Varian for sure. Garrosh is just all muscles no brain.
Of course Varian. As always: speed+agilty>strength+muscles
While both are very powerful warriors, Varian is both more experienced and a "less bad" leader - in my opinion, at least.
Horde is really divided at the moment, with forsaken and blood elves leaning to their own pact - while trolls and taurens are HATING garrosh and his horde at the moment.
So if a true "to the death" war happened, orcs would probably be abandoned by their allies - and defeated.
Varian. Garrosh has strength and that's it. Even without the powerup, Varian would win (fairly easily I'd say) since he's a veteran of fighting and has much more experience. Whereas Garrosh has pretty much nothing at all. To have Garrosh match Varian is bad storytelling, imo.
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A list of people stronger than Garrosh, in no specific order:
Sylvanas (undead :P)
Shang Xi (dead-ish)
Not talking about the usual stuff, lets look at the childhood of both characters. They are both at the same age, around late 30s, so they had the same time to develop their skills.
Or did they? This is where Varian shines. While Garrosh was a sick kid at Garadar, Varian was trained by the best warrior of Azeroth, Anduin Lothar. When Stormwind fell, Garrosh was still a sick kid at Garadar and Varian was turning his new-gained rage into daily training (he kicked Arthas' skinny ass). He has been a warrior-king since he was 13-14 years old.
Garrosh doesn't stand as chance against this background, all he has is the Hellscream's natural strenght.
The thing that the Horde and mainly the Orcs don't understand (the same thing that Thrall tried to teach them) is that they are guests in Azeroth and should behave rightfully. Thrall chose Durotar in order for the Orcs to repend for their past actions. Garrosh wanted resources for the Horde but he has chosen the wrong way to obtain them. You can't go into someoene elses house and demand his resources. Garrosh is fighting a war he simply cannot win. This whole Villain Garrosh was a matter of time to happen.
Heh, I love those threads. Everybody keeps saying "omg, this again?", and yet there is a debate. A debate that has no real sense whatsoever, since when it will be resolved, it won't be about any of the fighters skills/experiance/preparation, but about what Blizzard wants to do with the story.
But I'll join, why not. Garrosh would win. Of course he could have problems when Varian would use Power of the Manga, but still. Both Varian and Garrosh are very experianced in fighting, since thats pretty much what they do. Both of them have a quite good tactical mind - whatever you say about Garry, his plan of annihilating the living shit out of Theramore was smart. And they both are very proficient in 1 on 1 combat. That said, Garrosh has physical upper hand in this one. He is an orc: he's nearly 1.5 times bigger than Varian, he is very resilient and his skin... well, you need to work for it to cut it. Besides, Garrosh, with his bloodthirsty attitude might demoralize Varian, who is a more calm and stoic fighter.
The Spirit of Manga in Varian might be a problem tho. The wolf thing gives him amazing stamina and strengh, boosting his physical powers probably to Garroshes. Or maybe to supermans, who knows, it's manga. With good tactical mind Varian might choose to trick his opponent to think he is fairly weak, and then suprise him. I doubt that a bit, since Varian vs Garrosh would be the ultimate cock fight, so both fighters would just go all in.
The last thing is the choice of weapons - and Garrosh wins here as well for me. Even tho Varians sword is powerfull, it won't suprise Garrosh, who is a skilled fighter as well. He won't let himself be impaled on this thing. And when it would come to clash of Gorehowl and Shalamayne, well... Varians weapon may be as magical as you wish, but wouldn't give much defense against a 2 meter long battleaxe wielded by a monstrously strong Garrosh. Even Varians ultimate stamina or something wouldnt let him parry such a blow.
So I guess the winner would be Garrosh. And to be honest, I'd love Screwattack to make a Death Battle with those fighters.
I hate Varian almost as much as I do Garrosh, (filthy retconned bastard, WE killed Onyxia not Mr. Elf Hair!) But the point still stands, Varian has a lot more combat experience. Sure, Blizz could easily change it (as they often do) to make it were Garrosh could hold his own. But as it stands, his natural orc strength wouldn't bring him very far. Also, as cool as Gorehowl is, I think it's just a normal ax, where Varian has a magical elven sword.
I AM the world's first Shadow Mage.
To be honest, I try to imagine how this fight would work out in real life. You know, two fighters in cage. In one corner, a muscle guy. Let's say Nathan Jones, but much more bulky and hardcore. A freakishly strong fighter, able to lift his opponents over his head and smash them to the ground, able to resist even powerfull blows, who screams and shouts all the damn time. In another corner, a professional mma fighter, like Anderson Silva. A guy who knows how to exploit the opponents weak points, how to tire him out, how to use his strengh against him - but his blows may be just tickling the opponent. Would a professional champion be able to win agains inhuman, brutal strengh?
Well, to be honest, I would love to see such a fight. Not like the bullshit in Jet Li movies, real life stuff.
I think it all depends on blizzards flavor of the month. When they decided to have Garrosh challenge Thrall before northrend campaign, garrosh was beating Thrall but then I believe the comic retconned that. My personal opinion is that they wanted to make an Orc come along to make the horde feel like its old self and they wanted the quintessential Orc warchief. They made the son of a very popular Orc leader that the majority of fans love and then threw him into the seat of power. But when it didn't catch on how blizz wanted then they decided to take him down a path that really makes zero sense if you read his quests in nagrand.
Garrosh destroyed Northwatch and Theramore. Varian had to take his fleet crying back to Stormwind after being rescued by Jaina.
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I'm convinced Garrosh got a lot more action in Northrend than what we see in the game.
He got those horns and bones on his shoulders from something he killed. Maybe one of those giant yeti creatures.
And Garrosh shows up in Icecrown Citadel, so we're probably meant to believe Garrosh has been assisting in the advance so far.
At least, that's my take on things. It can't be that he just sat in Warsong Hold all that time, only giving orders. He's not like that, he wants to be on the battlefield himself. We see that in the Twilight Highlands intro.
So yeah, I think Garrosh actually has lots of experience.
Garrosh is a warrior and Varian är a leader there is a quite big difference here. Garrosh doesnt seem to have empathy or conscience and is by that a more dangerous enemy. Rabit dog type of foe. I'm quite sure Varian would win any tactical battle easily but Garrosh is sneaky and probably wont play by any rules.
It doesn't matter. We all know Garrosh is going to lose, and all we can hope is that he takes Varian down with him and the factions can get some decent leaders again.