March always brings with it a ton of K-pop comebacks, over-saturated pastel MVs, and here at Seoulbeats, our annual March Madness polls. Once a year, the editors rack their brains, and brave waves of confusion over rookie groups with too many members, to come up with a bracket. The first round begins with 64 contestants in 32 matchups. Readers vote to decide who advances to the next round, and the last contestant standing is crowned the 2019 Seoulbeats March Madness Champion.

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We’ve structured the bracket by the categories of Voice, Visuals, Value and Excelsis… we kid. In keeping with the past two years, it’s Vocals, Visual, Dance and Rap. There are three caveats: past winners cannot be seeded again, which means that Taemin, Tzuyu, Ailee and Jaejoong are out of the running. In addition, no more than two artists per group are allowed in order to maximise representation, and the artist must have had a comeback within the past year (between March 2018 and this month).

Seeding is determined by the editors’ projections of how well an artist would perform in the assigned categories. This is based on a mix of skill and popularity, as well as how the artist did in past years’ contests. For example, RM (BTS) made it to the Championship Round in 2017, and is fairly well-known for his rapping skills, so he is the number one seed in the Male Rap category. We’ve also introduced some new blood (Itzy, Loona, (G)I-dle, Iz One, The Boyz, Stray Kids), and swapped out contestants who have been in the running for a couple of years with an alternate member–for instance, in place of BTS’ Jungkook in Vocals, we have Jimin in Dance, and for Exo, Sehun for Dance instead of Kai.

As we wind down to the Elite 8 when the winners of the eight regions have been determined, the male and female contestants will face off to determine one contestant per category. In the Final Four, the winner of the Dance region will face the winner of the Rap region, and the top Vocal will face the top Visual for a chance to advance to the Championship round.

Now that we’re clear with how it works, gather your fellow fans and check back on March 15 (Friday) for round one of the madness! Feel free to share your thoughts on the bracket and potential winners in the comments below.