Tiers One, Two, and Three
Joining the ranks of the third tier is sexy dread pirate king Euron Greyjoy.
Tier three is the point at which fighters are no longer characterized by critical flaws but also aren’t quite among the best. For instance, Brienne is the archetypal tier three fighter because, outside of her sparring match with Arya, she has yet to lose a single fight. But she also gets straight up brutalized every time she fights anyone.
Euron strikes me as an enhanced Brienne. He kills two Sand Snakes, but both of them land a couple of blows on him first. Unfortunately, the Greyjoy naval battle throws realism out the window, so we are meant to see Euron as some sort of indestructible "big baddie" killing machine.
I say that he's an enhanced Brienne because we see him swinging his battle axe faster and with more strength than most characters wield a sword. He's fast, powerful, and I imagine we're going to see more of him carving paths through unnamed soldiers à la Stannis Baratheon.
But in other ways, Brienne is still more impressive than Euron. In her battles, we see her actively adapt to her opponents' styles whereas Euron turns the tides of battles after he sort of finds himself faced with an opportunity to punch his enemies in the face.
There was one point, however, where behind-the-scenes footage shows Brienne committing the cardinal sin of stage fighting: as Arya is dodging around her, we see Brienne lift her sword over her head to begin an attack into the space where Arya had long since left.
Euron's placement means that tier three is getting a bit too crowded for my tastes, so I'm going to break it up into two.
Tier 3-A will be the place for characters who I either hope to promote into tier two when we see more fights — currently Jon Snow — and Alliser Thorne, who I demoted from tier two.
It's hard to say who would win — Jon continues to improve his maneuverability, but we only really see him fight against wights this season. So yes, his footwork is fluid and it looks cool, but also wights are all but running into his sword anyway. Meanwhile, Alliser had that impressive fight against Tormund. If Alliser brings his "A" game, I think he could still take out Jon. But Jon is becoming increasingly resourceful, so it really depends which Jon shows up to the fight. Agile, creative Jon might squeak out a victory, but old-school, castle-trained Jon would probably lose.
Tier 3-B comes down to muscles: The Hound, Euron, and Brienne.
I think The Hound may be the weakest of the three. Brienne already beat him once, and he has a number of weaknesses like his fear of fire and his anger problem. Euron is so fast that he may have what it takes to take out Brienne before she adapts to his style well enough to take him out — he's so aggressive that Brienne wouldn't have as much time to think and change her approach.
Tier two — the place for fighters who are well above-average and readily able to capitalize on their opponents' mistakes — isn't changing. Ned Stark was promoted to tier two for his battle against Arthur Dayne, and Jaime earned his spot back when he was right-handed, so neither can really move up or down at this point.
But let's talk about what we see of Jaime — the supply train. I've long since lost the original Reddit post that made this argument, but I want to take the time to argue that the Lannister spear line wasn't as ineffective as it seemed.
Yes, it's no Bolton Death Circle, but it's important to remember that horses, even those ridden by Dothraki bloodriders, are animals. And convincing an animal to run through a spear is difficult. If they held their line, the Lannister and Tarly soldiers would have been able to take out good amount of the Dothraki horde. The first few rows of riders would have been taken out, ultimately stopping the charge in its tracks.
Yes, the soldiers were spread thin, and we see Dothraki exploit that by jumping over the spears and breaking the formation. But the fight would have been much closer if not for Daenerys. Yes, leading the charge on dragonback was dramatic, but burning a hole through the line of soldiers was a crucial part of her victory. Otherwise, many more Dothraki would have died trying to do so.
Like I said earlier, Jaime's attempt to joust a dragon was pretty bad, survival-wise, but it shows how desperate he was to end the war. Thankfully, Bronn had rocket boots and was able to inexplicably catch up to, pounce on, and tackle Jaime straight into a lake. Fuck physics, am I right or am I right? (I'm right.)
And boy, what a great time to talk about
Tier one: the home for fighters who are not only able to capitalize on opponent errors but cause those errors in the first place.
Look, a lot of you gave me shit for putting Tormund all the way at the top. I stand by my decision, but please trust me when I say I want to demerit both of the tier one fighters. Unfortunately, my own rules prevent me from doing so because both top-tier characters only ever fought extras this season.
Bronn is inexplicably outmatched against the Dothraki. I wrote earlier that this was probably meant to show that even Westeros' most resourceful mercenary is unable to deal with the wild bloodlust of the Dothraki horde. Bloodriders are certainly expected to be more adept and unpredictable than Vardis Egan, but Bronn looked downright incompetent throughout that entire battle.
And when faced with an endless army of undead, so did Tormund. I hate to say it, but when I gave Jorah credit for putting his sword away and fighting with dragonglass daggers, I was equally disappointed in Tormund's choice to use a big, unwieldy axe. Even the fucking Hound had the sense to put away Gendry's hammer after a while.
Tormund, Jon, and the entire Fellowship of the Wight deserved to die up there.
There's no reason to change my actual prediction for who would win in a fight between Tormund and Bronn, but this season made me suspect that both of them might trip and fall on their own weapons, ending the fight in a technical tie as both lose by default.
Congratulations to the champion, safe in his top position because D&D spent an entire season refusing to kill off important characters or pit them against each other.