This contest has become nearly impossible to predict from year to year. The 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place groups after finals in 2016 placed 6th, 11th, and 14th in finals in 2017. In a typical regional, those are the sort of drops you'd expect if there were some major staff shake-ups in all three programs, but there weren't. So, for those who don't like that the same groups make finals every year, I think last year demonstrated that nobody is safe. Lots of up and coming groups. This early on, I wouldn't want to make predictions. Heck, even after seeing the shows at San Antonio finals last year, I found it difficult to predict the results. There are often significant disagreements between the prelims and finals panels, and also within each panel. So of course a general audience isn't going to fare much better. We went into the season thinking Flower Mound was the new LD Bell or Marcus, and came out of the season wondering when Claudia Taylor Johnson was going to go to Nationals to win their first Eagle. That sort of fickleness is really a testament to the quality of the programs in Texas.
Probably, I won't comment much this season. But I'll drop by toward the end of the season to see the finished products. They're usually better anyway!