Middle-earth March Madness 2023, Rings of Power Edition begins today. Staffer Garfeimao has taken a closer look at the 64 competitors in this year’s bracket, to help you as you make your choices. Take a look at what she has to say; and then head on over to the March Madness launch to vote in Round One!
Introducing the 2023 edition of Middle-earth March Madness, featuring characters and beasts from Season One of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. For the next couple of weeks, fans everywhere will have a chance to chime in on their favorite characters – and who they are OK allowing to drop by the side of the road, Harfoot style. Season One had a lot of individual characters sprinkled across numerous realms, but a 64 slot bracket was just a little bit bigger. So, you will see a few very interesting entries, some quite whimsical and fun. Here are the four brackets for you to make your choices from:
Elves, Dwarves and Monsters
It may seem like a strange combination, but there are fewer named characters in these categories, which allows us to cover other realms on their own. (Round One will present 32 different match-ups, divided into four brackets; this is the first bracket.)
Round One, Bracket One will see Galadriel, the Commander of the Northern Army at the #1 seed up against the 16th seed Elven Loremaster in Eregion, while Celebrimbor is up against the Balrog. The Loremaster in Eregion may be a little outgunned by Galadriel, but pitting Celebrimbor against a Balrog in the first round could go any direction.
Our #5 seed, the King of Khazad-dûm, Durin III is up against one of his grandkids, this one being the 12th seeded Gerda. We’ll get to the other kid shortly, but the next contest pits their dad, Durin IV (in the #4 seed – funny how that worked out for him!) against Rian, a member of Galadriel’s fighting unit, at seed 13. It is fair to guess that two Dwarves will make it out of this section of Bracket One, and allow Rian to vanish into Valinor.
The High King of the Noldor, Gil-galad is the 6th seed, going up against the most outspoken Elf in Galadriel’s battle unit, Thondir, at the 11th seed. Meanwhile, our #3 seed is Disa, one of the Resonators singing to the rocky caverns in Khazad-dûm, who is up against her own child, #14 seed Gamli. This is going to be a tougher section of the Bracket – lots of emotional repercussions in who moves forward and who fades away.
The last section of this first Bracket has a couple of heavy hitters, in that we have two monsters going up two very popular Elven characters. The #7 seed is Finrod Felagund, brother to Galadriel, facing off against the 10th seed Worm (or Fish Dragon) that attacks the raft that Galadriel and Halbrand are on. On the other side, the #2 seed Elrond is facing down the Ice Troll that attacked Galadriel’s unit. (Seems like Galadriel is the common denominator with some of these beasties!)
Southlanders and Mordorians
This second Bracket has Elves, Men, Orcs and/or Uruks – and someone who isn’t what he seems. This would appear to be a simple Good vs Evil bracket; but with a few shades of grey mixed into a few characters, it’s not going to be quite so easy to move through this Bracket.
Round One, Bracket Two starts off with a bang with our #1 seed, Adar, the mysterious leader of the band of Orcs secretly working on building tunnels, up against Tredwill, the farmer with the poisoned cow. The other half of this section has 8th seed Revion, the Warden of the Elven unit watching over the Southlanders, up against another member of that Elven unit, Medhor, companion to Arondir.
The #5 seed here is Waldreg, the former owner of the broken, evil looking sword up, against Grugzuk, the 12th seed Orc who is covered in dragon skin clothing in order to survive the sun when trying to control the Elven captives. The other half of this section pits Arondir and his ‘kick-buttitude’ acrobatics and fight skills up against the young, rebellious Rowan (who – spoiler! – had a sad ending).
The next section is all human, with young Theo at #6, with a black cloud hanging over his head – unless his mother can find a way to keep him safe, even from himself. He’s up against Abigail, one of the survivors on the raft that is attacked by the Fish Dragon. The other contest in this section has another raft survivor in 14th seed: Astrid, who appears quite terrified, up against the #3 seed Healer of the Southlands, Bronwyn, mother to Theo.
The final section is all baddies – but possibly only one has the charisma to propel him far into this contest. Our #7 seed, Vrath, was covered in the same dragon skin seen on many of the Orcs in charge of the Elven captives. He’s up against Bazur at the #10 seed, one of the first Orcs we saw in the trailers, with that spikey helmut of his. The second race pits #2 seed Halbrand/Sauron – ready to plot his next move – against #15 seed Magrot, who has arguably the best name of the various Orcs!
Harfoots and Visitors
The Harfoots are experts in hiding in plain sight, which must be really helpful when you have so many unwelcome visitors in your midst. They feel both familiar and very strange, in that some of their customs in the Second Age don’t mesh with what they become in the late Third Age.
Round One, Bracket Three gives us #1 seed Elanor ‘Nori’ Brandyfoot, the always curious and adventurous young Harfoot who changes the lives of her entire clan. She is up against the 16th seeded Wolves, as Nori calls them. Her youngest sibling, Dilly Brandyfoot, sits on the #8 seed and is in contest against #9 seed Vilma, one of the elder Harfoots with sage words of advice to the younglings.
The second part of the 3rd Bracket includes #5 seed Marigold Brandyfoot, mother to Dilly and Nori. She’s cautious, loving and fairly wise. She’s up against 12th seed The Nomad, one of the three seekers chasing down who might have been in the Meteor – a very menacing presence, to be sure. The #4 seed is Sadoc Burrows, the elder leader of the clan, full of knowledge and a way to read the signs. He’s in competition with Malva’s Sister, the #13 seed, who is a bit superstitious and always worried about every little sign being evil and full of danger. She’s not wrong; just not focused all the time.
Our third section in Bracket Three has some very interesting matchups. #6 seed Largo Brandyfoot is the patriarch of the Brandyfoot clan, father to Dilly and Nori and husband to Marigold, and he seems to share Nori’s curiosity. He’s up against the Fireflies the Harfoots use to light up their lanterns. We have another one of the seekers, The Dweller (with a somewhat freaky, alien-like presence), as the #14 seed up against #3 Poppy Proudfellow, orphan and best friend to Nori; she is very much the Samwise Gamgee of this series.
The final part of this third section has the last of the three seekers, The Ascetic, (the one with the odd mirror device), at seed #10, going up against #7 Malva Meadowgrass, one of the Harfoot elder women who consult frequently with Sadoc. At #15, we have the Nomadic Antlered Big People, called Hunters by the Harfoots, up against #2, The Stranger, also known as Meteor Man, someone who’s presence has upset the apple cart, so to say, amongst the close-knit Harfoots.
We finally got to see Númenor and their culture expressed for the first time on screen, and it was glorious! Some of The Lord of the Rings biggest heroes come from the star-shaped Island. We know that there is a schism coming to Númenor; and now we have our own contest of sorts among the citizens of the island nation.
Round One, Bracket Four gives us our #1 seed in Elendil, a ship’s captain, single father of three adult children, and one of the Faithful, in contest with #16 The Librarian that Elendil takes Galadriel to visit. We have an even larger age differential with our #8 seed in Tar-Palantir, the deposed King of Númenor and father to Miriel, going up against Valandil, friend to Isildur and Ontamo, and a very ambitious young man, as the #9 seed.
If you are looking for Signs and Portents (sorry, couldn’t resist the Babylon 5 reference here), look no further than The White Tree at seed #5, which sheds its petals when danger and impending doom is coming to Númenor. The competition is #12 seed Tamar, a friend of Pharazôn, who is willing to get physical to assist in his cause. The other race here is going to be hard on everyone: #4 seed Isildur, a washed-up sailor who misses his brother, goes up against his own horse, #13 Berek. How is this even a fair contest? – the two are mostly inseparable.
The third section of the fourth Bracket starts with #6 seed Earien, daughter of Elendil (and – spoiler! -someone who will probably end up on the side of the King’s Men, rather than align with the Faithful as the rest of her family clearly do). She is up against the Sail Master of the Númenorian Navy at #11 seed: “The Sea is always Right”, but is it always victorious? The next line up is #3 seed Pharazôn versus #14 seed Edda, Miriel’s handmaiden.
Our final section in Bracket Four, and last batch of contests, begins with #7 seed Kemen, son of Pharazôn, who seems to be drawn to Earien and is possibly as ambitious as his father; just not quite sneaky enough to impress his patriarch! He goes up against Ontamo, the #10 seed and friend to Isildur and Valendil, and the peace-maker between his two more intense friends. And our final battle is between #15 seed the Blacksmith, (the one whom Halbrand tries to bribe to give him a job), up against #2 seed in Queen Miriel, a secret member of the Faithful, dancing on the edge in order to appear as non-partisan as possible in court.
That’s our full line-up! We can’t wait to see what you, the fans, do with all these characters. You have until end of day Friday 24th to place your votes!