Now that we've recalibrated with the full list of partnerships, we're ready to guess the finalists. So much of how this season turns out will depend on how viewers decide to vote. Do you care if a celeb has won before? What about re-teamed partnerships, whether they won last time or not? What about pros that have not won before — would you support a non-winning pro before a previous winner or will that not factor at all into your voting decisions?
After the season starts we’ll have to change our expectations yet again, but for now — even without seeing rehearsal footage — we're closing our eyes and predicting these teams will be the top seven.
7. Kirstie Alley &Maksim Chmerkovskiy Maks was at his best with Kirstie — and she dealt with him better than any previous partner. She let him make his whole speech about being “Sex on a Stick,” then basically laughed at him and told him never to say that again. He’s funny with her, and not so tough that it’s hard to watch. She has thick skin — even with a thinner body. Self-confidence is sexy and these two are a sexy team. (Sex on a Double Stick?) Can they win this time? It’s much tougher competition than they had on Season 12, so even with a huge fan base push, can they really overcome dancers with greater technical skill and fan bases that are just as loyal?
6. Joey Fatone &Kym Johnson The old married couple of Season 4 has a good shot at winning together, for a few reasons. They did well the first time but lost by what had to be a very close margin to Apolo Anton Ohno &Julianne Hough. They dominated most of the season score-wise and developed a fan base that would like to see them get “redemption” with a win. Plus, Joey has been working the DWTS: Live in Las Vegas circuit, so he has some experience. And they are just a likable, realistic couple. They joke, they bicker — they have a great vaudeville act going. Of all the re-partnered couples, they may have the best chance at actually winning. (Unless no one has any problem with the team of Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke winning twice.)
5. Sabrina Bryan &Louis van Amstel Sabrina was voted in by the fans, so she already has a lot of DWTS viewers rooting for her. She doesn’t want to let them down and they don’t want to let her down, like they did back on Season 5. It’s disappointing that she’s not with Mark Ballas again, but this is the first time Louis has had a partner he can really let loose with — and we’ve seen him really let loose on Results Shows. He has a lot to show off! They could be a big hit. We’ll see.
4. Shawn Johnson &Derek Hough If Shawn & Derek make it to the finals, it will be hard to beat them. Minds will be blown by their gymnastic abilities. Will that happen? It seems like they are almost too destined for greatness — like, unfairly destined. Who paired the perfect gymnast with the perfect pro who has already won three times? Will that factor into votes? If not, clear the way ‘cause there’s no stopping them.
3. Helio Castroneves &Chelsie Hightower Has Chelsie just been waiting for the right partner? She has yet to even make the finals, which we thought she might get to do last season with Roshon Fegan. But they never managed to find a loyal DWTS fan base. This time, however, she’s partnered with a guy who has his own built-in following. He’s adorable. She’s adorable. They look adorable together. Will she be his new Julianne? Their early dances will hint at what’s to come. She just has to pull out all the stops with his choreography since he clearly can do just about anything.
2. Apolo Anton Ohno &Karina Smirnoff It’s almost too obvious — and therefore too boring — to pick Apolo and Karina as the winners. The bookies had Apolo as the early favorite to win, even before he got Karina. ABC asked the 13 couples to do a little “vote for us!” video and theirs was so unique and showed off such good chemistry already — it’s hard to not see them as The Couple To Beat.
1. Gilles Marini &Peta Murgatroyd Peta just won Season 14 — and Cheryl, Julianne and Derek could all tell you that viewers have no problem with a pro winning two seasons in a row. A lot of fans really wanted a reunion between Gilles & Cheryl, but Gilles & Peta are just a tall, gorgeous feast for the eyes. It remains to be seen how much chemistry they’ll have together — or how Gilles’ “frontrunner” nerves and injuries will affect him — but all eyes will definitely be on this couple in the first week. How they manage the pressure will determine their fate for the rest of the season.
What do you think of this top seven prediction? Are you fuming because we left out your favorite couple? Don’t worry, we’re never 100 per cent right about these pre-season guesses anyway! After the first Results Show, it’s another story. Then we’ll be more confident in knowing if your team will win or not.