Games has revealed the final list of franchises that will compete in the 2021 LCK season and beyond.
After a long process, Riot Games has selected 10 organizations that will be part of the LCK next year. The selected teams are:
- DAMWON Gaming
- Afreeca Freecs
- KT Rolster
- SANDBOX Gaming
- Team Dynamics
- Hanwha Life Esports
- hyFresh Blade
Nine out of the 10 teams selected were part of the 2020 LCK Summer split. The only team missing is SeolHaeOne Prince. Another significant name missing from the list is Jin Air Green Wings, a team that became known for its consistently poor performances. North American esports organization FaZe Clan also announced its intentions to apply for a franchise, but ultimately the organization didn’t go through with it in time to make the cut.
The new franchise era of the LCK starts in 2021
With this announcement, the LCK officially enters a franchise model. The LCK is the last of the four major regions to adopt this model, and it means there won’t be any more relegations or promotions at the top level of Korean League of Legends moving forward. Each team will compete in two splits per year and will have a separate Academy team.
Most of these organizations already have a broad pool of young talent that is constantly competing in small tournaments. It’s not unusual for LCK teams to have players signed as trainees, and these are players that train with the pro teams in hopes of getting a chance to one day make their debut on stage. Now, these players will have a new opportunity with the LCK Academy league.
Adopting the franchised model will improve the conditions of players in the region. High salaries are one of the reasons why players left the LCK and tried their luck in other regions, with top Korean pros appearing in the LCS and LPL, and sometimes in the LEC as well. Former T1 top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha allegedly signed a contract for $1 million per year with LPL organization FunPlus Phoenix. That didn’t even compare to the alleged $2.3 million contract signed between Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Dignitas. Now, LCK players might get access to better domestic contracts that will keep them in the region.