If someone is gonna gather a group of the most well-known figures in history and mythology for their story, they might as well have them battle it out. Thankfully, Fate/Stay Night contains enough ancient hero on hero action to make most historians weep! Each action-filled arc filled to the brim with the historical version of a fighting tournament over a wish-granting cup.
With a cast including Hercules, Gilgamesh, Medusa, and King Arthur, it is no surprise that some of these battles can get intense. Still, there is something to say about the mages that risk life and limb in the tournament. More often than not, they aren't as capable as their Servant counterparts but some can still throw down in some entertaining encounters. So with that in mind, let's rank some of the best fights in the franchise.
10 Shirou vs Rin
It almost feels like cheating mentioning this, as the "fight" is not much more than a game of hide-and-seek, with Shirou running away from Rin like his life depends on it. Still, it is the first confrontation between two mages Fate/Stay Night treats viewers to.
As a fight, it is not much of one, as a way to see how capable both Shirou and Rin are, it is a wonderful example. Rin mostly dominates the fight with her assortment of magic spells that can harm Shirou, increase her physical abilities, and contain enough power to blow up a classroom. All the while, Shirou is forced to keep up with only Reinforcement Magecraft to his name. Giving us a prime example of how horribly outclassed he is as an amateur mage.
9 Saber vs Kuzuki
More often than not, a regular human is vastly outclassed by a Servant. Kuzuki, on the other hand, is far from a regular human. Trained as an assassin from birth, eventually, Kuzuki left the organization and became a school teacher. Sometime after that, he got mixed into the Holy Grail War when he found and fell in love with Caster after she killed her original master.
All this leading up to the rare sight of a human, not even a mage, beating up a Servant. To her credit, Saber wasn't in the best place at this point in the Grail War, Kuzuki had the element of surprise, and he was backed up by Casters magic. Still, it is quite the sight to see a mere human lift Saber up and starts crushing her windpipe.
8 Rin vs Caster
As mentioned, it is typically suicide for a human to fight a Servant. It is even a worse matchup for a mage to try and fight on par with the Caster Servant of the Holy Grail War. Therefore, it is quite a surprise that Rin put up such a valiant effort against Caster.
Seriously though, it takes some big ol' lady balls for Rin to think about fighting Medea. Her magecraft far exceeds anything available to modern mages thanks to living in the Age of Heroes. Which is precisely why it was a great idea to take things physical. Turning a mage fight into a street fight, Rin uses magecraft to boost her physical parameters while busting out the martial arts. Ultimately, Rin hits Caster hard enough to make her vomit blood. If Kuzuki didn't interfere, she might have just finished her off.
7 Archer's Last Stand vs Hercules
Let's take a trip back to memory lane and focus on the first attempt to bring Fate/Stay Night to anime. Deen's Fate/Stay Night focuses on the Fate route of the visual novel that concerns itself with the relationship between Shirou and Saber. It is widely considered the worst adaptation of Fate/Stay Night so far.
To its defense, it does have some stand out moments. One of which is Archer's fight against Berserker. Against all odds, he manages to take out six of Berserker's twelve lives by throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at him. More importantly, this fight was was the first time Archer got to use Unlimited Blade Works in an anime adaptation.
6 Archer vs Lancer Second Fight
Their first fight is already impressive. It is our first introduction to Servant on Servant battles in all of the routes of the visual novels and the adaptations so far. But what takes the cake is when both of these Servants fight again in the Unlimited Blade Works route.
No longer messing around, Lancer takes a pretty decisive lead against Archer for most of the fight. The man in red is not able to keep up with Lancer's agility and skill. The fight eventually leading up to a confrontation between Lancer's Gae Bolg and Archer's Rho Aias. What we then get is several tense moments wondering if the all-powerful sphere can shatter Rho Aias' ultimate defense.
5 Lancer vs True Assassin
This is what happens when the Fate Franchise has a budget of a movie made by Ufotable. It is a visual treat from start to finish that has Lancer play a deadly cat and mouse game with True Assassin throughout the city.
Cars are destroyed, fire erupts, and Truck-Kun is among one of the casualties as Lancer viciously chases True Assassin to some waist-deep water. Everything seems prime for Lancer to kill True Assassin until an outside force interferes and sets up True Assassin for his one-shot kill.
4 Gilgamesh vs Berserker
It wasn't a fair fight, but then again most fights aren't fair when Gilgamesh is involved. His power is so absolute that is usually takes extensive circumstances or the right matchup to take him down. This was unfortunately not the case in this fight. Gilgamesh had Berserker's number.
As well as having an arsenal of Noble Phantasm to fling at Berserker capable of penetrating his great defense, Gilgamesh has access to the Chains of Heaven. A chain specifically designed to bind the gods. Berserker puts up a great fight despite the disadvantages and even comes back to life for a thirteenth time to surpass his own resurrection ability. Unfortunately, it was still all for naught as Gilgamesh kills Berserker's master and eventually turns Berserker to dust.
3 Shirou vs Gilgamesh
This time around, Shirou had Gilgamesh's number. Of all of the servants in the Holy Grail War, the one with the best matchup against Gilgamesh is Archer, as he is the only one that can match the former at throwing weapons. So it makes sense that Shirou could put up quite a fight as well.
And he certainly does. Taking him down piece by piece, Shirou is able to summon Unlimited Blade Works to deflect Gilgamesh's own weapons. Giving him the chance to get close enough to take Gilgamesh's arm the second he gets serious and decides to use Ea. Allowing him to then strike a decisive blow against Gilgamesh which eventually sets him up for a headshot from Archer.
2 Archer vs Shirou
Friedrich Nietzsche once said, "But the worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself..." Of course, he probably did not mean it literally.
Archer versus Shirou is not just a battle of swords against swords but a battle of ideologies. Archer is the version of Shirou that followed his ideals to their tragic end while Shirou wants to move forward despite that fact. Archer then tries to destroy him on a physical and mental battlefield but Shirou proves to be resilient enough to survive both, with a moment's hesitation at the end giving Shirou the victory.
1 Saber Alter vs Berserker
Simply put, Saber Alter vs Berserker is a visual treat from start to finish. They definitely broke the budget on this visual marvel, as these two behemoths of power duke it out.
Both servants go all out and the world around them seems unable to contain their battle. The ground upheaves around them, a castle is destroyed, and Berserker seems to be able to come back from whatever Saber Alter throws at him. It isn't until Saber Alter uses her Noble Phantasm that the fight ends, leaving all in awe of what they just watched.