As revealed this Thursday, 21 teams have submitted their applications to become one of the franchised teams in the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) in 2021 season.
LCK have announced their intentions to franchise the league for 2021 season in April when the league organisers also welcomed all esports organisations who wish to become a part of LCK to send in their applications. With this announcement, LCK became set to join League of Legends European Championship (LEC), League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and League of Legends Pro League (LPL) as the final major franchised LoL esports league.
The final chance for teams from Korea and abroad to become a part of a top-tier franchised league ushered 21 teams to apply for the spot and while the initial reports suggested NRG and FaZe would both apply and try to earn their spot in the LCK, it was later unveiled both have pulled out of the race. As revealed this Thursday, 21 companies have applied for the LCK franchised spot, 19 of which are from Korea, while only two hail from overseas - Gamer Republic Inc. and Omaken Esports.
Shockingly, the 2019 League of Legends World Championship attendees Griffin, who recently suffered relegation to Korean's second division - League of Legends Challengers Korea (CK) decided to not apply for the spot and are not one of the 21 applicants.
Griffin have gone through quite a turbulent period after the 2019 Worlds, due to internal conflicts that arose following the allegations of managerial misconduct and corruption. This eventually led to the departure of star players, who found their homes elsewhere. Despite the brand name, Griffin failed to live up to their expectations throughout the LCK Spring 2020, which eventually saw them drop into the LCK Summer promotion series where they lost to SANDBOX Gaming and got relegated into CK.
As of now, the value of LCK franchised spot is still a mystery, however, the number is likely somewhere in tens of millions, considering LCS franchised spot costs about US $35 million – amount payd for Echo Fox’s spot by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (Evil Genuises).
The full list of applicants is as follows:
- Afreeca Freecs
- Awesome Spear
- Brion Company
- Damwon Gaming
- Element Mystic
- ESC Shane
- Gamer Republic, Inc
- Hanwha Life
- Jin Air Green Wings
- KT Rolster
- Omaken Sports
- OZ Gaming
- Sandbox Gaming
- SeolHaeOne Prince
- Team Dynamics
- World Game Star
The list includes all 10 current LCK teams and seven CK teams, with the only exception being aforementioned Griffin. The general consensus in the esports community is that this list is rather short, considering both LEC and LCS drew in over 100 applicants when they decided to franchise their leagues.
Additionally, it's weird to see the absence of Western teams, considering how popular LCK is not only in Korea but in the west as well, with reportedly 62% of the viewership stemming from overseas. As revealed NRG and FaZe both signed letters of intent in a bid to extend their reach into Asia, but have seemingly moved away for a yet unknown reason.