The Best and Worst of Custom Leagues

On Thursday, Sony San Diego Studios unveiled details associated with its new Custom Leagues feature for MLB The Show 20.

While there are undeniable positives, there are at least as many negatives that will stop many Show users from having a parade to celebrate custom leagues.

Here’s a rundown of the best and worst things about the new feature.

The best things

That there even exists

Being able to play against friends in an online league is something fans of the series have wanted since the online franchise was retired a few years ago. Although it’s something different, the basic concept of online leagues is back, and that’s a good thing.

The Diamond Dynasty Link

Custom leagues can be played with MLB 40-player rosters or users’ Diamond Dynasty collections. The latter is by far the most intriguing and unique ride.

If you have a custom league with DD rosters, when you add new players to your collection it will reflect on your roster in the league.

This is perhaps the best feature of all.

Ratings fluctuate in leagues with rosters of 40 players

If you choose a roster of 40 players, players in the custom league ladder will be affected by roster updates. The connection between real MLB action and players in your custom league is welcome.

Personalization of the league structure

Commissioners can customize just about every aspect of their league from the start. This includes the number of innings played in each game, the length of regular season playoffs and playoffs, inclusion of the DH rule, wind control, hitting and pitching difficulty, and a host of other stuff.

From a purely structural point of view, the customization options are there.

The worst

There is no off-season

It’s clear why this feature wasn’t called Franchise Online, or anything else with the word “franchise” included. To use this term, the mode must have some semblance of an off-season structure with free agency, new schedules, and other duties associated with running a sports franchise.

Custom Leagues is all about playing the games, and that’s not going to completely scratch the itch for anyone interested in the mode.

There are no fantastic drafts

The word “custom” is included in the title of the feature, and with that word many expect to be able to start their league with a fantastic draft. Custom leagues don’t offer this capability, and that might be a deal breaker for some.

There are no minor leagues

It’s hard to think of running a baseball team without considering the farming system. Custom leagues won’t have anything to do with minor leagues, and that’s a shame considering this is the first year the series will feature full official rosters of minors.

There are no players created

Another unfortunate omission is the use of created players. The Show has a powerful player creation tool that can add another layer of fun to the overall experience.

Users will not be able to use any of these creations in their custom leagues.

There are no CPU teams

Each team in the league must be controlled by a human. It’s not that bad on the surface, but if you consider that there can be two guys or girls who want to have a custom league with the other CPU controlled teams, they won’t be able to, and that’s still a further limitation to functionality in its first year,

There are no renowned teams

The show introduced big-name teams to this year’s game, but that won’t be an option in custom leagues.

Summary

If you’re primarily a DD fan, you’re probably excited for custom leagues. Aside from a few slight omissions, DD players should get an exciting new wrinkle to their Collector Mode experience.

Franchise mode fans who were hoping to pick up their precious online option are likely very disappointed. Virtually none of the things Franchise Mode fans love will be included in Custom Leagues.

It might have been wiser to market this as a pure DD feature rather than a hybrid option.

Neal T. Doss