This week’s MLB The Show 20 livestream featured custom leagues, a new game mode that combines a little bit of diamond dynasty with what you might know about other online leagues. To be clear, this is not online franchise, and it was never stated as such. We’ll clear up what that means in terms of what’s not there at the end.
In the stream, the developers confirmed you will be able to create an online league with your friends, make you own house rules, all while using your Diamond Dynasty collections or 40-man rosters for a more realistic environment.
There’s a full trade block function too, so roster fluidity is definitely possible (you can make 3-for-3 trades at max). Ratings within 40-man leagues will move up and down based on real-time SDS ratings fluctuations. In-game progression will not exist as it does in traditional franchise mode. In this sense, it’s a bit of a fantasy baseball mode. So strategizing and trading for players or prospects having a hot month in real life will be a fun exercise for sure.
In Diamond Dynasty collection leagues, users will be allowed to use their entire Diamond Dynasty collection of player cards to build their lineups. Commissioners will have the ability to set restrictions on team overalls to keep things even. Diamond Dynasty collection leagues are an open roster, meaning you can add and drop player cards that you unlock in Diamond Dynasty mode outside of your league — no need to restart the league to have access to new cards. Created players will not be allowed in custom leagues.
Custom leagues will feature the ability to play flexible multi-season experiences with fully customizable settings. The commissioner will be able to customize the amount of games in a season, as well as how the postseason bracket will setup, including how many playoff teams will be included that postseason. You’re also able to customize the amount of innings per game, the batting difficulty, pitching difficulty, pitch counts, guess pitch, etc. It’s a full suite of variables available for your tinkering.
Developers recognized that coordinating online play, especially in a lengthy baseball season, can be a tall task. Thankfully, users will have the ability to fully customize a flexible schedule, including user games, allowing you to play your head-to-head regular season contests in any order. If your opponent is online, you can knock those games out right away, at any point in the season.
Commissioners will have to shoulder a heavy responsibility in leagues. There’s a full array of sliders that will be available to customize. Commissioners will also have the ability to reset a game result. For example, if a user drops their internet connection, a loss won’t be as automatic as it would be in Diamond Dynasty. Commissioners will have the power to assign a random result, or reset the game entirely for a re-do. They’ll also be able to give other users the ability to handle commissioner duties to allow the league to keep moving forward if for some reason the primary commissioner is unavailable.
Leagues will require at least four teams, meaning you’ll need three friends or trustworthy strangers, to play this mode. If you are forced to search for a league, the amount of sortable restrictions makes it so your expectations for league play will almost certainly be met. The filter constraints appeared very thorough.
(We’re still trying to figure out all the permutations of CPU stuff. It did not appear there was an option to put any CPU teams in by default, but you can boot someone and then that team is controlled by the CPU it seems.)
A commissioner can also dictate a league as either relaxed or competitive, signaling how many games you’re expected to play each week, or how tough the competition may be.
Inside the mode, the message board function is quite nifty as you’ll see game results, users trades, trade blocks, user messages and more. It’s a nice organizational hub. If a commissioner changes sliders or something like that, you will also be notified.
Users can be in a max of three leagues.
So What’s Not There?
Okay, to be clear, this is not an online franchise mode. The developers do seem like they want to build on this, but they ripped all the infrastructure out and started from scratch, and it does not seem like some straight forward concept to just take the offline franchise and put it online. They never said this was online franchise, but since some people wanted to dream it was, let’s be clear about some things that are not here.
- No created players
- We believe there are no created teams at this point. If you bring your DD roster to the game, it seems like you still select 1 of the 30 MLB teams rather than your DD team. (We could be wrong here, but we’ll update it if we hear otherwise.)
- No fantasy drafts
- Teams not being used are unavailable. You can’t trade for those players as they do not exist.
- No minor leaguers beyond the 40-man or who is on your DD team
- No offseason between the seasons, thus no contracts, salary concerns, etc.
- If ratings changes occur in the real rosters, you can’t stop those from coming into your league. In other words, there is no player progression based on what you do in these leagues. Injuries and trades in the real MLB will not impact your ongoing league either.
- CPU teams seem kind of in right now, but it’s a workaround way as of now. You can’t start a league with CPU teams, but you can boot people and then the CPU takes over.
- Again, this is not an online franchise, it’s a way to play with friends. The Diamond Dynasty concept will be your best way to bring a lot of the fantasy elements to a Show league.
- There is not a 162 game option or a “normal” MLB schedule. The way you play series is you play a pre-selected number of games against each opponent — in whatever order you want.
All in all, the entire experience looks like it will give commissioners a lot of tools to make these leagues work for competitive play. It does seem like more will come to this feature in the years to come, but the first step seems like it was about making sure all the options to make head-to-head games as easy and functional as possible were there first.