The Harry Potter World Cup has been no stranger to surprises. We've witnessed astonishing upsets. We've suffered stunning defeats. We've even seen photo finishes! But now, as we move out of the Sweet 16 and into the Elite Eight, the tournament moves into a new and even more difficult state than we've seen so far. Ladies and gentlemen, magicians and muggles, get ready — some very difficult decisions lie ahead.
All polls for the Elite Eight will open later today, and you'll be one step closer to determining who the greatest "Harry Potter" of all time is. First, let's look at the results of the last round.
The Phoenix Falls, The Serpent Rots
Though defeat was almost certainly in their futures at some point, it's nonetheless surprising to see that both Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort fell during the Sweet 16. For his part, Dumbledore's downfall came at the hands of former colleague Professor Remus Lupin. He didn't just beat the greatest wizard that ever lived, by the way; he left him in the dust, winning by over ten thousand votes.
Lupin's pal Sirius Black, meanwhile, presented an even greater challenge to the Dark Lord, who fell by nearly 30,000 votes. James Potter, consider yourself avenged. Black's crushing victory over He Who Can Most Definitely Be Named marks a pitiful end for Tom Riddle's already embarrassing World Cup performance.
We lost a few other cherished characters in the latest round, though their losses weren't entirely unanticipated. Despite his heroic sacrifice in "Deathly Hallows Part 1," Dobby proved no match for the overall importance and popularity of one Severus Snape. Likewise, Hermione was all but predestined to defeat Ginny Weasley in this round.
Even though Harry and Ron had some trouble with their competitors, Neville and Fred respectively, they weren't victorious without some resistance. Those were some truly solid duels between the Chosen Ones and the Weasley brothers, and all fans of these characters should be proud, win or lose.
(Though we will miss Matthew Lewis and his impossibly charming call to vote for Neville...)
Kill The Spare
He crushed Madame Maxime. He eliminated Narcissa Malfoy. He may or may not have led to the downfall of Luna Lovegood. Conspiracies and conflict aside, the outcome remains the same: Cedric Diggory has died once again.
The Hufflepuff hero, who met an unexpectedly cruel fate at the hands of Voldemort in "Goblet of Fire," came face to face with a no-less dramatic defeat during his duel against Rubeus Hagrid. "Potter" fans came out in full force to support the Hogwarts mainstay, pushing back against Diggory devotees throughout the Fourth of July weekend and well into this week. Hagrid's victory was all but clinched with about seven hours to go before the midnight deadline, and in the end, he beat Cedric by roughly 81,000 votes. That's a fairly decisive result, I'd say, and a fairly gruesome exit for the former Triwizard champion.
Looking at the Elite Eight, the results are nearly impossible to predict: the tournament consists exclusively of one, two and three-seeded competitors, so the remaining wizards and witch all have their own deadly sets of skills to bring to the table. Considering how easily they beat their opponents in the last round, I'd wager a few Galleons that Snape, Hermione and Sirius make it into the Final Four. But keep an eye on Lupin (really, he beat Dumbledore? I'm still in shock!) and Hagrid, who has some serious momentum going for him after dethroning the powerhouse that is — sorry, was — Cedric Diggory.
Voting resumes later today, with all Elite Eight polls closing at 12:01 AM EST on Friday (July 8). Stay tuned!
Who is the best "Harry Potter" character of all time? The "Harry Potter" World Cup will find out! Voting is going on now right here, and you can also get the debate going on Twitter with the hashtag #mtvpottercup.