KBO League

KBO League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2016 KBO League season
Sport Baseball
Founded 1982
1981 (KBO founded)
Founder Korea Baseball Organization
No. of teams 10
Country South Korea
Venue(s) 9
Most recent
Doosan Bears (5th title)
Most titles Kia Tigers (10 titles)
TV partner(s) KBS, MBC, SBS, Sky Sports, SPOTV
Official website koreabaseball.com

The KBO League (Hangul: KBO 리그),[1][2] originally called the Korea Baseball Championship (Hangul: 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 (Nexen Heroes).[4]


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 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 34 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:

Any playoff games ending in an official tie are replayed, thereby raising the possibility of a close series containing more than the 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 set at three, increased from two players from 2014.

All teams use the designated hitter rule.


  1. Formerly, KBO have implemented dual league. The league name was Dream League and Magic League. (1999–2000)
  2. Former Western League 1982–1998, 2001–2014
  3. Known as the Binggrae Eagles until 1993
  4. Former Haitai Tigers 1982–2000
  5. Former MBC Chungyong 1982–1989
  6. Former Eastern League 1982–1998, 2001–2014
  7. Known as the OB Bears until 1998; Located in Daejeon until 1984
  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 Insurance Eagles Park Gwangju-Kia Champions Field Suwon kt wiz Park Busan Sajik Baseball Stadium
    Capacity: 26,000 Capacity: 13,000 Capacity: 27,000 Capacity: 20,106 Capacity: 26,800
      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: 17,000 Capacity: 24,000 Capacity: 26,000


          Main article: KBO Korean Series


          Year Winners Runners-up
          1982 OB Bears Samsung Lions
          1983 Haitai Tigers MBC Chungyong
          1984 Lotte Giants Samsung Lions
          1985 Samsung Lions Lotte Giants[9]
          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
          2016 Doosan Bears NC Dinos
          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, 2016 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 1985, 1995, 1999
          Hanwha Eagles
          1999 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 2006
          Nexen Heroes
          NC Dinos


          • 1st – Champions (Korean Series winner)
          • 2nd – Runners-up (Korean Series loser)
          • PO – Playoff loser
          • SPO – Semi-playoff loser
          • WC – Wild card game loser
          • q – Qualified
          •  -  – Did not qualify
          •  ×  – Not held
          •      – Did not exist, Did not participate
          Teams 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
          Doosan Bears 1st × PO PO SPO 1st SPO PO 2nd
          Hanwha Eagles 2nd 2nd SPO 2nd 2nd PO SPO 1st
          Hyundai Unicorns × PO 2nd 2nd 1st 1st
          Kia Tigers 1st × 1st 1st 1st 1st PO 1st PO 1st SPO 1st 1st
          KT Wiz
          LG Twins 2nd × 1st PO 1st PO 2nd 2nd PO
          Lotte Giants 1st × SPO 1st 2nd 2nd SPO
          NC Dinos
          Nexen Heroes
          Samsung Lions 2nd 2nd 1st 2nd 2nd PO SPO 2nd PO SPO 2nd PO PO PO PO
          SK Wyverns
          Ssangbangwool Raiders PO SPO
          Number of qual. teams 2 2 2 1* 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 4 4 5
          Teams 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total
          Doosan Bears 1st PO 2nd 2nd 2nd PO PO SPO 2nd 1st 1st 19
          Hanwha Eagles SPO PO 2nd PO 12
          Hyundai Unicorns PO SPO 1st 1st PO 10
          Kia Tigers PO PO SPO SPO 1st SPO WC 18
          KT Wiz 0
          LG Twins 2nd PO PO PO 11
          Lotte Giants SPO SPO SPO PO PO 11
          NC Dinos SPO PO 2nd 2
          Nexen Heroes SPO 2nd SPO SPO 3
          Samsung Lions 2nd 1st SPO 2nd 1st 1st SPO PO 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 2nd 29
          SK Wyverns 2nd SPO 1st 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 2nd WC 9
          Ssangbangwool Raiders 2
          Number of qual. teams 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 129


          See: Korea Baseball Organization#Awards

          Asia Series record

          Year Participants Round Position W L RS RA
          Japan 2005 Samsung Lions Final 2nd, silver medalist(s) 2nd 2 2 17 17
          Japan 2006 Samsung Lions Group Stage 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 3rd 1 2 16 11
          Japan 2007 SK Wyverns Final 2nd, silver medalist(s) 2nd 3 1 37 10
          Japan 2008 SK Wyverns Group Stage 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 3rd 2 1 23 13
          Taiwan 2011 Samsung Lions Final 1st, gold medalist(s) 1st 3 1 21 17
          South Korea 2012 Samsung Lions Group Stage 3rd, bronze medalist(s) 3rd 1 1 9 3
          Lotte Giants Group Stage 4th 1 1 6 6
          Taiwan 2013 Samsung Lions Semifinals 4th 2 1 15 15
          Total 15 10 144 92
          • - Qualified as host.

          KBO-NPB and CPBL-KBO CC record

          Year Participants Result W L RS RA
          Japan 2009 Kia Tigers 2nd, silver medalist(s) Runner-up 0 1 4 9
          Japan 2010 SK Wyverns 2nd, silver medalist(s) Runner-up 0 1 0 3
          Chinese Taipei 2010 1st, gold medalist(s) Winner (Shared) 1 1 7 5
          Total 1 3 11 17

          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. http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/04/15/2010041500309.html
          4. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/opinon/2010/05/266_41922.html
          5. Korea Baseball Organization (2015). 2015 달라지는 점 (Korean). Accessed on April 14, 2015.
          6. Kim Jae-Won (2009-01-13). KBO Abolishes Endless Overtime Rule. The Korea Times. Accessed on 2009-06-11.
          7. Korea Baseball Organization: 2009 달라지는 점. Details rule changes between seasons 2008 and 2009. Accessed on 2009-06-11. (in Korean)
          8. (Korean) Lotte Giants Museum. the Giants website. Retrieved 4 Dec. 2011.
          9. Although no series were played, KBO recorded Lotte Giants as Runner-up.
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