Things are really heating up in the 2014 edition of Middle-earth March Madness with some competitors moving into the second round by the skin of their teeth. Voting for Round 2 is now open at the bottom of this post.
LONELY MOUNTAIN BRACKET
The perfect example is the very first match up in the Lonely Mountain bracket. Elrond squeaked past Smaug by just 1%, while his second round match up in Fingolfin made it past Bombur by just under a 3% differential. So what can we expect from a meeting of two great Elven Lords? Fingolfin became High-King of the Noldor once they arrived in Middle-earth and was a well renowned warrior before he fell to Morgoth. Elrond Half-elven is one of the great Elven Lords and by the time we get to the War of the Ring he holds one of the Elven rings of Power, Vilya, the most powerful of the three Rings. With two such regal Elves going toe to toe, this should be one match up to keep your eye on.
The Lonely Mountain bracket have a few other match ups worthy of taking note of. Treebeard beat Saruman, proving that the March of the Ents and subsequent taking of Isengard was no fluke. The eldest of the Ents will take on Gollum, just about the craftiest survivor in Middle-earth, this will be one unpredictable showdown. Aragorn defeated Melian, an ancestor of his wife Arwen while Bain fell to the Balrog of Moria, which face it, was not a fair fight. Aragorn wanted a chance to face the Balrog when the Fellowship was chased to the Bridge of Khazad-dum, but Gandalf stepped in stating that “this foe is beyond you”, now he gets a second chance to face this foe. The final match up in the bracket is that of Frodo Baggins, who defeated Manwe with a decent margin against Bard the Bowman, who handily dispatch Bill the Pony back to Bree. Will the grim holder of the Black Arrow prevail against the final Ringbearer? Only you can decide the fate of these contestants.
BAG END BRACKET
Most of the first round contests were handily won by those who move into the second round, with the closest match up being that of Radagast defeating Balin by just a 5% differential. But now the Brown Wizard will be facing Galadriel, who easily moved past Beren. What can Brown do against the Lady of the Golden Wood, you must decide. The most fascinating duel will be that of the Black Arrow against Anduril. The Flame of the West quickly dispatched the Spiders of Mirkwood while the Black Arrow made quick work of the Watcher in the Water, but these two mighty weapons head to head should be the most hotly contested match in the Bag End bracket. Thranduil didn’t even break a sweat in moving on past Tom, William and Bert, and his new foe, Gwaihir, easily flew past Barliman Butterbur. Can the Wind Lord outpace the King of the Mirkwood Realm?
Of the contests in the Bag End bracket, the most unpredictable is most likely Bilbo against Glorfindel. Bilbo made it past the Fell Beasts fairly easily, while Glorfindel had a harder time against Kili. Having slain a Balrog, and dying in the process only to be sent back to Middle-earth by the Valar probably aided that. Both Bilbo and Glorfindel were living in Imladris, with Bilbo being a special guest of Elrond and Glorfindel acting as Lord Elrond’s Lieutenant. Gandalf has called him “one of the mighty of the Firstborn, an Elf-lord of a house of Princes”. Thus it was that Elrond sent Glorfindel out to assist Frodo in finding his way into Rivendell because he was strong enough to face the Ringwraiths. And yet, Bilbo has faced Trolls, goblins, won the Ring of Power from Gollum, defeated giant spiders and faced a dragon and lived to tell the tale. This should be an battle of epic proportions, vote wisely.
This bracket is full of darkness with three of the four contests having at least one Dark character. But none is more full of evil intent than Morgoth versus Ancalagon. While Morgoth easily slipped past the Arkenstone in round 1, Ancalagon reduced the Bunny Sled to ashes and now the Master will face his creation. Ancalagon the Black was bred by Morgoth and was considered the largest and mightiest of all the dragons in Middle-earth, and Morgoth began as Melkor, the most powerful of the Ainur before succumbing to darkness. His is a cautionary tale against pride, wrath, envy, lust for power and greed. Will the mightiest of all Fire-drakes be able to defeat the Dark Lord that preceded Sauron who was, in fact, Morgoth’s lieutenant?
After defeating Gothmog, Dain Ironfoot is set to take on The One Ring after it handily defeated Nenya. Can this Heir of Durin resist the lure of the Ring of Power? In the other contest with dark overtones is that of Beorn against the Witch-king of Angmar. Beorn handily survived Glamdring while the Witch-king crushed the Master of Laketown. Glorfindel is the one who made the prophecy that the Witch-king could not be killed by man, but Beorn is not of the Race of Men, should make for an interesting smackdown.
The final contest in the Erebor bracket is that of Thorin, King Under the Mountain, and Boromir, a Son of Gondor. Thorin dismissed Pippin quite easily, while Boromir sent the two Blue Wizards packing, but these two have so much in common that this is set to be a very unpredictable match up. Boromir, the greatest Captain of the Gondorian army during the War of the Ring becomes enthralled by the temptation of the Ring, and betrays Frodo before coming to his senses. He redeems himself with his sacrifice in order to save Merry and Pippin and becomes the last to use and hold the Horn of Gondor. Likewise, Thorin is a mighty warrior and hero among the Dwarves exiled from their home, but his desire to reclaim his kingdom, and the enthrallment with the treasure sees him succumbing to Dragon sickness. His is a last minute realization that there is more to life, and like Boromir, he is redeemed in the eyes of those he values. This is going to be an epic showdown of two of Tolkien’s most flawed heroes, and their fate is now in your hands.
This bracket is a little bit of a wildcard with some much loved characters going head to head, most notable Gandalf versus Luthien. Gandalf simply trounced the Great Goblin, much as he did in Goblintown, while Luthien barely snuck past Gil-Galad. Can Gandalf, holder of Narya, one of the three Elven rings and wielder of the Flame of Arnoth move on past one of the most beloved of Elven Maidens? She is actually Half-Elven, with the other half being Maiar, and yet she fell in love with a mortal man, in turn inspiring countless tales and songs after she chose to become mortal in order to die alongside her husband Beren. Elves to this day still mourn the loss of Luthien, and a few Men as well, such as Aragorn. It was her choice to become mortal that allowed her descendant Arwen to make the same choice. This match up is sure to inspire great debate and will be more unpredictable than the rest in this bracket.
Glaurung defeated Shelob in a battle of monsters in order to face off against Faramir, who surpassed Varda in round 1. With the incorruptible Son of Gondor be able to survive squaring off against the first dragon of Middle-earth? Glaurung may be the first dragon, but he has no wings, where as Faramir will still have to defeat a fire breathing drake. The next contest has Sting, which easily outwitted the Talking Wallet taking on Legolas, who actually got past Sauron. The small, elvish blade of little consequence for the likes of Elves and Men earns a mighty reputation when put into the hands of a Baggins, but is it capable of defeating a princely Elven hunter? The final pairing is that of Samwise Gamgee against Tauriel. She easily handled Saruman’s Palantir, but Samwise the Brave made mince meat out of Azog. Where as Tauriel is the more skilled warrior, it is doubtful she can top Sam’s ability with a skillet and a brace of Coneys.
In the end, it is up to you to decide what befalls all these characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Vote, discuss and share and lets see what surprises Round 2 has in store for us all.
The Lonely Mountain – Round 2
March 21st – March 24th 2014
Bag End – Round 2
March 21st – March 24th 2014
Erebor – Round 2
March 21st – March 24th 2014
Mirkwood – Round 2
March 21st – March 24th 2014
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