The 2021 Little League World Series marks the return of the biggest event in little league baseball after the 2020 edition of the event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic's impact will still be felt in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this year. There will be a limited amount of spectators, and the 16-team field solely comprises teams from the United States. Traditionally, eight states and eight countries are represented.
Because of the increased size of the U.S. field, two teams were taken from each of the regional tournaments. Then the 16-team field was divided into two brackets: The Hank Aaron Bracket and Tom Seaver Bracket.
The tournament is set to get underway Thursday, with games taking place every day until the top two teams in each bracket square off for their respective championships August 28. The winners will advance to the Little League World Series Championship Game on August 29.
2021 Little League World Series Opening Round
Hawaii vs. Connecticut, 1 p.m. on ESPN
Tennessee vs. Ohio, 3 p.m. on ESPN
Nebraska vs. New Jersey, 5 p.m. on ESPN
New Hampshire vs. California, 7 p.m. on ESPN
Pennsylvania vs. Oregon, 1 p.m. on ESPN
Michigan vs. Florida, 3 p.m. on ESPN
Louisiana vs. South Dakota, 5 p.m. on ESPN
Washington vs. Texas, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
All times ET.
2021 Little League World Series Participants
Hank Aaron Championship Bracket
Michigan: Taylor North Little League
New Jersey: Toms River East Little League
Nebraska: Hastings Baseball Little League
Connecticut: Manchester Little League
Washington: Eastlake Little League
Florida: Martin County North Little League
Texas: Wylie Little League
Hawaii: Honolulu Little League
Tom Seaver Championship Bracket
Ohio: West Side Little League
Pennsylvania: Upper Providence Little League
South Dakota: Sioux Falls Little League
New Hampshire: North Manchester-Hooksett Little League
Oregon: Lake Oswego Little League
Tennessee: Nolensville Little League
Louisiana: Lafayette Little League
California: Torrance Little League
Full bracket can be found here.
The MLB Little League Classic will also take place after being canceled last season. Cleveland and the Los Angeles Angels will meet up at BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field in the first pairing of American League teams for the game.
Other than the move to a United States-only field, the tournament format hasn't changed. The tournament is double elimination, with teams getting a chance to climb back into the championship through the consolation bracket.
However, once we reach the championship games, it's win or go home.
The annual event has featured several future MLB players. Gary Sheffield, Jason Varitek and Lance Lynn are among the alumni of the tournament who went on to make a name for themselves in the majors. Future NFL MVP Brian Sipe played in the tournament as a youngster as well.
The field features some familiar teams. Honolulu took home the title in 2018, while Toms River East, New Jersey, will be sending a team for the fourth time. There is also a big league family connection to one of the latter's previous tournament teams, with two-time MLB All-Star Todd Frazier's nephew, center fielder Carson Frazier, set to appear.
Several teams represented ran through their respective regional brackets unscathed, but there will be the added intrigue of having regional runners-up that could make surprise runs in the tournament.
Despite the absence of the international teams, the 2021 Little League World Series is set up to be an exciting event. It could even provide a sneak peek at some future major leaguers.