The United States will be aiming to win a fourth consecutive gold medal at the Under-18 Baseball World Cup when the 2017 edition due to begin in Canadian city Thunder Bay tomorrow.
The 28th edition of the event, scheduled to conclude on September 10, will be contested over 50 games and three stages - the opening round, super round and medal round.
A record nine top-10 countries have qualified for world baseball’s 12-nation, premier youth tournament.
The field is made up of Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, South Africa, South Korea and the US.
The tournament has been dominated in recent history by the Americans, winners at Seoul in 2012, Taichung in 2013 and, most recently, in Osaka two years ago.
World number one-ranked nation Japan will meet Mexico in the first match of the tournament at the Port Arthur Stadium.
Japan has captured the silver medal at the last two Under-18 Baseball World Cups, in 2013 and 2015.
Following the 30-game opening round, the top three finishers from Group A will battle the top three finishers from Group B in a three-day super round.
A consolation round will be staged to determine the seventh to 12th-place finishers.
The two nations with the best records following the super round will play for the title of world champion on September 10.
The bronze medal match will be held earlier that same day.
At the last Under-18 Baseball World Cup in Osaka in 2015, the final attracted more than 15,000 fans to the historic Koshien Stadium.
Its prime-time broadcast was the day’s most watched television programme in host nation Japan, while online viewers from 93 countries and territories followed via live-stream.
In the build-up to the tournament, the WBSC and Major League Baseball (MLB) announced a global professional players agreement.
As part of the new partnership, MLB-affiliated players born from 1999 to 2001 are eligible to participate with their respective national teams.