For several years, well known land based international brands such as the World Poker Tour (WPT), Asian Poker Tour (APT), and Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), have been bringing their style of poker to South Korea.
Due to the pandemic, these poker operators have been on a standstill while Korea owned brands J88 Poker Tour (J88PT) and Asia Poker League (APL) have stepped up to fill the void. In March 2021, a new homegrown player entered the playing field, the World Class of Poker (WCOP), with WSOP bracelet winner Ji Young Kim as one of the head organizers.
That same month, the brand held its first ever event in Pyeongchang with a second one currently in progress.
WCOP enters the South Korean market
As the newest actor in the scene, the WCOP has high hopes for poker in the country and for the brand. Expanding the market and producing quality events are their main driving forces. Their ultimate goal is to attain recognition as a competitive brand not just in Korea but also on the world stage. To achieve this, WCOP plans to host several signature festivals throughout the year and looks to manage other tournaments as well. In a conversation with WCOP Planning Manager, Tyler Jang, he stated to Somuchpoker,
“As a poker player, I started this project with the ambition of expanding the Korean Poker market base and creating a recognizable poker tournament organization (WCOP) not only in Korea but throughout Asia and eventually the world. My long term goal is for WCOP to have the right ability to make our own tournament system, create and manage various successful tournaments in Korea continually.”
With the popularity of Hold’em Pubs a clear indication of a hungry market, WCOP has partnered with numerous pubs to host satellites that feed players into larger events. Through their franchises, the brand will also be able to recognize players’ needs that are crucial in building a competitive and strong product. For their inaugural series in March, the Main Event drew 750 players.
Their second event is ongoing with a 1000 Main Event entry cap.
“WCOP has its own franchises called “World Class Holdem Club’ in 12 stores, and we are planning to expand to over 30 stores in the near future. We have enough infrastructure to proceed with our satellite games through our franchise which gives us more opportunities to create bigger tournaments that offer plenty of variety.”
Following in the footsteps of other brands, WCOP has signed on well known players to help build their image and spread their name. In addition to 2019 WSOP Ladies Event champion Ji Young Kim, the brand has recruited 2010 APPT Main Event champion Vivian Im, 2013 APPT Main Event champion Sunny Jung, and 2019 EPT Prague Deep Stack champion Gab Yong Kim. More players are expected to sign on.
Upcoming WCOP events
The WCOP has already stirred the market with a highly successful inaugural series held in March 2021 in Pyeongchang. The second one is currently running at the same location. The WCOP plans to host two more, one mid-year and the other at the end of the year. More information can be found on the WCOP website http://wcop.co.kr/ however English translation is not available at this time.