The European Baseball Championship, originally scheduled for 2018, has been postponed. The Confederation of European Baseball (CEB) announced that the series will be held in 2019 instead, to be used as a pre-qualifier tournament for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The 2018 Championship was awarded, in September 2015, to both the Bonn Capitals and the Soligen Alligators of the German Bundesliga (DBV). They will continue to be hosts in 2019. The change has been approved by the CEB Executive Committee at the request of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC), who are busy constructing an Olympic qualifying system. Both the CEB and DBV have agreed to the changes.
Details are still emerging but the qualification process for European teams will heavily rely on the 2019 series with the top five teams from the tournament becoming eligible to participate in an Olympic qualifying tournament. In a joint statement DBV President Mirko Heid and Chairman for the Capitals Udo Schmitz commented, “The value of the tournament will once again increase as it is not only about the European Championship title, but also about the European representative at the Olympic Games in Tokyo,"
To increase the intensity of the competition the CEB has also voted to change the Championship format. The first round will remain unchanged following the round robin format. The second round however will now be a single-elimination bracket format rather than another round robin.
Already qualified for the 2019 event are the 10 best teams from the 2016 tournament including: Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The remaining two spots will be determined at the European Baseball Championship qualifiers held in 2017 and 2018.
Bonn has already begun preparing for the 2019 qualifiers. The Capitals already have plans in place to install a sprinkler system, floodlights and new grass this off-season. As Bonn had already made arrangements for the changes to be in place in time for the 2018 event, the DBV has given their support to the Capitals to host a national team event in the 2018 season. The decision is now in the hands of local government to determine if they will stick to the initial timetable in light of the change in the Championship schedule.