The WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup is the WBSC’s youngest baseball property, but it is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling, with eight different teams medaling and four different victors in its four editions to date.
The tournament, which begins on Thursday, has one of the most even playing fields among WBSC baseball events, with four different winners in its four editions.
Starting as a U-21 tournament in 2014 before expanding to a U-23 age category in its second edition in 2014, the tournament has gone on to showcase the sport’s best talent, crowning four different winners along the way: Chinese Taipei (2014), Japan (2016), Mexico (2018), and Venezuela (2020 – played in 2021).
With two further silver medals from 2014 and 2018, Japan is the only team to have won three medals at the tournament. Mexico (silver in the most recent competition) and Venezuela (bronze in 2018) are the only other teams to have been on the podium twice.
It is one of the most competitive events, especially when compared to the other age groups: U-18 Baseball World Cup (seven medallists over 30 editions), U-15 Baseball World Cup (12 across 19 editions), and U-12 Baseball World Cup. Eight different teams have won a medal across four editions (seven across six editions editions).
The International Softball Federation (ISF) and the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) merged to become the World Baseball Softball Confederation, which is when the age-group competition U-21 Baseball World Cup was created.
The IBAF ceased hosting the Baseball World Cup and consented to award the World Baseball Classic champions the title of Baseball World Champions before launching its signature competition, the Premier12.
The introduction of a category that would act as a bridge between the U-18 and adult levels, as well as a response to the majority’s need for greater opportunities to compete at the international level, led to the U-21 Baseball World Cup.
11 national teams from four continents participated in the lone U-21 Baseball World Cup, which was held before the age-group competition’s expansion: the Americas (Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Mexico), Asia (Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea), Europe (Czech Republic, Italy, and the Netherlands), and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
The inaugural issue focused on Chinese Taipei’s triumph over Japan in the championship game at home in Taichung. Korea defeated Nicaragua to earn the bronze medal.
For the second edition, which took place in Monterrey, Mexico in 2016, the WBSC raised the age limit to U-23.
Korea overcame Panama to win bronze, while Japan defeated Australia to win the first U-23 championship
Twelve teams from five continents participated in the competition: South Africa represented Africa, the Americas (Panama, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Argentina), Asia (Japan, Korea, and Chinese Taipei), Europe (Czech Republic and Austria), and Oceania (Australia).
Baseball was played internationally once again in Colombia in 2018. The two groups were held in the cities of Barranquilla and Monteria, with the former serving as the location of the medal games and Super Round.
Mexico won the Baseball World Cup for the first time after defeating defending champions Japan, and Venezuela secured its first-ever podium finish with a bronze medal after defeating Korea.
Again, 12 teams competed in the third edition in Colombia: South Africa represented Africa, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Puerto Rico represented the Americas, China Taipei represented Asia, Japan represented Asia, and the Netherlands represented Europe (Australia).
Due to the global COVID-19 issue, the WBSC postponed the 2020 edition, and the event was held for the second time in Mexico in 2021 in Ciudad Obregon and Hermosillo, Sonora State.
At the cost of the host nation and reigning champions Mexico, Venezuela climbed two spots up the ladder and won their first U-23 global championship. To win the medal, Colombia defeated Cuba, the previous U-23 hosts.
The Americas dominated the 2021 edition, with Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and Panama finishing first through fifth, and Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic finishing seventh and ninth, respectively.
Chinese Taipei and Korea finished sixth and eighth, respectively, with the Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic filling the remaining spots in the final rankings.
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