MORIA — TheOneRing.net’s selection committee has been hard at work, delving too deep into lore and frivolous fandom to bring you
the third? another edition of Middle-earth Madness! The top seeds in each bracket are predictable and Hobbit-book-centric, with fan favorites Thorin, Bilbo, Gandalf and Smaug each holding the top spot in their respective brackets. Smaug anchors the LONELY MOUNTAIN bracket, Bilbo is at home in BAG END, while Thorin heads EREBOR and everybody’s (most everybody’s) favorite wizard and 2013 champion lands in MIRKWOOD. (Don’t expect it to all make sense, we are after all voting for fictional characters based on no specific criteria in a bracket format made popular by NCAA basketball in the 20th Century. Just go with it.)
Smaug is a repeat one seed but in the 2013 version of the contest, the other tops spots were The One Ring, Balin (who lost his opening round match with Pippin, a sixteen seed, by .05 percent) and Galadriel. In 2012, with a smaller field, Gandalf and Bilbo were top seeds along with Legolas and Glorfindel. The first winner was Sam in 2012 with Gandalf snagging the Maiar community a trophy in 2013. Can the wizard be stopped in 2014?
New to the bracket is Tauriel, the elf maiden entirely made up by filmmaker Peter Jackson’s writing team. The bad-muther elf has the potential to face Gandalf in the Mirkwood bracket if they each win their first four contests. Tauriel must first fend off Saruman’s Palantir. Thranduil, Beorn and Bard are the other second seeds and each seems just fabulous enough to be real contenders. Bard, in the same bracket as Smaug, just might be in the right place to pull an upset. Meanwhile his Black Arrow faces the Watcher In The Water in the Bag End bracket. Another object making its first appearances and likely offending purists and bracketologists alike, is the Bunny Sled. In a tough matchup, it must face Angcalagon, known as “The Black” and the greatest of all winged dragons from Middle-earth’s first age. He was likely the largest dragon that ever graced Middle-earth and could likely use Smaug as a toothpick, but could be erased by a sled – pulled by rabbits.
The Erebor branch of the bracket is filled with dark creatures and objects including rings and The Arkenstone. Once a champion, Sam is now a #10 seed and faces Azog. But the white CGI movie Azog or the vengeful creature from the LOTR appendicies? Only voters can decide who will prevail. If Samwise can down Azog (he was a ring-bearer after all) he may prove Tauriel’s undoing in the second round. Beren (a symbol for J.R.R. Tolkien himself) and Luthein (the author’s wife Edith) each made the field and are always a tough out.
Be sure to follow the complete bracket to see which imaginary character gets an imaginary mithril shirt engraved with MIDDLE-EARTH MADNESS across the chest.