KBO League

The KBO League (Korean: KBO 리그),[1][2] originally called the Korea Baseball Championship (Korean: 한국야구선수권대회; Romanization: Hanguk Yagu Seonsukkwon Daehoe), is the highest level league of baseball in South Korea. The KBO League was founded with six franchises in 1982, and has expanded to ten franchises.[3] Nine of the ten franchises are named after the companies or business conglomerates which own them, while one sold their naming rights (Woori Heroes in 2008, Nexen Heroes from 2010 to 2018, and Kiwoom Heroes from 2019).[4] The KBO League is the most popular sports league in South Korea.[5] Kia Tigers (formerly Haitai Tigers) are the most successful team, having won 11 out of the 38 championships.

KBO League
Current season, competition or edition:
2019 KBO League season
FounderKorea Baseball Organization
No. of teams10
CountrySouth Korea
Most recent
Doosan Bears (6th title)
Most titlesKia Tigers (11 titles)
TV partner(s)KBS, MBC, SBS, SPOTV
Official websitekoreabaseball.com


The first game was played on March 27, 1982 between Samsung Lions and the MBC Chungyong (now the LG Twins) at Dongdaemun Baseball Stadium, Seoul. Then-president Chun Doo-hwan threw the first pitch.

The inaugural franchises were:

In 1985, the Sammi Superstars became known as the Cheongbo Pintos. The next year, 1986, saw some major changes, with the OB Bears moving from Daejeon to share the Seoul's Jamsil Baseball Stadium with MBC Chungyong in Seoul. A new franchise, the Binggrae Eagles, joined to replace vacancy of Daejeon by OB's moving and expanding the league to seven franchises. 1988 saw the Cheongbo Pintos change ownership again, becoming the Pacific Dolphins. In 1990, MBC Chungyong became the LG Twins and an eighth franchise was added, the Ssangbangwool Raiders who represented the Jeollabuk-do region.

There was little change in the 1990s except for a few major sponsors: in 1993 the Binggrae Eagles became the Hanwha Eagles, in 1995 the Pacific Dolphins became the Hyundai Unicorns and the OB Bears in 1999 became the Doosan Bears. Bigger changes were affected in 2000 when the Hyundai Unicorns moved from Incheon to Suwon, and a new franchise, the SK Wyverns took their place in Incheon. The Ssangbangwool Raiders became defunct. In 2001, the Haitai Tigers became the Kia Tigers.

In 2008, the Hyundai Unicorns franchise was disbanded, re-founded as the Woori Heroes and moved to Mok-dong in Seoul. In 2010, the team's naming rights were sold to Nexen Tire and the team was renamed Nexen Heroes, until the end of the 2018 season, when its naming rights were sold to Kiwoom Securities.

Expansion resumed in the 2010s, with the addition of the NC Dinos, located in Changwon, which joined the league in 2013. It is the first team located in Changwon, the city having previously been the second home of the nearby Lotte Giants.

In 2015, the KT Wiz became the league's tenth franchise. They play their home games in Suwon, which had not had a team since the Hyundai Unicorns' disbandment.

Several KBO players have also successfully transitioned from the KBO to the Major Leagues, such as Ryu Hyun-Jin, Kang Jung-Ho or Kim Hyun-soo.

Season structure

Starting with the 2015 season, each team plays 144 games in the regular season, increased from 128 due to the addition of the KT Wiz to the league. Each team plays every other team 16 times.[6]

KBO All-Star Game

In mid-July of every season, the best players participate in the KBO All-Star Game. The franchises participating are divided into two sets of teams: Dream All-Stars (Doosan, KT, Lotte, Samsung, and SK) and Nanum All-Stars (Kia, Hanwha, LG, NC and Kiwoom). The KBO All-star game does not determine home-field advantage in the KBO Korean Series.


The KBO League's season culminates in its championship series, known as the KBO Korean Series. Currently, the top five teams qualify for the post-season based on win/loss records. The lowest-qualifying teams face off in a step-ladder playoff system, where each winner then faces the next-highest team, culminating in the Korean Series against the top-ranked team.

  • KBO Wild Card Game: fifth-place team vs. fourth-place team
Fourth-place team starts the series with a 1–0 lead and advances with one win or a tie, while the fifth-place team must win twice to advance.
  • KBO Semi-playoffs: KBO Wild Card Game winner vs. third-place team
Best of five series.
  • KBO Playoffs: KBO Semi-playoffs winner vs. second-place team
Best of five series.
  • KBO Korean Series: KBO Playoffs winner vs. first-place team
Best of seven series.

Any playoff games ending in an official tie are replayed, thereby raising the possibility of a close series containing more than the scheduled five or seven games.


Traditionally, South Korean professional baseball games have a maximum number of extra innings before a game is declared an official tie. The KBO abolished this limit for the 2008 season, however it was reinstated in 2009, with a 12-innings limit imposed during regular season, 15-innings limit for playoff games.[7] The league places a cap on the number of foreign players allowed on club rosters. The foreign player limit is set at three, increased from two players from 2014.

The designated hitter rule is universal in KBO.


Team City Stadium Capacity Joined
Doosan Bears Seoul Jamsil Baseball Stadium 25,553 1982
Hanwha Eagles Daejeon Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium 13,000 1986
Kia Tigers Gwangju Gwangju-Kia Champions Field 22,244 1982
Kiwoom Heroes Seoul Gocheok Sky Dome 16,813 2008
KT Wiz Suwon Suwon Baseball Stadium 22,067 2015
LG Twins Seoul Jamsil Baseball Stadium 25,553 1982
Lotte Giants Busan Busan Sajik Baseball Stadium 26,800 1982
NC Dinos Changwon Changwon NC Park 22,011 2013
Samsung Lions Daegu Daegu Samsung Lions Park 24,000 1982
SK Wyverns Incheon Munhak Baseball Stadium 26,000 2000
Defunct clubs
Team City Stadium Joined Ceased
Hyundai Unicorns Suwon Suwon Baseball Stadium 1982 2008
Ssangbangwool Raiders Jeonju Jeonju Baseball Stadium 1991 1999


    Period Sponsor Name
    1982–1999No sponsorKorea Professional Baseball
    2000–2001Samsung SecuritiesSamsung Fn.com Cup Professional Baseball
    2002–2004Samsung Securities Cup Professional Baseball
    2005–2008Samsung ElectronicsSamsung PAVV Professional Baseball
    2009–2010CJ InternetCJ Magumagu Professional Baseball
    2011Lotte CardLotte Card Professional Baseball
    2012PaldoPaldo Professional Baseball
    2013–2014Korea YakultKorea Yakult 7even Professional Baseball
    2015–2017TirebankTirebank KBO League
    2018–Shinhan BankShinhan Bank MY CAR KBO League


            Doosan Bears / LG Twins Hanwha Eagles Kia Tigers Kiwoom Heroes KT Wiz
            Jamsil Baseball Stadium Hanwha Life Eagles Park Gwangju-Kia Champions Field Gocheok Sky Dome Suwon kt wiz park
            Capacity: 25,553 Capacity: 13,000 Capacity: 22,244 Capacity: 16,813 Capacity: 22,067
            Lotte Giants NC Dinos Samsung Lions SK Wyverns
            Busan Sajik Baseball Stadium Changwon NC Park Daegu Samsung Lions Park Munhak Baseball Stadium
            Capacity: 26,800 Capacity: 22,011 Capacity: 24,000 Capacity: 26,000

            In addition to these ballparks, the Lotte Giants play some games at Ulsan Munsu Baseball Stadium, the Samsung Lions at Pohang Baseball Stadium and the Hanwha Eagles at Cheongju Baseball Stadium.


            ClubChampionsRunners-upWinning seasonsRunners-up seasons
            Kia Tigers 11 0 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2009, 2017
            Samsung Lions 8 10 1985, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1993, 2001, 2004, 2010, 2015
            Doosan Bears 6 7 1982, 1995, 2001, 2015, 2016, 2019 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2017, 2018
            SK Wyverns 4 4 2007, 2008, 2010, 2018 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012
            Hyundai Unicorns (defunct) 4 2 1998, 2000, 2003, 2004 1994, 1996
            LG Twins 2 4 1990, 1994 1983, 1997, 1998, 2002
            Lotte Giants 2 3 1984, 1992 1985, 1995, 1999
            Hanwha Eagles 1 5 1999 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 2006
            Kiwoom Heroes 0 2 2014, 2019
            NC Dinos 0 1 2016


            • 1st – Champions
            • 2nd – Runners-up
            • PO – Playoff loser
            • SPO – Semi-playoff loser
            • WC – Wild card game loser
            •    – Did not qualify
            • DNP – Did not participate
            Teams 198219831984198619871988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000
            Doosan 1stPOPOSPO1stSPOPO2nd
            Hanwha DNP2nd2ndSPO2nd2ndPOSPO1st
            Hyundai PO2nd2nd1st1st
            Kia 1st1st1st1st1stPO1stPO1stSPO1st1st
            LG 2nd1stPO1stPO2nd2ndPO
            Lotte 1stSPO1st2nd2ndSPO
            Samsung 2nd2nd2nd2ndPOSPO2ndPOSPO2ndPOPOPOPO
            SK DNP
            Ssangbangwool DNPPOSPODNP
            Number 222333444444344445
            Teams 2001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019Total
            Doosan 1stPO2nd2nd2ndPOPOSPO2nd1st1st2nd2nd1st 22
            Hanwha SPOPO2ndPOSPO 13
            Hyundai POSPO1st1stPODNP 10
            Kia POPOSPOSPO1stSPOWC1stWC 21
            Kiwoom DNPSPO2ndSPOSPOPO2nd 6
            KT DNP 0
            LG 2ndPOPOPOSPO 13
            Lotte SPOSPOSPOPOPOSPO 12
            NC DNPSPOPO2ndPOWC 5
            Samsung 2nd1stSPO2nd1st1stSPOPO2nd1st1st1st1st2nd 28
            SK 2ndSPO1st1st2nd1st2nd2ndWCWC1stPO 12
            Ssangbangwool DNP 2
            Number 4444444444444455555 144

            Attendance figures

            The league has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity, with increased attendance every year.

            In 2016 season, A new national record of over 8 million attendance figures was set. There was massive increase of 1 million compared with previous season.[8]

            The record was smashed again in 2017 season with over 8.4 million fans to their games during the regular season. Bears, Twins, Giants and Tigers all attracted over 1 million fans. The average game attendance was above 11,600 fans.[9]

            This increase in popularity has been accompanied by the building of larger and more modern ballparks to further enhance the fan experience and their expenditures during games, such as Gwangju-Kia Champions Field (2014), Gocheok Sky Dome (2016), Daegu Samsung Lions Park (2016), and Changwon NC Park (2019).


            See footnote[10] and Baseball awards#South Korea

            See also


            1. "The Korea Baseball Championship is the annual pennant race of first-tier professional baseball league in South Korea." Confirmed by Moon Jung-kyun, Public Relations Manager of Korea Baseball Organization. For further information, refer to the talk page of the Korean version article.
            2. For the official name of the league, refer to following page: http://baseballinkorea.com/2015/03/01/kbo-brand-identity
            3. "A Cheerleader Helping to Reinvigorate Pro Baseball". english.chosun.com.
            4. "Korea and Baseball". koreatimes. 25 March 2009.
            5. [2017 결산] 프로야구, 역대 최다 840만 관중..국민스포츠 공고 (in Korean). star.mt.co.kr. December 21, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
            6. Korea Baseball Organization (2015). 2015 달라지는 점 Archived 2015-04-05 at the Wayback Machine (Korean). Accessed on April 14, 2015.
            7. Kim Jae-Won (2009-01-13). KBO Abolishes Endless Overtime Rule. The Korea Times. Accessed on 2009-06-11.
            8. "Korea pro baseball league KBO breaks nation's attendance record, surpasses 8 million". WBSC. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
            9. "KBO postseason opens in Korea, following 8.4 million regular-season attendance". WBSC. 7 October 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2019.
            10. Category:Korea Baseball Organization Awards. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2010-07-02.
            11. KBO Most Valuable Player Award. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2010-07-02. See also: Chinese Professional Baseball League MVP of the Year Award and Nippon Professional Baseball Most Valuable Player Award.
            12. KBO Rookie of the Year. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2010-07-02. See also: Chinese Professional Baseball League Rookie of the Year Award and Nippon Professional Baseball Rookie of the Year Award.
            13. KBO Gold Gloves. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2010-07-02. See also: Nippon Professional Baseball Mitsui Golden Glove Award and Major League Baseball Gold Glove Award.
            14. Korean Series Most Valuable Player Award. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2010-07-02. See also: Major League Baseball World Series MVP Award.
            15. For the KBO League All-Star Game MVP, go to KBO Gold Gloves, scroll to the bottom, and click on All-Star Game MVP. Baseball-Reference.com (Sports Reference LLC). Retrieved 2016-10-13.
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