The World Combat Tournament. It's the most well known event world wide, one of those common knowledges that everyone knows even if they weren't particularly interested in it themselves, like the concept of weather or the idea of games.
It wasn't always that way though. At its creation by a group of the world's most powerful fighters back in the year of 1500, it was a very private affair. Only a select few teachers of martial arts around the world knew of the tournament's existence, and would send their students to the island where it was help to further their training.
Originally, the battles took place in the center of a secluded island on a 13x13 foot stone battlefield. Fights could go on as long as they needed to, so long as no weapons were used and no one was permanently injured or killed. The prize for having won back then was just the title itself of 'the strongest fighter in the world', as well as a special belt with an insignia on it to prove that they had won.
Needless to say, the tournament has changed over the years. Granted, it had taken its sweet time doing so. It had stayed more or less the same for the better part of six centuries. Then, in the year 2102, things started to change.
A city boy, one not belonging to any recognized dojo or martial arts group of any of the 'honorable' kinds, entered the world combat tournament.
It was an unheard of event. Competitors of the world combat tournament were always members of martial arts schools or dojos. People didn't just waltz in off the streets of New York and compete in the fighting. But now, one had.
There was thought to simply deny him entry to the fighting, but doing so violated the spirit of the tournament, partly because they were impressed he had been able to find and reach the island alone with no information but the word he had from a friend of a friend, but mostly because they wanted to show him not to mess with their traditional events. They allowed him to compete.
And that was when things changed. Because this boy, named Charles Rallen, or just Charlie as he constantly insisted, won every fight he competed in, winning the whole tournament within a matter of forty-eight hours. He was a bit annoyed that the prize was nothing extravagant, but the title was one he wore proudly.
The word spread of this fast. There was a large increase of combatants at the next tournament, and even more at the next. Now that people knew about it, people were interested. It got so popular that it was first televised in 2123. And it only got bigger and better from there.
The battlefield was changed into 25x25 feet, and large stands put in so people could watch the battles live in person. Combatants didn't need to pay to enter, but spectators did. The money from tickets went towards a cash prize for the victor of the tournament, and that only attracted more people.
Finally, the issue of re-evaluating the rules of the tournament arose. The only rules before hand had been 'show up on time, don't use weapons, don't kill anyone'. But with all the changes that had happened, both to the tournament and to the world itself, things were more complicated. What qualified as a weapon? How many fighters could enter before it was just too many? After the discovery of organic magic in 2076 and the other natural powers like chakra and aura in 2090, where was the line?
So, in 2130, a meeting was held to officially iron out the rules once and for all. It was a difficult, tedious, slog of a debate involving more than thirty sources. It was long and arduous and it turned violent at least three times. Then, finally, after a full month, the rules were decided on.
They were as such: The tournament would, from now on, be held once every five years so that people had time to train for it. People could start heading to the island a month before the fights started, and all would be accepted until the deadline at the end of the month.
To deal with the issue of overcrowding, a preliminary round was set up to trim the herd down to just thirty-two combatants, whose battles would be televised in the arena.
The preliminary matches had a five hour time limit, the battles in the arena had a twenty-four hour time limit, and the final battle would have no time limit, ending when and only when someone won the battle (such as the battle between Benjamin 'Big Ben' Calimain and Vladamir Petrivok in 2135, the longest in history at thirty-six hours straight.)
Weapons were still prohibited, and weapons would be defined as any external tool or force used to harm, heal or otherwise affect any combatant. All things that came naturally to the user's body, such as magic, chu, chakra, etc, were allowed.
A combatant needed to be eighteen years of age to qualify at all, and if anyone was murdered in the battle, the one responsible would be disqualified and arrested accordingly.
And now we come to the current world combat tournament of the year 2145. Let's take a look at the combatants.