League of Legends

FaZe and NRG pull out of LCK 2021 franchising race

by Andrew Amos
Riot Games / FaZe Clan / NRG Esports

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21 teams have submitted interest in joining the LCK in Korea as the final major franchised League of Legends tournament in the world. North American esports giants FaZe Clan and NRG Esports will not be one of them, however, after the orgs withdrew their letters of intent.

The League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) is the final major global league that hasn’t franchised in the Riot Games MOBA. However, that’s set to change in 2021 ⁠— with the league looking to remove promotion and relegation from 2021.

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With competition in Korea and abroad, and a final chance at getting a spot in a top-tier franchised league, 21 teams have lodged interest in joining. However, FaZe Clan and NRG ⁠— who were reportedly interested ⁠— have pulled out of the race.

ELEAGUE
FaZe Clan has pulled out of the race for a franchised spot in the LCK.

19 of the teams who have applied are from within Korean circles. This includes all 10 current LCK teams, and seven of the eight Challengers Korea second-tier teams.

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However, two teams have applied from LCK franchising from overseas ⁠— Gamer Republic, Inc, and Omaken Esports. The publicly available list does not note FaZe Clan and NRG Esports making it to the interview stage.

Another notable exclusion is Worlds 2019 attendee Griffin. The once star-studded roster that harbored the future hope of Korean League of Legends was decimated in the off-season over allegations of corruption and misconduct.

The team failed to live up to their lofty expectations with a weakened roster in LCK Spring 2020, demoting out of the top flight. Team Dynamics took their spot in LCK Summer 2020 after a successful promotion tournament.

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Sword at Worlds 2019 playing for Griffin
Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games
Griffin has also pulled out of the LCK franchising race.

The value of an LCK franchise spot is unknown, but it’s set to be in the millions. Back when the LCS franchised in 2017, slots were sold for over $10 million. That number has since increased to over $35 million with the sale of Echo Fox.

The LCK has a predominantly-international audience, with a reported 62% of viewership stemming from overseas.

This provided the perfect opportunity for organizations like FaZe and NRG to further extend their reach into Asia, after the former signed PUBG Mobile and FIFA squads based in Thailand earlier in 2020.

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You can find the full list of applicants for LCK 2021 franchising below:

  • Afreeca Freecs
  • Awesome Spear
  • Brion Company
  • Damwon Gaming
  • DRX
  • Element Mystic
  • ESC Shane
  • Gamer Republic, Inc
  • Gen.G
  • Hanwha Life
  • Jin Air Green Wings
  • KT Rolster
  • Omaken Sports
  • OZ Gaming
  • RunAway
  • Sandbox Gaming
  • SeolHaeOne Prince
  • T1
  • Team Dynamics
  • WDG
  • World Game Star