American Go E-Journal

Korea Go Report: KB Baduk League Season 2021-22

Sunday June 26, 2022

by Daniela Trinks, Korea correspondent for the E-Journal

After seven months of intense competition between nine teams, the 2021-2022 season of the major Korean Go League came to an end in May. Below are some key features and highlights of the season.
The KB Baduk League was named after its title sponsor Kookmin Bank (KB). It is the biggest professional Go tournament in Korea in terms of the number of games played and prize money. The 2021-22 season featured nine teams, and each was named after its sponsor (see table).

The qualifiers were held in October 2021. The regular season began in November 2021 and ended in April 2022 which was then followed by the play-in tournament and postseason. Only the top five teams plus the sponsor’s pick advanced to the play-in tournament and postseason. Different from most other professional go competitions held in Korea, all players received a participation fee for each game played during the regular season. The winner got 3 million KRW ($2,300) and the loser 600,000 KRW ($500).
A new team called Youwho participated and was coached by Han Haewon 3p, who is the first female coach in the history of the KB League. Furthermore, the thinking time of one hour per player, and a byoyomi of 30 seconds 3 times was unified for all five games, in contrast to previous seasons which had two different thinking limits. Lastly, all games per round were played concurrently.
The regular season was a double league which consisted of 18 rounds, 72 team matches, and 360 games. It ended with Suryeohan Hapcheon in the first place, followed by Posco Chemical. Both teams scored 10 wins out of 16 matches and shared the same number of board points (BP), however, Suryeohan Hapcheon had a better head-to-head score (2:0).

Table: KB Baduk League Season 2021-22: Final standings of the regular season.

Ace player Shin Jinseo’s team, Celltrion, placed only 6th in the regular season. However, they managed to rise like a phoenix by winning the play-in tournament against fifth-placed team Baduk Mecca Uijeongbu and then defeated three more higher-ranked teams in the postseason to reach the finals. In the finals, Celltrion fell short against the eventual league winner, team Suryeohan Hapcheon.

Figure: Play-in Tournament andPostseason of the KB Baduk League 2021-2022

Remarkably, Shin Jinseo succeeded in winning all his games in the regular season, the play-in tournament, and the postseason, resulting in a perfect score of 27:0 which is a new record in the history of the Korean Go League. During the prize-giving ceremony, the top five teams were honored, and individual awards were given to Shin Jinseo (MVP, Most Wins) and Ko Keuntae (Best Coach) as listed below.
KB Baduk League Champion: Team Suryeohan Hapcheong (200M KRW = $155,000)
Runner-up: Team Celltrion (100M KRW = $78,000)
3rd Place: Team Posco Medical (50M KRW = $39,000)
4th Place: Team Com2usTygem (25M KRW = $19,000)
5th Place: Team Kixx (15M KRW = $12,000)
MVP Award: Shin Jinseo (Celltrion) (10M KRW = $7,800)
Most-Win Award: Shin Jinseo (Celltrion) (5M KRW = $3,900)
Best Coach Award: Ko Keuntae (Suryeohan Hapcheong) (25M KRW=$19,000)

Photo: Suryeohan Hapcheon won the KB Baduk League 2021-22. Photo courtesy of KBA.

KB Future’s Baduk League Season 2021-22
The KB Future’s League is the minor league among the two KB leagues. Both leagues share the title sponsor, teams, and the coaches; however, the team members are different. Rising stars in the KB Future’s League get the opportunity to play as reserve players in the KB Baduk League. The minor league has only three games per round, and the games are much faster: 10 minutes basic time plus 40 seconds byoyomi 5 times. Also, the game fees (win 450,000 KRW = $350, loss 200,000 KRW=$155), prize money, and notoriety that comes with winning the league are lower.

Photo: KB Future’s Baduk League Champion 2021-22 team Suryeohan Hapcheon. Photo courtesy of Han Changkyu (Hangame).

This year, team Suryeohan Hapcheon achieved the double champion title by winning both KB Leagues. Surprisingly, team Celltrion also came in second – just like in the KB Baduk League. The final standings, players, and coaches are shown in the table. The award for most wins was given to three players who won 12 out of 16 games (75%). Below is the list of the winners and the prize money.

KB Future’s Baduk League Champion: Team Suryeohan Hapcheon (30M KRW = $23,300)
Runner-up: Team Celltrion (12M KRW = $9,300)
3rd Place: Team Posco Chemical (6M KRW = $4,650)
Most-Win Award: Lee Hyunho 6p, Lee Wondo 8p, Wi Taewoong 5p (3M KRW = $2,300 split equally)

Table: Final standings of the KB Future’s Baduk League 2021-22.
Categories: Korea,Main Page