LCK reportedly set to introduce salary cap in the league amid financial troubles

LCK arena 2022 summerRiot Games Korea

The LCK, South Korea’s top League of Legends competition, has reached an agreement with all ten teams to implement a salary cap, according to a report from Inven.

Details about how or when the salary cap will be introduced are still unclear, but it is reported that all ten LCK teams are in agreement about this matter amid concerns that wage costs in the league are spiraling out of control.

This comes more than a year after Upcomer reported that T1 stood as the “strongest opposing voice” to a salary cap despite other teams pushing for the rule to be implemented.

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According to Inven’s report, the general sentiment about a salary cap has changed in recent times. The rule was previously rejected due to fears that it would lead to a player exodus and a decline in the level of competition, but “now there is a consensus that excessive salary inflation needs to be curbed.”

At the start of the year, Arnold Hur, CEO of Gen.G, another organization in the LCK, admitted that he was “extremely concerned” about the league’s financial situation. “If the publisher, the LCK, teams, players don’t take the risks now to fix the model, I fear the worst,” he said in a Reddit AMA.

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T1 reported an operating loss of over $12 million in 2022

Despite being one of the most popular esports brands in the world, T1 continue to operate in the red. According to SK Telecom’s 2022 audit report, T1 posted an operating loss of approximately 16.6 billion KRW ($12.6 million USD).

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“If a salary cap is introduced, there is a possibility that salary disclosure will follow,” a source told Inven.

Jérôme Coupez, the CEO and founder of esports agency Prodigy Agency, expressed concern that players might be left out of negotiations regarding a salary cap.

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“The players are not represented properly (collectively – Player Association – bargaining agreement) so they might not be included in the discussions about this salary cap and the numbers?” he wrote on Twitter, adding that this is “an intriguing issue.”

In late 2020, the LPL, China’s League of Legends franchise competition, began rolling out a salary cap to assure the league’s long-term sustainability. According to Chang ‘Xinyi’ Ping, a former jungler for teams like JD Gaming, FunPlus Phoenix, and EDward Gaming, some players had their salaries slashed by as much as 70% following the introduction of the rule.

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The news of an imminent salary cap comes just days after the LCK shattered its viewership record after over 1.4 million people tuned in to watch T1 versus Gen.G in the LCK Spring grand final. Both teams will represent the region at the upcoming Mid-Season Invitational vent in London.

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