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 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.
LCK Live Streaming
LCK Regular Season
Every LCK season is separated into Spring and Summer Splits. 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 game victories takes the match, but individual game records can also come into play during the playoffs seeding.
Once the regular split comes to an end, the top 5 teams move on to the LCK playoffs. The seeding process is quite unusual, as it puts a strong emphasis on the regular season performance. For example, a team that finished the regular split in first place is seeded directly into the finals, a second-place team gets a bye to the semifinals, a team that comes after that qualifies for the quarterfinals, and two lineups below it have to play in a wildcard match.
This means that a team with the best regular split showing is the equivalent of a final boss that everyone else is desperately trying to challenge. And since it’s only playing the very last series of the LCK season, that team gets ample opportunities to study the playstyles of other lineups while concealing its own strategies. Needless to say, this is a monumental advantage, and every team wants to go straight to the finals to have the best chance of claiming the trophy.
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), a large competition that occurs between two splits. The Summer Split winner and two teams with the most Championship Points take part in the most prestigious tournament in the scene, the League of Legends World Championship.
Every split counts in the 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.
Unlike with other major leagues, two teams with the worst regular split records have to fight for their LCK spots. And that means relegation. The promotion/relegation tournament pits the bottom-2 LCK teams against the top-2 CK (Challenger Korea) teams. 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.
Relegation serves as an added incentive for teams to remain competitive throughout the entire season. After all, there’s always someone else ready to take their spot. Additionally, up-and-coming lineups can use this opportunity to qualify for the LCK and prove their worth against the best teams in the world.
LCK Champions: SKT T1
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.
LCK at Worlds and MSI
When it comes to international tournaments, no one can challenge LCK teams. 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. Until recently, SKT won every World Championship they attended, but Samsung Galaxy shattered their winning streak in 2017.
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.
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.
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.