UPDATE Oct. 27, 03:00 PT: LCK officials told Inven Global that no official discussions on the salary cap have started.
“It’s true that several teams spoke out about the need for a salary cap, but there haven’t been any discussions about its installation,” one LCK representative told Inven. "There are many forms of salary caps. To implement the system, much research and review are compulsory."
Upcomer's Nick Ray has reported that the teams in the LCK, South Korea's premiere League of Legends esports circuit, are pushing for a salary cap for all teams in the league. Ray's report states that according to an anonymous source close to T1, the organization is the strongest opposing voice to the proposed LCK salary cap.
In 2019, Inven Global reported that a survey conducted, with 82 LCK players, showed the average player salary in the LCK to be approximately 170 million Korean won in 2018. In today’s U.S. dollars, this would be around $146,000.
According to the survey, more than half of players’ salaries were under $86,000. And 37.2% of players were making between $17,000 and $43,000, and 26.5% of players made between $43,000 and $86,000.
While salary caps and similar restrictions are commonplace in developed traditional sports leagues, they are not commonplace within esports. During the Tencent E-sports Annual Conference on Aug. 24, Tengjing Sports CEO Jin Yibo revealed that the LPL will gradually introduce salary caps similar to the NBA, but when that comes into effect for teams in the LPL is currently unknown.
Assuming the report is accurate, one could infer that T1's opposition is due to the tenure of mid laner Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. While Faker is not the best mid laner in the world as of today, he continues to be considered as the greatest League of Legends player of all time due to the longevity of his excellence and his unparalleled list of competitive accolades.
Faker is rumored to be the most well-paid mid laner in the LCK, and a salary cap could hypothetically hamstring T1's ability to construct a world-class roster around the mid laner should a salary cap be put into place in the LCK.
Esports editor and journalist of 10+ years. Lives on black tea and corgi love.