Two Israeli teams were crowned champions of the European Universities Debating Championship in Serbia last week after a grueling nine-round tournament against the best debaters from across the continent.

Noam Dahan and Tom Manor of Tel Aviv University were defending champions of last year’s title in the “English as a Second Language” category.

This year, they upped the challenge and competed alongside native English speakers. Despite the language barrier, they won in the competition intended for English speakers, beating out some lead universities, such as University of Cambridge and University of Oxford.

Amichay Even-Chen and Ido Kotler, also from Tel Aviv University, won in the “English as a Second Language” category this year. Even-Chen has been chairman of Tel Aviv University’s debate society for the past year, and has recently been promoted to chairman of the Israeli Debating League. It is the fourth year in a row a Tel Aviv University team has won this title.

The international competition was not all fun and debates, however. The Qatar representatives repeatedly refused to participate in debates in which they were competing against Israel, stating on multiple occasions that they refuse to debate alongside an “apartheid state.”

The tournament, located in Novi Sad, Serbia, took place from July 31 through Saturday.

A total of 187 teams from 30 countries within and surrounding Europe attended the competition. The Israeli Debating League sent 20 teams and 25 adjudicators representing nine universities and academic institutions from all over Israel.

Five Israeli teams reached the final stages of the competition, and the two Tel Aviv teams rose to the top.

Each day, the teams competed in three debates. In each debate, four teams competed. The teams with the best scores at the end of the first three days moved on to the final stage of the competition.