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The Vytal Festival is an international festival held every two years in one of the Kingdoms of Remnant in celebration of the end of the Great War. During the festival, the various cultures of the world are celebrated with dances, parades and a combat tournament. The host Kingdom of the festival rotates every two years, and the host opens its borders to visitors from the other kingdoms.
The tournament rotates which Kingdom it is held in, using the following cycle: Vacuo, Mistral, Vale, Atlas.
Team RWBY participated in the 40th Vytal Festival, held in Vale. In "Where There's Smoke...", it is revealed that the previous Vytal Festival took place in the city of Mistral, and RWBY: After the Fall reveals the 38th Vytal Festival Tournament took place in Vacuo.
The Vytal Festival was inaugurated following the end of the Great War, a destructive conflict taking place eighty years before the events of the series. Questions of individuality and self-expression were prominent reasons as to why the war was fought between the four Kingdoms. Named after Vytal, a small island north of Vale where the treaty was signed, the Vytal Festival was created with the purpose of celebrating the diversity of the cultures of Remnant.
The Festival has a unique symbol, fittingly consisting of a combination of all four Kingdom's emblems in order to signify unity.
- "Vytal Festival Tournament" redirects here, for the World of Remnant episode of the same name, see Vytal Festival Tournament (WoR episode).
A major part of the Vytal Festival is the combat tournament, in which students from the Huntsman Academies compete. Symbolically, the tournament battles represent a reminder to always strive for excellence and never mediocrity.
The festival is of significant importance and prestige, as Glynda Goodwitch pushed students to practice months before it begins, and the members of Team RWBY showed great excitement upon hearing of it in "Jaunedice". Glynda says that Beacon students competing in the tournament would be representing all of Vale.
- Main article: Amity Colosseum
The setting for the combat tournament is Amity Colosseum, a large floating arena or stadium, surrounded by spectator stands. As the Festival grew in scope and size, the stadium was built collaboratively from the resources and contributions of the four Kingdoms, and is capable of traveling across Remnant to each of the Kingdoms, typically heading to the specific Kingdom hosting the tournament. Transport aircraft are seen bringing spectators and contestants to the floating arena.
The fighting itself takes place in a large octagonal arena. The arena is capable of changing its environment into several different "biomes", including grasslands, forest, fire and ice, geyser fields, stormy mountains, desert, an ocean and beach with a wooden ship, and a few others. The arena also has artificial weather effects, such as thunderstorms and an artificial sun. These environmental Dust controls were created by Arthur Watts. The central part remains the same regardless of the biome. There appears to be a force field protecting the spectators from stray shots.
During the team round, the arena is split evenly into two biomes, which are chosen randomly at the beginning of every fight for each half of the arena. During the doubles round, four biomes are chosen each fight. In some biomes, Dust crystals are also scattered around the arena for combatants to use.
The singles rounds take place only in the central part of the arena, with the outer quadrants being out-of-bounds. The finals also took place at night or evening, in contrast to the preceding rounds which took place during the day.
There are three rounds in the tournament, the first being a 4 on 4 team round. The winners of the team round may select two of their team to fight in the 2 on 2 doubles round, the victors of which may choose one representative to fight in the final 1 on 1 round. The remaining combatants will fight through a final round to prove a victor. There are no specific brackets for age or schooling; the only thing that is put to the test in the tournament is skill.
Contenders are knocked out of the battle by falling below an Aura threshold (15%) and/or by being knocked out of the fighting arena. Aura monitors are able to measure the aura of competitors as numerical values, which are made visible to spectators and competitors.
40th Vytal Festival
During Team RWBY's first year at Beacon, the fortieth Vytal Festival is held in Vale. According to Weiss Schnee, the festival takes considerable amount of planning and organization to set up. Preparations for the Vytal Festival were held as early as Team RWBY's first semester in Beacon.
Representatives of the four Kingdoms converged upon Vale beginning in the second semester of Team RWBY's first year. In "Welcome to Beacon", the Atlesian contingent, including Penny Polendina and led by James Ironwood, arrived aboard three Airships. Haven Academy, of the Mistral region, sent teams SSSN and ABRN; Cinder Fall, Mercury Black, Emerald Sustrai and a disguised Neopolitan also claimed to be from Haven. Students from Shade Academy in Vacuo were also shown to be present for the festival, with teams BRNZ and NDGO known to be competing in the tournament.
Visiting students from the other academies received accommodation on the Beacon campus, and were involved in events such as the Beacon Dance and sent on a range of missions supervised by Beacon.
As seen in "Extracurricular", during the second semester, sparring matches in preparation for the tournament were also held. Participants in these sparring matches included Pyrrha Nikos, Team CRDL and Mercury Black. The same episode also states that contestants must first qualify for the tournament before competing.
For the duration of the festival, a large fairground was set up on Beacon Academy's campus, where visitors from all Kingdoms can intermingle. In the fairground, you can find stalls such as a noodle stall and a boot vendor. One such stall was called Curry Up, which Team CFVY frequented.
The 40th Vytal Festival was marked by a stronger security presence than usual, with a sizable fleet of airships constantly overhead as well as android soldiers patrolling the grounds. This was due to the precautions of General Ironwood, who was appointed to head of security by the Vale council following the events of "Breach", where Grimm were able to enter the city.
Unbeknownst to the populace, the matches of the 40th Vytal Festival were manipulated by Cinder Fall, who had managed to breach the Cross Continental Transmit System with a virus, giving her the ability to decide the match-ups in the tournament.
The festival was marred by Yang's apparently unprovoked attack on Mercury in the first singles match of the tournament. This caused widespread controversy amongst audiences. Unknown to the public, these events were also manipulated by Cinder. Emerald, working under Cinder's direction, used her Semblance to create illusions that led Yang to attack Mercury, mistakenly believing it to be self-defense. The controversy and negative emotions attracted the attention of the Grimm, which attempted to enter the City of Vale. Huntsmen and Atlas forces managed to hold them off but had to call for additional help.
Tragedy struck, the following night, when Penny was destroyed by Pyrrha in a fatal accident, also orchestrated by Cinder, who attempted to make the accident appear like a cold-blooded murder. Cinder then took control of the broadcast and used it to transmit a message condemning the government. The subsequent horror and panic amongst the audience attracted even more Grimm, which managed to overwhelm the defenses that Ironwood had set up around the City of Vale. With the Grimm attack imminent, the Festival was canceled and Amity Colosseum was evacuated.
Following the Battle of Beacon, Amity Colosseum and Penny's body were transported back to Atlas. Since the CCTS went down during the Battle, Ironwood secretly began converting Amity Colosseum into Amity Communications Tower to restore the system online. Meanwhile, Penny was rebuilt and brought back to life thanks to her father Pietro Polendina.
The below listing only shows matches which are known to have occurred and does not reflect the entire tournament.
Round 1 (Team)
|RWBY||vs.||ABRN||Ice, Lava||"Round One"|
|Cinder's Team||vs.||Unidentified Team||Unknown||"Round One"|
|JNPR||vs.||BRNZ||Woods, Mountains||"New Challengers..."|
|SSSN||vs.||NDGO||Desert, Ocean||"New Challengers..."|
Round 2 (Doubles)
|Forest, Savanna, Urban, Geyser||"Lessons Learned"|
|Mountains, Ocean, Cyber, Geyser||"Never Miss a Beat"|
Yang Xiao Long
|Geyser, Lava, Desert, Urban||"Never Miss a Beat"|
Round 3 (Singles)
|Yang Xiao Long||vs.||Mercury Black||"Fall"|
|Team RWBY disqualified due to misconduct|
|Pyrrha Nikos||vs.||Penny Polendina||"PvP"|
|40th Vytal Festival ended due to interference|
|Undetermined Matches / Outcome Unknown|
|3 other unidentified finalists|
- While the World of Remnant episode "Vytal Festival Tournament" states that the festival is held biennially, screenshots from the show proper as well as the official poster indicate that it is held "annually". Series writers Miles Luna and Kerry Shawcross have confirmed that the official poster was a misprint and the Festival is held biennially in canon.
- Given that there are eight contestants in the final round, it can be assumed that a total of 32 teams (128 students) competed in the Vytal Festival tournament (eight in the final, sixteen in the doubles and 32 in the team round).
- In an AfterBuzz interview, Miles and Kerry mentioned that Pyrrha and Nora were supposed to face Sun and Neptune in a doubles round match. Unfortunately, the fight had to be cut for time and lack of relevance to the plot. Neptune's fear of water would have played a role in the fight, and the biomes used would have been "anti-grav" (the Tron-like biome seen in the background of Penny's fight), swamp, ice, and desert. Obviously, Pyrrha and Nora would have won the fight so Pyrrha could progress to the singles round. Given that Sun appears as one of the finalists in "Fall", canonically, this match could not have actually taken place.
- The order of the host Kingdom seems to be Atlas, Vacuo, Mistral, and Vale.
- One of the glass vitrines in Haven Academy contained a Vytal Festival Tournament trophy.