With four live shows left to go — and only three weeks until the Strictly 2018 final — the race to lift that glitterball trophy is looking remarkably tight. But according to the Radio Times, there's one pretty solid way to predict the ultimate winner well before a single vote has been cast in the final: the cumulative scores of each contestant to date, as well as how early on in the competition they started scoring high. Based on those stats, who will win Strictly Come Dancing 2018? YouTuber Joe Sugg is predicted to emerge victorious, the magazine says — and they got it spot on last year, too, predicting Joe McFadden's victory.
The Radio Times looked at the average total score after nine dances of all 15 winners in Strictly history, and came out with a benchmark of 290 points. According to the magazine, both Joe Sugg (with partner Dianne Buswell) and Stacey Dooley (with Kevin Clifton) are hovering impressively close to that cumulative score, with 278 points each. Oddly specific, eh?
What sets Sugg apart, however, is the first score he received in the competition — remember that jive to "Take On Me," which netted him 27 points? That's the score almost half of the Strictly winners to date received on week one, while the average first week score for a series winner is 27.5. Dooley's first routine only earned her 24 points, setting her slightly below the Strictly champion curve.
Sugg has overtaken Dooley in the bookies' affections, too: he's now their favourite to win, according to Oddschecker, dethroning former favourite Dooley. She comes in second, followed by Ashley Roberts then Charles Venn. Statistically speaking, Ashley Roberts is just too good to win the competition, according to the Radio Times: the only champion to have exceeded her staggering total of 321 after nine dances is 2007 winner Alesha Dixon, who'd netted 323 points at this stage.
Charles Venn is still in the running too, the magazine says, but only one former winner had received a lower cumulative score then his current total of 262 after nine dances: 2009's Chris Hollins, with a total of 247.
So what do the experts think? Judge Craig Revel Horwood has predicted Stacey Dooley will lift the glitterball, telling the Radio Times, "I can see her winning. She has a lot of the audience on her side, she’s very popular and so far she’s getting through this with flying colours." Fellow judge Shirley Ballas, however, has remained a little more reticent. Speaking on The One Show, as Digital Spy reports, she said, "I think it's a real level playing field," revealing only her inkling of an "unexpected result."
"I think everyone is fabulous and everybody's bringing their best," Ballas said. "At the end of the day, you've got to vote — vote for your favourites." Tonight's episode is likely to put said favourites to the test, as they compete in Strictly's inaugural lindy-hop-a-thon. So will Joe Sugg still step off the dancefloor as favourite to win?