It seems like Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages has only just begun, and already we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen round! To make it to Round Three, the events in our four brackets have had to win two duels thus far.

12,000 folks voted in Round Two; we’ll take a look at how those match ups played out, below.

Round Three Sweet Sixteen voting is open now until the end of the day Tuesday 29 March. Below is the updated bracket, and the buttons for voting.

Instructions: Click on one of the orange division buttons above. 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!

Here’s a look back at the Round Two contests, from staffer Madeye Gamgee:

We’ve had one round, yes… what about Second Round?! The Battle of the Ages, the Middle-earth March Madness for 2022, has delivered its sixteen sweetest spots across the grand timeline of Arda and Middle-earth, stretching from the Dawn of Time to the end of the Third Age with the sailing into the West of the remaining Rings of Power.

Sixteen mighty moments have emerged to challenge for title of the Ultimate Event in the Tolkien Legendarium. Whether you like Creation, Consolation, or even Catastrophe, there are still competitors in the mix that will fit your fancy. Unless you like Dwarves. They’re kind of like the Big 10 of this year’s tournament.

The Pre-First Age Bracket

Unsurprisingly, Eru Ilúvatar has remained a dominant competitor in the field. Whether it’s in his creation of Arda in general, or the awakening of his Children – Elves and Men – it’s looking like Ilúvatar’s “invisible hand” is making a strong case for a finals appearance this year. The Creation of the Two Trees and Melkor’s Chaining both fell by large margins, with less than a third of the respective votes in their matchups. The first Elven Kinslaying put up a stiffer fight, with nearly 45% of the vote, but ultimately failed to overcome that newly rising Sun.

Still, possibly the strongest remaining contender in this bracket continues to be our friend Fëanor and his Creation of the Silmarils. The Great Realm of Durin the Deathless had a core of committed voters, but was ultimately overwhelmed by the Great Jewels by a 3:1 margin.

Next up, it’s Eru-on-Eru action, pitting the creation of Arda against the awakening of the Elves; and in Game Two, the lights of the Sun versus Eärendil’s Silmarillion Star. Will we see a creation battle involving Ilúvatar’s two Children in the regional final; or will the Silmarils keep burning through the competition?

Eru awakens the Elves by Ted Nasmith

The First Age Bracket

Of Tolkien’s three great First Age sagas – The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin – events from two have survived to reach the round of sixteen. Both Gondolin’s rise and fall have advanced, with its construction overcoming the First Elven Alliance with nearly two thirds of the vote, and its downfall commanding an even larger victory over the unfortunate Battle of Unnumbered Tears, the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. Lúthien and Beren’s successful, if short-lived, rescue of a Silmaril also advanced, favored by more than 60% of voters versus the heroically ill-advised death match between Fingolfin and Morgoth.

In the closest matchup in the First Age region, the avenging assembly of Valar, Elves, Men, and Dwarves in the War of Wrath squeaked by Morgoth’s subsequent banishment into the outer Void with less than 55% of the vote. And just when you thought Ancalagon the Black was going to tip the scales…

Round Three is really anybody’s game, with four strong competitors in the bracket. The Rise of Gondolin will square off against the heroics of Beren and Lúthien; and we’ll see whether voters like their War on the grand scale of all of Beleriand, or in a furiously focused combat that ultimately overwhelms Turgon’s hidden city. Hope or carnage? You make the call.

The Second Age Bracket

Those Rings of Power continue to endure in the Second Age region. Neither the founding of Númenor nor of Imladris could stand against the forging of the Great Rings, whether by Celebrimbor or Sauron himself. Fëanor’s grandson dominated all second round play, with an 82/18% victory margin versus Elros’ new kingdom, and the Master Ring wasn’t far behind, despite Elrond’s best efforts.

With a similarly strong margin, Tolkien’s Great Wave of destruction and the overwhelming of Númenor near the end of the Second Age also overpowered Ar-Pharazôn’s Aman-bound Armada. In the tightest contest in the region, and possibly in a bit of an upset, the formation of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men won a fairly comfortable victory over Isildur’s broken-swordplay that relieved Sauron of his Precious. More than 60% of voters liked the idea of a strong alliance in the face of powerful Enemy.

This action now sets up some challenging choices for the next round: it’s Celebrimbor’s sixteen rings against Sauron’s One; and the collapse of Númenor versus the return of the same powerful alliance that led to the creation of Westernesse in the first place. Who will rule them all indeed?

Men of the Last Alliance, in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring

The Third Age Bracket

Yes, we know, it’s the most unfair of Ages, with far too many iconic events having their bubbles burst even before the competition began. Still, some powerhouses emerged as the final four competitors in this bracket. Advancing rather easily, and perhaps unsurprisingly, were the ultimate Destruction of the One Ring (smacking down that new upstart King with nearly 75% of the vote); and the arrival of the five Istari earlier in the Third Age, to counterbalance Sauron’s growing power (with a similar margin of victory over those early Baggins and Boffins and Bolgers et al. migrating to the Shire).

The remaining two matchups were tighter: Bilbo’s discovery of the One Ring keeps a competitor from The Hobbit era alive, chalking up a nearly 60/40% margin over the exposition-rich Council of Elrond; and the forming of the Nine Walkers/Fellowship overcoming the stirring Ride of the Rohirrim across the Pelennor by a mere 50 or so votes. That loss marks the end of the road for a former champion, the Rohirrim’s charge having been the victor in our 2020 March Madness Tournament.

Who will advance in the Third Age? Will Bilbo’s fortunate (?) discovery turn the tide on the Wizards who sent him on this road in the first place? Can our doughty Fellowship resist one of the greatest moments in the history of the One Ring? The answer is in your (five – or possibly less – fingered) hands!

Bilbo Finds The One Ring
Ian Holm as Bilbo, finding the One Ring

So on to Round Three! Only your votes can decide which events come out on top! 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 – you have until TORn Tuesday this week to place your votes!