The Overwatch League will end its 2021 season with a return to live events in September. The postseason will begin on Sept. 4 with online regional play-in matches that will result in a double-elimination qualifier on Sept. 16 and the Grand Finals on Sept. 25, which will be played in front of a live audience.
The top three teams in the Western Region – Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans and Washington Justice – and the the top two in the East — Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and the Seoul Dynasty — will qualify for the playoffs. The remaining three spaces will be filled with game support, two from the West and one from the East.
There are currently Shanghai dragons dominating the East division, with only the Seoul dynasty approaching its performance, while the West is more open: the Dallas Fuel is ahead, but the San Francisco Shock, the Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Gladiators and Washington Justice are in a amazing distance.
But even more interesting than the race to the top is the return of the live audience. It’s been well over a year since Blizzard started stopping league games in person, due to what was then a mysterious new virus that had resulted in 170 deaths. More cancellations occurred quickly, and in March 2020, Blizzard stopped all face-to-face events until at least May of that year.
The loss of live events eventually led Blizzard to focus on online action: Sports and Entertainment president of Activision Blizzard, Tony Petitti, said in March 2021 that face-to-face competitions were not being left out altogether, but noted that Blizzard "learned a lot last year in terms of how leagues can be structured to play online and we will try to move forward. best practices ". Overwatch teams in China returned to play in person, in very limited formats, earlier this year.
Except for a sudden rise in new Covid-19 cases and new public health measures that may or may not result, the 2021 Overwatch League Playoff will take place Sept. 16-19 at Texas Sports Stadium Arlington, while the grand finals will fall Sept. 25 at Los Angeles ’Galen Center. Tickets for both events will go on sale in August.