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T1's fourth LoL win to pump up valuation

Nov. 22, 2023 - 15:38 By Moon Joon-hyun
Lee Sang-hyeok, better known as Faker, holds the 2023 League of Legends World Championship trophy following his final match victory in Busan, South Korea, on Nov. 19. (SK Square)

T1, the world’s top League of Legends esports company, is anticipated to reach a higher valuation and near the financial break-even point next year after winning the 2023 World Championship title, SK Telecom’s investment arm and T1’s majority shareholder SK Square said Monday.

This victory was T1's fourth World Championship title and follows their two Mid-Season Invitational wins, another international LoL tournament hosted by Riot Games.

Formed as a joint venture between SK Square and the global media conglomerate Comcast in 2019, T1 has since been co-managed by both entities. Currently, SK Square and Comcast hold 55.4 percent and 34.3 percent stakes in T1, respectively.

This partnership has facilitated a sustained investment in the team, including a capital infusion of 13.5 billion won ($10.4 million) last year.

Forbes valued T1 at approximately $220 million in May last year, the highest valuation among Korean sports clubs. T1 recorded revenues of 23.9 billion won in 2022, marking an 34 percent average annual growth over the year before.

In the same year, T1 also extended its contract with star gamer Faker, whose real name is Lee Sang-hyuk, for three more years.

T1 has been diversifying its business ventures and revenue streams in the last two years. Initiatives include the T1 Membership platform, launched last year, offering exclusive players and fan interactions and content.

The T1 Cafe & Arena opened later in the year as a cafe and an arena within T1's academy building. Additionally, the T1 Basecamp cafe opened this May both as a gaming internet cafe and a cultural space for game enthusiasts.

The team's global appeal was evident in the viewership of the 2023 League of Legends World Championship, attracting over 400 million cumulative viewers and peaking at over 100 million concurrent viewers during the final.

T1's well-coordinated gameplay, characterized by Faker's skilled top lane play, Mun "Oner" Hyeon-jun's tactical approach, the synergy of Lee "Gumayusi" Min-hyeong and Ryu "Keria" Min-seok in the bottom lane, and Choi "Zeus" Woo-je's standout performance, captivated the audience and was key to their championship victory.

"T1's latest win really levels up their global game. Together with Comcast, we're strategizing to boost T1's worldwide play and unlock new investments opportunities for further growth," said Ha Hyung-il, chief investment officer at SK Square.