Warning: Our Game of Madness articles will include content from the five currently released A Song of Ice and Fire books and seasons 1-5 of HBO’s adaptation Game of Thrones. Some material from A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons has not been covered in the show yet, but may be in season 6. If you aren’t caught up with the books and/or show, read on with care.
The North Remembers
Our contest begins in the frigid North, a land ruled (mostly) by honor and duty. The men and women are fierce and weary, more concerned with the coming winter than the deceitful game of thrones. Lords and bastards, rangers and deserters, the strong and the fast. The whole spectrum is covered in the North.
1. Eddard Stark vs 8. Ramsay Snow
[/mks_col]And now it begins. As our rules remove Valyrian steel blades from the contest, Eddard is without his great sword Ice which will prove problematic. Luckily for the Lord of Winterfell, his first match comes against a careless and overly aggressive Ramsay Snow, the bastard of Bolton. The boy’s own father Roose claims he has a ferocity fit for a warrior but that he is undisciplined. He fights like a mad butcher who sees his foes as no more than slabs of meat. If he takes you unprepared, you could be dead before you know it but all Ned must do is withstand his first furious assault and he’s in the clear. Despite his noble upbringing, Ramsay was trained at arms by the original Reek who was not known to be skilled with a sword. Ramsay is more a player than a fighter.
Then again, HBO’s adaptation has made Ramsay quite the gifted fighter. We saw him defeat a crew of Ironborn shirtless and he basically destroyed Stannis Baratheon’s forces with just twenty good men. While impressive, we can chalk these moments up to made-for-TV drama. Ned going toe to toe with the Kingslayer Jaime Lannister is more believable than Ramsay’s feats and even that’s a stretch. Ramsay would shake your hand with a smile while the dagger in his free hand comes for your throat but he can’t best a disciplined and battle tested warrior in a one vs one fight when his opponent knows he’s coming.
Winner: The Ned
4. Qhorin Halfhand vs 5. Mance Rayder
[/mks_col]Two old friends and experienced warriors face off in our second bout. Qhorin’s technical prowess is unmatched in the North. What he lacks in strength, he more than makes up for in speed and technique. He is known as the Halfhand because he once saved his own life by catching a wildling axe with his strong hand. While that would have ended most men’s careers as fighters, Qhorin simply trained himself to fight with his offhand and became just as skilled as he was before, if not moreso. His inability to properly use a shield will put him at a disadvantage defensively but he’s experienced and battle tested enough to at least break even with his offense.
The Halfhand’s opponent, Mance Rayder, is regarded by Qhorin as one of the best, and worst, rangers the Night’s Watch has ever had. When he turned his cloak in the name of freedom, he became a King to the Free Folk by besting their leaders in combat. He defeated Tormund and the Magnar of Thenn in addition to slaying three others. When he faces off against Jon Snow in a sparring match, he wins with ease. Mance would put up a fair fight against Qhorin, he’d put up a fair fight against many fighters in our contest based on his experience alone, but he’s up against one of the few equally experienced. Unforuntately for the King Beyond the Wall, the difference in skill settles the fight.
Winner: Qhorin Halfhand