League Champions Korea (LCK) will become a franchised league in 2021, joining the franchise model already used by the LEC, LCS, and LPL.
Under the new model, approved teams will not undergo relegation, and Challengers Korea will be discontinued. The promotion and relegation series will be held for the last time during LCK Spring Split 2020.
Instead, a new academy league will be formed, with every franchised LCK team required to field a roster with the goal of cultivating new talent.
As a franchised league, the LCK and participating teams will be partners that share in decision-making and revenue. Players will also receive a minimum salary of 60 million won (~US$48,800) per year, which according to Riot Games is “higher than any other professional sports league in Korea”.
They added that there is a risk that players and teams may lose incentive to perform under the franchise model, and are prepared to implement mechanisms to keep LCK teams “in their best shape”.
Applications for LCK 2021 have opened today. The review and selection process will take place until August, and the announcement of accepted teams will be made in late September.