Tonight the channel descends on east London to watch 18 brave combatants duke it out at the fourth annual CRN Fight Night.
Over the past few weeks, anyone following the progress of our fighters might have been surprised to see the usually mild-mannered salesmen of the channel finding untapped reserves of swagger and bravado. But it's worth remembering that explosive dust-ups are far from unheard of in the IT industry.
Whether in the boxing ring, the courtroom or the press, figures and companies across the tech sector have a long and turbulent history of conflict. To celebrate tonight's event, we round up the five most bruising battles in channel history.
We have taken care to select what we think are the real heavyweight contenders, but if we've missed your personal favourite, leave a comment below.
5. Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates
In truth, this fight has always been a lot more bark than bite. But, although it has been friendly, the 30-year rivalry between these two and their companies has always been intense.
Microsoft trailed Apple by almost two years in hitting the market with a graphical user interface. But, by the time Windows was released in November 1985, Steve Jobs had already been ousted from Apple after a boardroom barney. The following decade saw Gates build his company into one of world's biggest, as he became one of the world's wealthiest people.
But after Jobs was reappointed as CEO in 1997, Apple came out swinging and has enjoyed massive sales figures and consumer devotion with devices such as the iPad, iPod and iPhone. Jobs has also been known to dig at his rival with the odd pithy barb. He once suggested Gates might have benefited from experimenting with hallucinogens in his youth. He has also accused Microsoft of making "really third-rate products".
Verdict: One of these men became the richest man in the world, the other the coolest man in IT (a crowded field, I know). I know which of those two things I'd rather be.
4. HMRC vs mobile traders
Over the past 10 years, numerous mobile traders have been caught up in tax wrangles with HMRC, many concerning withheld VAT repayments of millions of pounds. A number of these traders have hit the wall, and hundreds more remain locked in ongoing courtroom disputes.
Many traders have accused HMRC of inflexibility and incompetence. But the taxman has always pursued his extended verification policy systematically and doggedly.
One of the channel's longest-running VAT sagas has seen traders Calltel Telecom, Opto Telelinks, Blue Sphere Global and Mobilx (now in administration) fight HMRC across the courts for several years. The case rumbles on, and may ultimately end up in European Court of Justice.
Verdict: Even those who have won victories against HMRC have first gone through years of expensive and time-consuming legal battles. Many have perished after getting entangled in a VAT dispute. It seems the old maxim about death and taxes holds true here.
3. Intel vs AMD
Sticking with the courtroom theme, legal altercations don't come much bigger or more costly than the four-year antitrust standoff between Intel and rival AMD.
In 2005 the latter accused the former of abusing its position of power and engaging in underhand competitive practices. After much back and forth, and an eye-watering amount spent on solicitors' fees, a court date was finally set for early 2010.
But, just three months beforehand, the rivals announced that they had settled everything out of court for the princely sum of $1.25bn (£765m).
A joint statement admitted: "The relationship between the two companies has been difficult in the past."
Verdict: Intel may still be streets ahead in the chip market, but AMD landed a hefty body blow here.
2. The software industry vs piracy
Organisations such as the BSA have been fighting the looming spectre of piracy very loudly and very publicly for years. For obvious reasons, the pirates have been somewhat less vocal in putting forward their side of the argument.
But for all the bluster, the UK piracy rate has barely moved an inch in five years. The perennial 27 per cent figure briefly dipped to 26 per cent in 2007, but normality returned the following year.
Figures for 2010 were released earlier this month – no prizes for guessing what percentage of UK PCs remain unlicensed.
Verdict: Given that neither side has gained a single millimetre of ground in the past five years, it seems a bit unfair to call a winner. That said, after so much bald aggression and fierce rhetoric, surely the BSA must get disheartened by its lack of progress.
1. Larry Ellison vs everyone
Where to begin? Larry's most recent public feud – with HP – is the latest in a line of blockbuster bust-ups. In a ferocious, and highly entertaining, war of words, the Oracle bigwig recently called HP's technology "slow and expensive". HP is also suing former CEO Mark Hurd and Asian sales chief Adrian Jones over their recent appointments at Oracle.
Before HP, Ellison's sparring partner of choice was SAP. Oracle won a record $1.3bn damages claim against the German software house last year.
And before that came PeopleSoft, which Oracle acquired in a $10.3bn hostile takeover in 2005, following a two-year legal tussle. Other legal battles with former staff (the reasons for which we won't go into in a family publication) have also taken place over the years
Verdict: With a reported worth of $40bn and a yearly salary of $70m, it would be tricky to accuse Larry of being a loser. After several decades of conflict, Ellison remains pretty much unscathed, and is one of IT's biggest forces of nature. Let's face it, you wouldn't mess.
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