How to watch the 2021 Overwatch League season

The Overwatch League kicks off its 2021 season this Friday.

Image via SFGate

The 2021 Overwatch League season officially gets underway on April 16, and the field is set with some of the fiercest competition in the history of the league.

Similar to last year, the OWL will stream exclusively on YouTube. This marks the second year of the partnership between Blizzard and Google, which was revealed early last year.

If viewers of the YouTube livestreams have their Google accounts linked with their Battle.net accounts, they will also receive in-game rewards for watching games throughout the season. These rewards include sprays and Overwatch League tokens that they can trade in for skins themed for every OWL team, as well as the available MVP Echo skin for Fleta and the Roadhog skin celebrating the victory of the San Fransisco Shock in the 2020 OWL season.

The season will begin on Friday, April 16, with two matches. Six matches are slated for April 18 and 19. oThe OWL will follow this format for 19 weeks, concluding with the final day of matches on Aug. 21. Houston and Dallas mark the opening of the 2021 OWL season, which will be streamed live via YouTube on April 16 at 2pm CT.

Format

This year, the OWL will take the form of four tournament cycles—May Melee, June Joust, Summer Showdown, and Countdown Cup—where each team will be seeded into the tournaments based on their performances in four matches throughout each cycle.

The OWL will also continue its East and West region split based on the location of the teams participating. The top six qualifying teams in the West will play one round of knockout matches, where the top two teams will advance into the tournament. The East will have its top four teams battle to determine the top two. Both regions will then move on to a double elimination bracket tournament against one another.

“Health, safety, and travel conditions permitting, the top two West teams will travel to Hawaii for tournaments, where they will play against the top two qualifying teams from the East via a directly routed connection from Hawaii to Asia,” the Overwatch League said in the 2021 season reveal post. “If necessary, we will pivot back to a regional online tournament model with separate champions.”

League Points and Playoffs

The OWL will be adopting a new format in regards to League Points during the 2021 season that directly effects how teams will advance to playoffs. Each qualifying match victory for a team rewards one point, while tournament wins grant three points to first place, two for second, and one for third. Should tiebreakers arise, League Points earned through qualifying matches will be prioritized.

The West’s top three teams and the East’s top two teams, based on their number of accumulated League Points, will face each other in the playoffs at the end of the season. There will be a play-in tournament prior to playoffs to determine another two Western teams and one Eastern team to enter the playoffs. This will then form an eight-team, double elimination bracket for the OWL Championship.

Schedule

Friday, April 16

Time (ct)Team OneTeam Two
2pmHouston OutlawsDallas Fuel
3:30pmLos Angeles GladiatorsSan Fransisco Shock

Saturday, April 17

Time (ct)Team OneTeam Two
4amGuangzhou ChargeShanghai Dragons
5:30amLos Angeles ValiantChengdu Hunters
7amPhiladelphia FusionSeoul Dynasty
2pmToronto DefiantVancouver Titans
3:30pmAtlanta ReignFlorida Mayhem
5pmDallas FuelLos Angeles Gladiators

Sunday, April 17

Time (ct)Team OneTeam Two
4amGuangzhou ChargeSeoul Dynasty
5:30amChengdu HuntersShanghai Dragons
7amPhiladelphia FusionLos Angeles Valiant
2pmHouston OutlawsSan Francisco Shock
3:30pmFlorida MayhemVancouver Titans
5pmToronto DefiantAtlanta Reign