We’re already half way through Middle-earth March Madness 2024: Magical Moments – and now just eight contenders remain, as we reach the final round in each division. So how did the third round play out? Let’s take a look:

The Hobbit Division

We could have seen the final in this bracket being between the Moon Runes and the setting sun, both indicating the way into the Lonely Mountain. It was not to be; though the Moon Runes did beat the conversation with Smaug, the power of the One Ring could not be undone – by a very narrow margin of just over 40 votes, Bilbo’s disappearing act defeated the revealing of the secret door on Durin’s Day. So we have the first and second seeds in this division up against each other for the ‘regional final’:

  • Moon Runes Appear on Thrain’s Map (1)
  • Bilbo’s Ring Turns Him Invisible (2)

The Fellowship of the Ring Division

Last round we saw the closest battle in this bracket; but here in the Sweet Sixteen, both contests had pretty wide margins, with around 300 votes difference between the winners and the losers. This time, the Ring turning Bilbo invisible did NOT beat an entryway associated with Durin; the door to Moria is through to the regional final. Meanwhile water and fire had a show down – Gandalf’s river horses vs his confrontation with the Balrog. It’s the battle with the ancient demon which is still in the contest:

  • Durin’s Doors Open at the Right Password (5)
  • Gandalf Confronts the Balrog with Glamdring and the Flame of Anor (6)
Password into Moria, by Ted Nasmith

The Two Towers Division

The march of the Ents has come to an end! As we expected might happen, Gandalf’s return to life defeated them, with two thirds of the vote. More wizardly skill won the other Sweet Sixteen duel in this region, with Gandalf’s healing of Theoden taking three quarters of the vote against the Ent-draught.

  • Gandalf the White Returns from the Dead (1)
  • Gandalf Heals Theoden from Saruman’s Curse (3)

The Return of the King Division

Two massive battles in this bracket: two acts of destruction (the Fall of the Witch-king vs the final destruction of the One Ring) in one duel, with far lower seeded events (Rohan arriving to battle vs the regeneration of the Shire) making up the other.

Both contests were fairly close. For a while it looked as though Sam and his work in the Shire might be victorious, but those Riders from Rohan once again swept to victory, with about 100 votes between them in the end. The Witch-king and the Ring had half that number of votes between them – and this time the power of the Ring WAS undone! Ultimately voters felt that the wraith’s defeat by ‘No Man’ was a more powerfully magical moment than Mount Doom’s melting powers. So our final match-up in this division is:

  • The Witch-king Is Destroyed by “No Man” (1)
  • Rohan Arrives on the Pelennor Fields as the Rooster Crows (14)
Eowyn slays the Witch-king, by Stephen Walsh
Staffer Madeye Gamgee shared some of his thoughts on what lies ahead:

Moving on to the Elite (or Einior — Sindarin for Elder) Eight:

  • Gandalf continues to be the big dog of this Magical Moments tournament, with a direct contribution to three of our final eight magical moments, plus a strong assist at the Doors of Durin
  • The power of the One Ring proved more feeble than some could have guessed, with only Bilbo’s original discovery of the Ring of Power in the Hobbit making it to the final eight.
  • Three of the four #1 seeds as ranked by the OneRing staff have made it to the final eight: Moon Runes, Gandalf the White, and the Witch King Goes Down. The staff also successfully called a number 2 and 3 seed which are still alive in the tournament (Bilbo’s Invisibility Ring and Theoden’s Healing).
  • The FotR region seemed to befuddle our staff, though, with all four top seeds already out of the tournament. That leaves a #5 seed (Durin’s Doors) and #6 (a Balrog Battle) to fight it out for the Final Four spot.
  • The “Cinderella” of the tournament, the #15 seed Rohan arriving on the Pelennor Fields, may be simply a sleeper. A perpetual fan favorite (and one of JRR Tolkien’s as well), those stirring horns of the Rohirrim as the rooster crows still resonate. But can they overcome Eowyn’s “I am no man” moment?

There’s still some mighty magic yet to come!

Place your votes! In case you need a reminder, here’s how it works: click on one of the orange division buttons below. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year, as with last 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!

You have until the end of the day Tuesday April 2nd to vote in Round Four; on TORn Tuesday that evening we’ll discuss the likely results and the story so far! Wednesday 3rd we’ll open voting for the Final Four. Will Rohan ride their way to victory? YOU decide – vote now!