The venues and pools for the World Baseball Classic 2023 have been announced, and wow, it already looks like an exciting competition.
Starting on 8 March 2023, 20 teams will compete for the WBC crown, with the final in Florida on 21 March.
With delays due to the pandemic, we haven’t had a tournament since 2017, when the USA (population 330 million) beat Puerto Rico (population 3 million) in a one-sided 8-0 final at Dodger Stadium.
Current world rankings (WBSC World Rankings as at December 2021)
- South Korea
- Dominican Republic
- Czech Republic
- Puerto Rico
Sixteen teams have already qualified for March 2023, but 12 are still in the hunt for one of the last four spots. And one of those teams is Drew Spencer’s GB National Team.
Team GB faces a tough qualifying group in Germany in September this year, which features the cream of Europe as well as a battle against South Africa. The top two from each group will progress to the WBC in March 2023.
I’ve already sussed out Regensburg on the map. Road trip, anyone?
Once the four qualifiers are known, the pools for March 2023 can be finalised.
There are four pools of five teams, with the winners and runners-up from each group progressing to the knockout stages. I don’t know if it is possible to have three “Groups of Death”, but I’m hoping GB gets Pool A.
The finals are played in four host cities across three countries: USA, Japan, and Taiwan. With Japan and Taiwan currently ranked first and second in the world, expect fanatical support at the games.
TAIWAN: The Taichung Intercontinental Stadium will host the games in Taiwan. This looks like a marvellous venue if the exquisite painting by Andy Brown is anything to go by.
You can even purchase this painting via his website.
JAPAN: With a capacity of 46,000, the Tokyo Dome is larger than all but six MLB stadia. Home to the Yomiuri Giants, the Tokyo Dome will host the most mouthwatering clash of the group stages between Japan and South Korea.
USA: Chase Field, Phoenix will host Pool C, which features the North American trio of juggernaut nations as well as Colombia and one of the qualifiers. By naming Mike Trout as captain, Team USA is serious in their endeavour to retain the trophy.
USA: LoanDepot Park (the stadium previously known as Marlins Park) is home to Pool D. Miami could witness electrifying games, especially in the matches featuring Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. It will be a refreshing change for the venue to see some decent play instead of the usual Marlins’ offerings.
Check back next week when we take a closer look at the challenge ahead for the GB team.