The Final Verdict
Now it ends. While we know more about Barristan Selmy, what we know of Arthur Dayne speaks volumes and leaves little doubt that he’s one of the best. But regardless, Barristan still holds the advantage in accolades. What could make up the difference in experience? George RR Martin. The author himself has said that Arthur Dayne would have the advantage in a fight against Barristan Selmy thanks to Dawn. Without the legendary blade, however, Martin said the fight might be a toss up.
It would be easy to give the toss up to Barristan because we simply know more about him. In fact, George lets us read his entire entry in the White Book and the reason is most likely to let the readers know just how badass Barry the Bold truly is. Throughout our contest, we’ve been saying that any matchup involving Arthur Dayne comes down to the challenger more than Dayne himself. Arthur’s legacy speaks for itself and holds a lot of weight, the warrior that defeats the Sword of the Morning has to have an impressive legacy of their own and be comparably renowned. No one matches Dayne’s legacy and renown more than Barristan Selmy. No other competitor in our contest has a better chance of defeating Arthur, especially with Dawn out of the picture.
We don’t know yet how exactly Arthur was defeated but no matter how it played out, whether the Ned or Howland Reed dealt the final blow, whether it was fair or dirty, it sort of soils his status. Neither of those men are known as exceptional warriors. While there’s no downplaying how Arthur shined in a 7 on 3 situation, it seems as if he should have survived the fight once it came down to that final fateful 2 vs 1. Barristan had his own death moment on the Trident (we won’t get into the unfitting and depressing death he was given in HBO’s adaptation, they didn’t even let the man challenge Drogon to single combat). Barristan suffered wounds from an arrow, spear, and sword yet he kept on fighting alongside Rhaegar Targaryen. He had no right coming out of that battle alive. Although the Usurper Robert Baratheon was counseled by those closest to him to execute Barristan, he was so impressed by the Knight’s efforts in the fight that he ordered his maester to attend Selmy’s wounds instead of his own. Barristan survived and was later pardoned and made Lord Commander of Robert’s Kingsguard.
Another comparison we can make involves the Smiling Knight. We know Arthur defeated him with ease, two times to boot, but he wasn’t the only man to best the psycho sword in combat, just the only one to kill him. Barristan also defeated the Smiling Knight in single combat, a victory that takes away from one of Arthur’s best accomplishments, though not significantly considering how much of a spectacle Arthur Dayne made his encounter.
One big piece missing from this puzzle that could help Arthur Dayne is his entry in the White Book. We know Barristan is not only bold, but possibly the busiest man in Westeros based on everything that is recorded of his life. If we could read Arthur’s entry, it would probably be just as impressive and go a long way in convincing us exactly why Arthur is so renowned for his chivalry and skills. Regardless, there are some things that just can’t be touched. Single handedly rescuing a king being held captive in a town ready for war? If Dayne did something on that level, George would have found a way to include it. If Dayne had survived the Tower of Joy and played an integral role in the story, we’d know more of what he did but it’s hard to believe he could match Barristan’s accolades based on how impressive they are. In a world where the slightest misstep can cost you your life, where the Gods themselves seem to take pleasure in making everything as miserable as possible, Barristan has avoided death an insane amount of times. That just isn’t something we can say of Arthur Dayne.
In the end, with George RR Martin himself declaring this fight a toss up, we side with what we know for sure. Both of these fighters are legendary, both deserve to be in the championship match, and both could defeat every other fighter in the contest many times more than not. The key to beating Arthur Dayne, as we’ve said all along, is to match his reputation, to be as renowned and to have the experience to back it up. The Sword of the Morning has faced some of the best our contest has to offer but in the final match, he’s going up against the one person who fits the bill better than anyone, if not outright surpassing it. Barristan Selmy, Barry the Bold, Ser Grandfather, champion of our Game of Madness.
Game of Madness Champion : Barristan Selmy
That wraps up our Game of Madness. It was quite the challenge to play these matches out, to try and set a 6 person final but regardless of how hard it was to get to today’s final match, we’re confident Barristan Selmy and Arthur Dayne are the most deserving of the honors. Our champion, Barristan Selmy, is the one who said there are no warriors without peer. Any fight between any two warriors could sway in either direction based on any number of causes. Plenty of our matches could have seen different winners, even the finals could have had some fighters swapped out for others, but the madness that makes it all so great is the uncertainty. The fact that each and every fan could take the same bracket and play it out in vastly different ways.
Let us know in the comments below what big differences your own Game of Madness would have compared to ours and who you would declare the greatest warrior in the world of ice and fire. Hopefully our tour de force of the best fighters on Planetos has kept you entertained. With everything wrapped up, we’re free to focus on season six of Game of Thrones, premiering this Sunday. It’s been a long wait but the wait is finally over. Time to knock on wood, cross our fingers, pray to the seven, sacrifice our loved ones to the Lord of Light, whatever it takes to make sure our favorite characters survive just one more week. Valar Morghulis.