Welcome to Game of Thrones “Who Ya Got?”, where we’ll discuss fantasy match-ups between combatants from George R.R. Martin’s gritty fantasy world with the gusto of professional sports analysts discussing the latest person Tiger Woods has slept with. First up:
Episode 4.08 of Game of Thrones, “The Mountain and the Viper,” saw Oberyn “The Red Viper” Martell square up against the 8 foot tall armored manbeast Gregor Clegane in a trial-by-combat with Tyrion Lannister’s very life on the line.
Before that went down Tyrion was visited in his prison cell by a very familiar face; someone who fought for him in a previous trial-by-combat in the Vale — Bronn, a sellsword who had become Tyrion’s bodyguard for a time after the .
What if Oberyn hadn’t stepped up to the plate and Bronn had no enticement by way of ladies and (possible) lordship to deter him from fighting for Tyrion once again? Could Tyrion’s sellsword friend stand any chance against “The Mountain That Rides?” Who ya got?
Dave: Nope. He’s not as quick witted to do something clever. His only real strength is his ability to be sneaky and you can’t sneak your way around a mountain!
Russ: I actually believe cleverness and pragmatism to be Bronn’s strongest suits; he’s probably not as skilled as Oberyn in combat — but he’s also no slouch. As Catelyn Stark described him: “She had seen Bronn fight on the high road; it was no accident that he had survived the journey while other men had died. He moved like a panther, and that ugly sword of his seemed a part of his arm.” (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 40)
Sam: This is a fairly tough call, because we’ve only seen each person fight a limited number of times. We saw Bronn outfox Vardis Egen in the Eyrie and we saw him make a pinata out of a man on the Blackwater, but other than that, there’s not much to go off of.
Bronn vs. Ser Vardis Egen
Although we only have two points of reference for Bronn’s prowess on the battlefield, both times we got a good idea of what kind of fighter he was. He’s quick and likes to fight with a short blade and little armor. Well, Oberyn liked to fight quickly, and he wore little armor, and we saw how that ended up.
However, Oberyn would have won if he had just made sure he ended the damn fight. For all intents and purposes Oberyn was the superior fighter, he just let his hubris get in the way. I am 100% certain that if Bronn had been in that position he would have just sliced the Mountain up without a second thought.
That being said, Oberyn had a personal vendetta against the Mountain. I think that the personal motivation was the only thing that really tipped the scales in Oberyn’s favor but also led to his ultimate downfall.
So Bronn is more sensical, but less motivated and the two fighters share a very similar fighting style. Still a tough call, but I could see Bronn being a threat for sure.
Russ: I agree; in the same situation, Bronn definitely wouldn’t have let the chance to finish the kill on “The Mountain” pass him by.
Getting the Mountain to his back like Oberyn did, however? That’s a different story. The Mountain is a beast (the strongest we’ve seen in Game of Thrones, and has surprising speed for a man of his enormity):
Like you mentioned, Sam — the overarching situation with Oberyn was different. Oberyn wasn’t really fighting for Tyrion; he was cocky and fighting for himself and his family’s memory. The opportunity for vengeance against his sister’s murderer was presented and he took it. Even though he had the fight very likely in the bag — he needed to hear the Mountain confess his crimes; he wanted to defame Tywin Lannister, the man who very likely ordered the heinous acts.
That being said, the differences between Oberyn and Bronn have to be mentioned, choice of weaponry being the biggest: Oberyn wielding an eight foot long spear, coupled with his amazing fighting ability and agility were the crux of his success during the fight, especially being able to keep Gregor at a distance and strike simultaneously at vital points.
Would Bronn have been able to land any decisive blows on Gregor without getting crushed? Would have he have been able to employ the same “rope-a-dope” strategy that he used against Ser Vardis Egen? Probably not. As Bronn admitted himself, “Maybe I could take him. Dance around until he’s so tired of hacking at me he drops his sword, get him off his feet somehow… but one misstep, and I’m dead.”
Bronn isn’t quite as fast, agile or as good a fighter as Oberyn was; he likely would have made the fatal misstep much earlier in the battle (especially without the eight foot spear acting as the perfect foil to Gregor’s size and reach advantage). I give this one to the man they call “The Mountain that Rides.”
Dave: Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Sam: Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Russ: Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane: 3-0.
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