League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), the organizer of the professional League of Legends esports league in South Korea, has announced the adoption of the Sporting Financial Regulations to establish a sustainable professional LoL esports ecosystem.
The LCK revealed that it plans to implement the Sporting Financial Regulations starting from the 2024 stove league, following a transition period in the latter half of 2023.
The Sporting Financial Regulations aim to maintain the scale of player salaries for each team at a sustainable level, enabling balanced growth for both teams and players, fostering a healthy and equitable environment within the league.
As one of the top leagues in the world, LCK has achieved unparalleled success, attracting top-tier players and reaching the highest standards of competition. Consequently, player salaries in the LCK have surged to become among the highest in the world. In just two years, the average combined salary of the top five earners on each team has increased by 71%.
To ensure the sustainable growth of both teams and the league, LCK has been devising various operational policies and support measures. The adoption of the Sporting Financial Regulations is the latest effort following the introduction of new systems, such as agent certification and the rookie development clause in the previous season.
The specific details of the regulations will be unveiled through an official rulebook in due course. The overarching goal of the Sporting Financial Regulations is to promote balanced growth within the league, considering the practical circumstances faced by LCK and its aspiration to provide "global premium content enjoyed by generations to come."
Through this new system, LCK aims to address the challenges that teams encounter in finding additional growth opportunities, given the lingering impact of the global sports slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic. With several teams experiencing a significant proportion of their operating budget allocated to player salaries, it has become crucial to establish a mechanism that ensures sustainability while maintaining competitiveness.
By recognizing and rewarding the accomplishments and contributions of veteran players who have achieved multiple championships (5) in the LCK or international championships (3) like the Mid-Season Invitational and LoL World Championship, the Sporting Financial Regulations offer special exemptions to these players, granting a reduction of up to 50% of their salary in the salary cap calculation. Players who have been with a team for more than three years also receive a 30% reduction as part of the long-term employment benefits, and these reductions can be applied together.
LCK aims to implement the Sporting Financial Regulations in full swing from the 2024 stove league. Until then, during the transitional period from the end of this year's stove league to the following year's stove league, luxury fees will be applied at a reduced rate of 80% to accommodate teams as they adapt to the new system.
Additionally, for existing players who have signed contracts by the submission deadline of the 2023 LCK Spring Unified Roster, only 1/5 of their salary will be taken into account in the salary cap calculation, regardless of their actual salary amount. If the player's salary does not reach the 1/5 threshold or the applied exemptions result in a lower amount, the lower figure will be considered.
In a recent meeting, LCK engaged with players, coaching staff, and stakeholders from all ten teams, providing an explanation of the reasons and objectives behind the Sporting Financial Regulations while also allowing for a Q&A session to listen to players' perspectives.
Lee Jung-hoon, the secretary general of LCK, expressed his commitment to the continued growth of the league, stating that LCK has made significant progress over the past decade, and esports, particularly League of Legends, has garnered immense popularity, becoming an official event in the Asian Games. He reiterated the league's dedication to providing fans with an enjoyable LCK through sustainable growth in the upcoming decade.