In December 2020, the World Baseball Softball Confederation approved esports as a new discipline.

This opened the door to the staging of international esports competitions in the future.

A resolution was passed, formally adopting esports as the virtual version of both baseball and softball.

Esports was integrated into the WBSC statutes and approved by its Congress, while rules and regulations for the governance of ebaseball and esoftball competitions were developed.

In 2021, the WBSC presented its strategic approach to esports, which is composed of three pillars - mobile, pro and virtual.

Baseball was then one of five sports to feature at the inaugural Olympic Virtual Series, organised by the International Olympic Committee in 2021.

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WBSC eBaseball Power Pros

The WBSC has partnered with video game company Konami to release WBSC eBaseball: Power Pros.

It is the governing body's official game and has been released on the PlayStation Store and Nintendo eShop in more than 60 countries.

There are more than 300 characters to choose from as players can assemble their team of batters, catchers and pitchers to compete in online games against opponents from around the world.

The global release launched in February 2023 at $0.99 and can be played locally with up to four players on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation, as well as single players online.

It is the latest title in the Powerful Puroyakyu series which has sold more than 24 million copies since the first release in 1994.

It features characters from the series and is said to be perfect for both newcomers and experienced gamers with its "authentic and in-depth strategy gameplay which recreates baseball in all its tactical and technical aspects".

The game follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Konami and the WBSC in 2022.

Previous versions of Konami's baseball title have already featured in esports events, including the inaugural edition of the Olympic Virtual Series.

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WBSC Virtual Cup

The WBSC Virtual Cup is the organisation's inaugural esports competition, and comes under the virtual pillar.

It began in September 2022 in cities across Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the United States.

The Virtual Cup is open to everybody, with no age limit or gender restrictions.

It is intended for people who do not have prior professional baseball or softball experience.

Prize money of $10,000 (£8,700/€10,100) will be awarded to the winning team, with the event hosted through Newdin's "Strikezon" state-of-art technology as a virtual field-of-play.

Depending on the number of overall entries, either eight or 16 teams will advance to the Super Round from each of the 13 divisions.

The Super Round, which will take place on the weekend of October 23, will be a single-elimination tournament at a designated location for each division. 

The top team from each division, plus three wildcards, will go through to the 16-team World Finals, scheduled for the end of November 2022 in South Korea.

Teams will be divided into four groups and compete in a round-robin. The winner of each group will advance to the final round.

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Mobile Game

The WBSC has launched Playball WBSC, its first gaming app, and Softball WBSC, the first mobile game dedicated to the sport.

Both can be downloaded from major online stores, including Apple and Android.

Each game allows players to select a national team and then compete in WBSC events.

Tournament winners - the gamers with the highest number of points - are eligible to win prize money.

Each online win earns two points and the best performers will also take part in a final series, on-site at a WBSC competition.

The first online events - the Under-12 Baseball World Cup and the Under-15 Women's Softball World Cup - began on September 1 in 2022.

Baseball World Cups will also be held at Under-15, Under-18 and Under-23, as well as an Under-18 Softball World Cup.

The WBSC has launched its first mobile games dedicated to baseball and softball ©WBSC
The WBSC has launched its first mobile games dedicated to baseball and softball ©WBSC

Players can practice against the computer for free or play others around the world in an online game, with two points going to the winner.

Every player receives two complimentary tickets, which are needed to play online games.

Each game costs one ticket - and extra tickets can be bought at the price of $0.99 for two.

A percentage of the proceeds from the games will be delivered to the WBSC's National Federation where the user account of a player is registered.

"The launch of these gaming apps represent a major milestone for the WBSC in its mission to grow baseball and softball globally by making it more appealing and accessible to wider sectors of society, especially young people," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.