Photo: © Konami 2018.

TOKYO – Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) – the top sports league in Japan and second in the world – and entertainment giant Konami partnered to stage a national eSports baseball tournament.

Baseball-related video games have been among the most produced in the industry, with 100s of titles dating back to IBM’s baseball game simulator in 1961.

The Pawapuro Championships played in January featured actual players from NPB’s 12 clubs as well as the best gamers in Japan.

The competition registered more than 1.5 million live-stream views and an attendance of 7,400, organisers reported.

Announcing the continued partnership with Konami last year, then-NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki said: “Through this…eSports collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment, we hope to further increase interest in professional baseball, as well as continue to grow and energise the sport’s fan base.”

NPB, a member of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), and Konami first teamed up on the annual Pawapuro Championships in 2016.