After what has felt like the longest offseason in the esport’s history, the Overwatch League will be returning for its fifth season on May 5, 2022, according to an update released by the league today.
Along with a confirmed start date, the league has released details about the 2022 season structure, which will include a midseason global tournament with a massive prize pool as well as a revamp to the postseason-shaping League Points system.
Unfortunately for community conspiracy theorists who are convinced Overwatch 2 won’t be a part of the Overwatch League, the league confirmed in a press release that the sequel’s five-vs-five system is a key part of the season. Additionally, players will be competing in a new Overwatch 2 mode, Push, to replace the Assault game mode.
2022 season structure
While exact dates beyond the May 5 kickoff have yet to be released, the league gave fans an outline of the season’s major tournaments and milestones.
Regions will remain relatively the same as they were in 2021, with the exception of the New York Excelsior heading back to its home city to compete in the West Region. This leaves the East Region with seven teams and the West Region with 13 teams.
While this seems like an odd split, it works out mathematically so that each team plays at least 24 regular-season games, up from last year’s relatively low count of 16 games.
The 2021 season focused on four tournaments that divided the year into “stages.” A similar method will be used for the 2022 season. The first and third tournaments of the year—the Kickoff Clash and the Summer Showdown—will be regional, meaning no cross-region competition will be involved.
Fans will get their taste of global competition, however, when the Midseason Madness tournament hits in the middle of the season. The event will feature four teams from the East Region and eight teams from the West Region competing in a double-elimination bracket over six days with a prize pool of over $1 million.
The final tournament of the year, the Countdown Cup, will double as “wild card” play-ins for the postseason, giving two teams the chance to enter the bracket if they don’t qualify through League Points.
The League Points system was introduced last year as a way to add “weight” to wins beyond map count. While it worked well, the 2022 model should clear up some of the issues from the 2021 season.
Every qualifier match win will still earn teams one League Point. When it comes to tournaments, however, teams will automatically win one League Point just for qualifying. This was a big point of contention in 2021 when the Atlanta Reign headed to Hawaii for tournaments several times only to come home with no League Points.
Second-place winners at each tournament will still take home two points and the champions still get three. The Midseason Madness tournament is even more valuable, though, with the champion taking home a whopping four League Points—a chance to completely change a season’s trajectory.
Sean Miller, the head of the Overwatch League, confirmed in a video that live events will be returning during the 2022 season, but specific details haven’t been revealed yet. The Houston Outlaws, however, confirmed that a Battle for Texas match will be held in person on May 6.
Miller confirmed that the West Region will open up with a game between the Los Angeles Gladiators and the New York Excelsior on May 5. The East Region’s first game will pit the 2021 season champions, the Shanghai Dragons, against the Philadelphia Fusion.