Groups, Opening match-ups revealed for new Premier12™ elite global baseball tournament as 2020 Olympic bidding open
SEOUL (South Korea) -- Opening round groups for the first-ever Premier12™ global baseball tournament, which unites the twelve highest-ranked countries from the WBSC Baseball World Rankings, were among a series of major announcements at a press conference Wednesday led by WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari in the South Korean capital.
In the day's most anticipated news surrounding the new Premier12 -- which will be staged in Japan and Taiwan from 8-21 November -- the two groups for the event's Opening Round were revealed:
Group A: Co-host/World No. 4 Chinese Taipei, No. 3 Cuba, No. 5 Netherlands, No. 7 Canada, No. 9 Puerto Rico and No. 11 Italy
Group B: Co-host/World No. 1 Japan, No. 2 United States, No. 6 Dominican Republic, No. 8 South Korea, No. 10 Venezuela and No. 12 Mexico
The top four nations from each group surviving the Opening Round clash will advance to the quarterfinal knockout stage before the Premier12 shifts from Taiwan to Japan's iconic Tokyo Dome for the semi-finals and finals.
Continuing the announcements, the first two contests that will kick off action at the 2015 Premier12 were unveiled.
In Group A, it will be Chinese Taipei and Netherlands, the 2011 Baseball World Cup champions, at Taichung's Intercontinental Stadium on 9 November.
Helping to showcase the sport's popularity and existing world-class venues in Japan as baseball/softball vie for a spot at the 2020 Olympic Games, there was a special announcement to reveal that the 40,000-seat Sapporo Dome has been added to the line-up and would host the Group B opener, which will feature top-ranked Japan and South Korea on 8 November.
Samurai Japan National Team manager Hiroki Kokubo has underlined Japan's intention to capture the initial Premier12 trophy and will look to assemble a Japanese "Dream Team" that will make the entire country proud.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League -- South Korea's top sports league -- was present for announcements Wednesday and "welcomed the challenge" of the opening battle against rival Japan, declaring the league's support of the South Korean National Team in the Premier12.
WBSC President Fraccari commented:
"The Premier12 platform provides another key opportunity for players to represent, promote and honour their countries, and build on the wave of continued globalisation and excitement within our sport, particularly during this time when our sport is under Olympic observation for potential inclusion at the 2020 Games in Tokyo."
Said In Sik Kim, KBO official and former manager of the South Korean National Team:
"KBO is proud and honoured to announce our involvement and support for this new elite international competition looking to 2020 and beyond. KBO leadership joins in sharing President Fraccari's vision for the Premier12 to further establish and raise the attractiveness of National Team brands as part of a strategy to connect to new and global audiences, helping to drive awareness and growth in our sport around the world."
The inaugural Premier12 is being co-hosted by Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) -- the second highest-attended major sports league in the world in 2014 (approx. 23 million) -- and the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association.