We come to it at last – the great battle of our time… Just twelve days after it started, with 64 characters from The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power divided amongst four categories, Middle-earth March Madness 2023, Rings of Power Edition is drawing to a close. Only two remain – and only one battle. Here’s how the Final Four played out.

Semi Final 1: Elf versus Elf

This first match-up featured one of the most popular characters from Tolkien: a High Elf, daughter of Finarfin; niece of Fëanor; ruler of Lothlórien; bearer of Nenya, the Ring of Water. Some of that, however, lies in her future: in this competition, we’re considering Galadriel of the Second Age, as seen in The Rings of Power. A fierce warrior, living under the rule of Gil-galad but chaffing against his commands, this leader of fighters seems yet to find her role as a wise and calm ruler. Her strength of will, however, is undeniable.

Facing her was a being about whom we know very little. Arondir is a Silvan Elf from Beleriand, who is stationed as a soldier in the Southlands when we meet him in The Rings of Power. (He is a non-canonical character, created for the television show.) We know almost nothing of his past; but we witness his passion as a warrior, his compassion for the humans he watches, and his skill with bow and arrow.

It seemed unlikely that a Woodland Elf would have much of a chance against one of the Noldor; and perhaps equally unlikely that a newly invented character would put to the test one of Tolkien’s beloved creations. So, indeed, it turned out: Galadriel took the lead early on, and Arondir never threatened to overtake her. In the end, our Elf maiden claimed two thirds of the vote, to emerge victorious.

Semi Final 2: Man versus Maia

In the second dual of this penultimate round, Elendil the Tall, faithful Elf-friend, native of Númenor and (spoiler!) future High King of Middle-earth, and bearer of Narsil – but currently, in The Rings of Power, a lowly sea captain – faced an enigmatic foe.

Just who is the Stranger? He fell to (Middle) earth in a comet, being found by the Harfoots in a fiery – yet cool to the touch – crater, unclothed. We have seen his power to bring life – but also to bring destruction. The three hooded figures in pursuit of him, believing him to be the ruler they sought – Morgoth’s second in command – realised in the season finale that he was not the one they desired. He is, they fear, one of the Istari.

So is he a created character? Are the screenwriters imagining that there might have been another of the Maiar who came to Middle-earth as wizards? Or is he in fact someone we already know well: a befriender of Halflings? His words, ‘When in doubt, Elanor Brandyfoot, always follow your nose,’ would seem to suggest that he is.

However the plot of the Stranger will unfold in Season Two of The Rings of Power – and however faithful the show’s Elendil may in future be to Tolkien’s writing – voters had just a couple of days to make a choice between these two powerful characters. And it was a tough decision! The lead went back and forth between them, with often only a handful of votes separating them. In the end, however, the win was claimed by the Númenorean, taking that crucial – but narrow – majority, 52% to 48%.

Now, two characters step into the arena for the last time this year: Galadriel squares off against Elendil. Both are creations from Tolkien himself – though deviating somewhat from canon, in their roles in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Will discrepancies between script and book sway your vote? Are you influenced by the actors playing the parts? As ever, it’s up to you how you make your choice; both of these characters have a chance of becoming Champion of Middle-earth March Madness 2023. But there can be only one! And it’s up to you to decide – VOTE NOW.

How does it work, you ask? Simple! Click on the orange button below. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears in the top left. And place your votes! Below, you’ll find a reminder of the entire bracket thus far.

You have until the end of the day Tuesday April 4th to vote in this Grand Final. The winner will be revealed on TORn Tuesday – and then announced on the homepage after. This is the 12th Middle-earth March Madness tournament TORn has held; who will claim the crown this year? You decide – VOTE NOW!