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The Triwizard Tournament: a retrospective

Terrifying dragons, an unexpected champion and a tragic ending: the revival of the Triwizard Tournament had all the facets of a truly epic sporting events in history.

People try to restrain the four dragons before the first Triwizard Task
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But this was no ordinary competition...

The history

A notorious and perilous contest to its core, this particular tournament was like no other. Without giving you too much of a Professor Binns-esque history lesson, the story of the tournament went a little bit like this:

Dating back around 700 years, this contest of intelligence, courage and wizards-losing-their-minds-because-there’s-a-dragon-half-a-metre-away was traditionally held every five years between the three biggest wizarding schools in Europe: Durmstrang, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts.

After some, er, accidents (all three champions were injured in 1792), the contest petered out. That was until its revival two centuries later in 1994, when extra safety precautions were added by the organisers.

The Triwizard Chamber
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The tournament

Muggle Olympics may have up to 300 events, but the Triwizard Tournament only had three tasks... and they were quite enough.

The rules were simple: each school was represented by a champion, chosen by the Goblet of Fire. The champions took part in three punishing tasks to win the Triwizard Cup, one thousand Galleons, eternal glory and probably eternal bruises.

The revival of the tournament was made a lot safer by the addition of an age limit: only students aged 17 and over could apply. At least, that was the plan.

The circular Triwizard Maze
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An unexpected champion

Although every tournament in history had only ever had three champions, Harry Potter found himself chosen as the unprecedented fourth. The other three champions were Fleur Delacour of Beauxbatons, Viktor Krum of Durmstrang and Cedric Diggory of Hogwarts.

Dumbledore and the Goblet of Fire
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Triwizard arguments

As with any sporting event, the tournament was not shy of politics behind the scenes. With Hogwarts having two champions, the mood turned sour as the school was seen to have an unfair advantage over Beauxbatons and Durmstrang.

To make matters worse, reports from The Daily Prophet neglected to state actual Hogwarts champion Diggory’s inclusion in the tournament, and cynics branded Harry a glory-hog and show off. Slytherin students even circulated ‘Potter Stinks’ badges.

Durmstrang Ship on the lake
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The first task

By the day of the first task, 24 November, things were already heating up – which, to be fair, was probably also helped along by those huge dragons.

The challenge was to retrieve a golden egg from one of four immensely dangerous fire-breathing beasts, and somehow it ended with all four champions still intact. Potter and Krum came out in joint first place. Krum opted for a Conjunctivitis curse to confuse the dragon, whereas Potter went for the more sensible option of summoning his broomstick to play to his strengths as a skilled flyer.

Harry battles the Hungarian Horntail in the first task
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

The second task

On 24 February, the champions, judges and supporters assembled at the edge of the lake for the second task. The merpeople had taken something that ‘you’ll sorely miss’ from each contestant, and the champions were given one hour to get it back.

For all four champions, that missing something turned out to be an important person in their lives: Hermione Granger was Krum’s captive, even though they’d been hanging out for about a day; Ron Weasley was, of course, Harry’s; Fleur’s little sister Gabrielle was taken to spur her on, while Cho Chang was Diggory’s ‘sorely missed’.

Despite finishing third, it was decided that Harry would be awarded second place after Diggory for saving everyone and showing ‘moral fibre’. Good on you, Harry.

Harry in the lake with the Merpeople in the Second Task.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Disarray on the judge’s panel

Unbeknown to the outside world, the behind-the-scenes drama of the tournament was just as much of a whirlwind as the contest itself.

Judge Bartemius Crouch went missing and mad, while Ludo Bagman was faced with spiralling debts. After betting on Harry to win, the former Quidditch star spent the majority of the tournament freaking the 14-year-old out by offering him unsolicited help.

Of course, the wizarding world remained blissfully unaware of these strange goings-on.

The final task

Going into the third task, Harry and Diggory were tied in first place with Krum in second and Delacour positioned third.

On the evening of 24 June, the champions were tasked with traversing an imposing 20-foot-high maze full of obstacles, creatures and riddles. Little did Cedric Diggory’s fellow students or family know that this would be the last time they would see him alive.

Cedric and Harry made it to the centre of the maze and both clutched the Triwizard Cup as joint winners. But instead of enjoying a double victory for Hogwarts, the pair were thrust into unexpected danger.

A Boggart in the shape of a Dementor looms over Harry in the Triwizard maze.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Hogwarts in mourning

The Triwizard Tournament was rocked forever when the Cup turned out to be a Portkey, which took Cedric and Harry to a graveyard far from Hogwarts where Diggory was killed by Peter Pettigrew. Harry managed to escape and return his fellow champion’s body to his family.

There were many deaths in Triwizard history, but Cedric’s was a defining moment and arguably marked the point at which the tournament stopped being a contest and became a war.

The students mourn Cedric Diggory's death in the Great Hall
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

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