. The simple solution would be for Bjergsen to role-swap to AD Carry. You might be confused right? Well bear with me!
G2 Esports did the unthinkable in 2019 when they signed Fnatic’s Caps and put him in the Mid Lane, role-swapping their star player Perkz to AD Carry. Many questioned this swap but it ended up being the best thing that G2 has done as it won them three titles in a row, an MSI title and a 2nd place finish at Worlds. The fact of the matter is that players that are so skilled and complete like Perkz and Bjergsen have an easier time transitioning to another role, due to their innate skill at the game as well as their versatility and willingness to play for their team. Both Perkz and Bjergsen share many similarities as players. Their champion pools are somewhat similar, they are both the star players of their team for years, they are both regarded as one of the best players in their region and they both share a similar controlled and calculated playstyle, focusing more on laning rather than roaming.
With Perkz’s playstyle being a good fit for AD Carry, it’s no wonder that he was able to swap to the role with ease. Bjergsen could very well do the same and be successful at it in the same way Perkz was. There’s also plenty of Corki games for Bjergsen where he took control of the match and solo carried, showing that while mages and assassins are his bread and butter, he’s no slouch on ranged ad champions either.
How would Faker’s career change if he did join the LCS?
Would Faker get worse or would he retain his level if he joined the LCS? That’s the hard question that we can’t exactly answer. We can only speculate. But based on the strength of the league itself, it’s safe to assume that maybe Faker’s level would take a small dip at the very least. Would he still be the best player? Probably not. It’s hard to be the best if you are playing in a weaker league. Would he still be one of the best players? Logic dictates that he would be. Talents like Faker rarely appear in sports or esports. The mere fact is that the class of Faker is on another level and while these days he may not be as insane as he was in 2013 or 2015, he’s still a unique player in the sense that his dedication and commitment to being the best is probably unrivaled. With such dedication and class, it’s hard to imagine that Faker would get that much worse, even if he played in North America.
This also brings the question, would Faker’s career become better or worse in terms of achievements and accolades? It’s tough to say but we can assume that at the very least Faker would win the LCS, quite possibly multiple times too. Whether or not he would continue winning international tournaments is tougher to answer though. However, even while still part of T1 (formerly known as SKT), Faker hasn’t actually won an international event since the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. He has placed consistently high but hasn’t actually won 1st place in any of them. So even in the reality that we live in, his international trophy case isn’t really expanding for the time being. Even if it didn’t expand while he was playing in the LCS, that wouldn’t be far apart from our current reality. But maybe it would expand? Maybe TSM would pull off a G2 and would win an MSI? We will never know.
How would Faker joining TSM change the LCS?
We already briefly touched upon this but it’s safe to assume that simply having someone like Faker playing in the league would instantly raise its level. Not only would the Mid Laners in NA learn a lot by playing against him, but teams would as well. Both parties would also likely be more motivated to try harder and produce better results and play, simply by having Faker within the region. Faker is likely the most respected player in the history of the game, so even in North America where it’s more relaxed and the competition is weaker, players and teams would likely try harder simply out of respect and admiration for Faker.
Solo Queue would also be affected as NA players might push themselves harder in order to reach high Challenger and face off against Faker, in the hope of beating him and proving themselves to other teams.
Not to mention the fact that if we assume that TSM with Faker in the Mid Lane and Bjergsen at AD Carry becomes just like G2 and continues to dominate the LCS while finally producing strong results at international events, that might help boost the level of the league as a whole. Although this part is somewhat sketchy. A league’s level isn’t dependent solely on one team, so in order for this to happen, TSM would need another few teams to at least be competitive with them and challenge them to some extent.
Would the LCK become weaker without Faker?
There’s no long answer to this one. The simple and short answer is, yes, yes it would become weaker. Some of the newer star mid laners in the LCK at the moment include Bdd, Chovy, ShowMaker and Ucal. The one thing these players share is the fact that they all became stars in the LCK from 2017 and onwards. If we assume that Faker leaves the LCK to join the LCS for the 2017 season, he wouldn’t be around to play against all of these younger talents. Without someone of Faker’s caliber to challenge them, it’s quite possible that their talent wouldn’t blossom to the same extent and they simply won’t reach their true potential.
Faker is the type of player that not only elevates those around him, but also those that play against him. All of these newer generation LCK mid laners became as good as they are, in part because they play and learn against Faker. It’s quite likely that if we asked them, most of them would say that they look up to Faker and try to learn from him, or that they simply respect him and try to become strong enough to beat him. This internal drive is what helps players develop and without Faker, it would simply not be there.
While Faker joining the LCS sounds fun and interesting on paper, there are uncertainties within it, mainly the simple fact that the league is weaker and even someone like Faker might struggle to lift its level enough to where it can compete with the other top leagues. That’s not to say that if he did join the LCS it would be a train-wreck. Far from it actually. Assuming that he joined TSM, Faker could definitely win the LCS several times and might even help the team overcome its problem of choking at big international events. Overall, this hypothetical scenario would be good for the NA region, but would be harmful to the LoL scene as a whole as without Faker in the LCK, the level of it would likely drop and without a strong competitor to fight against, the LEC and LPL might in turn not become as strong as they have become today.
Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed this hypothetical scenario. Please share your thoughts about it and let us know if you agree with what we said, or if you think it would turn out differently than what we imagined!
Photos courtesy of Riot Games