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Overwatch League 2021 Week 1: Houston Outlaws' Top Plays, Prize Money

Theo SalaunCorrespondent IApril 19, 2021

Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment

Following the debut week of the Overwatch League's fourth season, professional Overwatch looks very different than it did a year ago. A number of rookies made their first starts, revamped rosters tested their mettle and, with 14 matches down, one team defied all expectations: the Houston Outlaws.

After finishing 6-15 in 2020, good for a bottom-dwelling No. 16 in the standings, the Outlaws shook up their roster for 2021. With five of six starters making their Houston debuts, the Outlaws proceeded to drop the Dallas Fuel and San Francisco Shock for a 2-0 start to the new season.

Both wins went the distance to a tiebreaking 3-2 but remained impressive underdog victories. The first was against a big-spending, highly touted Fuel and the second against the typically indomitable, two-time OWL champion Shock.

Here's how the full first week shook out and how the new-look Outlaws earned themselves top-tier recognition.

         

Friday, April 16

Houston Outlaws 3-2 Dallas Fuel

Los Angeles Gladiators 1-3 San Francisco Shock

         

Saturday, April 17

Guangzhou Charge 0-3 Shanghai Dragons

Los Angeles Valiant 1-3 Chengdu Hunters

Philadelphia Fusion 3-1 Seoul Dynasty

Toronto Defiant 3-1 Vancouver Titans

Atlanta Reign 1-3 Florida Mayhem

Dallas Fuel 3-1 Los Angeles Gladiators

         

Sunday, April 18

Guangzhou Charge 0-3 Seoul Dynasty

Chengdu Hunters 3-0 Shanghai Dragons

Philadelphia Fusion 3-0 Los Angeles Valiant

Houston Outlaws 3-2 San Francisco Shock

Florida Mayhem 3-1 Vancouver Titans

Toronto Defiant 3-2 Atlanta Reign

Full schedule and standings available here.

        

The Outlaws called on various unknowns for 2021. Most prominently, they brought in streaky hitscan DPS Happy from the Guangzhou Charge and a new tank line from Contenders: Talon Esports' PIGGY and JJANGGU.

From the first map against Dallas, it became obvious that the Happy acquisition raises Houston's ceiling. Running a high-skill-cap hero in Hanzo, the sharpshooter secured three kills (including two headshots) to earn his team an edge.

Overwatch League @overwatchleague

Happy little headshots opens the door for Houston! @owhappy2 #AnteUp #OWL2021 🎯 https://t.co/pc1CaBAHTc https://t.co/Io1ioAbx0B

Against the Shock, Happy's streak continued—with the nasty sniper notching six kills in one fight, single-handedly bursting Temple Anubis open for his new team.

Overwatch League @overwatchleague

.@owhappy2 took San Francisco for a RIDE 😲 #AnteUp #OWL2021 🎯 https://t.co/tbTGBsbQac https://t.co/HQsebB4kCe

But the game went to a tiebreaking Map 6, and that's when it was time for rookie JJANGGU to demonstrate an absolute absence of rookie nerves. With the game on the line in overtime, the main tank boldly flanked and landed a massive Earth Shatter to bring Houston a 2-0 start to the year.

Overwatch League @overwatchleague

The Earthshatter that sealed the deal. @JJANGGU_OW's flanking Reinhardt is a force to be reckoned with! #AnteUp #OWL2021 https://t.co/lYN2AkCzUO

While the exact structure of the 2021 season remains unclear, what is known is that there will be a whopping $4.25 million available in prize money. By starting their year off 2-0, the Outlaws appear poised to start securing some deposits.

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