With five impressive athletes, three beloved nostalgia stars, and two fan-worshipped pop stars in the mix, guessing who wins Dancing With the Stars Season 18 is nearly impossible. So let’s jump right in. We haven’t even see the 12 pairs in rehearsals, never mind on the dance floor for the first time, but if Vegas oddsmakers can declare a winner (good choice!), we should at least be able to speculate about the Finals.
Ice Dancer vs. Ice Dancer
Obviously the two champion ice dancers have to be considered frontrunners since their job is already dancing and they can even do it on skates. Kristi Yamaguchi dominated DWTS Season 6 even without the dance aspect. If only one ice dancer were here, that person might be drowned in “ringer” complaints. We saw last season how Corbin Bleu got so close to winning, but the further he got, the louder the shouts of “It’s not fair! He shouldn’t even be here!” But if we have two similar perceived “ringers,” there’s at least the possibility that they’d split some of the same votes.
Meryl Davis has the advantage of being paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who has been away for a full year — absence makes the fan base grow even fonder! He knows he’s lucky to have Meryl and his fans are prepared to help them win. But don’t count out Charlie White — he’s an adorable charmer and he’s paired with the equally charming Sharna Burgess. We’ve been waiting for Sharna to get a contender and she now has one. But if the two ice dancers end up splitting votes, the numbers may go to the pros’s fan bases, and at this point Maks tips the scales a bit.
Teen Hearthrob vs. Teen Hearthrob
Some fans may think the ice dancers don’t need their votes — especially if the judges fall in love with them, and they probably will. Sometimes that can backfire, with fans preferring celebs with less obvious dance experience. So who’s next in line? We’re curious about the pop stars.
Australian teen Cody Simpson has a staggering 6.4 million followers on Twitter, and he was an opening act on Justin Bieber's "Believe" tour. He’s friends with Justin, Selena Gomez, and the Kardashians, through his friendship/maybe-more-than-that-at-one-point with Kylie Jenner. All of that makes him a huge threat, even if he can’t dance — but he probably can. But how many of his fans are international, and can they all vote for DWTS from where they are? Even if only a small portion can and do vote, though, that’s a lot. Same for James Maslow, though, who has 2.8 million Twitter followers and the bonus of being known from the US TV show Big Time Rush on Nickelodeon. He has the pop star and TV star angles going for him. Plus, he’s hot.
TV Nostalgia Star VS. TV Nostalgia Star
What about the nostalgia stars? It may be an uphill battle for Star Wars’s Billy Dee Williams at age 76, but he could always be the Bill Engvall underdog. He’s partnered with the right woman for that! But Danica “Winnie Cooper” McKellar and Candace “D.J. Tanner” Cameron Bure are certainly serious contenders for the win. As a conservative mom of three, Candace seems like she might be a good fit with the DWTS demographic. She’s paired with Mark Ballas and they just look like a positive, happy-go-lucky couple. Candace has also said she has no previous dance experience, which could help her if she turns out to be naturally good. This cast is already packed with people who have other athletic and dance advantages. Danica, for example, does have some past dance experience, but since she’s a TV star (and math whiz!) not an athlete or ice dancer, she may not be viewed as a ringer. Danica and Val Chmerkovskiy are an intriguing pair — she’s like the class valedictorian, and he’s the bad boy smoking under the bleachers. They should be fun to watch.
Whoever Is Dancing With Derek at Any Given Moment
We can’t rule out a win for Amy Purdy, for a couple of reasons: 1) She’ll be easy to root for as DWTS’s first double-amputee contestant, and 2) Because she’s dancing with Derek Hough. The five-time champ’s fan base is always behind him, and this pair will probably pick up more votes from fans inspired by Amy’s journey. We’re also wondering what’s coming with this “Switch Up” twist. What if Derek ends up with a new partner and they stick with him since they figure they have a great shot of going further that way? That may sound too cynical and far-fetched for such a loyal group, but it could happen.
Final Four Guess
This is still anyone’s game — including for Drew Carey, who has name value and Cheryl Burke on his side, and NeNe Leakes, who has Tony Dovolani and Erin Andrews on her side — but if we had to close our eyes and point to the final four, here’s a guess:
Is it too obvious for an ice dancer to win? It really depends on how viewers feel toward the end, and if fans split the votes, etc. One or both Olympians could be surprise pre-Finals eliminations, or another non-dancer could just swoop in for the win.
Who do you think will win DWTS Season 18? Vote in the poll and sound off below!
The season premieres Monday, March 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.