League Champions Korea will not follow the footsteps of North America and China with regards to its league structure — for now, at least.
Professional League of Legends leagues feature promotion and relegation systems in the major regions, though reports in the last few weeks revealed the Chinese and North American leagues will eliminate relegation and move to a franchise system with stable membership. When reached by Slingshot, Riot Games Korea said that as of now the LCK will not make any changes.
“Regarding the franchising of the LPL, we understand that the decision to change towards a franchising system was announced this past weekend by taking into account the regional characteristics,” Riot Korea said in a written statement to Slingshot. “Considering that change should be implemented by keeping in mind the unique environment and characteristics of each region, we do not plan to implement such a plan in Korea in the short term.”
When pressed for clarification on “short term,” a Riot Korea spokesperson simply said it’s too early to say when — or if — the LCK would eliminate relegation.
The Chinese League of Legends Pro League announced through Weibo last week it will abandon relegation this summer, and all 12 current teams will be guaranteed a spot in the new franchised LPL. The LPL will grow to 14 teams next year with a goal of 20 in the future. Teams will also be city based starting in 2018.
Richard Lewis first mentioned the possibility of franchising the North American LCS in October 2015. A year later, a letter obtained by Slingshot revealed the LCS owners’ umbrage with relegation, which included a line about talks being off the table “until the commencement of charter membership in 2018” in the North American LCS. According to the letter, eliminating relegation would not be considered until at least 2019 in the European LCS. TheScore also reported April 21 that the North American LCS will move to a franchise system next year, though according to the report, current teams will not have guaranteed spots.
But for now, that trend won’t make its way to the LCK.