In an Extended Contest involving two characters they alernate roles. So after the actor's "attack" is resolved, they switch roles so that the defender becomes the actor and the actor becomes a defender. In an Extended Group Contest, each character gets a go as an actor in descending order of APs (though in the first round, the initiator of the contest will be the first actor).
Therefore it is important to be the first actor as you both get to choose the terms of the contest (and therefore your and their APs) and to have the possibility to take out your opponent before they can respond.
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