On Knightmare, no team got far enough to win the Cup. Never stopped them dreaming...
The Chalice, the Cup that Heals or simply the Cup: whatever name it went by, it served as Knightmare's original questing symbol. Although the aim in Series 1 was simply to survive the Dungeon of Deceit, the correct door to take at various points in that first series was one that pointed towards the Holy Grail.
Of the 63 teams in Series 2-8, how many went on each type of quest - and how many succeeded?
- Free the Maid: 2 (1 win)
- Talisman: 1 (1 win)
- Crown: 16 (3 wins)
- Sword: 13 (1 win)
- Shield: 17 (2 wins)
- Cup: 14 (0 wins)
It seemed that if you sought the Chalice, Knightmare would be callous. Most teams didn't get to select which object they went for; in Series 6, when every team had a choice between all four objects, none chose the Cup, even though it was the right-hand path. Had they been keeping track?
A comment on our Facebook page raised an intriguing question: how many teams did choose the Cup over another quest?
There were five. Which of them made it to the final (encounter)?
Series 4 Team 1: Every Series 4 dungeoneer started their quest in what Pickled called the Place of Choice. It lived up to its name, in a minimal sort of way: the team had a choice of two objects. Helen and her advisers chose the Cup the Heals over the Sword of Freedom, which at that point had never been won either.
Unusually for the first team in a series, they made it to Level 3, where they were confronted by the malevolent Mogdred. One of their two spells, TRANSFORMATION and BUT, would have sorted him out: they made the fatal error of trying to cast the longer one. Many fans still regard this as an unfair challenge. If the team had had the incredible foresight to use a non-threatening spell against a highly threatening opponent, the Cup would've been in the bag (not literally: the knapsack wasn't designed for that).
Series 4 Team 8: Also chose the Cup over the Sword. Capable and enthusiastic, Giles and his advisors were well into Level 3 when it all ended. Was it something they did? Nope. The dungeon closed for Christmas.
So near to the Cup, yet so far. Some would call it a far cup.
Look out for my article 'Knightmare's Christmas ending: Why we're all finally OK with it' coming in 2037. No, sorry, I can see how ridiculous that is. 2047 at the earliest.
Series 5 Teams 1 & 6: Treguard personally offered Series 5 teams the pick of all four classic quests (until Team 4 won the Crown, taking it off the list). The first and sixth teams made it to Level 2, where a causeway puzzle awaited them. Sadly it fell apart.
Series 5 Team 2: Made it further through Level 2, but an incorrect clue object choice caught up with them - as did Skarkill the goblin master.
Was there a Curse of the Cup? Or were the failures down to factors which could (and did) affect other types of quest?
Rather than a post-quest analysis of every Cup team, let's turn back (don't tell Treguard) to the numbers and see how many teams got to Level 3:
- Free the Maid: 2 (2 got to Level 3)
- Talisman: 1 (1 got to Level 3)
- Crown: 16 (6 got to Level 3)
- Sword: 13 (4 got to Level 3)
- Shield: 17 (3 got to Level 3)
- Cup: 14 (7 got to Level 3)
On this basis, Cup questers were more successful than Crown, Sword and Shield seekers at making it to the final level: an admirable achievement in itself. Two of those were in the famously difficult Series 3. In those quests (Teams 4 and 11), we did at least get to glimpse fragments of the Chalice along the way. Find out more on our Series 3 Teams pages.
If we ever witness another Knightmare quest, it could be for the Cup that Heals; if it ends in victory, it could heal all those years of hurt. Until then, we have 70 quests to look back on: best enjoyed with a cuppa of your choice. Altogether now:
"Ooh nice tea!"
[With thanks to Emma Bailey Ceramics for the photo from Em-Con Nottingham 2018]