The World Baseball Classic returns in 2026, with Japan looking to defend their title after success in 2023.
|What||World Baseball Classic|
|Where||Venues in Japan, Taiwan, Mexico and United States|
The World Baseball Classic is in 2026 usually in March. The holders of the tournament are Japan, who won the competition for the third time defeating USA in Miami.
The event usually takes place in the United States, with Pool games to be held in Japan, Taiwan and even Mexico. The Semi-Finals and Final are usually held in the United States.
All of the games are usually shown on FOX Sports in the United States. In the UK, they only show live games from the Quarter-Finals and they are usually on BT Sport.
There have been five editions of the World Baseball Classic and 2026 will be the sixth edition. The first World Baseball Classic took place in 2006, spread over three countries, Japan, United States and Puerto Rico.
Japan won the inaugural World Baseball Classic with victory in the Final over Cuba. Japan then managed to retain their title in 2009 defeating South Korea.
Four years later, the tournament had a new winner as Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico in the Final.
Finally, the USA won the championship in 2017 beating Puerto Rico, who lost for the second time in consecutive World Baseball Classic tournaments.
Despite the Dominican Republic being early favourites to lift the trophy, it was the old battle between Japan and USA in the Final with Samurai Japan winning the tournament in 2023.
In the five editions that the tournament has taken place, Japan has won it three times and are reigning champions. The USA have won it once with the Dominican Republic also once.
The Dominican Republic failed to get out of their group stage for the tournament, so may not be as heavily backed as they were in 2023.
You look towards Japan again as favourites closely followed by the USA. However, do not discount Puerto Rico or Mexico as outside favourites for the championship.
The most watched tournament to date, the Japan v South Korea game averaged 62 million viewers alone.
It got people on the edge of their seat and more and more players are making themselves available to play in the competition.
USA captain Mike Trout made himself unavailable for the 2017 tournament and now regrets it, having tasted the WBC in 2023.
It started with Netherlands beating Cuba in an opening day shock in Pool A. The group finished with all sides on a 2-2 record, so they had to use the tiebreaker which Cuba and Italy benefited from.
The tie breaker was the runs allowed per defensive out recorded and these two countries had the fewest and qualified.
Japan won all their four pool games and they qualified alongside Australia who edged out South Korea in their opening fixture.
China lost all four games which was a surprise. Great Britain won one game, beating Colombia which has enabled them to qualify for the next World Baseball Classic.
USA and Mexico qualified, despite losing one game each. Pool D was won by Venezuela which left Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to battle it out in the final game to qualify for the Quarter-Finals which Puerto Rico won.
Cuba, United States, Japan and Mexico qualified for the Semi-Finals, with Japan and the United States reaching the Final.
Japan, with Shohei Ohtani leading the way, came through for their third World Baseball Classic title.
16 teams have already qualified for the tournament depending how they fared in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
There are four spots available and these will come from Europe and the Americas via their own qualification stage, usually the back end of 2025.
There is no announcement as to the hosts for the tournament again, but as USA and Japan have hosted games in Miami and Tokyo, which has indoor stadiums, then it’s likely these two countries will also be considered again.