World Baseball Classic to expand from 16 to 20 nations as Qualifiers announced

World Baseball Classic to expand from 16 to 20 nations as Qualifiers announced
Location, dates, teams and pools have been announced for the qualifiers in March.

NEW YORK -- The WBSC-sanctioned World Baseball Classic will expand from 16 to 20 national teams, with qualifying events to take place in March for the four additional spots in the global tournament, it was announced today.

Two qualifiers (modified double-elimination format) will be staged at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, from 12-25 March:

  • Pool 1 (12-17 March): Brazil, France, Germany, Nicaragua, Pakistan and South Africa
  • Pool 2 (20-25 March): Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines and Spain

The top two teams from each group will advance to the next World Baseball Classic, scheduled for March 2021. 

All 16 teams from the 2017 World Baseball Classic return for the 2021 edition, including Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela.

“WBSC is excited to further strengthen ties with Major League Baseball and the MLBPA through the expansion of the World Baseball Classic, which will see an increase from 16 to 20 teams and include more of our National Federations,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “WBSC applauds MLB’s continued efforts and shared vision of globalizing our great game.”

In total, 28 of WBSC's National Baseball Federations will take part in the World Baseball Classic, either through the main event or its qualifiers.

USA is the current defending World Baseball Classic champion.