Major League Baseball seems to be all in on VR. This year will be the league’s second annual virtual home-run derby championship taking place during All-Star Week. Thousands are expected at Play Ball Park during the celebration, and anyone on site will the the opportunity to compete in the Home Run Derby VR Championship, if they can make the cut.
Here’s what it takes.
MLB’s Second Annual Home Run Derby
The first derby was great all ages event. I tuned into the stream watching little leaguers and age-old fans who have watched the game grow for decades swinging for the fences.
MLB held its first video-game competition as part of All-Star Week in Washington last year. The tense final set came down to two little-league aged kids, Chuck and Coop. It was nine-year-old Chuck Smolka of Staten Island, New York, who stood victorious over more than 5,000 opponents.
A live Twitch audience of more than 120,500 concurrent viewers watched as Smolka – one of four kids younger than 12 to advance to the semifinals – won the title in a back-and-forth final round. At the time, the competition was the most viewed live stream on Twitch, MLB said.
This year, thousands of fans who are attending the All-Star Week event on July 5th through Sunday July 7th will have the opportunity to qualify. What’s at stage? A grand prize package that includes a Tiffany & Co designed trophy and four tickets to this year’s All-Star Game to be held at Progressive Field on Tuesday July 9th.
How Home Run Derby Works
Available on most VR platforms, including Steam and PSVR, Home Run Derby is your chance to feel like an MLB All-Star. The rules to the game are simple. You’re standing in the middle of your favorite field, just you and the pitcher.
Multiple difficulty settings challenge players of all skill levels. You can even choose between a right or left-hit stance for comfort. Once a round begins, players have 90 seconds to smash em out of the park. The game is a fast-paced, fun workout with an MLB theme. Recent updates added Dodger Stadium (shoutouts to my home team).
The MLB licenses lend themselves to a higher production value. Stadiums and graphics look fairly realistic with their own animated feel to them. The presentation is top notch as far as sports experiences in VR, plus MLB licensed teams and stadiums.
Fans looking to get in on the action will need to be in attendance at Play Ball Park beginning Friday, July 5th. After three days of qualifying, the competition will conclude on Monday, July 8th, with a three-hour battle to see who will take the ultimate prize in a top 32 qualifying gauntlet full of tested home-run hitters.
All three hours will be streamed live via Twitch – Twitch.TV/MLB_Games – and will feature commentary from MLB Network’s Jackie Redmond.
If you’ll be on site there’s no reason to skip this one. You might have the opportunity to upset your way into the All-Star Game and prove yourself king of the homerun derby. Not too shabby for a summer trip to the ballpark.