May the Lord of Light shield ye from the spoilers below.
Like football, the Game of Thrones is exactly that: a game. And though geeks and jocks haven't always seen eye to eye, the fact is, they have more in common than not. As such, I thought it might be illuminating and fun to take a staple of sports media and apply it to Thrones coverage. Every week in the National Football League season, sportswriters will spend many thoughtful hours creating power rankings, which are compiled with various degrees of data and opinion, but are always designed to lay out just who's strongest in the league during that given week, and who has the best shot at winning the Super Bowl.
Of course, in Westeros, the Iron Throne used to seem like winning the Super Bowl, but now with the Night's Army heading south with a possessed giant in tow, the championship may just be akin to last-man (or, at 3 to 2 odds, last-woman) standing. And as we saw in last night's Game of Thrones Season 7 season premiere, where you stand at the end may very well have a lot to do with who you’re standing next to now. All the major houses are moving toward war in every direction, and looking to secure allies to strengthen their odds. So let's take a closer look at those odds, and determine just which Great House has the best shot at either becoming the top spoke on the wheel, or crushing it altogether. Welcome to the Game of Thrones Power Rankings!
1. House Targaryen – It took Daenerys six previous seasons to get to this point, but after amassing a fleet full of Greyjoy, Dornish, Meereenese and Tyrell ships, her Unsullied and Dothraki army have finally taken foothold in her birthland, Dragonstone, in a castle forged by Valyrian sorcery, which contains a heap of Dragonglass, which may very well come in handy. And who knows what further powers will come with three hungry, fire-spitting dragons setting talons on those unbreachable walls (Valyrian Steel production, perhaps?). But if you think she's just going to bide her time on an island when the Lannisters are just across Blackwater Bay, forget about it; Daenerys is finally poised to take back the Iron Throne for House Targaryen, and is my odds-on favorite of all the Great Houses to do so. Of course, after that, the real war begins.
2. House Lannister – Cersei Lannister, first of her name, Queen of the Andals of the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms sounds great and all, but as brother Jaime pointed out yesterday, she’s probably Queen of just three kingdoms, “at best.” So even with the money of Casterly Rock behind her, the Iron Throne (and a new map floor!) beneath her and The Mountain and Jaime at her side, Cersei is smart enough to know she needs more. But while Euron Greyjoy seems like an impressive salesman, and the Iron Fleet would certainly go a long way toward shoring up her power of the seas, we’ll have to see if he can bring Cersei that "priceless gift" when dragons are flying around. One major question remains, though we know she’s not afraid to use it on anyone: How much wildfire does she have left with which to rain down green fire on her enemies?
3. House Stark – Good to have a new King in the North to root for, especially with Sansa helping (or perhaps undercutting) things. And Jon Snow may not know much, but he knows that he's going to need all the help he can get with the Walkers heading south, so he's wisely welcomed old allies House Umber and House Karstark back into the fray. Plus, he's got Lady Mormont ready to go to war for him whenever she's called, and Sam Tarly doing some really important research for when that happens. Still, much was lost in the Battle of the Bastards, and much more would have been had it not been for the Knights of the Vale. And with Littlefinger getting the winter-is-here cold shoulder from Sansa, who knows how long he and the Knights will be around? But well-trained assassin Arya Stark is back in Westeros and fighting for her once-forgotten name, though she's heading south alone (or perhaps with Ed Sheeran) to do so. But, after what The Hound saw in the flames last night, it would appear that the Brothers Without Banners are headed north to help fight the army that Jon has been preparing for all along.
4. House Arryn – We know that the Knights of the Vale are a powerful difference maker and that Littlefinger is a cunning strategist who will only do what’s best for himself. There's no doubt in my mind that he's not content with just being the head of a Great House-hold, though, and certainly his machinations will have a greater effect on all of Westeros. I just can’t see how his scheming will get House Arryn too much further up in the Power Rankings. However, Lord Baelish has defied the odds to get this far, so don’t count him out.
5. House Greyjoy – A house divided is hard to put a lot of faith in, but both Euron's fleet and Yarra's rebels (rebelling against a rebel) have chosen strong horses to back. But it's Euron who possesses the great strength of the Iron Fleet, and that may just be enough to land him a queen with real power.
6. House Tyrell – Most of the Tyrell's power got blown away when Cersei lit up the Great Sept of Baelor, along with Loras, Mace and Margaery. But while that old thorn in Cersei's side, Olenna, may have given up on the future of the house, she hasn't given up on trying to take power away from others. And her alliance with the Mother of Dragons and the Sand Snakes of Dorne could easily exact some much-deserved revenge.
7. House Frey – After Arya's toast last night, it's safe to say that we can officially drop Frey from the list of The Great Houses. L'Chaim!
Let us know which House your money is on below. And don't forget to check back again next week to see how the great wheel is spinning and which spoke sits unsteadily on top.