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Overwatch League’s 2021 season opens with stunning upsets

Aaron Alford

The Overwatch League hosted its 2021 season-opening weekend this past weekend. The first three weeks of the season will serve as qualifiers for the May Melee tournament. More importantly, the opening weekend is the first time we get to test the preseason predictions and see if they were accurate (they weren’t).

The mighty fall in Overwatch League’s 2021 Season opening weekend

Most fan and analyst preseason power rankings were thrown out the window this weekend. Top teams like Shanghai Dragons, San Francisco, and Atlanta Reign all took huge hits, while unexpected teams like Chengdu, Defiant, and Outlaws rose to the challenge. Coming into the new OWL season, it looks like the Overwatch League’s crown is open for the taking.

Shanghai Dragons conquered by Chengdu Hunters

The Shanghai Dragons took on the Chengdu Hunters on Sunday. Chengdu has long been considered a low-ranked team in the APAC divisions, although loyal fans will hotly contest such a statement. But even long-time fans weren’t expecting Chengdu to upset Dragons in a 3-0 sweep.

Chengdu gave Shanghai no breathing room in their series, with Yi “JinMu” Hu and Huang “leave” Xin both putting on highly aggressive performances as DPS. The first two maps went in the Hunters’ favor quickly, with Chengdu even full holding Dragons on Eichenwalde’s first point. The team wrapped it up on Gibraltor in a decisive fashion, ending their opening weekend with a 2-0 record.

Outlaws ante up and take the pot against San Francisco

Outlaws defeated San Francisco Shock in a six-map marathon thriller on Sunday. While the match could have gone either way on the last map, the win was still quite impressive for the renewed Outlaws organization. The upset victory over last season’s champions sent a clear message that the Outlaws are not to be trifled with.

Coming into the season, Outlaws were sporting a whole new roster with a new head coach. In the Offseason Outlaws signed Jae-won “Junkbuck” Choi to be the Co-Head Coach of Houston. Along with seven new roster members, including Jacob “JAKE” Lyon, the 2021 Outlaws are looking like a real force to contend with this year.

More challengers rise

Chengdu and Houston weren’t the only teams to rise to the occasion this weekend. Here are a few other teams that got off to a strong start for the Overwatch League’s 2021 Season.

Toronto Defiant looked very strong this weekend, winning both of its matches. In the offseason, Defiant signed Fusion Main Tank Su-min “SADO” Kim, Fusion DPS Hee-su “Heesu” Jeong, and Fusion Head Coach Dong-gun “KDG” Kim. If this weekend was anything to judge by, Defiant’s new lineup is in the mix.

Philadelphia Fusion debuted well in the East Region, kicking off the season with a 2-0 record. There were some questions about how the team might perform since they ran into some visa issues in the lead up to this weekend and lost some notable talent and head coach. But with a strong opening weekend, things are looking good for Philly.

Florida Mayhem had an undefeated opening weekend as well, defeating Atlanta Reign and the admittedly lowly ranked Vancouver Titans. Mayhem will get to test its newly won hype against Shock in a couple of weeks on Apr. 30th.

For a full list of match results, visit the Overwatch League’s official schedule page.

The Overwatch League’s 2021 Season will continue next week, with several teams competing in their season-opening games, including NYXL, Washington Justice, and Paris eternal. You can tune in to watch Overwatch League matches live on the Overwatch League’s official Youtube channel.