Interesting comment below:
"Five years ago it was rare to see even top-level fencers pull off complex historical techniques in a tournament setting and the winners were generally natural gifted athletes, whereas these days not only is it common to see good technique at all levels of a tournament, but people lacking in technical expertise (or athleticism, you need both) generally don’t even make it into the bracket of a large tournament. A lot of semifinal and final matches end up looking almost like exhibition matches, the level of technique is so high. Top fencers five years ago would be considered average at best by today’s standards. The human instinct to excel in competition has caused people to train harder, the opportunity to pressure-test against people outside their club has resulted in stronger and more mechanically-sound interpretations, and the constant criticism from the anti-tournament crowd has made top competitors feel they have to constantly prove that they’re martial artists as well as sportsmen, which has resulted in a lot of impressive discoveries and advancement."
Michael Chidester, HEMA Alliance forum
Certainly that summarises my limited experience of tournaments prior to five years ago (when I conveniently emigrated) and it's heartening to hear the opinion that this is no longer the case.
Now, here's an interesting website to go with the above: http://novafechtbuch.com/ and when I have a free evening I intend to put Mr Chidester's assertion to the test and see if the standard of tournaments has improved :)