As the curtain finally closes on 2020, the engine of the League of Legends professional scene is already appearing to be ramping up again for 2021 with the start of domestic preseason tournaments. Such examples include the Demacia Cup of the LPL and the Lock In tournament of the LCS. For Korea, that competitive prelude to the League Champions Korea season (LCK) is the 2020 KeSPA Cup.
Organized by the Korean e-Sports Association, teams from across the region gather for nearly two weeks of intense competition all for the chance of winning the last piece of silverware for the year. The 2020 KeSPA Cup will begin on December 21, 2020 and end on January 2, 2021.
As the general time length of the KeSPA Cup is brief and its margin of error mightily thin, the prospect of upsets occurring increases, presenting relatively inferior teams the opportunity of eliminating their relatively dominant counterparts abruptly. The playing field is leveled considerably but the chance of victory for everyone becomes uniform. Anyone can lose and anyone can win. Such is the way of the 2020 KeSPA Cup.
Participating teams will look to unseat Afreeca Freecs from their throne as they enter as the defending champions. They won last year’s tournament by sweeping SANDBOX Gaming in three games.
Here is everything that you need to know about the 2020 KeSPA Cup tournament.
2020 KeSPA Cup Participants
Unlike past editions which featured teams from the LCK, Challengers Korea (CK), and the winners of qualifying tournaments, this year will only include the 10 teams of the upcoming 2021 LCK spring.
Whereas some will field their main rosters for the purpose of building synergy as they were just constructed during the offseason, others will use their academy rosters in order for them to gain experience as promising rookies. Regardless the case, the versatility of numerous lineups will be out in full-force during the competition.
Here are the list of teams participating:
Liiv SANDBOX (formerly SANDBOX Gaming)
Nongshim RedForce (formerly Team Dynamics)
Hanwha Life Esports
Fredit BRION (formerly hyfresh Blade)
2020 KeSPA Cup Tournament Format
The 10 participating teams are split into two groups of five.
Group A will feature AF, DAMWON, DRX, SANDBOX, and RedForce whereas Group B consists of Fredit BRION, Gen.G., HLE, KT, and T1.
The mode of matches in the group stage will be held in a single round-robin format, which means that all teams will play the rest of their group only once. All group stage matches will be played as a best-of-one. The group stage will begin on December 21 and end on December 24.
The first placed team of both groups will earn a spot in the semifinals for the playoffs. Additionally, they also receive a first-round bye, allowing them to forego the quarterfinals. The second and third placed teams will begin their run in the playoffs in those quarterfinals. The winners of the quarterfinals will progress to the semis and face the bye teams. The fourth and fifth placed teams of the two groups will be eliminated outright from the tournament.
The quarterfinals will be played in a best-of-three series format and the subsequent rounds will be done a la best-of-five. The playoff format will be single-elimination, which means there won’t be a winner’s nor loser’s bracket. Should a team lose once, they will be eliminated. The playoffs and therefore the KeSPA Cup will end on January 2.
2020 KeSPA Cup Prize Pool
A total of 144,000,000 South Korean Won will be up for grabs in the 2020 KeSPA Cup. Alongside hosting the cup as champions, the first-placed team receives a prize of ₩40,000,000 (36,379.68 USD/27,131.42 GBP)–which makes up nearly a third of the total prize pool.
The runners-up will earn half of the first-placed team’s amount (₩20,000,000). For third-fourth placed teams, they’ll win ₩10,000,000. Fifth-sixth place gets ₩8,000,000, seventh-eighth ₩5,000,000, and ninth-tenth ₩3,000,000.
Fans looking to catch all the action of the KeSPA Cup will be able to do so on the KeSPA YouTube Channel. The channel will provide streams in both English and Korean.
Casters Taking Part
As far as the English broadcast goes, the tournament will be headed by a quintet of casters featuring Brendan “Valdes” Valdes, Seth “Achilios” King, Wolf “proxywolf” Schröder, Max “Atlus” Anderson, and Nick “LS” De Cesare.
Atlus, Valdes, and LS are best known as the LCK’s English-speaking commentators. Most notably of the LCK contingency is that this event will be LS’ last casting gig as he will transition to his new role as a content creator for T1. He had previously been the LCK’s color commentator for the past two years before signing with the team. Proxywolf and Achilios are veterans in the esports scene as well as they have casted games in Overwatch and Starcraft II.
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