Faker’s Triumph: T1’s Revival and Spectator Growth Post-Hiatus

Faker, a celebrated figure in esports, returning to competitive play in LCK Summer 2023.

On July 5th, the esports world was taken aback as T1 announced that their star player, Faker, would be temporarily leaving the active roster due to an arm injury. This news struck not just the team, but fans worldwide. The absence of Faker, one of the most esteemed figures in League of Legends esports, led to anticipation about T1’s performance and viewer engagement. Almost a month later, Faker made his triumphant return to the active roster on August 2nd, providing a much-needed boost to T1 and a wave of excitement among viewers.

Filling Faker’s Shoes: Poby’s Debut and T1’s Performance

During Faker’s recovery period, the responsibility of filling his shoes fell on the young shoulders of 17-year-old Poby, who made his debut in the LCK during Week 5. However, this period proved to be challenging for T1.


Faker’s absence saw T1 slipping from their 3rd place standing in Week 4 to a disappointing 5th place by Week 8. T1’s performance took a turn for the better in Week 9, which coincided with Faker’s return and their match against one of the lower-ranked teams. This match marked T1’s first victory since Week 6.

Prior to his hiatus, Faker had led T1 to an impressive 6-2 record in the early season. This run included matches against the event’s top teams, KT Rolster and Gen.G Esports, and was enough to secure T1’s spot in the playoffs. The real test, however, was their match against SANDBOX Gaming on August 4th. SANDBOX was trailing behind T1 and needed to win the match to ensure their place in the playoffs. If T1 failed to overcome SANDBOX, their chances of moving forward were slim.

The Faker Effect: T1’s Viewership

T1, according to Esports Charts team data, is one of the most-watched teams in esports, holding the record (alongside DRX) for the highest peak concurrent viewers in esports history, excluding Chinese viewers – a staggering 5.14M. Not surprisingly, all of the most-watched LCK Summer 2023 matches so far have featured T1.

WeekOpponentPeak Viewership (PV)
1Gen.G Esports764K
1Hanwha Life Esports606K

T1’s first-week matches against Gen.G Esports and Hanwha Life Esports were the most viewed, with 764K and 606K peak viewers, respectively. Of the LCK Summer 2023’s top 20 games based on peak viewership, only three did not feature T1, underscoring T1’s immense popularity in the Korean region.

Faker’s return in Week 9 marked the most popular game of the second half of the season. In his absence, Poby’s debut in Week 5 led to a stagnation in viewership for the LCK Summer event. Both Week 5 and Week 8 failed to surpass the 4M Hours Watched mark. In contrast, Weeks 1-4 saw an average of 5M+ Hours Watched. This figure dropped to an average of 3.9M Hours Watched in Weeks 5-8.

Faker’s return in Week 9 brought with it an increase in viewership, with peak viewership hitting 475K – the highest since Week 4. This figure marked an 18.4% increase from the average peak viewership of 401K during Faker’s absence. Average viewership data further validated this growth, showing a 19% increase upon Faker’s return compared to the average for Weeks 4-8.

Faker's comeback from a health break catalyzes T1's first success in weeks and a rise in audience engagement.

T1’s Popularity: With or Without Faker

While T1’s viewership did dip in Faker’s absence, it’s important to note that the team still held its ground as one of the most-watched teams in League of Legends, and perhaps in esports overall. Despite the lower-than-average concurrent viewership figures, T1’s matches remained the most-watched matches every week for this event.

Whether with or without Faker, T1’s matches consistently ranked as the top two most-watched matches each week. An extreme example of this was their Week 1 game against Gen.G Esports, which drew in 764K peak viewers – 344K more than the Dplus vs DRX match, the most popular game of Week 1 not featuring T1.

In Week 4, T1’s match had 227K more peak viewers than the next most popular game. Even without Faker in Week 6, they managed to draw 205K more peak viewers than their competitors. It’s clear that while Faker is a renowned figure in esports, T1’s popularity extends beyond just him.

Faker’s return, while boosting viewership, was also critical to T1’s competitive performance. T1, who had struggled to attract as many viewers and win matches during Faker’s hiatus, are now in a position to finish the LCK Summer season on a high note, especially with playoffs just around the corner.

As the summer season draws to a close and we approach August, the esports community gears up for the much-anticipated LCK Summer 2023 Playoffs. Scheduled to start on August 8th and culminate on the 22nd, the playoffs will feature exciting Bo5 matches in a double-elimination format.

Last year, Gen.G Esports emerged victorious over T1 in the Grand Final. As we move closer to the Playoffs, T1 are tasked with a daunting challenge – to make their way through the Playoffs and secure a rematch with Gen.G Esports. Only time will tell whether Faker’s return will help T1 reclaim their glory.

To stay updated on the LCK Summer 2023 and learn more about League of Legends viewership, check out our tournaments page or visit the LCK Summer 2023 page directly.

General Sport Observer Marc Defaou
reviewed by: Marc Defaou (Sport Expert)

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