We’re down to the final round in the ‘Divisional’ brackets – in the next couple of days, YOU decide which events go through to the Final Four, where Pre-First goes up against First Age, and Second goes up against Third Age.

You have just two days to vote in the Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages Elite Eight! 13,000 votes were cast at the Sweet Sixteen stage; we revealed the winners last night on TORn Tuesday, and you can read about that round below.

Round Four Elite Eight voting is open now until the end of the day Thursday 31 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!

Let’s take a look at the Sweet Sixteen results:

From sixty-four to sixteen in less that a week: the brackets are narrowing, as we head towards our Middle-earth March Madness Grand Champion this year. Silmarils and Rings of Power have dominated thus far; was Round Three more of the same?

The Pre-First Age Bracket

The Creator went up against himself this round, with two of Eru Ilúvatar’s biggest projects – Elves and Arda itself – in the first matchup. Elves are essential to the tale of Middle-earth; but could they even exist at all, without there first being a realm into which they could awaken? Voters thought not; the creation of Arda took two thirds of the vote.

After the destruction of the Two Trees, Eru’s world could not continue on into the First Age without the Sun and Moon; so surely that event has to be a winner, in the other duel in this bracket? It turns out not – Fëanor’s beloved Silmarils shine brighter even than those celestial orbs, winning by a comfortable margin.

Two great creations face off in the final round in this bracket, then: Eru’s creation of Arda vs Fëanor’s creation (subcreation?) of the Silmarils. Can the hubris of the Noldorin Elf possibly stand against the supreme deity?

Fëanor Creates the Silmarils, by Bella Bergolts
Fëanor Creates the Silmarils, by Bella Bergolts

The First Age Bracket

Gondolin has risen – and fallen! Those powerful Silmarils are proving strong in this bracket, with Beren and Lúthien’s recovery of just one being mighty enough to overwhelm the building of Gondolin, claiming over 70% of the vote.

Gondolin’s Fall came closer to victory, in what turned out to be the closest duel in the Sweet Sixteen; in the end, it could not conquer the War of Wrath – though there was less than 10% of the vote between them.

Can a man and an Elf stand against the mustered forces of the War of Wrath in Round Four? You decide – vote now!

Beren and Lúthien with a Silmaril, by Justin Gerard
Beren and Lúthien with a Silmaril, by Justin Gerard

The Second Age Bracket

It was rings against Ring in the Second Age – all of Celebrimbor’s rings of power vs THE One Ring. Knowing the One Ring’s will to dominate, it is perhaps not surprising that it came out victorious, with Sauron’s forging of the One Ring going through to Round Four without too much trouble.

In the other Second Age pairing, voters showed that they prefer coming together over falling apart, with the forming of the Last Alliance defeating the destruction of Númenor. (Interestingly, both matchups in this bracket went roughly 60/40 to their victors.) Can the Last Alliance finally defeat the One Ring this time? Or will they find that the power of the Ring cannot be undone…? Use your vote to help the allies overcome Sauron this time!

Sauron Forges The One Ring - Alan Lee
Sauron forges the One Ring, by Alan Lee

The Third Age Bracket

‘It’s the Ring’ in this bracket, too. Even five Istari arriving in Middle-earth together cannot convince voters that they are more momentous that Bilbo’s finding of the Ring. Likewise, nine joining together in Fellowship are still no match for the Ring’s last great event – its own destruction in the fires of Mount Doom.

So the final round in the Third Age ‘regionals’ will be two events which, perhaps, the Ring did not expect – being picked up by the most unlikely of creatures, and going over the edge in the hands of another unlikely creature, at the Cracks of Doom. Finding or destroying – which gets YOUR vote?

'Cast it into the fire!'
‘Cast it into the fire!’

VOTE NOW in the Elite Eight, to decide which events win each ‘regional’ bracket, and go on to become Semi Finalists. Of course there’s still time to check out our ‘Middle-earth History primers’ before you make those decisions: click for Pre-First Age, First Age, and Second Age. And then use the buttons above to cast your votes – you have until the end of the day Thursday 31st. See you back here thereafter, to reveal the Final Four!