Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok has established himself as the all-time greatest in League of Legends, but even he couldn’t resist the pull of mandatory military service in Korea. Until now.
The long-time T1 star is no longer threatened by mandatory conscription following the results of the 2023 Asian Games. Here’s what happened, and what it means for The Unkillable Demon King.
Does Faker have mandatory military service in Korea?
After winning the 2023 Asian Games, Faker will not be forced to serve a mandatory military service period in his home country of Korea. It’s a huge relief to fans of Faker and his squad, T1. And it’s likely a relief to the famous player as well.
All men are required to participate in mandatory military service in South Korea. Very few exceptions are made to this rule, but there are some ways to get out of it. These include winning results in international sport and competition during which men represent the country.
This is most notably the case at the Olympic Games, where any medal awarded to a man in competition will satisfy that person’s mandatory military service requirement. There is also an opportunity at the smaller regional Asian Games event, though its requirements are more specific. Competitors will only avoid service at home if they win the gold medal at the Asian Games.
At the 2023 Asian Games, Faker and his Korean teammates did exactly that, defeating Chinese Taipei in the finals of the event’s League of Legends competition with a 2-0 sweep.
Faker, South Korea win 2023 Asian Games
Faker’s win in the 2023 Asian Games representing South Korea awarded the player and his teammates with much-desired gold medals. The victory ultimately came with relative ease.
The Asian Games’ League of Legends final saw little hype, as its results seemed a foregone conclusion. The Taiwanese team had little hope against its Korean opposition, and both finals games were one-sided affair.
South Korea’s greatest challenge came earlier in the tournament, when the Korean team faced China in another playoff series. The two countries are considered to be the class of the region by far.
That series also provided little in the way of fireworks, however. Faker and his Korean teammates blasted the Chinese squad with another 2-0 sweep, paving their way to the final and a gold-medal triumph.
This means that Faker and each of his Korean teammates will now be able to avoid mandatory military service in their native Korea, allowing them to instead focus fully on their pro League of Legends careers.
Many esports professionals in Korea have to block out multiple years of their careers to make room for military service. It can be a major hindrance, and exceptions are rarely made. This victory is therefore not just a major accomplishment for Faker and his teammates in representing their home country, but also in sustaining their professional careers.