Most of the cast of Dancing with the Stars season 20 has been announced, which means it’s time to look ahead to the actual competition. Who will contend for the Mirror Ball Trophy in the show’s 10th anniversary?

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Eleven couples have been named with defending pro champion Witney Carson left to dance with a star who will be named later (though let’s be honest, we all kind of know it’s probably going to be The Bachelor‘s Chris Soules).

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I’ve divided the contestants into five categories. The first three have absolutely no chance of winning and the next two are very unlikely to be serious contenders. Then we have the middle of the pack who will probably finish somewhere around 6th, 7th or 8th place. The Dark Horses are the people who could be serious contenders or could go out early, it’s just a big mystery. And then we have the three frontrunners.


Patti LaBelle: At 51, Donny Osmond is the oldest winner ever. LaBelle is 70 and while she may be the most famous star in the cast and she could surprise everyone early, she won’t last.

Suzanne Somers: Like with Patti, the 68-year-old Suzanne just won’t be able to keep it up for the entire season.

Robert Herjavec: He’s 52 and a businessman. Not only does he have no chance of winning, but I’d be willing to invest in a wager that he’s the first one eliminated. It’s a shame that Kym Johnson came back just to have him as a partner.


Redfoo: He’s certainly a clown and will be the token “entertaining” contestant this season. But I think he lacks the sweet, endearing quality that makes people vote for that kind of star (a la Tommy Chong). Instead, he just seems kind of obnoxious and will probably be eliminated early.

Charlotte McKinney: Models don’t typically do well on DWTS. Elisabetta Canalis, Petra Nemcova and Kathy Ireland were all eliminated in the first four weeks while Josie Maran and Paulina Porizcova were both eliminated first. It looks like her partner, Keo Motsepe, is doomed to have two very early exits in a row, unless she magically has some dance talent.


Riker Lynch: Riker could go either way. He’s relatively unknown unless you’re in the R5 tween demographic, but you can ask Cody Simpson how well that worked out for him. However, between being in a band, being a Warbler on Glee and being related to the Houghs, he probably has a lot of dance ability.

*Chris Soules: I’m just going to assume that Witney Carson’s unnamed partner will eventually be The Bachelor Chris Soules. If so, we can look to the past to see how he’ll do. Jake Pavelka finished seventh and Sean Lowe finished sixth, so Soules will almost certainly finish somewhere in the middle.


Noah Galloway: He’s a soldier, motivational speaker and double amputee. That basically makes him a combination of J.R. Martinez and Amy Purdy in a hunky body. He certainly has a lot of voting blocs locked up, from the conservative American Sniper-loving crowd to the sympathy voters to the “We love hot dudes” supporters. But the reason he’s a dark horse is because he admitted that he has absolutely no dance ability. Will he triumph over adversity like Amy or will he be a stiff, macho lunkhead like, say, Randy Couture?

Willow Shields: She’s only 14. There’s no real precedent for someone so young on this show, so I don’t know how to categorize her. Usually the teenage girls are at least 17 or 18. Will it be weird seeing her partner with Mark Ballas? Or will it be sweet and cause everyone to raise three fingers in solidarity with the Hunger Games star? Historically, I might go with the latter, simply because the four previous times Mark has danced with a teenage girl, he’s always finished in the Top 4.


Rumer Willis: Can the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore dance? I don’t know, but I’d love to see her do routines inspired by Ghost, G.I. Jane, Armageddon or even Die Hard (Val in a white tank top dancing to Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass”). What I do know is that Val Chmerkovskiy is the best partner on DWTS. He may not win, but he knows how to form a real connection with his stars and bring out the best in them. He’s finished in the Top 6 for the last five seasons in a row. Derek Hough is the only other person who can say that and every time Val doesn’t win, he just becomes more and more overdue.

Michael Sam: Football players used to dominate this show. Three have won the Mirror Ball and another four have made it to the finale. Maybe Michael can bring that back. He’s young, in excellent shape and the last time a football player won the Mirror Ball was in season 14 with Donald Driver. And who was his pro partner? Peta Murgatroyd, who is also Michael Sam’s partner, so we know she can lead a football player to victory.

Nastia Liukin: Could Derek Hough have an easier path to a sixth Mirror Ball Trophy? Not only is there no real competition, but he’s partnered with an Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast. And when she won her gold medal in Beijing, who got the silver? Oh, that’s right, former DWTS winner Shawn Johnson. So Nastia is BETTER than Shawn. The only obstacle for these two is Derek’s hectic schedule flying back-and-forth between NYC and LA. This season, Nastia and Derek aren’t competing against the other 11 couples, they’re competing against themselves, because this is theirs to win.


Obviously I’m going to predict that Nastia and Derek will win. That seems like a no-brainer and they are certainly the pre-season favorites. The real question is: Who will be their strongest competition? Rumer, Michael, Noah and Willow could all pose a threat, it just depends on who gets the momentum, and we won’t know that until we see them dance.

Dancing with the Stars season 20 premieres Monday, March 16 at 8pm on ABC.

(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.