- "He reads from the square of paper in the same onerous voice he used for ours, informing Panem that in honour of the Quarter Quell, there will be twice the number of tributes. "
- ―Katniss, watching the 50th Hunger Games[src]
The arena was described as "the most breathtaking place imaginable." The Cornucopia sat in the middle of a sweet-smelling green meadow, and the sky was azure blue, with fluffy, billowing white clouds. The meadow stretched for miles, and far in the distance there were woods on one side, and a snow-capped mountain on the other, which later turned out to be a volcano that kills most of the Career pack. Everything in the arena was lethally poisonous, including the food growing in the arena, the water in the stream, the butterfly stings, and even the scent of the flowers when inhaled too directly. The only sources of safe food and water in the arena that were not poisonous was the rainwater and the food from the Cornucopia; in the Third Quarter Quell, twenty-five years later, this was reversed, as the Cornucopia provided only weapons and food and water had to be acquired exclusively from the arena itself.
The Games, as usual, started off with a bloodbath at the Cornucopia which killed 18 of the 48 tributes in the Games. Gamemaker traps for these Games included poisonous food, water, plants, animals and a volcano disguised as a mountain, which killed 10 tributes and most of the Career pack. The female from District 1 betrayed her allies and ditched them but then met up with them after the volcano erupted. Haymitch was surrounded by three Career tributes, and while he took out two of them, the third was about to slit his throat when the enemy tribute was shot with a poisonous dart by Haymitch's fellow District 12 tribute, Maysilee Donner. Maysilee had taken a dart blowgun from the Cornucopia and put the darts into the poisonous substances in the arena, thus ensuring the darts would kill.
Haymitch and Maysilee formed an alliance. Haymitch insisted on walking on until he finds the edge of the arena and refuses to tell Maysilee why. They do eventually get there. When the pool of tributes was very low, Maysilee broke up the alliance. At that point, five tributes were left in the arena: Maysilee, Haymitch, the female tribute from District 1, and two unknown tributes.
When they reached the edge of the arena, Haymitch accidentally kicked a pebble into the force field. He was surprised to see it came back. Curious, he threw a larger rock into the force field, which also returned. He laughed at this, having found a way to win the Games.
Shortly after Maysilee broke up the alliance, she was attacked by candy-floss colored pink birds with skewer-like beaks; no doubt muttations. Upon hearing her cries, Haymitch ran to her; but by the time he got there, Maysilee had been skewered through the throat. Haymitch held her hand as she died, and when Katniss sees this, she is reminded of Rue and how she was 'too late to save her as well'.
As the games progressed, one of the last tributes was killed by fluffy golden squirrels, and the other unknown tribute was killed in combat. Later, Haymitch got wounded by the final tribute, the female from District 1. She nearly killed him, giving him a severe wound that caused him to hold his intestines in and drag himself away from her. She had previously lost an eye, requiring that she hold one hand on her empty eye socket to try to stop the blood flow, and an axe in the other, intending to deliver his deathblow. Haymitch defeated her when she threw the axe at him and he collapsed, causing it to rebound off the force field at the edge of the arena and fly back at her, lodging itself in her head and killing her.
Within a matter of minutes, Haymitch remained as the only living tribute left, and became the victor. The Gamemakers did not anticipate that a tribute would think to use the force field as a weapon, and Haymitch clearly outsmarted them. It is later discovered in Mockingjay that two weeks after the games, Haymitch's mother, younger brother, and his girlfriend were all murdered by the Capitol because of the stunt he pulled with the force field.
The murders are most likely a reason why Haymitch started drinking, along with haunting memories of his Games, as well as futilely watching the tributes he mentors alone and watching young boys and girls die each year.
1st - Haymitch Abernathy (victor)
2nd - District 1 female
3rd - Unknown Tribute eaten by fluffy golden carnivorous squirrels
4th - Unknown Tribute killed in combat
5th - Maysilee Donner
6th - 13th Survived the Volcanic Eruption of the snow capped mountain
14th - 30th Died during or prior to the eruption of the snow capped mountain
31st - 48th Died in the initial Cornucopia bloodbath
- Haymitch Abernathy - District 12 (victor)
- Maysilee Donner - District 12
- District 1 female - District 1
- Unknown species of fluffy golden carnivorous squirrels.
- Unknown species of poisonous stinging butterflies.
- Unknown species of candy-pink birds with skewer shaped beaks.
- Several poisonous plants.