The finale of Dancing with the Stars season 18 is here and it’s time to award the Mirror Ball Trophy. Tuesday at 9pm, the two-hour finale begins as the three remaining couples do one more dance for the judges before finding out who will win.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovkiy, Amy Purdy and Derek Hough and Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas will all vie for the trophy, but only one can win. Let’s be honest: It won’t be Candace. She’s so far behind on the leaderboard that she’d have to beat Meryl and Amy by more than 5 percent of the public vote to win, which won’t happen.

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DWTS season 18 is a battle between Meryl and Amy. More accurately, it’s a battle for the very soul of the show between Maks and Derek. Will Maks, who is 0 for 13, finally win after giving us the best scores and best dancing the show has ever seen, proving once and for all that talent really matters? Or will Derek win his third Mirror Ball in a row (and sixth overall), taking the title for his showy choreography and ability to obscure the flaws of his partner by not really letting her dance and, instead, having her sit on tables and dangle from ropes?

It’s a classic battle of style vs. substance, with Maks representing the substance and Derek as the style. Now that I have raised the stakes into Game of Thrones territory, here are some fun facts and breakdowns of the final three couples.

This is only the second time that the final three stars were all female. The last time was during the All-Stars season with Melissa Rycroft, Shawn Johnson and Kelly Monaco. It’s the fifth time in the finale for Mark and Maks and the eighth time for Derek. Mark has won twice, Derek has won five times and Maks has never won the Mirror Ball Trophy.

Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

These two have everything going for them. They’ve been at the top of the leaderboard seven out of 10 weeks, including the finale. They also have the highest average score, not just this season, but maybe ever. They have one last performance on Tuesday night, and if they get a perfect 30, they will officially have the highest average score in the 18-season history of DWTS (28.4 out of 30 from the three permanent judges), narrowly beating out Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas from season 6. If they get a 29, they will tie Kristi and Mark.

So not only is she the best dancer, objectively speaking, but her partner has the most compelling story on the pro side. This is Maksim’s 14th season on the show and he has never won. That’s unheard of. Past pros Anna Trebunskaya and Edyta Sliwinska both competed 10 seasons without ever winning, while Louis van Amstel had nine and Chelsie Hightower had seven. There’s definitely a sense that Maks is long overdue to win the Mirror Ball Trophy.

Amy Purdy and Derek Hough

They are Meryl and Maks’ only real competition. They’ve been getting absurdly high scores from the judges and they have sentiment on their side. Who isn’t inspired and impressed by a double amputee dancing?

If that’s not enough, Derek has won five times, including the last two seasons. He’s clearly a favorite and is a legitimate threat to win any season he’s in. The combination of these two makes for a formidable contender.

Candace Cameron Bure and Mark Ballas

Candace should consider herself lucky to finish third. She is way behind the other two in terms of scores, a full 8 points behind Amy and 9 points behind Meryl heading into the finale. She undoubtedly has many supporters, most of whom probably like the fact that she’s a devoted mother and Christian, but that won’t be enough to help her win.

In Mark’s past four times in the finale, he’s won twice and finished in third place twice. This looks to be one of the latter.


Call if wishful thinking, but I predict that Meryl and Maks will win. They are obviously the best dancers and, based on scores, the best couple to ever compete on DWTS. That should get them a lot of votes, as should the fact that I assume most of Charlie White and James Maslow’s fans will flock to this couple now that those boys are gone.

There’s also the Maks factor. One of the strongest stories to emerge from season 18 has been the transformation of Maks. He’s gone from a scary Russian to a big, soft teddy bear. His partnership with Meryl has been a thing of beauty as they bring the best out of each other. There’s certainly a sense among fans that Maks is long overdue for a win and deserves it for what he’s done this season.

On top of that, I feel like Amy and Candace are more likely to split votes. They both have inspirational stories, albeit in different ways, and they also have their detractors who may feel a sense of backlash against them. For Candace, it’s the fact that she doesn’t deserve to be in the finale as opposed to James, Charlie and Danica McKellar. For Amy, it’s the fact that she’s been overscored and the judges have largely given her a free pass to do routines with very little dancing.

With all of those factors, I have to believe that there is goodness in the world and that the couple who truly deserves to win actually will. That couple is Meryl and Maks, who have delivered the best routines of the season, given us a compelling story arc with their partnership and have earned every point they’ve received.

Who do you think will win Dancing with the Stars season 18?

(Image courtesy of ABC)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.