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Updated: November 17, 2018
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen & Fortitudo Bologna)

Organization European Champions Cup awarded to Bologna

ZAGREB (Croatia) - The Executive Board of the European Baseball Confederation (CEB) has awarded the organization of next years European Champions Cup-tournament to Italian champion UnipolSai Fortitudo Bologna. While the exact dates are not known yet, the tournament will be played at the beginning of June.

Most games, including the Finals, will be played at Stadio Gianni Falchi, the home of Bologna. In the preliminary round, games also will be played at Stadio Teseo Bondi, the site of Castenaso Baseball in Castenaso, east of Bologna. In 1999, the stadium of Bologna was one of the sites for the European Baseball Championship.

Participating in this tournament will be two teams from the Netherlands and Italy, including the champions of these countries. They will be joined by the champions of Belgium, the Czech Republic, France and Germany.

Representing the Netherlands and Italy are the teams that reached the Championship Series at the end of this season. Curaçao Neptunus faced L&D Amsterdam Pirates in the Holland Series and went on to win the title. Neptunus first qualified by finishing in first place in the regular season. By reaching the Holland Series, Amsterdam Pirates then also qualified for the European Champions Cup.

In the Italian Series, UnipolSai Fortitudo Bologna won the title by winning the Final against Pirati dei Rimini. Like Neptunus and Amsterdam, both Bologna and Rimini also participated in this year tournament, which was held in Rotterdam and Capelle a/d IJssel (Netherlands) at the sites of Neptunus and Euro Stars.

...Neptunus won the European Champions Cup this year...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
It will mark the fourth consecutive year that Neptunus, Amsterdam, Bologna and Rimini will participate in the event. This means that these four teams have participated in every edition of the tournament since it was introduced in its current format in 2016. All three previous editions were won by Dutch clubs. Amsterdam won in 2016, then Neptunus last year and this year. In previous years, there were two qualifying tournaments with the winners advancing to the European Champions Cup Final.

Deurne Spartans (Belgium), Arrows Ostrava (Czech Republic), Rouen Huskies (France) and Bonn Capitals (Germany) also qualied for next years by winning their countries Championship-title. Rouen Huskies also participated in this years tournament.

This year, T&A San Marino ended up in last place, which means the representative of San Marino relegated and now will play in the CEB Cup-tournament. This tournament was won this year by Borgerhout Squirrels in Ostrava (Czech Republic), which meant that the Belgian spot promoted to the European Champions Cup. In the Belgian Championship Final, Deurne Spartans captured the title to qualify. Deurne won the best-of-five Belgian Series against Borgerhout Squirrels, 3-2. With that, a team from Belgium will play in the tournament for the first time since its new set-up in 2016.

The Czech Republic was represented this year by Draci Brno, while Heidenheim Heideköpfe represented Germany.

In the Championship Final in the Czech Republic, Arrows Ostrava won the title this year after winning the best-of-five against Draci Brno, 3-1.

In Germany, Bonn Capitals captured the title this year by winning the best-of-five Final against Heidenheim Heideköpfe, 3-2, but it took some time before the celebrations could begin. In Game 4, played on October 13, Bonn won 4-2 to equal the Series at 2-2. However, Heidenheim then filed a protest against a situation involving an umpire. During a double-steal attempt by Heidenheim with runners on first and third base, there was a collision between an umpire and the short stop of Bonn. The runner from third base scored, but that run was annuled. According to the official rules, it only is umpire's interference when an umpire is hit by a ball in then infield, or when a catcher's throw is interfered by the home plate umpire. While the decision was made based on a situation which is not explicitly mentioned in the rules, the protest was rejected. On October 14, Bonn won Game 5 with a 7-5 score, but there were no celebrations, as the protest still had to be judged. The decison came ten days later and so, Bonn won its first-ever Championship-title.

...Stadio Gianni Falchi in Bologna will be the site of... years European Champions Cup...
(© Photo: Fortitudo Bologna)
The European Champions Cup was introduced in 2008 and replaced the three European Cup-tournaments that were played in previous years (European Cup, CupWinners Cup and CEB Cup). From 2008 through 2012, there were two Qualifying tournaments, with the two best teams qualifying for the Final Four. The winner of this won the European Champions Cup. In 2008, there were two qualifiers with eight teams, from 2009 on, each qualifier had six participating teams.

From 2013 on, the format was changed. In 2013, 2014 and 2015, there again were two qualifying tournaments with six teams each. But this time, only the winner advanced to the European Champions Cup Final, which was a best-of-three. From 2016, the current format was introduced. In one tournament, eight teams participate and the winner wins the European Champions Cup.

Since the introduction of the European Champions Cup in 2008, Neptunus participated in nine tournaments, while Amsterdam Pirates participated in eight. In the Final Four-period (2008-2012), Amsterdam Pirates qualified for the Final Four in each of its three participations. Neptunus was unable to qualify for the Final Four in each of its four participations. In these years, Kinheim participated two times and both times reached the Final Four. Hoofddorp Pioniers participated once.

In the years, a best-of-three Final was played (2013-2015), both Amsterdam Pirates and Neptunus participated in two qualifying tournaments. Neptunus reached the Final in 2015 and then won the European Champions Cup. Kinheim and Hooddorp Pioniers both participated once in this period.

In the period 2008-2015, Bologna participated six times. The team reached the Final Four four times and the best-of-three Final twice and went on to win the European Champions Cup three times. Rimini participated four times, reached the Final Four once and the best-of-three twice.

(November 17)

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