Twenty-one companies reportedly submitted applications to join the league earlier this year, including South Korean organizations competing in the Challenger League and Overwatch. International organizations like FaZe Clan and NRG also reportedly considered applying but ultimately decided not to.
Another organization launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal of reaching $20 million, but it didn’t come close to that goal and ultimately decided to cancel the project.
Out of the 10 selected teams, only one wasn’t already in the LCK. Brion Esports will replace SeolHaeOne Prince, who came in last place in the 2020 Summer Split. This choice was supposedly already made in August since the reported finalists match the definitive list that was recently revealed.
In 2021, franchising will aim to “strengthen LCK’s competency and ultimately create a more satisfying experience for all participants of the league,” according to Riot. Here’s the list of the 10 selected organizations to participate in the newly franchised LCK.
1) DAMWON Gaming
DAMWON are the team to beat heading into next year. After earning a Worlds spot in 2019 and losing in the quarterfinals to G2, they came back stronger than ever this season with skyrocketing results in the 2020 LCK Summer Split. They won the regional championship in August and then the world title on Oct. 31.
DRX first entered the LCK in 2015 under the name “Incredible Miracle.” Then, the org rebranded to Longzhu Gaming in 2016, which was acquired by Kingzone DragonX in 2018 and ultimately renamed to DRX this year.
They earned a spot in Worlds 2020, where they ended their journey in the quarterfinals after a loss 3-0 against the team that won it all, DAMWON.
Gen.G, formerly known as KSV Esports, entered the LCK by acquiring the Samsung Galaxy roster in 2017 shortly after they won the World Championship.
This year, the team earned a spot in the 2020 World Championship as the third seed from South Korea. They performed well in the first stage, but ended their journey after losing to G2 Esports in the quarterfinals.
T1 is the most successful League esports team in the world, even if their performance has become more inconsistent lately. After grabbing three world titles and six regional championships, they won the 2020 LCK Spring Split and then faltered by placing fifth in the summer. T1 failed to qualify for the 2020 World Championship with a 3-0 loss against Gen.G in the Regional Finals.
5) Afreeca Freecs
This organization joined the LCK in 2016 by acquiring the roster of Rebels Anarchy, who succeeded in being promoted to the professional league in 2015.
Despite being able to qualify for almost every LCK split’s playoffs since they joined the league, Afreeca have yet to win a regional title. They also failed to qualify for the 2020 World Championship by losing to T1 in the Regional Finals.
6) KT Rolster
KT Rolster is one of the oldest South Korean esports organizations in League. KT joined the professional league in 2013 when it was still called OGN Champions by creating two rosters in its second season.
KT has signed countless players who have dominated the international competitive scene, such as Smeb, IgNar, PraY, Ucal, Deft, and Bdd. This year, they placed fifth in the spring and failed to qualify for the summer playoffs by finishing in sixth.
7) SANDBOX Gaming
Contrary to KT, SANDBOX is one of the most recent teams to be added to the LCK. It joined the league in 2018 by acquiring a recently promoted roster and has had mitigated results since.
This year, SANDBOX were almost relegated to the Challenger League but fought to keep their spot in the league by defeating Griffin and Seorabeol Gaming. Then, they improved over the summer with YamatoCannon as their head coach, who has since left the team.
8) Team Dynamics
Team Dynamics is the last team that joined the LCK in 2020. The players earned their spot in the professional league by defeating SANDBOX and then Seorabeol Gaming in the summer promotion tournament.
They had a hard time adjusting, however, finishing the split in eighth place. Dynamics has started rebuilding its roster ahead of the 2021 season with only two players remaining from this season.
9) Hanwha Life
Hanwha Life has carried on the legacy of another well-known organization from the LCK: the ROX Tigers. HLE acquired the slot and roster of ROX in 2018, three years after it joined the league, but has struggled to make it to the top of the rankings since. They had to fight to keep their LCK slot after bad results in the spring and then placed ninth in the summer.
10) New org: Brion Esports
Brion is no stranger to the South Korean competitive League scene. It joined Challengers Korea in 2019 under the name Brion Blade and then renamed to hyFresh Blade, where the team regularly made it to top three. The company is also a sports marketing group that manages dozens of athletes in South Korea, ranging from baseball to soccer and golf.
LCK teams that join the league in the 2021 season will be protected from relegation to the Challengers League since they bought their franchise spots in the league for several seasons to come and will receive a portion of its revenue.
On the other hand, they accepted several terms, such as a reported application fee of $10 million and paying all their players at least 60 million Korean won (around $49,000 per year).
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