The LCK is ready for its newly franchised era, and the league has announced a new format with some major changes that will affect its players.
The new LCK is starting officially on January 13 with an opening series between Gen.G and KT Rolster. The regular season will be played with the first half of games held from Wednesday to Sunday with two best-of-three series every day. The second half will be played from Thursday to Sunday.
In 2021, the LCK is abandoning its “king of the hill” format. In previous splits, the team that finished the regular season in first place earned a direct seed in the season’s playoff final. The new playoff format will see each qualified team playing at least two games. The top six teams from the regular season qualify for the next stage. The playoffs will be played in a more standard bracket. All series in the playoffs are to be played as best-of-five. Based on the final standings, teams will earn championship points.
The LCK will now have a secondary league, the LCK Challengers league, where all of the Korean Academy teams will be competing. This tournament will be played on Mondays and Tuesdays with five best-of-one matches each day. Teams can switch players from the Academy roster to the main roster on three occasions: the start of the split, before round two, and before the start of the playoffs. All trainees will continue competing in the LCK Academy Series, a tier-three tournament.
The LCK established a minimum salary of 60 million KRW for its players, and that’s roughly $55,000 USD. Coaches will be receiving a minimum of 40 million KRW, a little over $36,000 USD. With these rules in place, players and coaches have room to negotiate with their organizations to guarantee better deals. It’s unclear if the same rules apply to academy players.
The new job security may be attracting back players who previously moved to other regions. Former T1 players Bae “Bang” Jung-sik and Kim “Khan” Dong-ha have returned to South Korea to again compete as starters in the LCK.
The 2021 LCK Spring split starts on January 13.