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After the return of live events over the past two seasons, the Overwatch League will host its 2022 season playoffs and grand final live in Anaheim, California, the league announced.

This marks their return to a live postseason after the league tried out recent stage playoffs in live venues across North America. Since the 2019 grand final in Philadelphia, the Overwatch League has held its finals online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A long path back to live playoffs

When the pandemic halted the Overwatch League’s live events in the 2020 season, an online-only postseason was expected. While the 2021 playoffs and finals were originally planned to signal the return to live OWL games in the United States, those were also moved online due to the pandemic. Since then, the league started to slowly bring back live events to the league.

One of the first with a crowd only had one Overwatch League team, with the Dallas Fuel hosting an online match in front of a local crowd. It sold out in two days but was a limited crowd to avoid any COVID-19 outbreaks. As time went on, and especially in 2022, the league aimed to test the waters with more live events. Dallas hosted the first proper LAN event with a crowd at the start of the 2022 season, for the Kickoff Clash playoffs. It was only for the Western teams, as the next stage’s Midseason Madness playoffs included both regions but the event was another Hawaii LAN without a crowd.

When the Summer Showdown came along, the Western division had another live LAN, but in Toronto, Canada for the league’s first time. While Toronto was set to host live games in the planned homestands in 2020, the 2022 Summer Showdown proved to be another successful live event. With those three events’ success, the league is setting their sights on Anaheim for the end of the 2022 season.

The schedule for the Anaheim season playoffs and finals

As confirmed on the website, the Overwatch League 2022 season playoffs begin at the Anaheim Convention Center on Oct. 14, 2022, stretching to the grand finals on Nov. 4. Older Overwatch fans might recognize this venue from previous BlizzCons and the Overwatch World Cup in 2017. This also looks like the first LAN with all teams and a live crowd since the Blizzard Arena games from the first two seasons of the Overwatch League. These plans look similar to the ones originally planned for the 2021 playoffs before the cancellations and move back to online play.

Overwatch World Cup 2017
Provided by Jesse Steinburg.

The teams that will guarantee qualification to playoffs are the top six teams from the West and the top three teams from the East. After that, three more playoff spots remain. Four more West teams will fight in play-ins for the final two spots, while three teams in the East will fight for one spot. When the play-ins are done, the regular season playoffs begin on Oct. 30. Then, a double-elimination bracket will determine who makes it to the grand finals on Nov. 4 in Anaheim.