eSports

Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok Extends Player Contract With T1 Entertainment & Sports, Becomes Shareholder

  • Esports Organization T1 Entertainment & Sports extended its player contract with South Korean League of Legends star Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok through the end of the 2022 season.
  • Lee has been made a part-owner of the esports organization and will assume a leadership role after his playing career.
  • Lee’s ownership stake announcement is the second of its nature for a major team in the global League of Legends esports circuit following Team SoloMid’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg becoming part-owner in the team in October 2019.

Today, esports organization T1 Entertainment & Sports announced that it extended the player contract of League of Legends star and three-time world champion Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok through the 2022 season. Additionally, Lee became a part-owner of the esports organization and will assume a leadership role after his playing career and will help facilitate global operations.

Financial details of the contract and ownership agreement were not made public. Since T1 Entertainment & Sports is not a legal entity, it is likely that Lee became a shareholder of SK Telecom CS T1 Co.Ltd., the company doing business as T1 Entertainment & Sports, however, this was not confirmed in T1’s announcement. Lee’s previous contract with the organization was valid until November 2021, but the company’s announcement did not state whether the three-year deal is an amendment to the existing contract or if both parties agreed mutually to terminate the previous contract in favor to sign a new agreement. The Esports Observer reached out to T1 Entertainment & Sports for details on the contract and ownership structure. This article will be updated if further information is provided.

While Lee’s addition to the organization’s ownership group ensures that he will continue to be a key player in the esports industry after his professional playing career comes to an end, it does not necessarily indicate that he plans to end his career at the end of 2022. According to section 1.4.2., of the Season 2020 official League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) rulebook, which is outlining the term of players’ contracts, a contract must not exceed three years.

The T1 League of Legends organization is closely linked to Lee, who was recognized as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia – Entertainment & Sports 2019 list and spent his whole professional career with the team. In 2013, many of the major Korean League of Legends teams were forming sister teams and Lee was recruited into SK Telecom’s second team and T1 predecessor, SK Telecom T1 #2, which was later named SK Telecom T1 K. Lee had a successful rookie year culminating in winning his first world championship in Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“I am excited to continue playing for T1 and am thankful for all the fans around the world who have supported me all these years,” said Lee in a release. “I am honored to become a part-owner of T1 and look forward to working with the leadership team beyond my playing career. I love this team and am proud to help mold the future of this organization.”

In his home country, Lee is a national celebrity, appearing on late-night shows on national television and starring in commercials alongside countryman and soccer player Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur. In esports, Lee is widely regarded as one of the most iconic players in the young history of esports and contributed significantly to T1’s brand recognition and fan base today.

T1 Entertainment & Sports was formed in February 2019, when American telecommunications company Comcast Spectacor, owner of the Overwatch League franchise Philadelphia Fusion, and South Korean telecom company SK Telecom formed a joint venture.

In October 2019, American esports organization Team SoloMid created a similar arrangement with its star League of Legends player Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, when he signed a new two-year deal with the organization, which included an ownership stake in its League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) franchise team.

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