Dallas Fuel Overwatch team pose by the beach in Hawaii with Overwatch League 2021 playoffs sign
Dallas Fuel Overwatch team pose by the beach in Hawaii with Overwatch League 2021 playoffs sign

Everything you need to know about this weekend’s OWL playoffs, grand finals

by Jessica Scharnagle

The end of the Overwatch League 2021 season has finally arrived and only four teams remain, with three of those four battling it out for the last spot in the grand finals. Those three teams are all from the West Region so they are playing from Hawaii.

So far, the bracket has played out in a predictable manner, with the top two favorites, the Dallas Fuel and the Shanghai Dragons, staying in the upper bracket for the majority of the tournament. The team going for the three-peat, the San Francisco Shock, are well on their way to a Cinderella run in the lower bracket.

The Dragons came out the victors in the upper bracket final Thursday night, and they are the first team to secure their spot in the grand finals. They beat the Fuel 3-1, and many fans are expecting them to win the whole thing if a rematch happens. Tonight’s matches will determine whether we get a rematch or the Shock go for a three-peat or a new team gets a shot at the Dragons.

Here are the details and some history for the four remaining teams in the OWL 2021 playoffs and potential matchups.

San Francisco Shock vs. Atlanta Reign -- Friday at 9 p.m. ET

The Shock have fought tooth and nail to get this far in the tournament after an early fall to the lower bracket at the hands of the Dragons in the first round of the double elimination bracket. Their first lower bracket match against the Philadelphia Fusion went all the way to Map 5 as they sent the Fusion home. Their second match also saw them face a team that had been on a roll in the latter part of the season, the Chengdu Hunters. That match also went 3-2 in favor of the Shock.

The Reign have been the scrappiest team coming through the playoffs. They started their playoff run with a loss to the Hunters 3-2, but won their next match against the Washington Justice 3-0. On Thursday night, they beat the Los Angeles Gladiators 3-2 to move on to face the Shock.

If we are to look at that past to predict the outcome of this match, we should point to the Hunters. Both teams played them at one point. The Shock were the ones sending them home, but the Reign lost to them, although the match was tight. I think it’s safe to say that anything can happen in this match, but I’d give a slight edge to the Shock. They are hungry for a three-peat, which would solidify them as a dynasty early on in the OWL’s history.

Whoever wins this match will immediately go on to play the Fuel tonight, so whoever advances will have a mighty challenge ahead of them.

TBD vs. Dallas Fuel -- Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET

The Fuel will have to take out whoever wins the match against the Shock and the Reign, but probably isn’t what most concerns them right now. Although both of the teams are formidable, they’ve shown dominance throughout the entire season, and they’ll be looking to see what they did wrong in their upper bracket final with the Dragons and improve upon it.

Since this match is the only one they have to play, their chances of getting back into the grand finals match are pretty high. I wouldn’t count out either the Reign or the Shock completely, but all of the signs point to a Fuel and Dragons rematch in the grand finals.

TBD vs. Shanghai Dragons -- grand finals -- Saturday at 9 p.m. ET

The epic conclusion to the 2021 OWL season happens Saturday. Two teams will battle for the championship trophy, and no matter who makes it in, it’s bound to be a good match.

Whoever wins the lower bracket final will come up into the grand finals match and face the dominant Dragons. They’ve been the scariest team in the East Region all year, and they’ve already beat the Fuel once in the upper bracket final, so if the Fuel make it in, they’ll come back with renewed confidence and information on what they need to improve on. If the Shock or the Reign make it in, they’ll have to deal with the scrappy nature of the teams who had to fight their way through the lower bracket from the very beginning to get there.

Many fans are hoping for a Dallas-Shanghai rematch, and although it would be nice to see the Shock go for a three-peat, the rivalry between the Fuel and Dragons has defined the OWL this year and would be a fitting end to the season.

These two teams have matched up quite a few times this year, and the results have been mixed. The Fuel won the first tournament against the Dragons 4-2 in the May Melee, only for the Dragons to bite back and take the June Joust with a tight 4-3 grand finals. The Dragons got way farther than the Fuel in the Summer Showdown, and neither team made it into the Countdown Cup.

Grand finals perks and entertainment

For fans watching, there are rewards that grant viewers OWL skins for every three hours of playoff games they watch. Then, for Saturday, there are more OWL skins, OWL tokens and a spray to be earned if fans watch at least two hours of the grand finals.

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In addition to getting skins and other perks while watching the matches, members of the teams in Hawaii who have already been eliminated will play an Overwatch 2 exhibition match during halftime of the grand finals. The Overwatch League also has said that additional details on Overwatch 2 will be released. Sombra and Bastion reworks will be revealed, and Bastion will get a new look. Those details will be revealed before the grand finals.

The OWL playoffs and grand finals matches can be viewed on the Overwatch League’s YouTube channel, as well as the OWL website and the OWL app. Viewers must have their Battle.net accounts and YouTube accounts linked in order to receive the viewership rewards.

Lead photo credit: Overwatch League

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