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Riot Games finalizes 10 teams for LCK franchise

LCK logo (Riot Games)
LCK logo (Riot Games)
Riot Games finalized the 10 teams for the League of Legends Champions Korea franchise on Monday after announcing implementation of the franchise system for 2021 back in April.

The 10 teams are hyFresh Blade (Brion Esports), Sandbox Gaming, Afreeca Freecs, Damwon Gaming (AD Esports), KT Rolster (KT Sports), Team Dynamics, Hanwha Life Esports (Hanwha Life Insurance), DRX, Gen.G Esports and T1 (SK Telecom CS T1).

The list remains unchanged from the 10 preferred bidders Riot Games announced in August, after two rounds of application and interview of the 21 interested teams.

Riot games announced on Monday that all 10 teams have paid the preliminary entrance fee for the franchise system as of Oct. 30 and have finalized their participation in the LCK next season. Teams that were already in the LCK before the franchise will pay 10 billion won ($8.8 million) while the new team, hyFresh Blade, will pay 12 billion won over the course of five years. Riot officials said they would actively consider increasing the number of teams to 12 if the market grows and sales increase steadily in the future.

In order to make LCK enjoyable for multiple generations and create a sustainable esports ecosystem, Riot Games established LCK Corporation with Riot Games’ esports business executive Oh Sang-hun as the CEO.

With the franchise system, relegation matches have been abolished and the teams are required to have a second division team. Also, companies have to pay a minimum salary of 60 million won per player, which is higher than any other professional sports league in Korea, according to Riot Games.

In preparation of the franchise system next year, a priority negotiation period will start Tuesday and end before Nov. 16, which is when the official free agent period begins for global LoL esports. The priority negotiation period is a one-time measure to allow players and coaching staff from teams that failed to qualify for LCK franchise to find new teams more easily. 
LCK’s Damwon Gaming celebrates winning the 2020 World Championships on Saturday. (Riot Games)
LCK’s Damwon Gaming celebrates winning the 2020 World Championships on Saturday. (Riot Games)
Meanwhile, eyes are on the off-seasonperiod leading up to 2021 LCK as contracts of big names such as Nuguri and BeryL, who won the World Championships last week, as well as DRX’s star player Chovy is due to expire.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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