And like that, the numbers are halved. Just 32 made it through – which costumes are still in, for Round Two of the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth? Here’s how the bracket looks now:

The Round Two bracket for Middle-earth March Madness 2021.

Let’s take a look at some of the battles of Round One. In the Human/Maiar category, the easiest win went to Aragorn’s ‘hero’ Strider costume, which defeated Beorn with 88% of the vote – fellow fan Pavel will be pleased with this victory, as he has a wonderful Strider cosplay (see below). That one is perhaps not surprising; but there are some astonishing results in this region. Four of Eowyn’s costumes started in this region; but only her coronation gown has made it through, defeating Gandalf the Grey’s robe in a very tight battle (51% to 49%). And in one of the biggest upsets of the first round, 16th seed Theoden triumphed over number one seed Saruman; the white wizard could only muster 39% of the vote! The King of Rohan finds himself up against his nephew Eomer in Round Two; show us your Rohan cosplays!

Fan Pavel in a cosplay he made, as Aragorn aka Strider. We see him in a woodland setting, wearing an incredibly detailed costume, including grey boots.
Fan Pavel as Strider

The Villain region saw the Mouth of Sauron easily take out Grima Wormtongue (68% to 32%); and even Sauron himself was no match for the Balrog, which took a little over half the vote in that pairing. Many may be surprised to learn that Gollum’s tiny loin cloth did manage to gain 44% of votes – but ultimately the Steward of Gondor won that particular fight. The Witchking, in both his styles, and all his wraiths, are also sticking around for Round Two.

In amongst the Hobbits/Dwarves, Wild Card Bard the Bowman (who replaced Dwarf Women before the contest even began) won his duel with Thrain; he’ll face Gimli (who conquered Sam, taking 54%) in Round Two. How far can the Wild Card go? Does anyone have a Bard cosplay to share with us?

Merry also took 54% of the vote in his contest, to defeat Frodo – he must have been aided by his Rohan armour. Bilbo’s dressing gown made it through – but not by as big a margin as one might have expected, with Kili managing to muster over a third of the vote in that pairing. Pippin, meanwhile, dressed as a soldier of Gondor, found his courage and crushed Bofur, receiving 88% of votes.

The match ups in the Elves category were perhaps not quite as close as one might have expected. Of the many beautiful Arwen costumes featured, two have fallen. Thranduil swept away her dream dress (61% to 39%), but a surprise victory of a slightly wider margin (62% to 38%) went to Haldir, over Arwen’s blue dress worn as she journeyed to (and turned back from) the Grey Havens. The closest fight in the entire first round was between Arwen and her father; the contest was almost 50/50, with just eleven votes deciding that Arwen’s riding outfit, worn as she rescued Frodo, should proceed to Round Two. Elrond also lost out to his mother-in-law; Galadriel’s Lorien robe progresses to the next round. Here’s fellow fan Mindy Madsen in her Galadriel cosplay:

Fan Mindy in a gorgeous Galadriel costume she made. She is standing in a wooded clearing, looking like she's in Lothlorien!
Fan Mindy Madsen as Galadriel

You now have until 5pm PT on Saturday 3rd April to vote in Round Two! Not happy with some of the results of Round One? Rally the troops and VOTE! Don’t forget, we’re keen to see your cosplays of these outfits; you can share your images on our facebook page, you can email them to, or you can simply tag us on Twitter or Instagram, and use #middleearthbestdressed. (By sharing your images, you give your permission to use them online.)

Which Ranger will be triumphant – Arargorn or Faramir? Can the Witchking defeat the rest of the Ringwraiths? Is Bilbo’s dressing gown a match for Gondorian armour? Can Legolas defeat his father? Will Haldir conquer Arwen again? YOU decide!

We’ll have a LIVE discussion of the Round Two battles, and the emerging match ups for Round Three, on Saturday 3rd April. Join us then! And meanwhile, once more unto the breach, dear friends – vote now!