The Hong Kong International Baseball Open begins today with its fewest number of entries and the host nation as the only national team represented. Five teams will play a round robin over the next four days, with no playoffs. The tournament has now been running for eight years and has become a year-ending fixture.
As usual, Hong Kong will compete with a split squad, Hong Kong Red and Hong Kong Blue. At the 2019 Asian Baseball Championship in October, Hong Kong finished sixth out of eighth, besting Sri Lanka 5-1 and Pakistan 17-7. After two consecutive years of participation, Singapore will not send its national team, which was usually the only other true national squad.
The field is rounded out with teams from Singapore, Taiwan, and Vladivostok. Vladivostok has competed in every edition since the first, though it played as ‘Russia’ in the past two editions. Singapore Meerkats and Taiwan’s Da-Ho Baseball finish the groups. The Meerkats are not the national team, as British umpire Thomas Haywood, who is part of the officiating crew, confirmed. Regular participants from Sydney University (Australia), Ateneo University (Philippines), and Lanzhou New Way will not participate in the HKIBO.
The tournament, as always, is sanctioned by the WBSC, though it is unclear how points could be awarded with no full national teams. It will hold the honour, in all likelihood, of being the last international baseball tournament of 2019, unless the first Haitian Baseball Cup does, in fact, go ahead.