The Far East
1. Barristan Selmy vs 7. Jon Connington
It’s hard not to root for the Griff. There’s nothing sweeter than redemption, but in this series it seems most of those we root for in those regards are basically awful human beings. Theon Greyjoy, who turned his cloak on those closest to him and killed two innocent children. The Hound, another killer of children as well as many other innocents. Jaime Lannister, we could go on and on with his deeds. Jon Connington, on the other hand, is cut from a different cloth.
He hit rock bottom because he didn’t want to be labeled a murderer of innocents. Instead of burning the Stoney Sept, where an injured Robert Baratheon had fled to, he decided to search for the Usurper himself with the goal of defeating him in single combat. That never happened and Jon Con suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of the Bells. He was soon exiled by the Mad King Aerys Targaryen and to add insult to injury, Robert went on to slay the Griff’s closest friend Rhaegar on the Trident. Jon has been tormented by this ever since.
While it was a significant loss for the loyalists, Jon Connington fought fiercely at the Stoney Sept. He wounded Lord Tully and killed Jon Arryn’s heir Denys Arryn. When the battle was lost, he was able to escape the chaotic battle, an impressive feat given the fact that Robert’s allies had come to his rescue and turned the battle into full out urban warfare. At the end of the day, however, if your best moment came in defeat, it’s hard to say you could defeat an elite fighter.
Everything unfolded in the Griff’s favor to get him to this point but prime Barristan is too skilled and decorated to think Jon could win this match. It was a good run but the Griff finally falls.
Champion of the Far East: Barristan Selmy, The Bold
1. Arthur Dayne vs 3. Gerold Hightower
The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard that included Arthur Dayne, the White Bull Gerold Hightower, is one of the few people with a legitimate chance at taking down the Sword of the Morning. Though it’s only possible because prime Gerold is known as being a stronger swordsman than prime Jaime Lannister. What we know from the Tower of Joy doesn’t give us any insight into Gerold during his prime, that battle took place well beyond that even though the White Bull still fought fiercely.
Arthur Dayne’s advantages might not have been significant, but they were still advantages. He was most likely more skilled seeing as he earned the Sword of the Morning title and defeated the Smiling Knight with ease. He was most likely faster based on the size and stature of the two fighters. The only advantage Gerold most likely had was in strength but as we see plenty in the series, technical skills can easily make up for a difference in strength. These two fighters would essentially be on equal footing, both experienced knights and swordsmen through and through and Arthur would be without his sword Dawn, making the fight even tougher to call.
In the end, we don’t know enough about Gerold Hightower to say he could beat Arthur Dayne. We also don’t get the repeated gushing over his existence like we do with the Sword of the Morning to suggest he’s one of the best to ever live. By comparison, the little we know of Arthur Dayne says so much more. Gerold Hightower is worthy of the finals, possibly even worthy of the final four, but drawing the Sword of the Morning ends his journey prematurely.
Champion of the South: Arthur Dayne, The Sword of the Morning
And with that, we have set our finals. Jon Umber, Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Robert Baratheon, Barristan Selmy, and Arthur Dayne head into the final part of our Game of Madness, all worthy of their spots and all battle tested from the first three rounds. Let us know in the comments below how you think the regional finals would play out and who you’re betting on in the finals. Tomorrow, we’ll continue to cut the field until only two remain, setting up the championship match.