[Opinion] The LCK Challengers League deserves more international attention

Image via LCK Flickr

When did you start watching the LCK? What made you start following it, and what made you continue to watch? There are so many player achievements, narratives, and iconic moments that shaped the LCK to what it is today. The foundation of it comes from the players, because without the sheer talent, effort, and the amount of practice that players put into the game [including the amateur players that dream of becoming the next Faker of their generation], the LCK would not have the prestige that it holds today. 

A video that was put out by LCK, which asks fans what LCK means

The video linked above is what made me write this opinion piece. From my perspective, LCK stands out from its counterparts around the world, because the LCK were very ahead of the curve: They appealed to a global audience much earlier than their counterparts around the world. In my opinion, legendary shoutcasting moments such as the duel between Faker and Ryu and Caster Jun's legendary monolgues before each LCK finals are the things that helped lay the groundwork of LCK’s prestige status internationally. 

 

We can’t talk about the LCK without Challengers Korea. For those that are unaware of what that is, it was a secondary league that was replaced by the LCK CL this year. It was a league where eight teams competed for a ticket into the LCK. With franchising being implemented into the LCK, it was replaced by the LCK CL [Challenger League]. The league hosts the secondary rosters of each LCK organization, where they compete against one another for a total prize pool of 60,000,000 KRW [~53391.28 USD]. T1 Challengers, led by head coach Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong, were crowned as the inaugural LCK CL champions, where they defeated Hanwha Life Esports Challengers in the finals that took place on April 9.

DWG KIA after they've won the 2021 LCK Spring finals (Image via LCK Flickr)

Challengers Korea served as the foundations for teams such as Griffin and DWG KIA to cement their legacy into the LCK. Griffin themselves were a superstar team that dominated the scene upon its entrance, and it gave birth to many superstar players, like the current mid laner for Hanwha Life Esports, Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon. DWG KIA just became the 2021 LCK Spring champions; their legendary story is like Dragon Ball Z, where DWG KIA continues to become stronger to slay the next villain of their story. Challengers Korea is also where I began my career in esports, so you can call me biased, but the fact remains that without it, the LCK would look very different.

 

With such a goldmine of talent that exists in the LCK CL, a proper international support from Riot Korea is quintessential to the growth of the league in the long run. For starters, an English broadcast with a fresh lineup of English casters is absolutely necessary. The talent pool of the LCK CL are the next generation of players that will eventually take over the LCK, and global exposure early on in their careers will provide accelerated growth to the scene. It’ll also give the organizations more opportunities in their respective marketing, as they’ll have more in their arsenal to work with. It’s a win-win for everyone.

 

The trifecta of the players, the fans, and all those that work in Korean LoL esports is what makes the LCK so much more special than other leagues. It's been proven with EU Masters that second-tier tournaments can attract good viewership numbers; in Spring 2020, EUM Spring 2020 peaked at 140K viewers. Just like the in-game meta, LoL esports is always about what’s next, so why not capitalize on the goldmine that you’re sitting on in its early stages?

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