Well, this tournament had everything: action, drama, and romance (but mostly the first two), with a great mix of seasoned fencers, returning competitors, and first-timers. We saw stellar performances from the people we expected, and we saw some people putting on the best fight of their lives.

Prodigal daughter Mary Kimseng, formally of the new defunct Lightspeed Base Buena Park, made her long awaited return and, though was clearly rusty, still managed to pull off her famous “Kimseng Maneuver”. Also making a return was Don Ruben, who steadily improved and got his bearings back as the night went on. Jesse Gill from the Nerdist also made an appearance, earning two wins in qualifiers and winning his exhibition bout against fellow Legionnaire Rodel Cerdenio in his first Lightspeed bout.

Lightspeed Saber Academy students Daniel Delgado, Jacob Chappelle, Vanessa Evans, and Brandon Nease made their official debut in league competition and did very well for their first time out, especially Jacob, who finished in 10th place. Vanessa scored one win out of four and later moved on to take second place in the women’s bracket!

We were honored to host four members from newly christened Lightspeed Saber Escondido, also known as Lone Wolf Base. Alpha Wolf Andre Gonzo placed 7th in qualifiers but ultimately was knocked out of the bracket. His teammates all scored at least one win, with Hikaru Hayakawa fighting with distinction. He may be considered a padawan at LWB but we will be watching his career with much interest.

But the real story of the night was the shootout between Krait Base Los Angeles and the team formally known as Knight Club (absorbed into Lightspeed Saber Academy). Six from Krait Base and three from Knight Club duked it out in the qualifiers and the brackets. Krait Dragoons William Alonzo and Sean Holtzman fought valiantly but just barely missed the Top 8 cutoff. Earlwin Famor barely squeaked in at 8th position, his first time in Top 8 and giving the best performance of his Lightspeed career. Meanwhile, all three fighters from Knight Club were in the Top 4, with newcomer (but no beginner) Jordan Blankenship taking the top spot in qualifiers.

At the edges of the brackets, Jordan dispatched Earlwin easily, and Nick Grange took out Andre Gonzo, leaving the bracket left with only three Kraits and three Knights. Colin Campbell, also giving a career best, was taken out by David Walker. Jamar Johnson had a close match with Tony Zaldua but ultimately couldn’t stand up to the 2018 League #3.

In the semi-finals, Tony Zaldua eliminated Nick Grange. David Walker, whose only loss in the qualifiers was a lopsided 8-1 bout with Jordan Blankenship, got his revenge and took out Jordan, unfortunately due to multiple violations called against Jordan. The final bout would be left to Tony Zaldua and David Walker, both prominent members of Lightspeed Saber League.

The men’s final bout began with an early lead for David Walker, whose terrifying deflectors were very difficult for Tony’s pommel-dominant style to push through. The bout was 8-4 in David’s favor at the halfway mark. David continued to drive the score up to 11 points when Tony rallied and scored several consecutive contacts, bringing the bout to 11-9. On the final point, Tony and David went back and forth several times without engagement, finally culminating in a countertime action from David, opening up Tony for the last 3-point return, ending the match at 14-9.

In the women’s final, Vanessa fought valiantly against seasoned fencer Patricia Bauler, though she was trailing by 4 points at the halfway mark. Vanessa is fast and powerful, but Patricia’s renowned defense served her well, gaining many deflections and firing them back at her opponent. The match closed with a 3-point defensive contact for Patricia, finishing the bout at 14-5.

This was the first test of the 2019 rules, and all in all we are pleased with the results. And we learned a lot from this experience. There will be a few modifications but it essentially did what we wanted it to do. Until the next tournament!

— Cang Snow