LCK moves to a franchise model in 2021
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The League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) joins the remaining major League of Legends regions in adopting a franchising system. Set to commence in 2021, the LCK has put up a new website that details its plans for the competitive league, including the application process for interested organizations.
This development means numerous changes are on the way, but one of the biggest is the removal of relegation since all approved teams will become permanent partners with Riot Games. Interested organizations will be required to submit their applications before June 19, allowing the review process to begin on the said date. Riot will announce the final selection of teams in September.
Although the LCK makes the change in 2021, the remaining League of Legends regions made the transition to a franchising system earlier on. North America (LCS) and China (LPL) adopted the change in 2018, while Europe (LEC) made the move just last year.
We've considered transitioning to a franchise league since 2018. Starting last year, we have been considering many different models and the validity of the business by cooperating with several corporations. Through franchising, our goal is to create stability and attract investments for teams and sponsors, aiming for improved performances and creating a virtuous circle. Like baseball or soccer, we hope that esports can also become a multi-generation sport that multiple generations can enjoy.
As partners, all organizations accepted into the LCK will share in the revenue generated by the league. Organizations will also be required to pay their players a minimum salary of 60 million KRW ($48,540), which is triple what their minimum wage currently is at 20 million KRW ($16,180). The absence of promotions and relegations will also discontinue the LoL Challengers Korea, which will be replaced by a reserve league. Each organization will also need to launch and run reserve teams as well to help discover new talent.
It's a significant change that will bring much-needed stability to the Korean League of Legends scene. While this opens up more revenue generation avenues for organizations, players also receive better compensation and benefits while fans can enjoy the game without any fears of relegation.