The 2023 World Baseball Classic

One of baseball’s most beloved tournaments finally returns.

Players for team Canada are seen warming up prior to their March 13 matchup against the U.S.

Matty Hauth

Players for team Canada are seen warming up prior to their March 13 matchup against the U.S.

Matty Hauth, Copy Editor

2023 has brought along the fifth installment of the beloved World Baseball Classic (WBC), and features a brand-new style of play.

The WBC is a play-in-style tournament, where countries first compile a team to compete through a double-elimination qualifiers tournament for a spot in Pool play. The top two teams from the qualifiers advance to the WBC, ultimately playing for the WBC final.

With the tournament previously being played every four years, from 2005-2017, the original fifth Classic was intended to be played in March of 2021 – though as a result of the pandemic, countries had to wait another year for qualifiers, ultimately playing the series from March 7 until March 21 of this year.

Despite the Classic overlapping with MLB’s Spring Training schedule, since it will conclude nine days prior to Opening Day, players were able to participate without taking away playing time from the regular season.

Each qualifier from the previous tournament automatically gained entry into the fifth installment, though due to the tournament expanding from its usual 16 teams into a 20-team bracket, there was a play-in tournament for the final four.

Following the qualifier tournament, three teams – Nicaragua, Great Britain, and the Czech Republic – made their WBC debuts, while Panama qualified for the first time since 2009, making their third overall appearance.

All 20 teams were placed into four pools based on geographical location, with Pool A playing in Chinese Taipei, Pool B in Tokyo, Pool C appearing in Phoenix, Arizona, and Miami, Florida hosting Pool D.

Play began with one game on March 7, followed by three games being played on March 8.

Entering the tournament, some of the more notable teams catching the eyes of fans were the Dominican Republic, Japan, and the United States. With these teams featuring big-name MLB players – as well as international stars – great suspense was built across the world, as the Classic would be a gauntlet from start to finish.

While the focus was mainly on these teams, there were other countries within the competition with notable players, such as Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Canada. This would undeniably make for an entertaining few weeks.

The quarterfinals will see the top two teams from each pool play a single game to determine which team will advance to the semifinals. The U.S. and Japanese stadiums will host the quarterfinals games, with Miami’s LoanDepot Park slated to host the semifinals and championship from March 19 through March 21.

The U.S. is coming off of a strong 2017 performance, in which the team – led by Championship MVP Marcus Stroman – shutout Puerto Rico to win the game 8-0, taking home the first WBC title in U.S. history.

While it’s certainly tough to predict who will make it out of the WBC as the champions, many players look forward to representing their countries on the field, taking it as an honor and privilege.