The Perfect Game Challenge offered by the Major League Baseball 2K series, tainted by allegations of cheating and rules loopholes last year, returns under a new format this time, its fourth in as many years. Though the million-dollar prize pool is still the same size, it will now divide the loot among 31 overall winners, with a grand prize winner getting $US250,000.
The contest still depends on throwing a perfect game, which is defined as a game in which a single pitcher retires all opposing batters without one reaching base for any reason. A minimum of 27 batters faced is necessary, but all batters must be retired by the same pitcher.
Last year, 2K Sports introduced a qualifying round which sought to determine the "most perfect" game. Contests were scored according to an algorithm that factored in the strength of the opposition, the strength of the pitcher, the number of pitches and strikeouts recorded, and other details. That scoring system will be used again this year, but this time, the best-scored perfect game thrown by each of the majors' 30 teams will be awarded $US25,000.
The top four hurlers will then be flown to New York to participate in a tournament during All-Star Weekend in July. The winner of that tournament will receive $US250,000.
Known before as the Million Dollar Challenge, the contest was a very strong marketing success for 2K Sports in its first two years, turning up everyman winners in 2010 and 2011, and hard luck losers early in last year's contest, whose stories resonated strongly with baseball fans. But an exploit in the game and a loophole in its official rules pointed to strong evidence that at least one of last year's finalists in an eight-man, winner-take-all-tournament, earned his bid by cheating.
The official rules have yet to be posted. When they are, I'll be very interested to see if they specifically proscribe altering the computer's lineup, the exploit used in last year's cheating scandal.
Major League Baseball 2K13 is on shelves March 5 for Xbox 360 and PS3.