WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari joins IOC Esports Commission following success of WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari joins IOC Esports Commission following success of WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS
President Riccardo Fraccari has been named as part of the IOC Esports Commission as the WBSC continues to lead in this area with the success of official video game WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) President Riccardo Fraccari has been appointed to sit on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Esports Commission.

Under President Fraccari’s leadership, the WBSC has embraced the new world of eSport with the release of its official video game, WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS, in conjunction with Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd’s (KONAMI) in February 2023.

WBSC eBASEBALL™: POWER PROS was selected by the IOC and played a key role in the success of the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series in 2021 and the first Olympic Esports Series, which culminated in the finals being played during Olympic Esports Week in Singapore in June.

President Fraccari thanked the IOC for the appointment and emphasised the importance of the WBSC continuing to embrace eSport. “It is an honour to be invited to sit on the IOC’s Esports Commission,” President Fraccari said. “It is a testament to the leading role that the WBSC has taken in this exciting new area, and I believe our experience in eSport will allow me to contribute greatly to the Commission.

“The WBSC will always look for ways in which we can reach new audiences and bring baseball and softball to the next generation. We know that eSport is increasingly popular among the youth today and believe that POWER PROS can be a route to playing our sport.

“I look forward to seeing the continued growth of eSport in the WBSC and the Olympic Movement as a whole over the next few years.”

Marking the latest step in supporting the development of virtual sports within the Olympic Movement, the establishment of the Esports Commission, chaired by IOC Member David Lappartient, who led the IOC Esports Liaison Group until the creation of the new Commission, underlines the IOC’s recognition of the tremendous potential that esports have to engage new audiences and provide new opportunities for athletes and fans alike.

The WBSC is committed to engaging new audiences in Baseball/Softball, especially the next generation, through eSport. The most recent event was the final of the CTBA eBASEBALL™ Open played on the sidelines of the XXXI U-18 Baseball World Cup 2023 in the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium on Tuesday and streamed on the giant screen and online for fans in attendance and around the world.

The WBSC approved the inclusion of eSport as a discipline of baseball and softball in 2020, while the WBSC eSport strategy is based on three pillars - eSport mobile, eSport virtual and eSport pro with the WBSC Virtual Cup being staged for the first time in 2022, setting a record for the number of participants in a WBSC World Cup.

The WBSC Virtual Cup Opening Round ran for an entire month in bars in Korea, Japan, Mexico and the United States, where a total of 8,146 entries were received to compete in the tournament, making it the most participated WBSC event in history.