By E. Neutron
So you want to compete in the Tri-Wizard…
As we all know, the Tri-Wizard Tournament is being held once again this year, hosted by Hogwarts. Judging from the talk in classes and hallways, there is a great deal of enthusiasm for it! At least, among those who aren’t eligible to enter the tournament. In this article, we’ll talk about why someone might or might not want to enter the Tournament, how one enters the Tournament, and of course give some other basics on the Tournament itself.
The Tri-Wizard Tournament consists of a series of contests held between three of the largest Wizarding Schools in Europe: Durmstrang Institute, Beauxbatons Academy, and of course Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each school has a ‘champion’: a student (historically, often a child) who will represent the school throughout the Tournament, and upon whose narrow shoulders the burden of the entire school’s hopes and dreams for the Tournament will fall. Historically, the Tournament was held once every five years, and proceeded that way for approximately five centuries before the schools decided in about 1792 (after a particularly nasty incident) that too many children were being killed. A prior attempt to revive the Tournament ended in a Hogwarts student’s death in 1994. This year’s Tournament represents the second since that fatality. Because of the very real possibility of death all champions should have achieved the age of majority (17) prior to attempting to enter the Tournament. This rule was also imposed the time the Tournament was held in 1994, but was somehow circumvented.
The various contests that make up the Tri-Wizard Tournament often involve powerful curses, deadly magical beasts, hostile magical beings, or combinations of any or all of these, and other factors besides. The performance of each tribute is evaluated by a panel of judges that includes the three Headmasters or Headmistresses of the three schools. Interestingly, the tasks do not typically involve the students directly attempting to kill or defeat each other, and champions have been known to assist each other or even save each others’ lives. This might be a comfort to whomever is chosen as the Hogwarts Champion.
Or it might not. This is brutal business.
Entering the Tournament
In the past, the process for entering the Tournament was relatively easy: all entrants would write their name and school upon a piece of parchment, and then put it into the Goblet of Fire, a very large vessel — more like a bucket, really, but ‘Bucket of Fire’ doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as ‘Goblet of Fire’ — which, as the name implies, has a constant flame in it. This is a magical flame which burns blue. The enforcement of the age limitation in the past was done with an Age Line, so that only students of age could get close enough to the Goblet to put their parchment in.
And that’s really it. You put your name and school in, and the Goblet, as a neutral arbitrator, selects the three champions from the names placed in it. It will likely be placed after the delegations from the other schools have arrived; the entrants may be given but 24 hours to make up their minds and put their names into the Goblet. No one is really sure what process the Goblet uses to determine the champions, but it is said that it will pick those ‘best suited’ to the tasks set out for the Tournament from each of the three schools. Whether this method is used remains to be seen. The reliability of the Goblet is up to interpretation, particularly given the rate of fatality.
Is the Tournament for you?
Each entrant to the Tri-Wizard Tournament will have to ask themselves this question very, very deeply. Let’s take a look at the pros and the cons. First off, the cons: very obviously, despite the assurances of our Headmistress and Professors, you could die. There just isn’t any way of sugar-coating this reality. This ‘friendly tournament’ was cancelled nearly 250 years ago after five centuries of competition because too many students were dying in it. Think about that, and think very hard about it. The last time a revival was attempted… You guessed it, a student died. This is the second attempt at a revival, brought to us by the same people who manage the OWL and NEWT grades. How are those going lately? Last I checked, they got lost.
So much for the (quite substantial) negative issues for attempting to enter the Tournament. Let’s talk about the positive ones! First off, you’re really unlikely to get chosen for this suicide mission. The more students who put their names in, the lower the chance that any individual person will get chosen! If only one person from Hogwarts enters, then they are certain to be chosen; if all the Seventh Years enter, then each will have merely a one in forty chance of being chosen. Still and all, the same number of lives will be at risk either way. However, merely placing one’s name in the Goblet of Fire indicates a certain courage to risk one’s life and future for the fleeting glory of a Tournament win. That has to count for something. If one can avoid death, dismemberment or disability as a result of the Tournament, then one’s glory is greatly increased, of course. And actually winning the Tournament, apart from providing the thrill of cheating certain death in so many ways, so many times, will establish the lucky student as a serious force in the Wizarding World.
So you could have everlasting (or, let’s face it, more like brief, fleeting) glory and possibly a bright future in the Wizarding World.
Or you could die.
Or lose a limb or two.
Or be paralyzed for life.
Did I mention you could die?