If the “Game of Thrones” series finale left you wanting more, you might want to head to the Meeker County Fairgrounds later this month for eight hours of medieval action at the War in the North.
The Dallas Warlords, the Kansas City Serpents, the Chicago Land Hydras and the Twin Cities Wyverns of the Armored Combat Sports League will face off in duels of the same weaponry, all out knight fights for men and women, and five-on-five team melees. The team with the most points based on match rankings will be named champion. The tournament will end with a free-for-all brawl.
Pete Moe of Grove City will be fighting for the Twin Cities Wyverns. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, he’ll strap into $3,000 of armor that weighs about 100 pounds and join the fray in what looks to be the state’s first armored combat tournament.
“I’ve played six years of semi-pro football,” he said. “Right when they hike the ball, that rush — (during armored combat) it’s almost constant. There have been multiple times you are going for 90 seconds, and you look back on the video and it’s like, ‘I don’t remember any of that.’ It’s primal. You fall back on your training and use as much aggression as you can possibly use.”
The tournament doesn’t have much in common with staged fights or jousting shows.
“This is real,” Moe said. “I like to describe it as MMA with axes. It’s you against the guy across from you, and whoever is left standing wins. The fights are never the same.”
Moe started the sport in January after retiring from semi-pro football.
“The way I started with football was I was an adult and I thought it was stupid football was a kid’s sport,” he said. “But I found out there was a team in Willmar. The next day I was at their practice.”
In a similar manner, after Moe learned about armored fighting by watching Knight Fight on the History Channel, he looked to see if there was a local team.
“The Wyverns were there. They had practice the next day so I drove up two hours and said let’s do this,” he said.
The team has 12 members, mostly from the Twin Cities area, with Moe and one other member from further out. The team is part of Minnesota Armored Combat, a nonprofit formed as an umbrella for potential future growth in the state.
Practice is five hours on Sunday.
“It’s a nice Sunday routine,” Moe said. “You go there, have physical practice, do drills, kit up and fight each other and practice. Then you talk about how to improve. Then you go have lunch. It’s a nice team-building exercise every week.”
Moe’s entire suit of armor was smithed by a blacksmith and made to stand up to heavy blows. His preferred weapons are an axe and punch shield he uses in unison. The shield, he said, is like an extendable pair of brass knuckles, but also capable of blocking blows and blocking an opponent’s vision. Weapons are not sharp, but they are hefty, and it hurts to be hit when armor isn’t in the way.
“The only rule we have for it is no executioner blows,” Moe said. “If someone is kneeling or bent over you can’t come over the neck with it, and no back of the knees, that’s the least protected part. But otherwise everything is a go except for stabbing. You are not there to put a hole in some guy.”
He described the melee as chaotic.
“You can look behind you one second and know who is back there, and the next second the entire scene changed and you have to be careful or you’ll get an axe to the face,” Moe said.
Though the Wyverns have traveled to other states for armored combat tournaments and taken part in smaller demonstrations in Minnesota, there has not been a tournament in the state. There are teams in the Midwest, but most available tournaments are on the East and West coasts.
“Unfortunately, it’s a coastal sport like everything else,” Moe said. “The Midwest and central states don’t get too much.”
In an effort to turn that around, Moe convinced the team to let him take point, and he started asking around. He was offered what he thought was a reasonable price to bring the event to the Meeker County Fairgrounds.
“I said, ‘Alright, let’s do this,’” he said. “We barely put it out and Dallas and Kansas City said, ‘Let’s do this.’”
Registrations from individual fighters came in swiftly, and now the Wyverns are just as excited to fight in their rounds as they are to watch others fight.
“Of course we’ll take notes,” Moe said.
All tickets will be sold at the gate. They are $10 for adults, $7 for students and $5 for military and first responders. Tickets are free for those age 5 or younger.
“It’s a trial by fire,” Moe said.
Lily’s Wings of St. Cloud and Honky’s bar of Grove City will cater the event. Under Pressure Brewing, which previously hosted a demo for the Minnesota team, is sending kegs of ale.
“It’s kind of a one day Ren Fest,” Moe said. “It’s a combat arms event. If it’s successful ... we are thinking of expanding it to two days, having more groups come in. It would be a really nice weekend.”