New event opportunities presented to WBSC Congress delegates

New event opportunities presented to WBSC Congress delegates
04/07/2022
One of the biggest WBSC innovation's was turning the Women’s Baseball World Cup and all Softball World Cups into four-year cycle events, giving all participating Member Federations more time to prepare and compete in all of these competitions,

The WBSC Events Department presented to the WBSC Congress the new WBSC events calendar format, put in place during the 2020 pause due to the pandemic, aiming to respond and anticipate the new reality of the post-pandemic life. 

Headlining the new events is the Virtual Cup, which was recently unveiled as the WBSC's latest property.

The Virtual Cup marks the WBSC’s first own eSport competition and will be open for participation to everybody. It will see baseball and softball fans pair-up and use WBSC partner Newdin’s ‘Strikezon’ state-of-the art technology at venues around the world as their virtual field-of-play. The WBSC Virtual Cup will start in September and will take place across four countries with the final stage for November in in Korea.

One of the main modifications was the seven-inning games for international baseball competitions, implemented for the first time during last year’s U-23 Baseball World Cup. The results were quickly perceived with an uptick in the tempo and game strategies. A comparison of game results with previous editions showed a clear level of the field and a higher competitive level among participating teams. An encouraging sign as WBSC progresses towards implementation of seven-inning games in Youth World Cups.

Another big innovation was turning the Women’s Baseball World Cup and all Softball World Cups into four-year cycle events, similar to the WBSC’s flagship event the Premier12, giving all participating Member Federations more time to prepare and compete in all of these competitions, and setting up a more balanced and efficient competition calendar for these categories. The U-12, U-15, U-18 and U-23 Baseball World Cups will then continue on a two-year cycle until 2029 and will keep the same format. 

As part of the review process, the WBSC also approved a new, innovative competition system for the Women’s Softball World Cup, the Men’s Softball World Cup, the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup and the Women’s Baseball World Cup, named “Two-Stage World Cup”. Under the Two-Stage World Cup, the tournament will open with a Groups Stage to be played in different nations and different times of the year, with the Finals happening the year after.

The Women´s World Cup will be the first to launch the new format. Ireland, Italy and Spain will each host one group in the Group Stage in 2023. Italy will then host the Final Stage in 2024. All three European Nations are an example of how the new format opens the possibility to spread out host across the world. With only one venue needed to organize the tournament, instead of the 2-3 venues required prior, many cities across the globe can now opt to host. Less teams and less competition day also make it more viable from the financial perspective.

This new system also allows more teams to qualify and participate in the WBSC global events. The U-18 Women’s and flagship events Women’s and Men’s Softball World Cups will increment the number of participating teams to 18. 

The new format is paired with a new bidding process for Baseball, Softball and Baseball5 World Cups, in order to make it orderly, transparent and robust, as well as providing all interested members a clear view of the options available. 

The new bidding guidelines provide interested parties with information on the bidding process, including a clear timeline, assessment mechanisms as well the specific hosting and financial requirements by potential host cities.