As parts of the world take another step closer to normality, the Overwatch League has announced its return to live events, starting in September.
The 2021 Overwatch League postseason will take place from September 4-25 through online regional play-in matches, leading into double-elimination playoffs taking place from September 16-19 and the grand finals on September 25.
Both the play-offs and grand final will mark a return to offline competition with a live audience. The play-offs will be held at Esports Stadium Arlington in Texas, while the Grand Finals will be hosted at Galen Center in Los Angeles. Tickets for both events will go on sale in August.
Mark your calendars, we’re doing it LIVE 🙌#OWL2021 playoffs head to Arlington 9/16-9/19 and finish in LA for Grand Finals on 9/25!
— Overwatch League (@overwatchleague) July 20, 2021
The eight play-off teams will consist of the top three teams from the Western division – Atlanta Reign, Boston Uprising, Dallas Fuel, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, London Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Paris Eternal, San Francisco Shock, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans, and Washington Justice – and the top two teams from the Eastern division – Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Los Angeles Valiant, New York Excelsior, Philadelphia Fusion, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty.
The remaining three slots will be by online single-elimination regional play-ins from September 4-5.
From the play-offs, two teams will emerge to compete in the grand finals, where the 2021 champion will take home a US$1.5million (£1.1million) prize and the championship trophy, while the runner-up gets US$700,000 (£514,467).
It will be Blizzard’s first full return to live events after it first cancelled an Overwatch League match in China in January 2020 when reports of coronavirus first began to spread.
The developer soon cancelled BlizzCon 2020 and, like other organisations, adapted to digital online events, like BlizzConline earlier this year.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the US Justice Department had launched an investigation into the Overwatch League, with its antitrust division looking into claims that the league’s soft salary cap violates the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act.