As the Overwatch League’s planned live events in both Texas and Los Angeles for the 2021 playoffs have fallen through with some teams unable to travel to the US, the league will instead be pivoting back to Hawaii.
Hawaii served as a bridge between the best of the West and Eastern-based teams all season for the four tournament events, where the final two teams in each region would meet.
The Western teams would travel to Hawaii to mitigate a lot of connection concerns and play against the top two Eastern squads. Now, that same format will be applied to playoffs, albeit on a larger scale.
While the play-ins will remain the same to round out the final 8 squads, the final five teams in the West will now travel to Hawaii, although Paris will need to sign an emergency roster if they qualify, as their players are currently stuck in Europe.
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) August 26, 2021
Playoff Patch and Map Pools
The 2021 OWL playoffs will not feature hero pools and will be played on Patch 1.63 which features some buffs to Soldier, Roadhog, Doomfist, and Moira. Meanwhile, Wrecking Ball and Genji were both nerfed and buffed in certain ways, so the meta is uncertain at the moment.
As for the Maps, all of the KOTH and Assault maps will be in rotation, with the higher seed picking a KOTH map to begin the series and then the loser picking the second, so on and so forth.
For other modes, escort will feature Havana, Route 66 and Dorado while Hybrid will be Eichenwalde, Numbani, and King’s Row.
The map order will be: control assault, hybrid, escort, control, escort, and control for the first-to-three match series.
Teams voice concerns with Hawaii plan
San Francisco Shock DPS Charlie ‘Nero’ Zwarg has exposed some of the issues Western teams have reportedly had while playing in Hawaii that give an advantage to the APAC teams.
“I’ve heard from players that have traveled there that the setups are bad: desks, chairs, internet, low FPS in teamfights and bad monitors. I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I have heard and if it’s true it really is a massive disadvantage,” he wrote and included a screenshot with a player’s name censored.
ive heard from players that have traveled there that the setups are bad: desks, chairs, internet, low fps in teamfights and bad monitors. I dont know for sure but thats what i have heard and if its true it really is a massive disadvantage
— nero (@ow_nero) August 26, 2021
Atlanta Reign head coach Brad ‘Sephy’ Rajani also called into question the competitive integrity of playoffs under this new format.
“Most of the teams were fully able to make it to Texas, and for those that couldn’t, playing with minlat 160 on west coast, and minlat 90 for Paris, minlat 0 for LAN attendees, would have yielded better matches overall. As it stands now, if Paris qualifies, they can’t play at all, and will have to sign an “emergency roster” to compete in their slot,” he wrote on Reddit.
“The decision to do Hawaii once again puts the APAC teams at an unfair advantage over the western teams. They get to use their own PCs, desks, chairs, sleep in their own beds, no travel fatigue, exist comfortably in their home facilities,” he continued before offering up a suggestion. “At the very least, the teams in Asia should be made to travel within their own countries and play on fresh setups at an office or something, to even the playing field for the sake of competitive integrity.”
New dates and times for the playoffs are still waiting to be announced, but the $1.5M prize pool remains intact.