brightcove.createExperiences(); PEOPLE staff writer (and resident Dancing with the Stars season 22 expert) Patrick Gomez predicts who will take home the mirrorball trophy Tuesday night:
Season 22 of Dancing with the Stars is arguably the most competitive season of the ABC reality dance competition in years.
Early front runner Wanya Morris could have easily been in the finals. On another season, Marla Maples could have been a finalist as well. But in the end, deaf model Nyle DiMarco, UFC fighter Paige VanZant and Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee are the three stars left vying for the mirrorball trophy Tuesday.
So who will end the night victorious?
Why he might win: The America’s Next Top Model winner was a wildcard when season 22 began in March. Deaf and with no dance background, fans didn’t know what to expect from DiMarco. But straight out the gate, he wowed the judges and won America’s heart.
But it’s not just his innate dance ability and triumph over adversity that make DiMarco a possible winner.
Along with his partner Peta Murgatroyd, DiMarco has consistently put on a great show. Whether it was turning the music off to give the audience a taste of what it’s like for him while dancing or taking to the dance floor in a blindfold, he found inventive and engaging ways to make great TV.
Why he might lose: America loves an underdog. But while DiMarco started the season at a disadvantage because he is deaf, he’s proven he has a natural proclivity for rhythm and timing. In essence, he may just make it look too easy.
Combine that with the fact that he enters the finals with the lowest combined scores from Monday and it starts to be apparent that there may be another name called when hosts Erin Andrews and Tom Bergeron announce the winner.
Why she might win: The ABC News personality came to DWTS fresh from having her first child. At first slightly timid and unsure, the audience has gotten to see Zee blossom into a confident and competent dancer with partner Val Chmerkovskiy.
And more important than her impressive dance ability is her effervescent attitude that lights up the ballroom and has garnered her comparisons to season 21 winner Bindi Irwin.
Why she might lose: Being an established member of the ABC family can be a double-edged sword for DWTS contestants. Though Zee gets ingrained publicity almost every morning on GMA, some viewers feel it’s an unfair advantage and that could cost her some votes.
It was also widely publicized that Zee injured her pelvis just days before the finale and that she was at one point unsure if she’d be able to compete. She likely gained some fans for persevering and producing stellar performances on Monday. But even though the injury was very real, cynics speculated it was a ploy for sympathy votes.
Why she might win: Like DiMarco, the average DWTS viewer was probably not familiar with VanZant at the beginning of the season. But the athlete quickly established herself as a proficient dancer and the audience has enjoyed watching herself become increasingly vulnerable as the season has gone on.
And once VanZant revealed her years spent being bullied in high school, she found a new legion of fans who enjoyed seeing the hard-edged fighter open up.
Plus, she ended Monday with the highest scores of the night.
Why she might lose: No one can argue that VanZant isn’t the best technical dancer out of the finalists. But after it was revealed that she grew up dancing at her parents’ dance studio, some fans complained that her head start on training gave her too much of an advantage.
Zee and VanZant could easily have won other seasons, but from day one season 22 has belonged to DiMarco.
Find out if PEOPLE’s prediction is correct when the two-hour Dancing with the Stars finale airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.