As I promised you I am going to review as many event I can.
I think we are over the time when we needed to endorse ourselves only with positive messages, minimizing or erasing the issues. I think from now on we need to be focused on what we can improve, therefore everything must be weighted in the right measure.
And I am going to start with the English Sidesword Open, as announced previously.
The gym was large enough to have four field for the tournaments. Even if a bit to packed amongst them. It was warm enough and big enough to let fencer having their “corner” where to stay, rest, discuss ecc. The floor was perfect for fencing.
Every field had a table and a point counter well visible to the public and to the fencers.
There were locker rooms for everyone.
There was a separate place for the workshops.
There was no space for sparring, except the main gym when the tournaments were off.
The gym was located in the north of London, in a zone easy to reach by public transportation and where it was easy to find rooms. As a foreing fencer I found it an improve compared with the previous editions, which forced me to rent a car in order join the event.
Organization and staff people
The event suffered a delay on the first day. The staff worked hard to recover and managed to end the event in time. On the second day the event suffered a minor delay as well, and also this time the staff managed to end the event in time.
The staff have been always nice and available during the event, every time I asked something, I got the right answer immediately or after few minutes if the answer was not ready at the moment.
The schedule was published at first on the FB page of the event. Then it has been available on HEMA Scorecard. On this site it was possible to check the schedule, the pools and the bouts schedule. I find it a terrfic improvement if compared to usual printed-paper-attached-to-wall.
(I will write a post on HEMA Scorecard in future, since it is valuable for the whole HEMA Community)
It was unclear to me where the lecture hall was. Maybe a pinpointed information about it could be useful too. I found not useful having some of the workshops and the lectures at the same moment of the tournaments: this led to having few people attending them. It happened only on Saturday, tho.
Organization and staff people evaluation
It was possible to participate up to two tournaments only. My understanding is that the staff set up the rule in order to avoid to have too many persons at each discipline. But my liking is to sign up for every discipline available, when I travel so far to get to an HEMA Event.
Besides this limitation, the three (one less than the previous edition) disciplines proposed represented a good variety: single sidesword (Open Nylon and Open Steel), sword and dagger, sword and rotella.
The ruleset is very similar to other common ruleset in north Europe: 8 point, 2 point for head hit or thrust to the chest, differential assignment of points. The variant is the count of doubles which penalize in terms of ranking to access the eliminatory phase.
I won’t discuss the ruleset, because it is out of topic.
The referees have been impartial and most of them have been able to judge correctly difficult situations, sometimes helped by those fencers who have been fair. Some problems came out when the fencers didn’t help the referee declaring correctly and when they openly discussed some decisions. Beside that I witnessed an improvement both in judjement and correctness by the fencers. In particular referees have suffered less influence by the few protets.
There were not more than 28 participants for each disciplines. Beside these figures speeded up the execution of all tournaments, it would be appreciated if the number of participants was higher. Even if, I thinkg, it would have required more staff to manage the event.
Swords, daggers and shields (rotelle) were provided by organizators.
Workshop and Lectures
There were 5 different workshops and 2 lectures. I participated only to one of the lectures, which I found very interesting and well done. I didnt attended to any of the workshop, but knowing two of the instructors (Ton Puey – Academia da Spada; Jacopo Penso – La Sala delle Armi) I am sure about the high level of the workshops.
Workshop and Lectures evaulation
Price was fixed to 80£. It included 2 tournaments partecipation and full participation to workshop (5) and lectures (2). It is a good price for this kind of HEMA Events.
I really enjoyed the event. Good time, good fencers, good community.
ESO is one of the few HEMA Events focused on sidesword, then If you like the sidesword fencing, this is an event you cannot miss. It can be improved, sure, but the few flaws are not big enough to affect the experience.