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En Garde! – The Most Intense Lightsaber Duels in Star Wars

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Face it, there is rarely anything cooler in science fiction than a good lightsaber duel. Not the CGI mess we occasionally get (looking at you, Yoda vs. Palpatine) but the solid blaze of light and fury when everything is on the line and different styles clash. There are many different styles of lightsaber combat; some offensive and some defensive, some favored by the Sith and some by the Jedi. Whichever form you prefer, there is no denying the power and agility of a true duelist, so who is the best in the Galaxy? Only the force knows, but here are the top 3 duels that kept us on the edge of our seat.

Qui Gon Jin and Obi Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul  – The Phantom Menace

The duel occurs in the vast, high-tech corridors of the Theed Palace power generator on Naboo. Darth Maul, a Sith apprentice, engages both Jedi with his distinctive double-bladed lightsaber, displaying his formidable skill and acrobatic prowess. 

The fight is intense and strategic, a two against one match characterized by its choreography and the use of the environment, including energy gates that periodically open and close, adding layers of tactical pauses in the combat. As the battle progresses, Qui-Gon and Maul are separated from Obi-Wan by the energy gates, and in a moment of vulnerability, Maul fatally wounds Qui-Gon. Once the barriers deactivate, a furious Obi-Wan re-engages Maul with renewed vigor. The young Jedi's agility and emotional control eventually lead him to outmaneuver and defeat Maul, avenging his master's death. This duel is not only a defining moment in Obi Wan’s life, but also fuels the rivalry between Maul and Kenobi years later.

Darth Vader vs. Obi Wan Kenobi - Kenobi

The climactic lightsaber duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader serves as a poignant and thrilling confrontation, revisiting their storied rivalry. Set years after their fiery battle on Mustafar in "Revenge of the Sith" in which Obi Wan defeated Anakin / Vader (from the high ground, no less).

This duel highlights a deeper, more intense encounter as both characters have evolved. Vader shows rage and power, tearing the literal ground before him as he and Obi Wan struggle for supremacy. Obi-Wan, initially struggling with his connection to the Force due to years of hiding and emotional trauma, gradually regains his strength and resolve. Meanwhile, Vader, consumed by anger and the dark side, looks to destroy his former master to prove his complete allegiance to the Sith. The battle is not just physical but heavily emotional, with Obi-Wan finally acknowledging Vader as no longer being Anakin Skywalker, his former apprentice and friend. The duel ends with Obi-Wan emerging victorious, leaving Vader defeated but alive, deepening Vader's resentment and setting the stage for their final encounter in "A New Hope."

Ahsoka Tano vs. Morgan Elsbeth - The Mandalorian

This intense confrontation takes place in the village where Morgan, a magistrate and former military officer who aided the Empire, rules with an iron fist. Ahsoka, a former Jedi seeking the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn, challenges Morgan after demanding her surrender and the location of her master. 

The duel is notable for its dramatic setting in Morgan’s walled compound, surrounded by a serene but stark garden. It highlights Ahsoka's dual-wielding fighting style against Morgan’s single Beskar spear, highlighting not just their combat skills but also the contrast in their characters; Ahsoka’s quest for justice versus Morgan’s authoritarian rule. The fight culminates in Ahsoka’s victory, after which she learns critical information about Thrawn's whereabouts, pushing forward her quest. This duel feels much more close quarters than most others, and yet comes with no shortage of agility and endurance.

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