League of Legends Champions Korea
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2021 LCK season
|Game||League of Legends|
|No. of teams||10|
|Venue(s)||LoL Park, Seoul|
|DWG KIA (2nd title) |
|Most titles||T1 (9 titles)|
|Sponsor(s)||HP Omen, Logitech, McDonald's, Secretlab, Woori Bank|
|Domestic cup(s)||KeSPA Cup|
|International cup(s)||Mid-Season Invitational|
League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) is the primary competition for League of Legends esports in South Korea. Contested by ten teams, the league runs two seasons per year and serves as a direct route to qualification for the annual League of Legends World Championship. The LCK is administered in cooperation between Riot Games and KeSPA.
The league was formerly named League of Legends Champions before undergoing a major restructuring in late 2014, which saw a change in the competition's format and a rebranding to its current name. OGN reserved exclusive broadcasting rights of the league until 2016 when rights were split with SPOTV Games. In 2019, Riot Games took over the broadcasting of LCK. In 2021 the LCK franchised, and Challengers Korea (CK) and the LCK promotion tournament were discontinued.
The LCK has been long considered one of the strongest League of Legends leagues in the world, with the game's World Championship having been won by teams from the league from 2013 through 2017; 2018 was the first season since 2013 where a team from the LCK did not win the World Championship.
Pre-LCK era (2012–2014)
Following the launch of South Korea's League of Legends server in December 2011, cable broadcaster OnGameNet launched the country's first major League of Legends tournament in March 2012. Named The Champions Spring 2012, the tournament ran from March to May and was contested by a total of 16 teams. MiG Blaze was crowned the competition's inaugural champion after defeating their organizational sibling team MiG Frost in the finals. The Champions Summer 2012 followed later that year, with a rebranded MiG Frost, now known as Azubu Frost, claiming the title themselves. Azubu Frost, along with NaJin Sword, went on to represent South Korea in their first appearance at the League of Legends World Championship in October.
A tri-tournament annual circuit was soon set as the norm for the league's calendar year, now consisting of three seasons held in the winter, spring, and summer. Azubu Frost and NaJin Sword clashed early in 2013 in the finals of Champions Winter 2012-13, with the latter emerging victorious. Champions Spring 2013 and Champions Summer 2013 later followed, being won by MVP Ozone and SK Telecom T1 K respectively. SK Telecom T1 K went on to win the Season 3 World Championship later that year, becoming the first team from the league to do so.
SK Telecom T1 K became the first team to successfully defend their title the following year, sweeping Samsung Galaxy Ozone in the finals of Champions Winter 2013-14 to cap off an undefeated tournament run. Ozone's sibling team, Samsung Galaxy Blue, went on to win Champions Spring 2014 but were bested in the finals of Champions Summer 2014 by kt Rolster Arrows.
In October 2014, plans were announced for a drastic overhaul of the league's structure. League of Legends Champions was rebranded to League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), and the winter season was abolished in favor of an annual circuit consisting of the Spring Split and Summer Split. The competition's format, which consisted of a 16-team tournament with a group stage progressing into a knockout stage, was changed to a 10-team league operating on a round-robin basis, with the top 5 teams qualifying for a playoffs bracket. Furthermore, organizations were prohibited from owning more than one team - in particular, this change most heavily affected KeSPA-affiliated teams, all of which operated two squads as part of a sibling team system - forcing numerous organizations to merge or disband rosters.
LCK era (since 2015)
LCK Spring 2015 marked the debut of the league operating under its new format and identity. A newly minted SK Telecom T1, a product of the prior year's merger between SK Telecom T1 K and SK Telecom T1 S, swept the calendar year by winning both LCK Spring 2015 and LCK Summer 2015.
SK Telecom T1 retained their crown in LCK Spring 2016, becoming the first team in competition history to win three consecutive titles. Their streak of dominance was ended in LCK Summer 2016 by ROX Tigers, who became only the second team to win the league since its restructuring.
SK Telecom T1 won their sixth title as an organization on 22 April 2017, by defeating KT Rolster in the finals of LCK Spring 2017. In LCK Summer 2017 Finals, Longzhu Gaming won their first title on 26 August 2017 after defeating the spring winner SK Telecom T1.
Longzhu Gaming rebranded to Kingzone DragonX following the 2017 World Championship, and they defended their title in LCK 2018 Spring by defeating the Afreeca Freecs. kt Rolster won the LCK Summer 2018 championship, defeating Griffin in the finals.
SK Telecom T1 won the title for LCK Spring 2019 after defeating Griffin in the finals with 3–0. This marked the seventh LCK title for SK Telecom T1. On 31 August 2019, SK Telecom T1 once again defeated Griffin in the finals with a score of 3–1. This was their eighth championship title, and also their back-to-back LCK title in 2019.
- Ten teams participate
- Double round robin, all matches are best-of-three
- The best six teams advance to the playoffs
- The top two teams get byes into the semifinals
- If two teams have the same record, ties are broken by:
- Game record (teams get +1 point for a won game and –1 point for a lost game; the team with more points wins the tie)
- If points are tied, ties are broken by head-to-head record
- If still tied, teams play a tiebreaker match
- The top six teams participate in the playoffs
- Single-elimination, double bracket format
- All matches are best-of-five
- The winner of the Spring Season qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational
- The winner of the Summer Season (seed 1), the team with the most championship points (seed 2), and the winner of the regional qualifier (seed 3) qualify for the World Championship.
- As of 19 April 2021; players in the same position are listed in alphabetical order.
|Top Laner||Jungler||Mid Laner||Bot Laner||Support|
|Hanwha Life Esports||DuDu
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Winning Seasons||Runners-up Seasons|
|T1[b]||9||1||2013 Summer, 2013–14 Winter, 2015 Spring, 2015 Summer, 2016 Spring, 2017 Spring, 2019 Spring, 2019 Summer, 2020 Spring||2017 Summer|
|Gen.G[c]||2||4||2013 Spring, 2014 Spring||2013–14 Winter, 2014 Summer, 2020 Spring, 2021 Spring|
|KT Rolster[d]||2||4||2014 Summer, 2018 Summer||2013 Summer, 2015 Summer, 2016 Summer, 2017 Spring|
|OGN Entus[e]||2||3||2012 Spring, 2012 Summer||2012 Spring, 2012–13 Winter, 2013 Spring|
|DRX[f]||2||1||2017 Summer, 2018 Spring||2020 Summer|
|DWG KIA[g]||2||0||2020 Summer, 2021 Spring|
|Hanwha Life Esports[h]||1||2||2016 Summer||2015 Spring, 2016 Spring|
|Fredit Brion[i]||1||1||2012–13 Winter||2014 Spring|
|Griffin||0||3||2018 Summer, 2019 Spring, 2019 Summer|
|CLG Europe||0||1||2012 Summer|
|Afreeca Freecs||0||1||2018 Spring|
- Named MVP Ozone before September 2013
- Previously known as SK Telecom T1
- Previously known as MVP Ozone, Samsung Galaxy Ozone, Samsung Galaxy Blue & White, and Samsung Galaxy
- Previously known as KT Rolster Bullets and KT Rolster Arrows
- Previously known as MiG Blaze & MiG Frost, Azubu Frost & Azubu Blaze, and CJ Entus Blaze
- Previously known as Longzhu Gaming, Kingzone DragonX, and DragonX
- Previously known as Damwon Gaming
- Previously known as GE Tigers, KOO Tigers, and ROX Tigers
- Previously known as Najin Sword, Najin Black Sword & Najin White Shield, Brion Blade, and hyFresh Blade
- Hitt, Kevin (5 January 2021). "League of Legends Champions Korea Making Big Changes for 2021". The Esports Observer. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
- "리그 오브 레전드". leagueoflegends.co.kr (in Korean). 16 December 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
- Fogel, Stefanie (11 January 2019). "Riot Games to Independently Broadcast 'LoL' Champions Korea This Year". Variety. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
- Leslie, Callum (13 November 2017). "Riot plans to take over LCK production in 2019, open LoL Park studio". Dot Esports. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
- Daniels, Tom (2 November 2020). "Riot Games reveals LCK's 10 franchised teams". Esports Insider. Retrieved 3 January 2021.
- Deesing, Jonathan (28 October 2014). "Korean Professional League Getting Overhauled". redbull.com. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
- "[롤챔스] '제왕의 귀환' SK텔레콤, 그리핀 꺾고 LCK 첫 'V7' 축배(종합)". sports.news.naver.com (in Korean). 13 April 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- David "Viion" Jang (31 August 2019). "League of Legends: [2019 LCK Summer Finals] SK Telecom T1 Wins their 8th LCK Championship". Inven Global. Retrieved 31 August 2019.