MONTPELLIER — Is it too early to get excited about next year’s top European inter-league baseball tournaments?
Perhaps. It’s not even Christmas yet and the games won’t begin until June. But… since word has just come about about when and where the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) will hold its big 2020 events, Le Baseblog decided to share the news while it’s still fresh.
Also, now’s as good a time as any to explain how it all works. So, here’s the deal:
Just as France has its 12-team D1, other European nations also have top-division pro or semi-pro baseball leagues. And like the world-famous UEFA Champions League — the bright-lights, big-money competition between the top teams in Europe’s various national leagues (La Liga in Spain, the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, etc.) — there is also a structure in place for Europe’s best baseball clubs to meet.
In fact, there are two major competitions: The Champions Cup and the CEB Cup.
The Champions Cup, as the name suggests, is an eight-team tournament featuring the top teams (based on the previous season’s results) in Europe’s leading baseball countries. The three countries with the strongest baseball leagues — The Netherlands, Italy and Germany — each have two teams in the tournament.
The other participating countries in the 2020 version of the event are France and the Czech Republic. France will be represented by the Rouen Huskies, who beat the Sénart Templiers in this year’s best-of-five, D1 championship series.
The CEB Cup follows a similar format, only it involves what are either second-place teams from certain national leagues, or the top finishers from countries (most of them in Eastern Europe) where baseball tends to be less developed.
Also, the winner of the CEB Cup earns an automatic berth in the following year’s Champions Cup. Likewise, the last-place finisher in the Champions Cup is demoted the next year to the CEB Cup.
In the case of France, entry into the CEB Cup can be earned by winning the previous year’s Challenge de France, a mid-season tournament (held in May) involving the D1’s top eight teams.
The Sénart Templiers won the 2019 Challenge de France and will thus represent France in the 2020 CEB Cup. If, as was the case in 2018, the Challenge de France winner also takes the league title, then the CEB Cup spot goes to the D1 runner up.
The 2020 Champions Cup and CEB Cup will take place simultaneously from June 2/3 to 6/7, albeit in different venues (and in different countries).
The Champions Cup will be held in Ostrava, in the north-east of the Czech Republic, near the border with Poland, and hosted by the reigning Czech champs, the Ostrava Arrows.
The CEB Cup will be played right here in France, south of Paris in Sénart, and hosted by the Sénart Templiers.
And the other teams?
Besides the Rouen Huskies and the host team, the Ostrava Arrows, the 2020 tournament will feature the defending champions, UnipolSai Bologna (Italy), plus the winners of the 2019 CEB Cup, Heidenheim Heideköpfe (Germany).
Germany will also be represented by the Bonn Capitals. Italy’s second team is Nettuno Baseball. The other participating clubs are Dutch: The Amsterdam Pirates and Curaçao Neptunus of Rotterdam.
Like their arch rivals from Rouen, the tournament host Templiers will also have to test their mettle against a Czech team: Eagles Praha. Also making the trip to France for the CEB Cup will be the Dornbirn Indians (Austria), Deurne Spartans (Belgium), BC Minsk (Belarus), Tenerife Marlins (Spain), Therwil Flyers (Switzerland), and Biotexcom-KNTU (Ukraine).
(Special thanks to Owen Ozanich for his stellar consulting and research skills)
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