At the time of the WBSC Premier 12 semi-finals held in Japan in November 2015, the batters of the Korean national team were realizing the fear of the ‘monster’ that they had only heard about in words. Shohei Ohtani (29‧LA Angels), who started for the Japanese national team, struck out 11 in 7 innings and literally tied the Korean lineup perfectly.
After Ohtani went down, Korea made a miraculous come-from-behind victory in the 9th inning and advanced to the final and won the championship. In the ninth inning, which was trailing 0-3, he hit the Japanese bullpen and scored 4 runs, creating a night that will go down in baseball history. However, the fear of Ohtani remained strong. After the game, all hitters admitted that Ohtani’s pitch was overwhelming. Eight years later, Ohtani emerged as a strong runner to block Korea with the title of one of the world’s best baseball players.
The Japanese national team, led by head coach Hideki Kuriyama, first announced 12 players from the national team to participate in the World Baseball Classic 스포츠토토 (WBC) to be held in March. The roster includes mounding staples such as Otani and Yu Darvish (San Diego), Yamamoto Yoshinobu (Orix) and Loki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte), as well as signature beasts including Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs) and Munetaka Murakami (Yakult). all have been named The rest of the list will be announced at a later date.
Korea/Australia/Czech Republic/China and Japan, which belong to Group B, boast strong power. Right now, it is running third in winning dividends after the United States and the Dominican Republic. As the 1st and 2nd rounds are held at home, the expectations of the local people are also high. He showed a relatively strong side at the WBC, and Japan does not hide its ambition to challenge the top of the world beyond the semifinals. Ohtani is a player who should play a key role in that goal.
Ohtani participated in a press conference after the list was announced on the 6th and said, “Amazing players have gathered. We are aiming for the championship. Just as he grew up dreaming of becoming a baseball player while watching, he revealed his desire to become that kind of person to young players.
It is difficult to join from the first call due to the major league spring training schedule, but Ohtani’s idea is that he will join normally ahead of the first round, which will start at the Tokyo Dome from March 9th. There is a high possibility that Korea will be the best opponent in the first round. In terms of objective strength, Japan is far ahead, but there are variables in short-term battles. The atmosphere unique to the Korea-Japan match cannot be ignored. Immediately, Ohtani has a painful memory of having to watch the defeat even after fighting back during the 2015 Premier12.
Ohtani said of Korea, “I have the impression that there are many amazing players. Even in Asia, and even in the world,” Ohtani said, “There are many great players from all generations, both batters and pitchers. I don’t know what players are coming yet, but in any generation, I think it’s a really cool baseball because I think it’s a country where top players who can fight in the country come out,” he said humbly.
Korea will play against Australia on the 8th, and Japan will play against China on the 8th, followed by a decisive battle on the 9th. There is a high possibility that the winner of this match will be the 1st place in Group B. Korea plans to go all-in and win the match against Australia and continue its momentum until the match against Japan on the 9th. Since the match against weak China is the first match, Japan has the advantage of being able to pour all their best members into the match on the 9th. Interest is focused on whether Ohtani, who says, “Personally, it’s been a while since I’ve been playing in Japan, so I’m going to enjoy it,” will be included as one of them.