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The Countdown Cup is over, leaving the 2021 Overwatch League playoff play-ins as the final way to make it to the grand finals this year. With all 2021 tournaments over, the seeding is in. Now, some teams are already qualified for playoffs while others are eliminated.

However, there are six teams in the Western Division and three teams in the Eastern Division still fighting. Nine teams remain, fighting for the final three spots in the season playoffs. In the upcoming play-ins from Sept. 4 to 5, these three teams will be determined.

Based on seeding in their divisions, some teams get byes and other advantages to earn a spot. Either way, each team gets a shot to make it to the top.

Who is fighting and who isn’t

To start, the results of the Countdown Cup impacted the play-ins significantly. The teams in the West who have already qualified for the season playoffs are the Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Gladiators and Atlanta Reign. In the East, the Shanghai Dragons and Chengdu Hunters do not have to play in the play-ins either. Originally, the San Francisco Shock were primed to hold that third automatic qualifying spot, but the Gladiators’ victories in the Countdown Cup boosted them up and knocked the Shock out.

This means the teams remaining in the West fighting in play-ins are (in order of league standings):

  • San Francisco Shock
  • Houston Outlaws
  • Washington Justice
  • Toronto Defiant
  • Paris Eternal
  • Boston Uprising

And in the East, the teams remaining fighting for play-ins are (in order of league standings):

  • Seoul Dynasty
  • Philadelphia Fusion
  • Hangzhou Spark

Of course, this means that the Florida Mayhem, Vancouver Titans, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Guangzhou Charge and Los Angeles Valiant are eliminated from the season playoffs.

The play-in brackets

With the seeding done, the play-in brackets are ready.

The Western Division play-in bracket. | Provided by Liquipedia

With the Shock having the highest seed in the West remaining, they get the advantage of choosing which opponent they face. The Outlaws, the second-highest seed in the West, play the other team that progresses from the quarterfinals. Whoever wins against those two teams officially progresses to the season playoffs.

The Eastern Division playoff bracket. | Provided by Liquipedia

In the East, the path is shorter due to the division having only one spot for three teams. The two lower seeds in the Fusion and Spark fight each other first, and the winner faces the Seoul Dynasty. Whoever wins that game also officially makes it to the season playoffs.

The games start on Sept. 4 at 3 p.m. EST and continue for another day to determine the three teams progressing. Make sure to tune into the Overwatch League on that day to see which three teams win in the 2021 play-ins.


Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming as long as I can remember, with my first ever game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played game being Borderlands 2 (3000+ hours). Some other key favourites of mine are Transistor and Night in the Woods, but I spend stupid amounts of time playing Overwatch. I have a BA Honors in Film Studies, and want to continue to be part of film, gaming and writing.


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