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MLB, MLBPA create players-only esports league

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are joining in the fast-growing movement to develop player-driven esports events during the ongoing industry shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The league and union, in partnership with video game licensee Sony Interactive Entertainment, have developed a players-only esports tournament based around flagship game title MLB: The Show. The MLB: The Show Players League, beginning April 10, will feature a player from each of the 30 MLB teams competing in a month-long event to raised funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, a longtime MLB charitable partner.

Matches will be shown on Twitch and a variety of other digital and social platforms managed by the league, union, and individual players. The mix of participating players includes 11 former All-Stars, five World Series champions, and eight players aged 25 or younger.

Following a round-robin competition comprising a 29-game regular season for each player, the top eight players will advance to a postseason structured much like MLB’s actual playoff format, and culminate in a virtual World Series.

Notable participants include Tampa Bay pitcher Blake Snell, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr.

The effort is part of a quickly developing movement across the sports industry to leverage esports assets, often with players from the respective leagues, while real-world competition is suspended due to the public health crisis. 

Other properties developing similar gaming efforts include include the National Basketball AssociationNascar, LaLiga, Formula 1Monumental Sports & Entertainment, IndyCar and Major League Rugby, among others.