Quarter Final time! Only the Elite (or Elegant?) Eight remain in the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth; one final round in the region divisions. Here’s the latest table:

The bracket for Middle-earth March Madness 2021, showing the costumes which have made it into the Elite Eight round.
Round Three 8211 Sweet Sixteen

Let’s take a look at the Round Three results; starting with the Villains this time. The Mouth of Sauron was no match for the Balrog, only managing to muster a third of the vote; and the regular Witchking took 70%, to crush his Twilight self. This means we’ll see the ruler from Angmar taking on the demon of the ancient world in the Quarter Final; and just to prove that there are Balrog cosplays, here’s a brilliant one from a TORn staffer:

TORn staffer Rasputin created an amazing cosplay as a Balrog showgirl - complete with sparkly costume, and horned headdress with red and orange plumes. And what looks like wings...!
Staffer Rasputin looks incredible as a Balrog showgirl

In the Hobbits/Dwarves region, it was tough to see Merry and Pippin go up against each other. Both donned wonderful armour, from the peoples who ‘adopted’ them into their ranks; in the end, it was Pippin’s Gondorian finery which triumphed over Merry’s leather from Rohan. Pippin will now meet Gimli in the Elite Eight; Thorin did manage to gain almost 40% of the vote, but he could not pose any real threat to his fellow dwarf.

In the Elves category, despite starting with no fewer than SIX gorgeous gowns in the contest, Arwen has not made it to the Quarter Final! Her blue and red robe was defeated by Galadriel’s classic Lorien look, whilst Legolas conquered her riding outfit, worn when taking on Glorfindel’s job of rescuing Frodo. Both duels had a roughly 60/40 percentage split. Before we say goodbye to Arwen’s beautiful costumes, here’s a cosplay from fellow fan Nadia, seen here with her boyfriend as Aragorn:

Fan Nadia and her boyfriend are wearing cosplay as Arwen in the blood red and blue dress, and as Aragorn in his leather jerkin.
Nadia and partner as Arwen and Aragorn 8211 with thanks to her Mum for much of the sewing

Last but by no means least, we come to our Humans and Maiar group. Here we settled the question of ‘Is Aragorn better rugged and dirty, or polished and coiffed?’ The clear answer, with 70% of the vote, was rugged; Strider easily vanquished coronation Aragorn. The other battle in this region, however, was the tightest of the Sweet Sixteen. Boromir took on a fully armoured Eomer; and it was difficult to call what the outcome would be. In the end there was just 2% in it; but the rider from Rohan trots into the Elite Eight.

The Quarter Final is open for voting NOW, until 5pm ET on Friday 9th April. These are some very tough choices. Could the Witchking defeat the Balrog? Will you choose Pippin’s soldier of Gondor, or Gimli and his fabulous helm? Is Eomer a match for Strider? And perhaps toughest of all – which blonde and beautiful elf will you pick? (My money is on Galadriel’s stunning costume to go all the way, to be Grand Champion…)

If you have cosplays of any of these remaining characters, don’t forget to share some images with us – on our facebook page, by email to spymaster@theonering.net, or simply by tagging us on Twitter or Instagram, using #middleearthbestdressed. (By sharing your images, you give TheOneRing.net your permission to use them online.)

We’ll be LIVE again for a results show, on Friday 9th, so we hope you’ll join us then – to find out if the costumes you wanted have made it to the Semi Final. The decision is in YOUR hands – VOTE NOW!