The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Executive Board (EB) has approved the inclusion of E-Sports as a discipline of baseball and softball, setting the stage for future official E-Baseball and E-Softball international competitions and World Cups/Championships.
The EB passed a resolution formally adopting E-Sports as the virtual version of the sport, along with Baseball5 – a five-on-five street version of the sport – and agreed to notify all National Federations of this decision.
Following E-Sports’ integration into the WBSC Statutes, which will be put forward for approval to the WBSC Congress in 2022, the world governing body will establish the rules and regulations for the governance of E-Baseball and E-Softball competitions, in addition to preparing for the launch of the WBSC’s first E-Game next year.
WBSC President Riccardo FRACCARI said: “The welcoming of E-Sports into the WBSC family comes at a critical time, considering the fast-evolving digital world in which we live and the ongoing global pandemic.
“The WBSC looks forward to more progressive innovation in the dynamic and youth-focused space of E-Sports, which will potentially expand the reach of our sport to millions of gamers and fans.
“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-themed video games have been among the most produced and most popular in the industry, with 100s of titles dating back to IBM’s baseball game simulator in 1961.
Securing Baseball/Softball’s Youth and Digital Future
Baseball5 launched in 2017 and has become a key component in the WBSC’s growth strategies by further promoting the game among young people globally.
The urban, five-on-five version of Baseball-Softball does not require dedicated sports equipment or venues and it’s mixed-gender, youth orientation is closely aligned with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Olympic Agenda 2020.
The WBSC has published the 2021 edition of the Baseball5 rulebook for the rapidly growing street discipline and a mandated WBSC department is developing a comprehensive international competitions structure, World Cups, world rankings and a pool of certified continental instructors.
“The inclusion of eSports and Baseball5 in the WBSC Statutes reinforces our mission to grow baseball and softball globally as a more appealing and more accessible team sport experience,” Fraccari added.
Baseball5 is also set to become the first Olympic team sport to feature mixed-gender teams when it makes its debut at the Youth Olympic Games 2026 in Dakar, Senegal.