A fairytale story saw Griffin rise to the top of the LCK (League Champions Korea) after their qualification in 2018, though 4 splits and 0 LCK titles later they are now no longer in the competition.
A fairytale story saw Griffin rise to the top of the LCK (League Champions Korea) after their qualification in 2018, though 4 splits and 0 LCK titles later they are now no longer in the competition. Instead, Team Dynamics take their spot for the 2020 Summer split, a tournament in which the kings of Korea will be crowned and World Championship qualification will be earned.
Kicking off on Wednesday 17th June, the LCK sees 10 sides compete in a double round-robin, best-of-five regular season followed by playoffs. The regular season is competed over 10 weeks, with each organisation usually playing one or two series each time around. The regular season is set to be played out entirely from Riot’s LoL Park, concluding on Sunday 23rd August.
Once the regular season is finished, the top five teams will advance to the playoffs. The playoff format used in the LCK has been somewhat controversial in recent years and many have called for change. Rather than a single/double elimination knockout style, the LCK instead runs a gauntlet, where teams’ starting positions depend on their regular season standings.
With four rounds in the total, the fourth and fifth seeds start at the bottom and face each other for a chance to reach round 2. Round 2 then introduces the regular season third seed, with the winner moving on to round 3 to fave the second seed. The winner of round 3 will then go on to the grand final against the strongest regular season team for their shot at the LCK title.
Though this deservedly earns higher seeding teams a place further on in the playoffs, it also has the chance of stagnating sides as higher seeds will often go weeks without a competitive game and lose prior momentum in the process.
From a fan’s perspective, they are also prevented from seeing more series from the stronger teams, as the better a side performs in the regular season, the fewer matches they will play in the playoffs.
Playoffs are currently scheduled to run from Wednesday 27th August to Saturday 5th September, however the location(s) set to host these series are yet to be announced.
The most prestigious team in League of Legends history, T1 (formerly SKT) head into the split as holders after winning the last three splits back to back and will see anything other than victory as a failure. Their lineup, headed by veteran Faker in the mid lane, has not undergone any changes during the off-season and will now look to consolidate further on their Spring performance to take maximum momentum into Worlds.
Spring runners up Gen.G have also made no changes to their roster, though their long-serving head coach Edgar (around since their Worlds 2017 win as Samsung Galaxy) has decided to step away from the team. Former coach oDin has now moved into the Head Coach role, and Gen.G fans will hope that the decision to promote staff in this way will avoid an unnecessary shake-up that could be triggered by a new face coming in.
Other favourites include Spring runners up DRX, who have also made no changes to their lineup, as they will look to the continued performances of the likes of Doran, Chovy and Deft to carry the side that extra step this split and secure the LCK trophy this time around. Coach cvMax, formerly of Griffin, continues to oversee the team pushing for Korean titles, in stark contrast to the demise of his old employers.
KT Rolster and DAMWON Gaming round out the favourites, the former having made a number of roster moves while the latter have seen no changes. KT saw top-laner Smeb and mid-laner Ucal rejoin the team, having both played on the Summer 2018 winning roster, and they’ve brought with them a renewed sense of optimism to the team.
Elsewhere, Afreeca Freecs and Team Dynamics made no changes, while Hanwha Life Esports saw ex-Griffin ADC Viper join the side. SeolHaeOne Prince (renamed from APK Prince) have seen changes both on and off the rift, with mid-laner Cover making way for Mickey and H.O.T-Forever joining the organisation as general manager.
A noticeable move (particularly for Western fans) was that of former-Vitality coach YamatoCannon, joining SANDBOX Gaming to become their head coach for the Summer split. In doing so, he becomes the first Western coach to take charge of an LCK side.
After going for an upset in Spring by predicting DragonX to win the split, this time around I’m going for the more sensible choice. No team has won more LCK titles than T1, and no player has won more titles (be it LCK or World Championships) than Faker.
A serial winning organisation, T1 have made a habit of coasting through much of the regular season only to turn it on for playoffs and come out the clear strongest team. While work ethic is usually everything in Korea, T1 have found a balance between burnout prevention earlier in the split and total dominance by the end, and I don’t see Summer 2020 being any different.