Everything you need to know about the Overwatch League Play-Ins

by Jessica Scharnagle

The Overwatch League Play-Ins start this weekend and nine teams will compete for three spots in the 2021 playoffs.

In the West Region, the San Francisco Shock, Houston Outlaws, Washington Justice, Toronto Defiant, Paris Eternal and Boston Uprising will compete for two spots, and in the East Region the Seoul Dynasty, Philadelphia Fusion and Hangzhou Spark are still looking to secure their spot.

The Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators, Atlanta Reign, Shanghai Dragons and Chengdu Hunters have already qualified for a spot in the playoffs based off of their League Point totals accrued throughout the season and will be seeded accordingly.

OWL Play-In structure

The Play-Ins will be single-elimination, meaning teams will be done for the season after their first loss in this tournament.

In the West Region, the Eternal and Justice will play for a shot at facing the Shock for qualification, and the Uprising and Defiant will play to see who moves on to challenge the Outlaws for another spot. In the East Region, the Fusion and Spark will have to battle it out before they can challenge the Dynasty for the last remaining spot in the playoffs.

Read more: Breaking down the 2021 Overwatch League MVP candidates

After that, the playoffs begin on a date that has yet to be determined in a double-elimination tournament to find out who moves on to grand finals. The OWL announced last week that the in-person playoff events were cancelled and that an online-only tournament will be played for the entirety of the playoffs.

Who will move on to the OWL playoffs?

Now that the matches are set to take place this weekend, we can take a closer look at who might be the teams to make it forward to the OWL playoffs. Here are the three teams that appear most likely to move on and compete in the 2021 OWL playoffs.

Houston Outlaws

Although the Outlaws haven’t been able to win when they needed to, this shouldn’t be one of those times. The Fuel have been the Outlaws’ Achilles heel throughout the season, denying them tournament appearances for the May Melee and June Joust tournaments.

There isn’t much of a history between the Outlaws and the Defiant and Uprising to point to who might win a match. The Outlaws have played these two teams once each so far this season. They won against the Defiant, but lost 3-0 to the Uprising. The Outlaws haven’t been as good in the latter part of the season, but they still should be the best out of these three teams.

San Francisco Shock

The two-time defending champions are now playing catch-up. They are starting ahead one match, and will face either the Eternal or the Justice for their spot in the playoffs. They haven’t been to any of the tournaments this season, with their latest attempt to get into the Countdown Cup cut down by the Gladiators in a tight 3-2 match.

The Shock have only played the Justice and Eternal once each. However, both matches ended in a W for the Shock. Both matches weren’t a wipe, though, with each of those teams taking at least one map off the Shock.

Their match history has trended towards more victories than losses, and the Shock should be one of the teams to make it to the playoffs. Although they haven’t been to a tournament all season, the Shock are still a fierce team with a stacked lineup and could definitely rise up to claim a three-peat.

Seoul Dynasty

There is really no contest here between the Dynasty, Fusion and Spark. Of course, there is a chance that an upset could happen, but the Dynasty have been on a roll lately, and their latest play saw them earn a spot in the Countdown Cup tournament. In fact, they are the only team on this list to have made it to a tournament at all.

The Dynasty have consistently beat the Fusion save for one match in the beginning of the season, and they’ve beat the Spark both times they’ve met in competition. Their matches aren’t usually a wipe, teams do tend to put up some numbers against the Dynasty, which is why this match will be the one to watch this weekend. Although the Dynasty have been on a roll recently, upsets can and do happen.

How to watch the OWL Play-Ins

The OWL Play-Ins begin Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. ET. After this weekend, we will know all of the teams that are in the running for the 2021 grand finals championship match. All matches will be streamed on the Overwatch League’s YouTube Gaming channel.

Lead photo credit: Overwatch League

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