KBO League

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KBO League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2016 KBO League season
Sport Baseball
Founded 1982
1981 (KBO founded)
No. of teams 10
Country  South Korea
Venue(s) 9
Most recent champion(s) Doosan Bears (4)
Most titles Kia Tigers (10)
TV partner(s) KBS, MBC, SBS, Sky Sports, SPOTV
Founder Korea Baseball Organization
Official website koreabaseball.com

The KBO League (HangulKBO 리그),[1][2] originally called the Korea Baseball Championship (Hangul한국야구선수권대회; Romanization: Hanguk Yagu Seonsukkwon Daehoe) is the highest level league of baseball in South Korea. The KBO League was originally founded with six franchises in 1982 and currently has ten franchises throughout the nation.[3] Nine of the ten franchises are named after the companies or business conglomerates which own them, while one sold their naming rights (Nexen Heroes).[4]


The first game was played on March 27, 1982 between Samsung Lions and the MBC Chungyong (now the LG Twins) in 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 90's except for a few major sponsors: 1993 saw the Binggrae Eagles become 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 the Woori Heroes and moved to Mok-dong in Seoul, after a disappointing season in 2007 both on and off the field. Despite winning championships in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2004, fans never really took to the franchise after their move from Incheon. Also, while the franchises in Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, and Gwangju did not have to compete with other franchises for fans, the Suwon-based Unicorns struggled to compete with the nearby Seoul franchises.

Founding member the Kia Tigers (formerly the Haitai Tigers) had won 10 of the 29 national championships.

Many of the players who excel in the Korean league go on to play for franchises in Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan. Such players in the NPB include Lee Seung-yuop for the Yomiuri Giants, Kim Tae-kyun for the Chiba Lotte Marines, Lim Chang-yong for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, and Tyrone Woods also for the Chunichi Dragons (former Doosan Bears player).

Season structure

Starting with the 2015 season, each team plays 144 games in the regular season, increased from 128 due to an expansion team. Each team plays every other 16 times.[5]

KBO All-Star Game

On mid-July every year, 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 Nexen). Unlike in the MLB, 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 four teams qualify for the post-season based on win/loss records. The team with the best record gains a direct entry into the KBO Korean Series, while the other three teams compete for the remaining place in a step-ladder playoff system:

  • KBO Wild Card Game: 4th place team (starts with a one-game advantage.) vs. 5th place team; 2 games
  • KBO Playoffs Stage 1: 3rd place team vs. winner of KBO Wild Card Game; best of 3 out of 5 games
  • KBO Playoffs Stage 2: 2nd place team vs. winner of KBO Playoffs Stage 1; best of 3 out of 5 games (reduced from 7 games starting from 2009)
  • KBO Korean Series: 1st place team vs. winner of KBO Playoffs Stage 2; best of 4 out of 7 games.

Any playoff games ending in an official tie are replayed, thereby raising the possibility of a close series containing more than the originally scheduled 5 or 7 games.


Traditionally, Korea 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 both regular season and playoff games.[6] However, no extra innings are played in the first game of a double-header, with games limited to 9 innings.[7] Starting from the 2009 season, tied games count as a loss for both teams for percentage calculation purposes; from 2002 until 2007 they were considered a "no game"; prior to this they counted as half a win and half a loss.

The league places a cap on the number of foreign players allowed on club rosters. The foreign player limit is currently set at three, increased from 2 players from 2014.

All teams use the designated hitter rule.

Participating franchises

Nanum All-Stars[note 1] (1982–present)
Dream All-Stars[note 2] (1982–present)
Single league (1982–1998, 2001–present)[note 3]
Team City Manager Founded Joined Note
Doosan Bears [note 4] Seoul South Korea Kim Tae-hyeong 1982
Hanwha Eagles [note 5] Daejeon South Korea Kim Sung-keun 1985 1986
Kia Tigers [note 6] Gwangju South Korea Kim Ki-tae 1982
KT Wiz Suwon South Korea Cho Beom-hyeon 2013 2015
LG Twins [note 7] Seoul South Korea Yang Sang-moon 1982
Lotte Giants Busan South Korea Lee Jong-un 1975 1982 [8]
NC Dinos Changwon South Korea Kim Kyung-moon 2011 2013
Nexen Heroes Seoul South Korea Yeom Kyung-yup 2008
Samsung Lions Daegu South Korea Ryu Joong-il 1982
SK Wyverns Incheon South Korea Kim Yong-heui 2000

Defunct clubs

Team City Joined Became defunct Note
Hyundai Unicorns [note 8] Suwon 1982 2008
Ssangbangwool Raiders Jeonju 1991 1999
  1. Former Western League 1982–1998, 2001–2014
  2. Former Eastern League 1982–1998, 2001–2014
  3. Formerly, KBO have implemented dual league. The league name was Dream League and Magic League. (1999–2000)
  4. Known as the OB Bears until 1998; Located in Daejeon until 1984
  5. Known as the Binggrae Eagles until 1993
  6. Former Haitai Tigers 1982–2000
  7. Former MBC Chungyong 1982–1989
  8. Former Sammi Superstars 1982–1985, Chungbo Pintos 1985–1987, Pacific Dolphins 1988–1995; Located in Incheon until 1999


Doosan Bears / LG Twins Hanwha Eagles Kia Tigers KT Wiz Lotte Giants
Jamsil Baseball Stadium Hanwha Life Eagles Park Gwangju-Kia Champions Field Suwon KT Wiz Park Sajik Baseball Stadium
Capacity: 26,000 Capacity: 14,133 Capacity: 22,000 Capacity: 20,000 Capacity: 27,500
Jamsil Baseball Stadium.jpg Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium.jpg Gwangju Kia Champions Field View 04.jpg 20150531 KT Wiz vs Doosan Bears (2).jpg Busan Sajik Stadium 20080706.JPG
NC Dinos Nexen Heroes Samsung Lions SK Wyverns
Masan Baseball Stadium Gocheok Sky Dome Daegu Samsung Lions Park Incheon SK Happy Dream Park
Capacity: 11,000 Capacity: 18,076 Capacity: 29,178 Capacity: 27,600
Changwon Masan Ballpark.jpg Gocheok Sky Dome interior.jpg Munhak Baseball Stadium 20150711 SK vs Kia.jpg



Year Winners Runners-up
1982 OB Bears Samsung Lions
1983 Haitai Tigers MBC Chungyong
1984 Lotte Giants Samsung Lions
1985 Samsung Lions
1986 Haitai Tigers Samsung Lions
1987 Haitai Tigers Samsung Lions
1988 Haitai Tigers Binggrae Eagles
1989 Haitai Tigers Binggrae Eagles
1990 LG Twins Samsung Lions
1991 Haitai Tigers Binggrae Eagles
1992 Lotte Giants Binggrae Eagles
1993 Haitai Tigers Samsung Lions
1994 LG Twins Pacific Dolphins
1995 OB Bears Lotte Giants
1996 Haitai Tigers Hyundai Unicorns
1997 Haitai Tigers LG Twins
1998 Hyundai Unicorns LG Twins
1999 Hanwha Eagles Lotte Giants
2000 Hyundai Unicorns Doosan Bears


Year Winners Runners-up
2001 Doosan Bears Samsung Lions
2002 Samsung Lions LG Twins
2003 Hyundai Unicorns SK Wyverns
2004 Hyundai Unicorns Samsung Lions
2005 Samsung Lions Doosan Bears
2006 Samsung Lions Hanwha Eagles
2007 SK Wyverns Doosan Bears
2008 SK Wyverns Doosan Bears
2009 Kia Tigers SK Wyverns
2010 SK Wyverns Samsung Lions
2011 Samsung Lions SK Wyverns
2012 Samsung Lions SK Wyverns
2013 Samsung Lions Doosan Bears
2014 Samsung Lions Nexen Heroes
2015 Doosan Bears Samsung Lions
Most successful clubs
Club Champions Runners-Up Winning Seasons Runners-Up Seasons
Kia Tigers
1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2009
Samsung Lions
1985, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1990, 1993, 2001, 2004, 2010, 2015
Doosan Bears
1982, 1995, 2001, 2015 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2013
Hyundai Unicorns (defunct)
1998, 2000, 2003, 2004 1994, 1996
SK Wyverns
2007, 2008, 2010 2003, 2009, 2011, 2012
LG Twins
1990, 1994 1983, 1997, 1998, 2002
Lotte Giants
1984, 1992 1995, 1999
Hanwha Eagles
1999 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 2006
Nexen Heroes
- 2014