The LCK is the main LoL competition in South Korea. It was founded by OnGameNet (OGN) in 2012 under the name of “The Champions” and was later rebranded as the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK). Nowadays, the LoL LCK is a collective effort from Riot Games, KeSPA, OGN, and SPOTV Games, and it is best known for its high level of play and incredibly competitive structure. Here’s everything you need to know about LCK Betting, best LCK betting sites, including tips and strategies for safe and smart bets.
Top LCK Betting Sites
LCK Regular Season
Every LCK season is separated into Spring and Summer Splits, each with its own LCK standings. The regular season split takes place over the span of 9 weeks, and 10 teams compete with each other for the opportunity to reach the playoffs. The matches are conducted in a Double Round Robin format where every lineup plays two Bo3s (sets of three games) against every opponent. The first one to reach two victories takes the match, but individual game records can also come into play during the playoffs seeding.
LCK Playoffs – Then and Now
Once the regular split comes to an end, the top 6 teams in the LCK standings move on to the LCK playoffs. The seeding process used to be quite unusual, as it put a strong emphasis on the regular season performance. Both the first-place team and the second-place team are directly seeded into the semifinals, with the number one seed choosing which quarterfinal winner they want to go against. In the quarterfinals, instead, the 3rd-place team goes up against the 6th place, with the remaining 4th and 5th place teams fighting in the other series.
This means that a team with the best regular split comes with a very big advantage in the LCK playoffs. The team has the power to choose its opponents and have a high probability of securing at least a finalist spot. Not only that but these teams have more time to prepare and work out their best strategies. Needless to say, this also has a huge impact on the LCK odds as the top teams come with great bonuses that they can easily take advantage of.
The Road to the MSI and Worlds
All playoffs matches are conducted in a Bo5 series format, meaning that the first team to win three games advances to the next round of the competition. The only exception is the wildcard match that still takes the form of a Bo3. Playoffs contenders receive Championship Points that go towards qualifying for the World Championship (or Worlds). Naturally, the first-place team gets the most points, and the fifth-place team gets the least.
Additionally, the Spring Split winner is invited to the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI), an international competition that occurs between two splits. After the end of the Summer Split, the winner gets a free ticket to the most prestigious tournament in the scene, the League of Legends World Championship. Thanks to the LCK’s recent performances, the LCK gets a total of four seeds for Worlds. The second seed will be the team with the most Championship throughout the season (if the winners of Summer also have the most championship points, then the second team with the most points is chosen). The two remaining seeds, instead, are given through one last tournament, the LCK Regional Finals. The 3rd to 6th ranked teams (with AQ included as the 1st team) in total championship points will fight in a King of the Hill single elimination bracket, with the finalists locking the last two spots.
Every split counts in the LoL LCK, but most teams will try to hit the highest level of play in summer. After all, every League of Legends player dreams of going to Worlds.
LCK Relegation Gone with Franchising
Back when the LCK was not a franchise, the two bottom teams with the worst regular split records had to fight to keep their LCK spot. The relegation tournament included the bottom two LCK teams and the top two teams from Challenger Korea (Korea’s second division).
These lineups battle each other in a competition similar to the playoffs, and if one of the LCK teams loses, it’s eliminated from the league. Meanwhile, one of the CK teams takes its plays and gets into the cross hairs of fans and pundits, usually as underdogs in the LCK betting landscape. Relegation served as an added incentive for teams to remain competitive throughout the entire season and it was a great opportunity to see rising talents prove their worth in the most competitive domestic tournament. A great example was DAMWON Gaming, when they rose to the LCK through CK.
With that being said, in 2021, the LCK was the first year of Korea’s professional League of Legends league under partnership. With its change to the format, the relegation/promotion tournaments are now gone and bottom-tier teams can remain in the league as long as they’re willing to keep their spot. This grants more stability to the organizations that can have a bad split, with the possibility of coming back in the following tournaments.
LCK Champions: SKT T1 and Damwon Kia
LCK had many different teams claim its title, but there’s one that stands out the most. SK Telecom T1. Fielding the undisputed best player in the world—Faker—SKT have enjoyed unrivaled success in the LCK, including a decisive victory during the original Champions league. And while they recently lost some ground, SKT have long since cemented their legacy as the most dominant team in the history of League of Legends. Every year, they get the first or second lowest LCK odds to win championship and they also score high in the bookmakers’ preferences to win the Worlds.
On the other hand, in the last few years, DAMWON Kia has been dominating the LCK during the regular season, winning both Spring and Summer Split in 2020 and 2021. In the upcoming year, they are still looking like a top-tier team… but the competition might have raised the bar more than expected.
LCK Teams’ Performance at Worlds and MSI
When it comes to international League of Legends tournaments, LCK teams used to be impossible to challenge. Since 2013, Korean teams seamlessly thwarted their international counterparts to win every single League of Legends World Championship. SKT T1, in particular, have three Worlds titles to their name and won every World Championship they attended, until Samsung Galaxy shattered their winning streak in 2017. Chinese teams ended their dominance in 2018 when Invictus Gaming won the trophy and one year later, FunPlus Phoenix doubled down on that win. Damwon Gaming fired back in 2020 to return the prize to South Korea and make LCK betting even more exciting for the upcoming season.
Things are a bit different at the Mid-Season Invitational. And while SKT T1 did score back-to-back MSI victories in 2016 and 2017, the 2015 and 2018 trophies went to the Chinese EDG and RNG respectively. In 2020 the tournament was canceled because of the global pandemic, and instead South Korean and Chinese teams competed in the Rift Rivals event. Last year, the tournament returned to its original format, but the LCK representative DWG Kia failed to relinquish the title, losing to the LPL Team RNG in the finals. Nonetheless, the team representing Korea will still have relatively high chances of winning it, and for sure have a strong result at MSI.
Sweeping Changes to the LCK in 2021 will transition to 2022
With the partnership in the works, the League of Legends Champions Korea dished out larger amounts of prize pools in 2021 and the same amounts will be distributed in 2022. Winners and runners-up will collect twice as much money this year as big sponsors like HP Omen, Secretlab joined the list last year.
To ensure higher stability to players and staff, minimum salaries were increased overall, both to LCK teams as well as roster competing in Challengers Korea. This will surely make the competitive scene more attractive to the younger talents, as they will get more guarantees when taking this career path. Top players will also be more motivated to remain in Korea and contribute to the success of the LCK.
More flexibility is given to teams in regard to player transfers, as exchanges can be made between the Champions and Challengers divisions. Teams can promote and relegate players three times during each split at the start of the 1st and 2nd rounds, as well as before the spring and summer playoffs.
Punters will also benefit from these changes, as they will have more LCK betting opportunities during the regular season. Best of three matches are scheduled from Wednesday to Sunday during the first round, and from Thursday to Sunday during the second round. The lower division called the LCK Challengers League will have five games per day on Monday and Tuesday in a double round-robin tournament.
Why watch the LCK?
There are times when you just want to watch good League of Legends. And when that happens, there’s no better place than the LCK. South Korea has a long-standing tradition of forging esports champions, and LoL is no exception. A unique blend of talent, infrastructure, and grueling practice regiments puts LCK teams into a league of their own.
Compared to other regions, the South Korean Championship is more balanced and LCK odds reflect that reality. Many years ago, SKT1 dominated the league but nowadays there are several teams capable of causing upsets, even in best of three series. This provides punters with superior LCK betting opportunities, as they can bet on underdogs to win at least a match in the series.
Whether it’s teamwork or individual skill, Koreans always seem to be ahead of the curve, and many League of Legends fans consider claiming the LCK trophy a harder feat than winning Worlds. And if that doesn’t speak volumes about the nature of this league, we don’t know what does.