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My tour of the new Blizzard Arena

Recently opened in Burbank, California, Blizzard Arena is a new state-of-the-art e-gaming theater. The 50,000-square-foot auditorium is built on the former NBC Studios, where "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" and "Deal or No Deal" were filmed.

Recently I was invited to tour this incredible broadcast facility, and try my hand at playing Overwatch on stage. Here's what happened.

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A look at the main stage

Most of the action at Blizzard Arena happens here, on the main stage in Studio 1. The area was set up for Overwatch gameplay during my visit, though the set will vary dramatically from event to event.

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The view from the cheap seats

Here's a view from the top of the 450-seat arena.

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The commentator desk

The main analysis desk is located here, in front of the main stage.

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Inside Studio 5

Down the hall from Blizzard's main Studio 1 lies Studio 5, another fully functioning sound stage for announcers and commentators.

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Behind Blizzard's green screen

This small green-screen studio, just off of Studio 1, was built for more detailed commentary and analysis. Computers in this room receive a constant stream of in-game stats, which commentators use on the fly.

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Studio 1 is steeped in history

The entire arena is inside the Burbank Studios, formerly known as NBC Studios. As this mural attests, Blizzard's new Studio 1 was the long-time home of "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and later "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

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The camera operator's view

As a live-broadcasting facility, the Blizzard Arena is loaded for bear with studio lights, rigging, and cameras.

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Testing out the cameras

There are plenty of mobile camera operators, too, to capture all the drama of live competition. It was pretty neat watching them roam the stage as they captured trial matches between press, live-streamers and visitors as a dry run for the opening event.

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The view from the stage

Here's how the competitors' side of the stage looks. Now, let's play some Overwatch!

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Going 2-0 in Nepal

I got to play an Overwatch match on the main stage, which was pretty surreal. Though I'm a filthy PS4-playing casual, I still managed to score a couple of wins muddling through PC controls playing Soldier 76.

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Where teams get ready for battle

Before players go on stage, they can practice here in a small room adjacent to the Blizzard offices. It's not as glamorous as the main stage, but all the gaming equipment here is top-of-the-line.

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Blizzard's hair and makeup room

Pro gamers are treated like real Hollywood celebrities at Blizzard Arena. Players get their own dressing rooms (with showers). Their hair and makeup are done here, in the same room once used by Johnny Carson.

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Blizzard's cushiest box seats

Afterward, I got a look inside the owner's box on the second floor, which overlooks the main stage. The area comes with a well-stocked mini-fridge (and plenty of beer), and a pair of private bathrooms.

You can imagine an Overwatch team owner such as Robert Kraft or DJ Steve Aoki watching a game from here.

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Inside the 'Talon' control room

Here's a look inside one of Blizzard Arena's two control rooms; this one is nicknamed Talon. All parts of the broadcast are sent here, where producers decide what is broadcast live.

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Inside Control Room 1

The control panels here truly are a dazzling sight to behold.

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A look inside 'Blackwatch'

Control room 2, seen here, is nicknamed Blackwatch, after the cover-ops arm of Overwatch.

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Inside Torb's Toolbox

All the computers and servers needed to run the operation are housed here in the machine room, appropriately nicknamed Torb's Toolbox.

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The crossfade room

Sound, meanwhile, is mixed here in the nearby crossfade room.

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The tiny EVS room

Here, in the EVS room, matches are captured and stored until needed for instant replays or highlights.

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The Blizzard gift shop

Blizzard Arena's gift shop, located near the entrance to the building, has a rotating selection of gaming gear and collectibles. This setup here is for the Overwatch Contenders season finals.

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That Pachimari plush tho

Here's a close-up of all the sweet Overwatch merch Blizzard had for sale on opening weekend.

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A quick trip to the concession stand

You can't have a live sporting event without drinks and snacks. To that end, the Blizzard Arena commissary has a decent, healthy selection.

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The press room

There are a number of work rooms for the press located on the second floor.

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