2021’s Wanted Partners Were Established by LCK
With the 2021 season for League of Legends Champions Korea approaching, 10 preferred partners have been selected by the event. All of them but one are already participants. This is all based on an announcement made by Riot Games Korea.
Selecting the Preferred Partners
Nine of the current LCK teams have been picked by the league apart from APE Esports. This is the first one of five alternates in case the league will not be able to fulfill its wishes for the 10 selections. In case it all comes down to contract terms with the preferred partners, then SeolHaeOne Prince will be replaced by hyFresh Blade.
“Riot Games Korea has spent about 2 months to review 21 applicants and has finally chosen our favorite 2021 LCK organizations,” said a Riot Korea spokesperson. “In our second phase of the evaluation process, we reviewed the organizations’ team management plans, business plans and owners, with 6 outside experts in our panels. As a result, APE Sports has not been selected as one of the preferred organizations but is the first on the waitlist.”
The 10 Preferred Partners
So, one option has been established, respectively hyFresh Blade. Other than that, the other partners LCK wishes for include Sandbox Gaming, DAMWON Gaming, Team Dynamics, T1, Hanwha Life Esports, Afreeca Freecs, KT Rolster, DRX, and Gen.G. For the existing LCK, franchises are going to cost 10 billion KRW, which is 8.34 million in dollars.
A partnership has been announced, between APE and Pittsburgh Knights, back in August. The latter received investment from Wiz Khalifa and Pittsburgh Steelers. Moreover, they inquired separately about applying to the LCK independently. However, they then got into a partnership with not only APE but also SeolHaeOne Prince.
“Our partnership was contingent on [SeolHaeOne Prince] being accepted,” said James O’Connor, co-founder of Pittsburgh Knights. “It was publicized that they did not make the top 10 and are on reserve pending those deals being completed. So, it’s a wait-and-see type of situation as we explore the next steps and alternatives. We think highly of the region and Riot Korea.”
There are four other alternates for the league, respectively Jin Air Greenwings, Element Mystic, OZ Gaming, and Awesome Spear.
In the past, the League European Championship was the only one to have alternates in the franchising process. Initially, Movistar Riders and North were chosen by Riot Games European esports executives, to be part of the 10 teams. However, they didn’t succeed in coming to terms with Riot. As such, alternates Splyce and Excel Esports were chosen as alternates. They are now known as MAD Lions.
But LCK had a smaller number of applicants compared to LEC and the League Championship Series. Only 21 applicants existed, whereas LCS had more than 100 applicants.
FaZe Clan and NRG Esports were two of the organizations from the West that inquired, but none of them submitted a full application, according to sources. Although they had private conversations with Riot Korea, they didn’t want to keep going. Meanwhile, while RunAway and ESC Shane were also applicants, but from Korea, they didn’t make it to the alternate or preferred lists.