The Liandri Grand Tournament is the world-spanning Tournament sponsored and tri-cast by the Liandri Mining Corporation. It evolved from the underground leagues and matches used by mining companies to channel aggression on the mining worlds.
"During the years of the Human/Skaarj war, Earth and the United Aligned Worlds formed the New Earth Government, a single government that might be more efficient at carrying out an interplanetary war. Deep space asteroid mining became the choice means of financing the war, with raw materials easily gained from within the Terran System.
Mining was hard and the pay very poor. The socialized working class grew more and more restless with their working conditions and a war that seemed to never cease. Each day the Skaarj invasion forces drew closer and few battles were won. Riots began to break out, the most notable being the "Green's World Rebellion", where over three thousand miners joined in a riot that would cost billions in damage.
The Human/Skaarj war was brought to a standstill during the '7 Day Siege' when Skaarj forces surrounded the Terran system and Earth itself seemed doomed. All was made well when a crack team of NEG military specialists were able to destroy the Skri'ith Class Dreadnaught 'Krujhlok', the Queen Ship of the Skaarj forces. Confused by the loss of their High Matriarch, the Skaarj withdrew. Their unity shattered by a well placed fusion detonator.
The damage was done, however. The NEG had largely ignored its internal social conditions while waging an expensive and impossible war. More and more mining "incidents" were being reported and cracking down seemed to have little effect.
NEG politicians determined that the best policy was not to stifle the violence, but give it an outlet. In 2291, "concentual murder" was legalized. Under NEG law, any two people could, under organized conditions, fight to the death. The various mining conglomerates organized matches and small leagues to channel aggression. The results were immidiate and successful.
The leagues escalated with money and promotions offered to victors. One insightful corporation, the Liandri Mining Corporation, began to tri-cast fights and capitalize on the primal form of entertainment. Much to the LMC's financial delight, the tri-casts became more successful than the fights themselves; their popularity growing with their brutality.
Now it is 2341. 50 years after the legalization of "concentual murder." The LMC has found the "Tournament" be significantly more popular than mining (now merely a token element of their yearly profits). The "Professional League" has been formed. A cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors. Each year, the LMC hosts the "Grand Tournament," the most brutal and popular of tri-cast events.
You are a warrior chosen to fight in the Grand Tournament. Perhaps you are a criminal, condemned by the New Earth Government to fight to your death for the entertainment of billions. Perhaps you are a mad man, bred by Liandri scientists to fight and die without question. Perhaps you are a military specialist, fighting in the Tournament to prove your abilities and win fame and fortune among the Aligned Worlds. Perhaps you are a member of the Necris. An alien race until now rarely seen. Entering the Tournament to prove your racial superiority.
The current champion of the Tournament is Xan Kriegor. None have seen his true form as he always battles in an enhanced cybernetic shell. (There are no laws against cybernetic or chemical assistance.) Some say that Xan is a Skaarj, others contend that he is an artifical intelligence constructed by the LMC, still others argue that he is merely a highly skilled human. Either way, you will have to fight many battles across several worlds to claim the right of challenge against Xan...then, perhaps you will find out for yourself what it is like to be Champion."
"In 2291, in an attempt to control violence among deep space miners, the New Earth Government legalized no-holds-bared fighting. Liandri Mining Corporation, working with the NEG, established a series of leagues and bloody public exhibitions. The fights' popularity grew with their brutality. Soon, Liandri discovered that the public matches were their most profitable enterprise. The professional league was formed; a cabal of the most violent and skilled warriors in known space, selected to fight in a Grand Tournament. Now it is 2341. 50 years have passed since founding of DeathMatch. Profits from the Tournament number in the hundreds of billions. You have been selected to fight in the professional league by the Liandri Rules Board. Your strength and brutality are legendary. The time has come to prove you are the best. To crush your enemies; to win the Tournament."
– Unreal Tournament intro movie
The original Unreal Tournament takes place in 2293, a whole century after Unreal, according to the official Unreal timeline, although the game's introduction mentions 2341. This article will use the more recently released date from the timeline. After many years of being the champion (when the Tournament wasn't yet legal), Xan Kriegor is finally defeated by Malcolm who entered as a member of the Thunder Crash team. Malcolm remains champion for nine consecutive years.
Unreal Tournament 2004 takes place in 2303. Gorge is defeated by the player. Notably, Xan Kriegor Mk. 3 tries to make a comeback but is defeated by the player. Epic has yet to establish which character has won in the official timeline. It is assumed that Jakob won due to the fact that the default character skin in UT2004 is Jakob.
Orginally an age-old traditional Nakhti competition used to find the new Nakhti emperor, the Liandri sponsor and sanction the 523rd Nakthi Ascension Rites as an official qualifying tournament. Only Nakhti individuals can become emperor, but outsiders are allowed to fight in the earlier matches. The Rites are won by Anubis, who becomes the new emperor at a cost of being forced to fight in the Grand Tournament.
Pariah, one of the champions prior to Xan Kriegor's reign, also inspirates the name of a game made by Digital Extremes.
There is a contradiction in Unreal Championship 2: it states that Brock and Lauren both died and was turned into a Necris in 2302, which is impossible seeing that they fought in the 2303 Tournament as a normal human. It was later retconned by Epic that both Championship games take place in an alternate timeline (and thus made non-canon).