The World Baseball and Softball Confederation, international baseball's governing body, announced details of the first Premier 12 tournament at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday.
The tournament is scheduled to take place from November 8 to November 21, shortly after the conclusion of the MLB, NPB, and KBO seasons. The top 12 international squads, as determined by the body's 2014 year-end rankings, will participate in the tournament. (Those teams are listed below, along with their rank according to the IBAF system and our own rating.)
|Team||WBSC Rank||WBSC Score||Elo-Cole Rank||Elo-Cole Score|
The 12 teams will be divided into two groups of six, with groups to be determined at a later date. Each team will play a five-game round robin against the other teams in its group. The top four teams from each group will then advance to a single-elimination tournament to determine the championship. The round robin and quarterfinals will be held in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), and the semifinals, bronze medal, and championship games will be held at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo.
The WBSC calls the Premier 12 its "new flagship professional baseball world championship," and is offering a multi-million dollar prize pool to attract top-level talent. The prize money, as well as travel expenses for all invited teams, has been generated by sale of the global sponsorship and media rights to MP & Silva, which previous handled media distribution for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The tournament is scheduled to be held every four years. The WBSC deliberately scheduled the Premier 12 for the year before the Summer Olympics, and plan to use the tournament as a qualifier should baseball be reinstated as an Olympic sport.
The WBSC and NPB also announced a partnership to support the Premier 12 on Monday, ensuring that the top stars from Japan's highest pro baseball league will participate in the tournament. But it remains unclear whether MLB teams will send players from their teams to the tournament, and how the Premier 12 will co-exist with the current flagship event, the World Baseball Classic.
A WBSC spokesperson insisted that the WBC will not be affected by the creation of this additional event. "WBSC is committed to all vehicles that promote the national team brands of our national governing body members, as these [members] would feature in the [Olympic] Games," the spokesperson said.
Founded in 2013, the World Baseball and Softball Confederation represents both baseball and softball, taking the role of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). The WBSC counts 141 national federations among its members, and oversees the Premier 12, the World Baseball Classic, the Women's Baseball World Cup, and a number of other international competitions.
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Bryan Cole is a featured writer and the self-proclaimed international baseball correspondent for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Doctor_Bryan.