The Davy Back Fight is a traditional pirate game held in homage to the mythical Davy Jones, meant to challenge—and conscript—members of opposing crews.
A Davy Back Fight must be initiated by mutual agreement between the captains of the participating crews (which overrules any objections from subordinates). This agreement is sealed by each captain firing a gun skyward.
The standard format is the three-coin game (スリーコインゲーム Surīkoingēmu?), calling on seven members from each crew to participate in three consecutive events. Each participant is limited to one event, and the overall team arrangement must be determined beforehand; mid-game changes or substitutions are not allowed.
When a crew wins an event, its captain is entitled to claim to any one member of the losers' crew - up to and including their captain - or the losers' Jolly Roger. This process is governed by the Three Articles of Defeat (敗戦における3か条 Haisen ni okeru san-kajō?):
- Any crew members (or symbols) taken during the Davy Back Fight may only be retrieved through another Davy Back Fight.
- Taken crew members must immediately swear loyalty to the victorious captain.
- Taken symbols must never again be raised by the losing crew.
Claiming uninvolved crew-members is wholly legal, and may be done to weaken opponents in upcoming events; however, doing this to completely empty an opposing team and win an event by default is typically decried as peanut tactics (ピーナッツ戦法 Pīnattsu Senpō?). Additionally, crew members taken in the last event of a game cannot be re-taken in subsequent games.
Due to the pride and honor inherent to the game, pirates are expected to follow these conditions to the heart, and gladly defect from their original crews. To emphasize this, games are traditionally inaugurated by throwing three coins off the nearest coastline - a tribute that not only honors Davy Jones, but symbolically promises him the soul of any pirate who betrays the game's spirit.
The Davy Back Fight is known to feature a variety of different events, each with specialized rules and victory conditions.
(Note that these events - unlike the overall concept of the Davy Back Fight - were explained and organized wholly by the Foxy Pirates. It is unknown how widely-accepted their parameters are, or what other events are considered valid for the game.)
The Donut Race (ドーナツレース Dōnatsu Rēsu?) is a race where three team members from each crew are given materials (mostly barrels) and must build their own boat using them. Each team then uses their boat to go around the island (or part of the island they are on, if there is a smaller island right next to it, or part of the main one) and the first person to reach the finish line wins. Both teams are allowed to use weapons, and can do anything, including pushing the other boat backwards, do damage to the other boat and even kill all the members of the opposing team. The other members of the crew can also support the team.
This Groggy Ring (グロッキーリング Gurokkī Ringu?) is played normally with three players. One player is the "ball" on each team, and it is the goal of the opposing team to knock the player that is the "ball" into the opposing team's goal. The goal is a large, circular tube, used in a way similar to a basketball hoop. No weapons are allowed (though if the referee does not notice the weapons, they can be used).
The Combat (コンバット Konbatto?), the main event, is the Captain's Fight, a duel between the two captains. A cannon is fired and wherever, or whatever it lands on becomes the ring. While inside the ring, the opponents are allowed to use any object or weapon in the arena. Devil Fruits are also allowed. The first person out of the ring loses. This includes being blown to bits and a shred of the person lands outside the arena, or the opponent throwing a piece out. If the Peanut Tactic is used from the previous event, then one of the captains will not be able to participate, leading to the other to win by default.
Anime and Manga Differences
- Further information: Long Ring Long Land Arc#Anime and Manga Differences
The anime greatly expanded the Long Ring Long Land Arc - most notably by having the Foxy Pirates wage two Davy Back Fights against the Straw Hats, and win both Tony Tony Chopper and Nico Robin during the second - and in doing so made the following changes and expansions to the game's terms:
- One- and two-coin games are explicitly established (though not played).
- Format-setting rights default to the challenging captain, but may be passed to the challenged captain.
- The "orthodox" seven-participant setup is dropped.
- Each participant is allowed in two events, rather than one.
- Crews are - through mutual agreement - allowed to stake multiple members on a single event.
- If the agreed-upon number exceeds the losing crew's total membership, all of their descendants may be claimed by the winning crew until the difference is made up.
Additionally, the anime created four original events - three for the Long Ring Long Land Arc proper, and one for the later Adventure of Nebulandia special. These are detailed below.
Run Roller Around
The Run Roller Around (ラン・ローラー・アラウンド Ran Rōrā Araundo?) is the first non-canon game of the Davy Back Fight. It has five rounds. If one team gets three wins, the game is automatically over. The goal in this game is to skate as many laps as one can before the time runs out. When the first twenty seconds pass, there would be a signal to call the next group to skate. Players are not allowed to skate backwards or out of the ring or they will immediately lose the round, although the air is safe as long as they do not touch the ground.
Hit and Dead Ball
Hit and Dead Ball (ヒット・アンド・デッドボール Hitto ando Deddobōru?) is the second non-canon game of the Davy Back Fight. There has been no limit for participants. The two groups choose which members get to be the outsiders and which get to be the insiders. The game is like real dodgeball. In this game, one is not allowed to hit another person's face, not allowed to step out of the playing field and not allowed to break or eat the ball (this game appears to be prepared for all contingencies). Cheating in this game is against the rules and cheaters are decapitated. No weapons are allowed except for a contraption called Dead Hit-Kun (a giant ball launcher).
Dodge Touch Mr. Daruma
Dodge Touch Mr. Daruma (ドッジ・タッチ・だるまさん Dojji Tacchi Daruma-san?) is the third non-canon game of the Davy Back Fight. It is just like the real Japanese variation of Red Light Green Light but in this one, weapons and attacking are allowed. It is called Dash, Touch, Domination in the Funimation dub.
The Big Eater Showdown (大食い王決定戦 Ōkui-ō kettei-sen?) is the fourth non-canon game of the Davy Back Fight, and was the only one played during the rematch on Kinoko Island in the Adventure of Nebulandia special. Two teams of three are tasked to eat a large pile of food, with the first team to finish it winning. The rules are that the competitors must have a stomach and that if anyone other than the competitors sets foot on the stage, their team is automatically disqualified.
However, this game was created by Marine Vice Admiral Komei as part of his plan to drug the Straw Hats with Drowsy Mushrooms and capture them. The rule about having to have a stomach was made so all the competitors would be affected by the mushrooms, and the rule about no one else going onstage was made so no one could free the competitors from the stage, which was actually a trap.
Since Komei created it himself, the game is not an official Davy Back Fight game. However, since Foxy easily accepted the idea, it is hinted that pirates can create their own games each time.
Anime and Manga Influences
The game's namesake legend is adapted from real-life nautical folklore, which has used "Davy Jones' Locker" as a euphemism for sailors (and other goods) lost at sea since at least the eighteenth century; the Davy Jones in question is said to have been a captain so greedy in life that the Devil personally condemned him to spending eternity on the seafloor, collecting riches he could never use.
(Notwithstanding a quick sketch Eiichiro Oda provided in Volume 38's SBS, it remains unknown if any "real" Davy Jones exists—or once existed—in the world of One Piece, as so many other mythical beings do.)
- For rule #3, the exception may be if one wins it back, as in rule #1. This was never stated, but the wording implies it to not be true. However, the rules also state that won members are immediately part of the crew and cannot quit and return.
- The sixth movie features a similar competition called the Trial of Hell (地獄の試練 Jigoku no Shiren?).