Riot Korea has confirmed the 10 permanent franchises for the LCK in 2021 and beyond on November 2. There have been no changes from the preliminary list, as SeolHaeOne Prince misses out while all other LCK 2020 teams made the cut.
The 10 teams competing in the LCK 2021 season have been confirmed.
With 2020 marking the last year of a promotion-relegation system, all teams in the ecosystem — both LCK and Challengers Korea (CK) — were given the chance to apply for franchising.
In total, 25 teams made a push to enter the LCK, including Western franchises like FaZe Clan and NRG Esports. The field was trimmed down to a shortlist of 10 in August, including nine current LCK teams plus CK squad Brion Esports.
All 10 of the shortlisted franchises have confirmed their spots in the league as of November 2. They are as follows:
- Afreeca Freecs
- Brion Esports
- DAMWON Gaming
- Hanwha Life Esports
- KT Rolster
- Sandbox Gaming
- Team Dynamics
Brion Esports competed under the name hyFresh Blade in the CK 2020 season. Their roster included former Vici Gaming mid laner Choo “FireRain” Hwa-woo and Kim “Mightybear” Min-su. They finished sixth in CK 2020 Summer, missing out on playoffs.
It was also the breeding ground of LCK talent like Yoo “FATE” Su-hyeok (Sandbox) and Lee “HyBriD” Woo-jin (SeolHaeOne Prince).
Other iconic Korean franchises like Element Mystic and Jin Air Greenwings also missed out on a spot in the franchised league. They, alongside SeolHaeOne Prince, were some of the five teams next on the list if one of the shortlisted franchises pulled out.
The franchising of the LCK is a mixed feeling for some Korean fans. The promotion-relegation system has given the rise to teams like 2020 World Champions DAMWON, who grinded from the bottom to lift the Summoners Cup. However, as League esports looks to future-proof itself, franchising will provide teams some stability.
The buy-in amount for the LCK franchised league is unclear. Previous moves to franchising in the LEC, LCS, and LPL have typically drawn US$10 million at launch, with recent evaluations putting the price tag above US$30 million.