The Final Fight is a series where we catch up with World Champions from Seasons 1-4 and have them recount the special moments before and after they took down the Nexus to win Worlds. When did they know they had won? And how did it feel to become a League of Legends World Champion?
After the Taipei Assassins shocked the world with their dominant performance in Season 2, one Korean team came back in full force at the 2013 World Championship, held at the iconic Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Centered around Faker, one of the best mid laners in the world -- both then and now -- SKTelecom T1 K ruled the tournament, only dropping three games throughout the entire event.
"The 2013 Championship, when we were first beginning from Group Stages, we didn't feel anxious," recalls Faker. "We had this confidence with us -- because we were scrimming with other teams and practicing. Having these matches, we thought, 'Oh, I think we're going to get to the Finals.'"
Season 3 was all about mechanics, and team strategy didn't really play a big part, according to Faker. So, naturally, the most mechanically gifted team came out on top. "Back then, there weren't particularly strong picks or strategy," he says. "Everything was smooth sailing, and it just happened the way it did. We didn't have to really strategize or put in incredible effort."
SKTelecom T1 K wasn't the best just because they had Faker, though. Every team member brought something special to the roster. Jungler bengi was instrumental in helping Faker get ahead and controlling the early game. And from the stalwart Impact, who bullied enemy laners and provided split-pushing pressure in the top lane, all the way down to the rambunctious duo of Piglet and Poohmandu, who provided zone control and clean-up power in team fights in the bottom lane, no one could overcome SKT T1 K in a Best of 5.
"Once we got to the Finals we were pretty confident we were going to win against Royal 3-0, by scrimming with them and all that," says Faker. "We thought it was pretty doable. It was really easy and it was very predictable."
In the Final Fight of the 2013 World Championship, SKTelecom T1 K had Royal Club's back against the wall, and proved how easy it was. The Korean powerhouse was already up 2-0 against the Chinese team in the Best of 5 series, and had taken full control of the game in only 15 minutes.
SKT was storming down mid lane when Wh1T3ZZ, on Fizz, decided to go for a play. Unfortunately, he went in a smidge too early and his team didn't follow him up quickly enough. Tabe was focused down by Piglet's Corki, who aggressively nailed Royal's support in his own base with a Missile Barrage. Faker and bengi dealt with Godlike while Impact split-push the bottom tower down.
It was a messy affair for Royal, and afterwards they couldn't deal with the push from SKT T1 K. Taking out the bottom inhibitor, SKT T1 K swung around and grabbed Dragon and Baron, amidst catching out Royal members in their own jungle. The rotations pre-empted the last push of the game, and before SKT T1 K knew it, they were the Season 3 World Champions.
"I remember very clearly that moment. But to me, it didn't hit me yet. It was like winning another game. It didn't really feel like I was winning the actual World Championship," says Faker.
"How happy I get after winning a game depends on how hard it was to achieve that victory. But the Royal Club game, wasn't as difficult," he continues. "It wasn't a hard thing to do, so it didn't really feel like, "Oh my gosh, that was amazing!" It was more like, "Oh, we did it! It's over now.'"
"I felt a release, like a relaxation or a peace of heart that everything was over, and everything was settled," says Faker.
But that was back then. Now, he's had plenty of time to think back to when he became a World Champion. "In the moment, winning the World Championship didn't really hit me. But in retrospect, having a World Championship title on my belt is a huge accomplishment and I totally feel that," he says. "I'm really proud of that. And I'm really, really glad that we won."