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The 10th Annual Hunger Games, explained

Suzanne Collins' prequel tale takes place during the 10th Hunger Games, so we've broken down the Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' main event.

The 10th Annual Hunger Games explained: Viola Davis as Dr. Gaul

You might think you know everything there is to know about Panem’s bloodthirsty tradition. But in the early days, things were very different. In the new prequel movie, we’re taken on a journey through history to watch a young Coriolanus Snow navigate the 10th Annual Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes has a lot of the same elements you’re used to in this teen movie series. Politics, a dystopian society, kids…killing each other. But other than that, it’s a different world, and we’re here to explain everything you need to know about these early Games featured in the new movie. (Spoilers ahead for both the movie and the book!)

The 10th Annual Hunger Games explained

The 10th Annual Hunger Games marked a decade since the Games began, and was significant because it was the first time the Gamemakers allowed mentors to assist the tributes from the districts.

The mentors were made up of the best students from the Capitol’s Academy, who were ultimately competing for a cash sum known as The Plinth Prize. For someone like Snow, who was secretly hiding his poverty from his classmates, this money would be life-changing, and would allow him to go to university.

At the time of the 10th Hunger Games, it was said that audiences weren’t watching as much and losing interest. As such, the Academy wanted the mentors to assist in making that year’s Games as entertaining as possible by convincing their tributes to become more watchable.

The Head Gamemaker for the 10th Hunger Games was Volumnia Gaul, a professor at the Academy. She had a great talent when it came to creating and designing Mutts, and looked at the Games with a playful, sadistic eye. Gaul took an interest in Snow, and asked him to develop ideas for the Games after he pitched the concept of a betting system.

Allowing Capitol citizens to bet on the Games was an idea that would actually be taken onboard after the 10th Hunger Games, and became a long-lasting and celebrated element of the horrific ordeal.

Another piece of Games history was created during this particular year: sponsor donations. This was an idea that would continue throughout the Games, and allowed rich sponsors within the Capitol to donate prizes (such as water, medicine, and supplies) to their selected tributes while they were in the arena. During the 10th Games, the drones used weren’t quite developed correctly yet, and would often crash.

The 10th Hunger Games arena explained

The 10th Hunger Games took place in the abandoned Capitol Arena, which was originally used to host sporting events before the war.

After various bombings and destruction during the war (also known as the Dark Days), the arena was never opened back up to the public. Instead, it was used from the first Games onward until the Gamemakers eventually decided to design fully-equipped and complex arenas that changed every year.

All in all, the 10th Hunger Games were not as advanced as later years, since the city was still recovering from the Dark Days. This meant that the tributes would simply enter the arena to find a pile of weapons in the center. These Games often ended a lot quicker than later years, since the arena was smaller and there was nowhere to hide.

During a mentor-tribute tour of the arena before the 10th Games, an explosion went off, killing several of the mentors and tributes inside. It was later revealed that it was a rebel bombing, which had been an attempt to stop the Games.

Because of this, the arena became even more damaged, and the bomb had exposed hidden tunnels and structures that allowed the tributes to hide. As a result, the Game ended up going on for days instead of hours.

The 10th Hunger Games tributes

With the 10th Hunger Games taking place so early in Panem history, the tributes were weak and unprepared, with a handful dying before the Game even began.

This was before the days of ‘Career Tributes’, wherein districts would train up some of their youth to give them a fighting chance in the Games and bring honor to their districts. For this round, as previously mentioned, a lot of the tributes were killed prior to the Games, so it was a pretty weak batch, overall.

Here are all the tributes of the 10th Hunger Games:

  • District 1: Facet/Velvereen
  • District 2: Marcus/Sabyn
  • District 3: Circ/Teslee
  • District 4: Mizzen/Coral
  • District 5: Hy/Sol
  • District 6: Otto/Ginnee
  • District 7: Treech/Lamina
  • District 8: Bobbin/Wovey
  • District 9: Panlo/Sheaf
  • District 10: Tanner/Brandy
  • District 11: Reaper/Dill
  • District 12: Jessup/Lucy Gray

Who won the 10th Hunger Games?

The victor of the 10th Annual Hunger Games was Lucy Gray Baird, the tribute from District 12 who was mentored by Coriolanus Snow himself.

Lucy Gray Baird wasn’t technically from 12. In fact, she was part of a group of traveling musicians known as the Covey. They’d been captured by Peacekeepers and held at 12, essentially making them residents.

Although she was small and not particularly strong, Lucy Gray was smart and won the public’s affection with her beautiful singing and colorful personality. Because of this, she got plenty of sponsors which allowed Snow to send her supplies whenever she needed.

Before the Games, Snow gives Lucy his mother’s old compact mirror, where he’d swapped out the powder for rat poison. Using the poison, she manages to kill a handful of tributes.

However, the reason she wins is due to Snow’s meddling in other areas. One of the Mutts Gaul had designed for the 10th Hunger Games was a collection of rainbow-colored and incredibly poisonous snakes.

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The snakes wouldn’t bite someone if they were familiar with their scent, so before they were moved into the arena, Snow sneaked into her lab and planted a handkerchief Lucy Gray had used in order to plant her smell.

When the snakes were released into the arena, all the remaining tributes were killed apart from Lucy Gray, who sat with the calm snakes and sang to them. Finally, the Game was called to an end, and Lucy Gray claimed the title of victor.

For more on the newest installment, check out our A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes review, our interview with director Francis Lawrence, and familiarize yourself with The Hunger Games movies in order. If that’s not enough, check out our list of the Hunger Games cast, and see if any of them star in our picks for the best movies of all time.