MLB The Show 20: Custom Leagues looks to fill the void of online franchise

SIE San Diego Studio
SIE San Diego Studio /

Custom Leagues in MLB The Show 20 looks like an intriguing alternative to the traditional online franchise mode but it’s hardly a replacement.

While not yet confirmed, it’s looking increasingly likely that MLB The Show 20 will not have a traditional online franchise mode. In its place, it seems, will be something Sony San Diego is calling Custom Leagues.

While the stream detailing Custom Leagues will take place later today, Sony San Diego released a brief video overview and plot post in which they run down the basic features of Custom Leagues.

As the name suggests, the mode is all about setting up, well, a Custom League for you to play with friends (or complete strangers) online. The mode will support both a “relaxed” and “competitive” atmosphere, though that seems to be more about attracting the type of personality you want in the league.

When setting up your Custom League, you can adjust house rules such as batting, pitching and throwing difficulty and if you want guess pitch or quick counts to be on or off. You’ll also be able to adjust various slider settings, like human contact, power and timing as well as human starter and reliever stamina, and more.

Custom Leagues will support a traditional Regular Season experience that goes into a Postseason Playoff bracket culminating in the World Series. You can adjust the number of teams in the league as well as how many teams make the postseason. The number of innings per game, games per series and games per postseason round are also options you can set when creating your league.

Interestingly, Sony does mention that Custom Leagues will support an unlimited number of seasons, so once your current season ends you can jump right in to a new one. I’m sure we’ll get more details during the live stream but I wouldn’t read too much into this. Custom Leagues are not an online Franchise mode.

I highly doubt we’ll have offseason tasks and franchise-building elements, such as a draft, player development and free agency. That said, it does sound like Custom Leagues will support basic team management functionality, such as trades. There was no mention of injuries, free agency, player development or other franchise mode-type elements.

There will be two types of Custom Leagues you’ll be able to start in MLB The Show 20. The first is the 40-Man Live MLB Leagues which use the 40-man rosters of all 30 teams that will be updated throughout the year. Sony confirms you’ll be able to make trades and we hope there will be other team-editing capabilities, such as a free agent pool.

The second option is far more intriguing and something we’ve never seen done in another sports games before. MLB The Show 20 has successfully married Custom League seasons with Diamond Dynasty, the franchise’s collectible card game mode. As explained by Sony:

"Diamond Dynasty Collection Leagues allows you to use your entire Diamond Dynasty Collection of player items to build your lineup. Commissioners can even set restrictions on team overalls to keep things even."

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I’m not a huge fan of Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Show, but this is a clever concept that I’d be willing to try out with friends.

As far as playing games, Sony has taken a page out of 2K’s NBA 2K20 book with how it handles player versus player games during the season. Custom Leagues will support a flexible schedule, allowing you to play your Regular Season games in any order. There’s no calendar you have to adhere to. If your opponent is online, you can play them right away.

I’ll always prefer online Franchise mode but Custom Leagues at least enables a way for you to play with friends online in a season-like environment. It’s not ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction.