The eSports industry has grown in spectacular fashion in recent times as more and more sports look to join hands with their corresponding e-games in a bid to capture younger audiences around the globe.
The latest to jump on to the bandwagon is baseball (and softball) and here’s a piece on how things have gone for this sport in relation with eSports.
WBSC & the Inclusion eSports
WBSC stands for the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and it’s a global body which overlooks the functioning of baseball and softball.
The Pully-based body was formed in 2013 when the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) merged and became two divisions of the same body.
So the question now is why is the WBSC in news on an eSports blog?
Simply speaking that’s because this body for baseball and softball has allowed for the inclusion of eSports as a part of the two sports. And the repercussion of this is excellent news for fans of gaming, eSports and obviously baseball and softball.
That’s because in the times to come, one can hope for the organization of E-Baseball and E-Softball tournaments played at the global level, not to mention World Cup competitions at a frequent interval.
What would also be interesting to watch is if this translates into any of the baseball video games getting picked into the World Cyber Games (WCG).
eSports Keeps Baseball Fans Interested Despite Pandemic
Earlier in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hit every sport, including baseball and softball, organizers looked to be scrambling to try and keep their fans interested.
Major League Baseball, the biggest professional baseball league in the world, went ahead and launched an eSports tournament by the name of “MLB The Show“, in which all 30 teams from MLB took part.
One player from each of the clubs represented them in that eSports competition in what was essentially a round-robin tournament where all teams played 29 games.
At the end of these group games, the top eight MLB sides/players moved into the post-season that ended with the playoffs.
The eight MLB players who made it to the playoffs were Blake Snell from Tampa Bay Rays, Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers, Bo Bichette representing the Toronto Blue Jays, Jeff McNeil of the New York Mets, Dwight Smith Jr. from the Baltimore Orioles, Lucas Giolito of the Chicago White Sox, Ian Happ playing for the Chicago Cubs and Gavin Lux from Los Angeles Dodgers.
Snell won this first edition of the MLB The Show Players League championship for the Rays, beating Lucas Giolito of the White Sox by clinching all the three matches.
These matches were telecast live on Twitch, and the funds which were raised went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada charities.
The tournament was also broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and MLB Network in the USA, marking how important the top honchos consider eSports as a part of their strategy to attract more, and a younger audience.
Baseball’s Maiden Foray Into eSports
It wasn’t just the coronavirus pandemic which helped baseball cross its path with eSports. The first such foray into eSports made by baseball, or MLB in this case, came in 2018 when a tournament by the name of MLBPA Fortnite Challenge was launched.
This competition saw MLBPA partner UMG Media Corp. and involved active and retired baseball players playing the game of Fortnite and it was streamed live on UMG Twitch, from the venue. The tournament was hosted at The Wall Gaming Lounge inside the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino.
WBSC’s Maiden E-Games in 2021
We are still awaiting more information on this but there are early signs that there could be an international event organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation on the lines of the World Cyber Games but consisting of only e-games related to baseball and softball.
According to the WBSC President, Riccardo FRACCARI, this will also help baseball and softball in reaching the masses, and added:
“Advancing future-oriented initiatives such as online/virtual competitions will support the development of baseball and softball — and all disciplines under them — for many years to come.”
Baseball Video Games
Some of the earliest baseball-based video games were released in the 1970s and over the years, the sport has had a large number of video games designed for the sport.
The more recent ones have been mentioned in the list below.
- MLB The Show Series
- R.B.I. Baseball Series
- Out of the Park Baseball Series
- Mario Sports Superstars
- Baseball Mogul
- Out of the Park Baseball
- Super Mega Baseball and so on…
More details on baseball and these world eSports tournaments will be released as we get more information on it.