Round One of Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages is done! With around 9,000 votes placed, there were some closely fought match ups, and some easy victories.
Round Two voting is open until the end of the day Sunday 27 March. Below is the updated bracket, and the buttons for voting.
How does it work, you ask? Simple! Click on one of the orange division buttons below. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year you get to vote in each divisional match-up in one convenient and visual interface. Note – you need to click each division to vote in their respective brackets. So let’s get voting!
Let’s take a look at the contests we saw in Round One…
The Pre-First Age Bracket
Unsurprisingly, the creation of Arda by Eru Ilúvatar proved to be the most dominant event for the prehistory bracket, overwhelming the original Two Lamps “let there be light” moment in the Legendarium with more than 75% of the vote. The awakening of the Elves in Cuiviénen proved similarly commanding, disappointing Ent-lovers everywhere with a winning margin of more than 500 votes.
Given a chronological approach to the contests, the Pre-First Age bracket featured a battle of titans: the destruction of the Two Trees versus Fëanor’s creation of the three Silmarils, with the Great Jewels prevailing. There’s another reason for taking up a copy of The Silmarillion here on March 25th, the official Tolkien Reading Day!
There was good news and bad news for the dwarven-inclined, with their creation by Aulë in YT 1001 stumbling badly when facing the creation of the Two Trees by his wife Yavanna in YT 1. Still, Durin the Deathless’ founding of Khazad-dûm eked out a win by roughly 50 votes over Lúthien herself, something even Morgoth had failed to accomplish. Other victors in this bracket included the mighty Tulkas wrapping up Morgoth in the unbreakable chain, Angainor; the first Elven Kinslaying at Alqualondë; and the creation of the Sun and Moon that ushered in the First Age.
Lots of creation stories have moved on for round two in our first bracket, including Arda, the Two Trees, and the Elves. One match to highlight: those resilient dwarves in Moria now face feisty Fëanor and his problematic Silmarils. May the best dwarf/elf win!
The First Age Bracket
War and conflict dominated the First Age of Middle-earth generally, and this martial spirit was evident with the early victors in this bracket. The Fall of Gondolin, the War of Wrath, and Morgoth’s ultimate defeat and casting into the Void all prevailed over their more hopeful or romance-oriented competitors: Túrin slaying Glaurung, the marriage of Eärendil & Elwing, and the raising of Númenor’s island home.
In the clearest rout of the bracket, voters favored the mano-á-Valar contest between Fingolfin and Morgoth by a nearly 75/25% margin over the precursor “Battle of Sudden Flame”, the Dagor Bragollach. Another anti-Morgoth matchup saw Beren’s and Lúthien’s successful heist of a Silmaril prevail over their original “love at first site” moment in the woods of Doriath.
The First Age also saw some other hopeful victors, including the construction of Gondolin, and the Alliance of the Elven Kindreds to counter Morgoth’s threat at the very beginning of the Age. Still, the Doom of Mandos will linger into Round Two, with the “Battle of Unnumbered Tears”, the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, proving more than a match for Glaurung and his Nargathrond excursion. A featured contest in Round Two, and very tough one to choose, pits the Fingolfin/Morgoth combat against the dynamic Beren/Lúthien duo trying to hightail it out of Angband. Either way, the First Age Dark Lord isn’t escaping unscathed.
The Second Age Bracket
There’s a good reason why Amazon chose to name their new series after the after The Rings of Power. Second Age event entrants included several ring-centered sagas, with most passing easily on to Round Two (unless, of course, they were pitted against themselves). The One Ring forging overwhelmed Narya, Vilya, and Nenya with nearly 75% of the vote; and Celebrimbor’s forging of the other 16 rings completely dominated the construction of Barad-dûr with a 90/10% margin.
Countering these Sauron shenanigans, Elrond’s establishment of Rivendell, along with the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, also saw commanding victories with more than 80% of the vote tally over their challengers. The power of Imladris proved yet again to be more than a match for the opposing Ringwraiths, who fell by a flood of nearly 700 votes.
Downfalls were upwardly mobile in this first round, as well, with Ar-Pharazôn’s, Sauron’s, and Númenor’s demise all making it into the top 32 event. And yet another dwarf favorite fell, with the move of Men to Númenor proving more than a match for the emigration of Durin’s folk to bolster the Dwarrowdelf population.
Coming up in Round Two of the Second Age, a match to watch: can Elrond’s Imladris stand up to the One Ring forging? Or will he need to find a friendly Hobbit first?
The Third Age Bracket
Back in familiar Middle-earth timeline territory, everybody seems to like their Wizards, with the Istari arrival crushing Isildur’s clumsiness in holding on to his new shiny heirloom, with more than 75% of the vote. Nearly as dominant were Bilbo’s discovery of the Ring, besting the arrival of Smaug in Erebor; and the Council of Elrond, which overcame Smaug’s demise at the hands of Bard. Our favorite Golden Urulóki just can’t catch a break.
For many fans, two of our matchups saw some extraordinarily challenging choices. But as soul-stirring as Éowyn’s victory was over the Witch King, or the Last March of the Ents in their assault on Isengard, both were up against even tougher competition. The intrepid Ents fell to the even larger charge of the Rohirrim over the Pelennor Fields, and our favorite shieldmaiden could not overcome one of the Third Age’s most iconic moments, the destruction of the One Ring itself.
Our final Third Age victors included the Founding of the Shire, the Forming of the Fellowship, and the Return of the King in his nearly-Fourth Age coronation. The wise Council of Elrond also made it into Round Two; but now faces Bilbo’s finding of the One Ring.
And so Round Two begins. Is the One Ring’s Destruction Final Four material? Or could we see an upset through the newly crowned House Telcontar, as Aragorn leads us into the next Age? Can the Last Alliance hold out against Isildur taking the Ring? Only your votes can decide! Don’t forget, our ‘Middle-earth History’ primers’ are here to guide you: click for Pre-First Age, First Age, and Second Age. And then use the buttons above to cast your votes!