The 2021 Overwatch League season schedule is live with 208 total matches slated for the regular season. Each team is scheduled to play 16 regular-season qualification matches, plus additional contests across the four tournaments. Teams will be divided into two groups based on their location for the season: East and West, with all 20 teams are competing for a share of a $4.25 million prize pool in 2021.
This season, the Eastern division will consist of eight teams. Philadelphia Fusion has moved its operations to South Korea, and LA Valiant has moved its operations to China. Chinese franchises Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Shanghai Dragons, and Chengdu Hunters, as well as South Korean franchises Seoul Dynasty and New York Excelsior, round out the Eastern Division. The other twelve teams that round out the 2021 Overwatch League will compete in the Western Division.
The season kicks off on April 16 with a revitalized rivalry between Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel in large part due to the un-retirement of Jacob "JAKE" Lyon, who left professional play following the 2019 OWL season. The 19-week season will conclude on August 21.
In an update last month provided by the Overwatch League, it was mentioned that steps would be taken to globalize competition while remaining safe in the global COVID-19 pandemic, which caused OWL to pivot to a fully online format for its 2020 season:
"We are exploring a few different options to facilitate this global competition, but our current leading approach is to have the top qualifying teams from the West travel to Hawaii, where they will play against the top qualifying teams from the East via a directly-routed connection from Hawaii to Asia. If necessary, though, due to changing health, safety, and travel conditions, we will be prepared to quickly pivot back to a regional tournaments model."