Welp, it’s finally happened. After a seven-year hiatus, Star Wars: The Clone Wars has finally ended, delivering the “Siege of Mandalore” plot that has been hyped since at least season two of Star Wars Rebels. One point of contention, however, has been the skill level of Ahsoka Tano, the former Jedi Padawan who trained under Anakin Skywalker before choosing to leave rather than accept a promotion to Jedi Knight. During her time in exile, she was briefly recalled to assist in the capture of the renegade former Sith Lord Maul and, after a stunning duel, is successful. However, does this make Maul a joke or Ahsoka a badass? Both? Neither? Let’s find out by tracking their duels before the two faced off.
Exhibit A: Ahsoka Tano
Trained since childhood at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Padawan Ahsoka Tano was a relatively skilled swordsman early in the Clone Wars before joining Anakin Skywalker at the Battle of Christophsis. While she often held a reverse grip on her saber, Ahsoka eventually progressed to dual wielding, using her agility and acrobatics to her advantage.
During her early days, Ahsoka faced Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s assassin and apprentice, in combat. In the first of their two encounters, Tano briefly faces the assassin but is easily defeated. The next time they meet, she’s joined by Master Luminara Unduli, and the two force the assassin’s retreat. Before Master Unduli’s arrival, however, Ahsoka shows she’s progressed quickly, and is better equipped to duel Ventress on her own than their first encounter.
Ahsoka engaged General Grievous twice in combat. She survives both encounters, with the general forcing her retreat, but the skill gap noticeably closes between the two duels. In the first, she had used a single blade and was still early in her career on the battlefield. Grievous had the upper hand, using only two blades before forcing her retreat.
In the second, Ahsoka had two weapons to Grievous’ four, and held her own before escaping with a group of younglings under her protection. Her acrobatics and the extra blade proved useful in the effort, allowing her to better defend and counterattack than before.
Padawan Tano dueled the bounty hunter Cato Parasitti at the Jedi Temple during Cad Bane’s Holocron heist. Parasitti had disguised himself as Jocasta Nu, the librarian at the Jedi Archives where Ahsoka had been temporarily assigned for insubordination. She defeated the bounty hunter, but was unable to prevent the heist, forcing her and her master to pursue Bane.
On Mortis, the young Jedi was possessed by a Dark Side entity and was forced to fight her master, Anakin Skywalker, as well as Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. While her style was more aggressive and her opponents clearly held back, she was shown to have advanced enough to engage multiple opponents at once with her dual-wielding style.
During a surprise encounter with the Mandalorian extremist cell Death Watch, Ahsoka dueled their leader Pre Vizsla, the former Governor of Concordia, while protecting former Separatist Lux Bonteri of Onderon. Vizsla had previously been defeated by Obi-Wan Kenobi and would later face Darth Maul in combat on Mandalore. Ahsoka bested him in the brief duel, destroying his jet pack to prevent his pursuit while she got Bonteri to safety.
Finally, she faced Barriss Offee, her best friend and fellow Padawan, twice in combat. The first was on the way back to Coruscant from the Second Battle of Geonosis, after which Barriss had been possessed by a brain parasite. Ahsoka won the duel and freed her friend from mind control.
The second was on Coruscant while trying to clear her name for treason against the Republic. Barriss had managed to incapacitate and impersonate Ventress, who was now a bounty hunter and had recently aided Ahsoka in avoiding capture. While Ahsoka was defeated in this duel, she was also handicapped as she had only one lightsaber with her and had grown accustomed to fighting with two. Barriss would also later give Anakin a run for his money before he gave in to his anger to defeat her, proving her own skill in combat.
Exhibit B: Darth Maul
Trained since childhood by Darth Sidious, Darth Maul was the first Sith to engage a Jedi in a millennium. Skilled in the use of a double-bladed lightsaber, his unconventional style was fast and ferocious, using his power and anger to unbalance his opponents.
His first such encounter occurred prior to the invasion of Naboo, when he dueled against the captive Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis. Kaitis was captured by the Xrexus Cartel before being rescued by Maul, Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and other bounty hunters so Maul could test his abilities behind his master’s back. While she got the upper hand against him and trapped him under rocks, he eventually emerged victorious.
Maul would not face another Jedi until he was sent to Tatooine to track down Master Qui-Gon Jinn. The two briefly clashed and Jinn escaped to Coruscant, but the two would clash once more on Naboo. This time, Maul faced Jinn and his Padawan learner, Obi-Wan Kenobi. During this duel, he faced the two opponents at once, but later opted to divide and conquer. He killed Jinn in single combat, but was defeated and cut in half by Kenobi, who was promoted to Knight shortly afterward.
Unbeknownst to the Jedi, Maul survived the encounter and spent over a decade going insane, building himself makeshift legs out of junk and scrap metal. His brother, Savage Opress, found him during the Clone Wars and returned him home to Dathomir, where the witch Mother Talzin revived him. His legs were restored and he embarked on a quest for revenge against Kenobi. The two clashed thrice more before he took over Mandalore: once resulting in the now Jedi Master’s retreat, another resulting in Maul’s due to Kenobi’s dismemberment of Opress, and the last seeing Maul’s escape.
Later, after joining forces to take over Mandalore, Maul challenged Pre Vizsla for the leadership of both Death Watch and the planet. A capable warrior, Vizsla made a valiant effort but was eventually defeated, and later decapitated, by Maul with the very Darksaber he used to face the former Sith. Vizsla’s lieutenant, Bo-Katan Kryze, rebelled against Maul and sought aid against him, which led her to Tano, a former Jedi who had also defeated Vizsla and escaped their clutches in the past.
However, Maul’s activities raised a red flag with his former master Darth Sidious, who traveled to Mandalore to deal with his former apprentice personally. Despite joining forces with his brother, Maul was captured and Sidious killed Opress.
After being rescued by Gar Saxon and Rook Kast, Maul engaged General Grievous in combat. As the cyborg general gained the upper hand, Maul was forced to retreat to save his troops. Eventually, he lures Grievous and Dooku into a trap, capturing them both.
Kenobi later joined fellow Jedi Masters Mace Windu, Aayla Secura, and Tiplee on a raid against Maul, where he and the imprisoned Dooku joined forces. During the duel, Maul engages Windu and Secura while Dooku takes Kenobi and Tiplee. Tiplee is killed by Dooku, and the two eventually escape due to help from Saxon.
On Dathomir, Maul and Dooku — who is possessed by Mother Talzin — faces Grievous and Sidious once more, but the duel ends in Mother Talzin’s death and Maul’s retreat to Mandalore.
Exhibit C: The Duel
A fated duel between two outcasts, the Siege of Mandalore provided an opportunity for the Jedi to capture and interrogate Maul about his master — especially given the fact that Dooku was now dead at the hands of Anakin Skywalker. As such, Ahsoka was tasked with her most difficult mission ever: capture Darth Maul.
When she arrived on Mandalore, she and the clones eventually drew out the former Sith apprentice, who was unprepared for his opponent and disappointed that Kenobi did not show up. However, Maul decided to engage the former Jedi and teach her “one last lesson”.
Throughout the duel, Maul has the upper hand as Ahsoka is both out of practice and not as experienced as he is. Notwithstanding, her combat experience, style, and training, prepared her enough to counter his unorthodox style. She is disarmed twice, recovering her weapons only once before losing both later on, but takes advantage of an opening once Maul toys with his prey. She emerges victorious, with Maul in custody.
Ahsoka versus Maul is one of the most exciting duels in the Star Wars franchise. It brings together two of the most popular characters in recent franchise history in an epic clash, and manages to leave both looking their best while allowing for a display of skill and begrudging mutual respect. However, if folks are upset at the outcome, they’re not being fair to either side.
Maul looks cool and has victories against some solid opponents. He also has a poor track record as a closer. Ahsoka, somewhat rusty, held her own but was routinely disarmed. Maul became overconfident and left an opening, which she took advantage of — something that happens both in Star Wars and real life. This plays into both of their characters: Ahsoka is patient and Maul is not, which turns the tide of the battle.