First season of ‘LCK franchise’ showed half success

Minjun Son

2021. 11.02

Image source: TechM

The 2021 League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) spring season, which was held for the first time since the introduction of the franchise, has ended. As the size of the league expands along with the improvement of performance, it has succeeded in popularizing it by securing more viewers.

The part that received favorable reviews is the change in the playoff system. The change from the existing 5 teams to 6 teams to advance to the playoffs was effective.

In fact, this LCK spring entertained the fans as each team fought a bloody battle to occupy 6th place, the marginal line for the playoffs, until the end of the regular season. In addition, the size of the league has grown steadily.

Following the introduction of the franchise following last year, when it benefited from COVID-19, the increase in viewership continued. In addition to the existing e-sports-friendly MZ generation, the influx of people in their 30s and 40s increased, resulting in a re-evaluation of the purchasing power of league viewers.

It is also noteworthy that the number of sponsorships with global companies is increasing based on LCK’s global popularity.

However, it seems that the introduction of franchises does not immediately lead to monetization of game teams. For this reason, a long-term marketing strategy was needed for the game team.

In this regard, a professional soccer official advised that it is necessary to build a core fandom that feels a sense of belonging to the team. Another industry insider ordered that they try untact marketing using ‘streaming’ in a situation where offline activities are blocked due to COVID-19.

Experts and fans agreed that this 2021 LCK spring season was the most exciting season ever. Changes to the playoff system were effective in the background. After the introduction of the franchise, the LCK increased the number of playoff slots from five to six, motivating teams to inspire, and the effect was immediate.

As interest in the LCK increases after the franchise, the league is expanding. At the online e-sports conference ‘The Game Changer’, co-hosted by Gen.G eSports and Yonsei University on March 31, CEO Sangheon Oh of LCK Co., Ltd. said, “Last year, the number of viewers in LCK increased tremendously due to COVID-19, but this year it has increased even more.” said.

The age group watching the league has also expanded compared to before. According to the survey results conducted by the LCK, 56.7% of the LCK viewers are office workers, and among the age groups newly introduced to the LCK within the past three years, the influx of those in their 40s increased significantly to 44%. This fact reveals that as the LCK’s audience expands, its purchasing power is also growing.

Starting sponsorships with global companies is also a positive factor. Prior to this spring season, LCK signed a sponsorship contract with global laptop brand ‘HP OMEN’ and gaming chair brand ‘Secret Lab’. A Riot Games official said, “Based on LCK’s high overseas recognition, global companies are also interested in LCK.”

Although the fact that the period was still short, and that offline marketing was not possible due to Corona 19 also had an impact, it is proof that the introduction of a franchise alone does not guarantee a rosy future.

What do traditional sports officials who experienced franchises before e-sports think about it? A professional soccer official emphasized that now is the time to focus on building a core fandom from a long-term perspective.

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