|Light Cycle Grid|
|Behind the scenes|
The Light Cycle Grid is a colossal Light Cycle arena dominating the south of Tron City, near the Game Arena. It has a stadium structure surrounding an asymmetrical arena floor. The combat environment of the arena floor is a transparent, multi-layered set of surfaces where riders can move freely on the upper surface, or dive below into a more confined level beneath. Upper and lower levels can be connected by a series of ramps that riders below commonly exploit as jumps to surprise riders above. The transparency of all levels ensures that all riders above and below are visible to each other at all times.
The stadium seating on the periphery of the arena provides live viewing positions for thousands and the spectators are screened from the arena floor by a sturdy clear shield capable of withstanding the full force of a light cycle impact without breaching. They are kept updated on the status of riders by way of an illuminated score board that displays the names of riders who are still alive.
The Arena was still under construction when Kevin Flynn, discussing an aspect of one of its blueprints with Clu, happened to look away into the Outlands and observe the approach of some of the first ISOs to appear on the Grid. While the Games held in the Arena were light-hearted and nonlethal at first, Tron, the long-time champion, one day discovered guards below the Arena preparing to derezz a program who had lost a game. Tron intervened, and confronted Clu with the incident, protesting that killing the losers wasn't what the Games were for. Clu outwardly relented, but the incident continued to trouble Tron.
Once Clu took control of the Grid, the Games were reinstated as a form of gladitorial punishment for dissidents and strays. Even with the Grid's population decreasing, the Arena continued to draw large crowds to cheer wildly as Clu's champions mowed down hapless conscripts on the Light Cycle Grid. In capturing Kevin's son Sam in 2010, Clu acquired an unexpected yet fortuitous prisoner with whom to bait the trap he had set for Flynn, and he assigned the young man to participate in a lethal Light Cycle game to draw out his old foe. To further his goal, he made the competition even more publicly visible by personally competing in the match himself; fireworks and an ominous speech by Jarvis highlighted the spectacle as something more than the usual light cycle match.
The game faced two teams against each other; Clu and four Sentries against Sam and a quartet of inexperienced conscripts. Only one of the conscripts, a stocky mustached program, initially fought back by attempting to ram Clu's light cycle with his own, but Clu knocked him out and put his throttle on full, sending him into a fatal crash against the Arena's wall. Clu's team quickly began to whittle down the ranks of Sam's team until the young man rallied his one remaining teammate to combine efforts and turn the tide. Ultimately, though, the last of the other competitors on both teams teams were systematically derezzed until only Clu and Sam remained. Clu, who had been cheating the whole time by using his disc during the combat while the other competitors' discs were locked to their backs, was about to deliver the final blow when an unauthorized competitor broke into the Light Cycle Grid in a Light Runner and rescued Sam.
The Light Runner, while slower than Light Cycles, was also far more heavily armed and quickly dispatched most of the fresh riders summoned to deal with the intrusion. The masked driver was then able to breach an outer wall of the Light Cycle Grid and escape with Sam, leaving Rinzler, who had attempted to pursue them, balked at the lip of the breach where it overlooked the Outlands.
Four of the combatants' names, visible on the tall scoreboard overlooking the arena, appear to pay tribute to notable real-world computer scientists; the names of the four on Clu's team all appear to read "Sentry." The team members were also identified by numbers imprinted on the front of their helmets and the back of one boot. The inconsistent presentation of these names prevents them from being used to document the competitors as minor characters.
According to the scoreboard and the numbers on their helmets, the roster of Sam's light cycle team was as follows:
- Combatant 1 (credited as "Young Man On Recognizer"): Vint, named after Vinton Gray "Vint" Cerf, an American computer scientist recognized as one of "the fathers of the Internet."
- Combatant 2: Raskin, named after Jef Raskin, an American human–computer interface expert best known for starting the Macintosh project for Apple in the late 1970s.
- Combatant 3: Sam Flynn.
- Combatant 4 (the program who attempted to ram Clu): Wilkes, named after Mary Allen Wilkes, a former computer programmer and hardware engineer, most known for her work with the LINC computer.
- Combatant 5: Cerf, also named after Vinton Cerf.