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World Baseball Classic Expands To 20 Nations

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic Expands To 20 Nations

Major news for fans of the World Baseball Classic as the tournament is expanding to 20 nations. The previous four tournaments had 16 nations participating in the competition, but the 2021 version will be the first one to feature 20. This will hopefully bring more interest to the game. The other hope is to see more talent on for show. 

Because of the expansion, all 16 nations that participated in the 2017 edition will automatically qualify for 2021. This includes Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela. 

World Baseball Classic Qualifying Round

As a result of this decision, 28 overall nations will be involved as four more will be added for the qualifying round, which will feature two pools with six nations in each. Additionally, the format will be modified to double-elimination. The qualifiers will be held at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona on March 12-25, 2020. The two-top nations from each pool will then advance to the main tournament.

The two pools will look like this:

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 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) sanctions the tournament. WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari had this to say: “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. WBSC applauds MLB’s continued efforts and shared vision of globalizing our great game.”

How This Benefits Major League Baseball

With more talent on display, it could also allow MLB teams to scout these players. If that happens, that will bring even more interest to the sport internationally. It should also help get talented foreign-born players a chance to play for MLB. The tournament has helped bring such players as Jose Abreu, Yu Darvish, and Jung Ho-Kang are all examples of past examples of this.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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