Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Ariz., will host both pools for the Qualifying Round of the 2021 World Baseball Classic, the fifth installment of the baseball tournament featuring many of the world’s greatest players, it was revealed on Tuesday. Each pool will feature six teams with the top two finishers in each pool advancing to compete in the 2021 World Baseball Classic tournament.
The World Baseball Classic is sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) as the sport’s official National Team World Championship.
Pools and teams invited to participate in the Qualifier are:
Republic of South Africa
“We are excited to bring the World Baseball Classic Qualifying Round to Tucson, Ariz.,” said MLB Deputy Commissioner, Business & Media Tony Petitti. “We would like to thank our host, the Kino Sports Complex, the city of Tucson and the WBSC for their support in continuing in their efforts to grow the game around the world.”
Each qualifying pool will feature a nine-game double elimination round with the top two teams from each pool advancing. The winners from each Qualifier will advance to the World Baseball Classic tournament, scheduled for March 2021. Those four teams will join the 16 countries -- Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mexico, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela -- that received automatic invitations based on their performance in the 2013 tournament.
“We are looking forward to seeing great players from around the world come together to play the game we all love,” said Leonor Colon, senior director of international and domestic player operations for the Major League Baseball Players Association. “Our hope is that many of these players will be inspired by the experience and will go on to represent their countries at the Major League level one day soon.”
“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.”
The Qualifiers were originally introduced prior to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, when Qualifiers were held in Panama City; Regensburg, Germany; Jupiter, Fla.; and Taipei, Taiwan during the fall of '12. The inaugural World Baseball Classic was held in '06 prior to ensuing editions in '09, '13 and '17.