The inaugural K League Classic (overall 20th year of the K League) season finished at the start of December and overall it was a very successful season. The quality of football, organization and average attendances (up 8.6%) saw overall increases.
Pohang Steelers won the first K League Classic title on a dramatic final day of the season, with an injury time winner. Ulsan had to therefore settle for 2nd place. At the other end of the table sadly Daejeon Citizen, Daegu FC and Gangwon FC all where relegated. They will play in the 2014 K League Challenge.
Here is our summary of the K League Challenge Season with the key facts, stats and thoughts:
K League Challenge 2013 Final Table
As you can see Pohang Steelers won the title, and they where also the only All Korean K League Classic side. Ulsan Hyundai finished 2nd, with Jeonbuk Motors 3rd and FC Seoul 4th. The top 4 teams will all enter the group stage of the 2014 AFC Champions League, of which FC Seoul are recent runners up. The rest of the Championship Group (top half) teams where 5th placed Suwon Bluewings, 6th placed Busan I’Park and 7th placed Incheon United.
Looking at the Relegation Group (bottom half), Seongnam (8th) and Jeju United (9th) never had to worry about relegation and where away and clear. Chunnam Dragons (10th) and Gyeongnam (11th) where both slightly involved in the relegation battle but survived. Gangwon finished 12th and played in the Promotion/Relegation Playoff, which they lost to Sangju Sangmu and therefore where relegated. Daegu (13th) and Daejeon (14th) where only separated by goal difference but in the end where both relegated down to the K League Challenge.
Prediction Update and Review
Here is our Prediction from pre-season back in January, also including the changes compered to the final table:
- Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (-2)
- FC Seoul (-2)
- Suwon Samsung Bluewings (-2)
- Pohang Steelers (+3)
- Ulsan Hyundai (+3)
- Jeju United (-3)
- Incheon United (=)
- Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (=)
- Busan IPark (+3)
- Daegu FC (-3)
- Gyeongnam FC (=)
- Daejeon Citizen (-1)
- Chunnam Dragons (+3)
- Gangwon FC (+2)
Firstly please bare in mind that we wrote this prediction back in January over a month before the season started and also with limited information regarding the teams progresses during pre-season. However looking at our prediction and the end of the season table we didn’t make any massive errors. In the end we predicted 6 of the 7 teams correct for both the championship group and relegation group, Busan I’Park and Jeju United being in the wrong places. We got 3 teams in the correct final positions. The top 5 where a little off but all there, and the same with the bottom. Honestly Pohang and Chunnam did better than we expected, whilst Jeonbuk and Daegu did a lot worse.
The Top Goalscorers for the 2013 K League Classic were:
1st: Dejan Damjanovic (FC Seoul) – 19 Goals
=1st: Kim Shin-Wook (Ulsan Hyundai) – 19 Goals
3rd: Pedro Junior (Jeju United) – 17 Goals
4th: Kevin Oris (Jeonbuk Motors) – 14 Goals
=4th: Kim Dong-Sub (Seongnam) – 14 Goals
K League Classic Awards (Random Stats)
Here are a few awards (basically random stats) from the 2013 K League Classic. Some maybe a little surprising whilst others less so:
Top Goal Scorers: Pohang Steelers & Ulsan Hyundai (both 63 Goals)
Weakest Goal Scorers: Chunnam Dragons (34 Goals)
Best Defence: Ulsan Hyundai (37 Conceded)
Worst Defence: Daejeon Citizen (68 Conceded)
Draw Specialists: Incheon United & Daegu (14 Draws each)
Best Attendance: FC Seoul vs. Suwon Bluewings (43,681 on Aug 3rd)
Highest Average Attendance: Suwon Bluewings (17,689)
Lowest Attendance: Seongnam vs. Chunnam Dragons (749 on Sept 11th)
Lowest Average Attendance: Chunnam Dragons (2,278)
Final Thoughts and Next Season
Overall we where happy with how the K League Classic 2013 turned out and where also happy to provide information in the form of predictions, thoughts, stats and twitter updates. Although it was an enjoyable season there were a couple of things that were less enjoyable. Firstly the summer break was a little annoying this year as there was no major championships apart from maybe the East Asian Championships. This meant some of the best summer weather (and free time) was only useful for the baseball sides. Secondly the league split which although sort of worked last season, created a number of pointless extra games in a already long season.
Now looking at the positives, the overall quality of play on the field was greatly improved and on the whole so was the refereeing. The backroom management at some of the clubs was not heavily praised, but the K League Management was much improved. Finally the increasing quality of the domestic Korean players is now matching and in many cases bettering the foreign imports. If you look at many other Asian League as well as some European the number of standout non-domestic players is pretty high, however the K League is starting to buck the trend which to nice to see.
Next Season; The 2014 K League Classic season already seems like it will be pretty different. FC Seoul have already sold star Dejan and others seem like they could be on the move. Other sides seem to be trying to limit wage bills and squad sizes, although this is good for the business side of things it’s unclear if it will affect things on the pitch. The 2014 season will have only 12 sides (down from 16 just 2 years ago) and the general understanding is that the championship/relegation group split will be returning. We’re hopeful that the 2014 season can match if not better the 2013 season.
If you have any questions regarding the K League Classic or if you have anything you’d like to add please let us know either here or via our social media channels.