We see three fights here. Rythor wins the first, Peter the second, and finally a win by Peter.
The number one thing that jumps out at me watching these fights on video (I didn’t watch any of them live because I was engaged in tourney organization), is that Peter is setting the pace in all three fights. Rythor is setting a defensive stance and a long guard to give himself time to react to Peter’s attacks but Peter is pushing the fight to his opponent. Controlling the fight is an essential skill and I think both fighters know this and are trying to control in their own ways.
The first fight (0:00 to 0:26) is a good example of how the two fighters are trying to exert control in different ways. Rythor’s sword foot forward with the sword extended way out is trying to draw Peter into exactly the first shot Peter takes (0:10). Rythor has a lot of exposed left arm and torso but it’s a long way past his sword arm. Peter clearly knows the risk he is taking in getting inside for the left arm because he uses a very nice hand block to cover his inside aggression. Still as the aggressor, I am sure he would rather not have traded left arms (in fact, I think he learned this lesson in the very next fight). Even wounded Peter continues to press by taking the aggression on the next two shots and Rythor continues to use his footwork to control range and throw two more reactive shots. I think it’s likely that Peter over committed by going right back to the well after the first of these shots. Since Rythor was already giving ground, he was able to dodge the second (0:24) shot rather than block it allowing him to take the finisher. Peter was clearly the aggressor throughout but in this fight, Rythor’s range and counterstrike game worked perfectly. Controlling the fight isn’t always about taking the initiative, although controlling the fight as Rythor does here requires you to induce or predict your opponent well.
The second fight is a lot like the first or at least a lot like the fight close of the first fight. Peter clearly noticed the danger of getting inside Rythor’s guard for only an arm and made sure to go for a killing torso stab. As I mentioned above this is Peter learning from the last fight. It is instructive to compare Peter’s stance at 0:07 and 0:08 to his stance at 0:52 through 0:54. It’s very similar since the swing in the first fight is targeted to the same area as the stab in the second fight and he is disguising as long as he can. At about 0:54 he actually cocks his sword down for the stab but since he’s already in range, this could easily be too late to react. (It was a little late for Rythor in this case). However, you should note Peter’s footwork. As early as 0:50 you can see how much of his weight is off his front foot and how close his feet are together compared to his earlier stances. Clearly he has a fair bit of hidden range and he’s using it to draw Rythor who isn’t so much attacking as getting a little closer to draw Peter as he did in the first fight. I think by being a little more aware of Peter’s footwork you can gain 2-3 seconds more warning of that stab. From the meta perspective this fight was the only fight in this bout that was a complete victory for one fighter. The other two involved trades, wounds and/or simultaneous shots.
The third fight is almost two fights. The first (1:09 to 1:23) is a clear attack, set of shots and blocks but then by mutual consent the fighters reset. The first time I watched this I almost wondered if the fighters had simultaneous kill in there since they reset so completely but after watching it carefully all the shots were clearly blocked and the fighters just chose to reset. On this close Rythor is, if anything, even more cautious. He isn’t showing quite as much of that left arm and torso and even more of his body is behind his sword. He hasn’t got a lot of offense from this position but his game hasn’t really been about offense in this match so it’s probably OK. Very likely Peter is reacting to this changed stance in attacking Rythor’s sword arm. This is a little bit of a gamble because blocking sword arm is easier but likely it’s a sound gamble since Rythor isn’t in a great position to strike back. This results in two exchanges of blocks. This is sort of the expected result. As much as I like Peter’s relentless assault style (and I do because I have used the same style most of my career) this fight he would have benefited from a little more misdirection. As early as 1:12 he is committed to the outside and it’s clear that Rythor only needs to block him further out and try to take advantage. Good blocking from both men is required to get this result but since that’s to be expected at this level of the tourney this close results in no hits.
Rythor’s attack starting at 1:31 is excellent. He is still in his defensive stance with lots of guard and looking for Peter to act. As soon as Peter’s sword twitches Rythor reacts. This is his game working exactly as he wants it to. He gets to Peter’s sword early enough to wrap it for the arm wound. Taking the primary arm from a Florentine specialist isn’t as decisive as taking it from a board specialist but it’s damn good. Rythor follows his arm hit up with another shot, which is a great choice but Peter blocked that one well. This is a place where Rythor’s defensive stance hurts him a little since he isn’t in a great position to push his advantage. Still, he might have been better served by continuing to press. However, that’s easy to say from the video booth. The last part of this fight took me the most thought. I don’t want to take anything from Peter because winning from a disadvantageous position deserves a lot of kudos. Still, I have to believe Rythor could; maybe even should; have won this fight. Rythor did go away from his game a little once Peter was right arm wounded. He pressed the attack a little more and closed rather than waiting to be closed on. Actually between 1:40 and 1:48 Rythor does stand in his typical guard and look for Peter to move. I know from experience that eight seconds can seem like a very long time in that situation.
Once Rythor decided to press rather than wait longer for lefty Peter, he still advanced sword leg forward with his sword arm covering his body. He also got low and covered most of his torso with his left arm (1:50). I think this is a good practice mostly but much less good against a lefty. All the effort covering the center doesn’t help much with the easiest targets for lefties which are the lower right torso stab and the right arm outside shot (which Peter uses to win this fight). I definitely wonder if a higher guard wouldn’t have pressured Peter to attack inside more. Against a typical lefty that carries its own risks but given that Rythor could afford a wound and Peter couldn’t, I think those risks would have been less than the risk of being arm sniped as actually occurred. These represent at most minor errors and, in fact, I think Rythor fought an excellent match here. He didn’t quite close out this third fight but he forced an advantageous position in it and nearly won. Peter’s performance deserves real credit though. He won the single decisive fight of the match and he closed out the three despite being in a disadvantageous position.