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Game of Game of Thrones season 8 preview: meet the Verge teams

It’s the final countdown to dragon supremacy

In fewer than 120 hours, we’ll gather around our TVs, computer monitors, and laptop screens to watch the premiere of Game of Thronesfinal season. It’s exciting, isn’t it? It’s kind of like going back to school when you still have a full pencil case, and you feel ready for anything life throws your way. It’s how you should be feeling heading into this year’s Game of Game of Thrones if you drafted correctly.

Hell, even if you managed to draft a somewhat decent team over at our fantasy league partner Fantasizr, you’re doing better than most of The Verge.

This year’s draft didn’t exactly go as planned for anybody on the team — save for perhaps Verge managing editor T.C., who came into the draft prepared to build his roster entirely out of Game of Thrones’ great beasts and other animals. (Save for Ser Pounce, his personal favorite, who’s been declared dead.) He mostly got what he wanted. That’s more than what the majority of Team Verge can say.

Look, maybe it’s because I’m stuck bouncing back and forth between excitement over Game of Thrones premiering this weekend, Star Wars Celebration happening, and preparing for Avengers: Endgame, but there’s something poetic about the fantasy league gods not playing into anyone’s hand. This is it! Six more episodes left! We have no idea what’s going to happen. We don’t have the books to fall back on. All we have is a sense of hope that good will prevail and that no one else will end up romantically involved with their blood relations. (D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, why?)

As far as firsts and lasts go, also consider this your first and last reminder that Game of Thrones premieres on Sunday, and to participate in our weekly Game of Game of Thrones, you must have your team ready before then. Text your friends, figure out a time to host the draft, and get to picking. I would also encourage you to get a cold beverage that you can drink when someone else in your group picks the Lannister who you were holding out for. After all, angrily sipping and glaring over the edge of a cup works wonders. Maybe that’s just me.

Before we jump into our group’s selection, let’s just run through a couple of quick reminders about rule changes this year:

  • Players will now get 15 points if their character performs an act of betrayal. Those points will double if the act of betrayal eventually turns out to be a fake double-cross.
  • The weekly editor’s choice award is coming back. I will choose the MVP from an episode and award 20 points to the character who earns it.
  • Per-episode point caps are being introduced. (You’re not going to get points if Daenerys rides a dragon in every scene. C’mon now.)
  • One last change for the finale only: players will get 20 points for every character in their league who survives the show.

With that out of the way, let’s meet the teams. Maybe I’ll throw in an extra 10 points, dear reader, if you can make sense of these lineups.

Image: HBO

Stop Dragon My Heart Around

Tasha Robinson, Film and TV editor

  1. Brienne of Tarth
  2. Bran Stark
  3. Gendry
  4. Samwell Tarly
  5. Robett Glover
  6. Yohn Royce

Tasha’s game plan:

Let’s be clear on this: there’s some serious Game of Thrones-style chicanery going on here. The entire draft happened while I was incommunicado at a film screening, and I walk out to find that Liz’s team somehow bagged Daenerys and Cersei, and Andrew got Jon and Tyrion, and somehow I was left with Bran as my highest-drafted available pick? I sense that an unholy coalition has formed against me, using dark magic to unseat my rightful power. But who knows, maybe this will finally be Brienne’s year. Maybe she’ll finally live up to my sky-high hopes for her. And since Bran is made entirely out of magic, I’m hoping he’ll at least rack up the visions / wargings points. Or maybe this will be the year Samwell Tarly gets naked. There are a lot of long-shot dark horses on this team, but I’m holding out for them to surprise me.

Tasha’s drafted team may not seem as strong as Liz’s or Chaim’s right from the get-go, but I think Bran Stark is going to be an invaluable player. I also personally have to believe that Gendry is the real surprise contestant in the race for the Iron Throne. Tasha may not have picked her own team, but AutoDraft has done a pretty decent job setting her up for a potential victory.

Image: HBO

A Song of Fire and NICE

Liz Lopatto, deputy editor

  1. Daenerys Targaryen
  2. Cersei Lannister
  3. Yara Greyjoy
  4. Lyanna Mormont
  5. Podrick Payne
  6. Tycho Nestoris

Liz’s game plan:

I don’t actually know what’s going on in Game of Thrones anymore (and wow, Daenerys and Jon Snow have no chemistry), so I picked the participants with the best outfits. Cersei obviously has been giving us life for several seasons now, so much so that Sansa has stolen some of her stylistic elements. Daenerys has turned lewks and lewks, including the naked-from-the-flames one. I think Yara Greyjoy is due for a comeback, and I think she’s going to look fab when she does it. And I just love Lyanna Mormont, a 12-year-old who terrifies adults in that huge furry cloak. (She’s decidedly tougher than Jorah Mormont, in my opinion.) I picked Podrick Payne because he seems nice, and I picked up Tycho Nestoris because it’s generally unwise to bet against the bank. If those two can give me a few fashion moments this season, I’ll be incredibly happy.

I am here for Liz’s fashion-based game plan! As someone who picks teams based on the sekrit fan-fiction that’s running through my head, I appreciate when other players look outside the conventional norms. Daenerys and Cersei are, without a doubt, the best-dressed people in all of Westeros. The only person who comes close to competing is Jon Snow, but he’s constantly covered in blood, sweat, and, well, other people’s blood. Maybe I can award Liz’s team extra points for surviving an intense battle while still looking incredibly sharp.

Image: HBO

Adult of the Woods

Sarah Bishop-Woods, brand manager

  1. Rhaegal
  2. Arya Stark
  3. Varys
  4. Qyburn
  5. Meera Reed
  6. Qhono

Sarah’s game plan:

It’s slim pickings as we go into the last season of Game of Thrones, and my team is reflective of the mood: war. This is a war mood. None of the choices are most likely to score nudity points, and witty lines are tied most closely to Varys, although Arya may have a few brutal words for those left on her list. Everyone else reflects the fighters I hope will keep capping out their kill points: Qhono, Rhaegal, Qyburn (if he hasn’t run out of wildfire), and Meera (who we won’t likely see in the throes of anything, unless Bran gets more screen time, too). The team is stacked with Northern and Southern fighters, so hopefully some of them will live to see the end of winter.

Sarah’s team isn’t as fashionable as Liz’s, but she has a couple of smooth talkers within her ranks. I am sure Sarah will be awarded quite a few points for extremely memorable, witty lines. Of course, Rhaegal has the potential to rack up some kill scores, putting Sarah in a pretty cozy position.

Image: HBO

The Mountain that Slides into Your DMs

Andy Hawkins, senior transportation reporter

  1. Jon Snow
  2. Tyrion Lannister
  3. The Mountain
  4. Euron Greyjoy
  5. Sarra
  6. Harry Strickland

Andy’s game plan:

I’m feeling pretty good about my team this season. I’ve got a strong lineup of A-listers (Jon Snow, Tyrion), psychopathic murderers (Euron Greyjoy), and undead stabbing machines (the Mountain). I don’t have many expectations for the newbies like Sarra (who?) and Harry Strickland, but, hey, you never know! It’s Game of Thrones, people. Literally anything can happen. All we do know is that someone — literally anyone — is going to get stabbed. And my hope is that when that happens, it’s one of my characters doing the stabbing.

Andy is feeling pretty good about his team — and for good reason! Look at that lineup! That’s a lineup worthy of a throne. An Iron Throne perhaps? I’m sure Tyrion will take home some points for witty one-liners, and, look, if we’re being honest, Jon Snow is making it all the way to the end. Betting on Jon Snow is like betting on Harry Potter — both are the chosen ones, and both had to die to come back and win! Hopefully, there’s less retconning with these characters once the series is over.

Game of Thrones Image: HBO

New Throne, Who Dis?

Chaim Gartenberg, news editor

  1. The Night King
  2. Bronn
  3. The Hound
  4. Grey Worm
  5. Theon Greyjoy
  6. Fergus

Chaim’s game plan:

In Game of Thrones, the time for talking and politics is over. There are six episodes left, and it’s a kill-or-be-killed kind of world now, hence my team. It’s going all-in on the fact that the road to the Iron Throne is going to be paved with bodies. There’s the Night King, of course, who’s personally trying to kill every living creature in the realm, backed by some of Westeros’ most lethal killers: Bronn, Grey Worm, The Hound, and Theon Greyjoy. Plus, like Fergus (who?), all of these characters have high chances of dying dramatically, which suits my purposes just as well.

Chaim has a lot of “The” and “Grey” characters on his roster, which makes me want to give him extra points for his dedication to a theme. He’s also coming into this season with The Night King, who, like Jon Snow, will probably make it to the final episode. He’s a good character to have in your arsenal; the fact that he’s also going to kill a lot of people and rack up points for Chaim is just an added bonus.

Image: HBO

The Faceless Draft

Adi Robertson, senior reporter

  1. Jorah Mormont
  2. Davos Seaworth
  3. Archmaester Ebrose
  4. Willa
  5. Wolkan
  6. Nora

Adi’s game plan:

Look, I haven’t watched Game of Thrones since season 5. (Things that are more recent than my last full episode viewing: The Verge’s Circuit Breaker blog launch, the 2016 presidential election, and my own wedding, which counted a cool zero fatalities.) But I want to see how the show ends — and GoGoT will help me emotionally invest in characters I’ve either partly forgotten or never met. I ran my draft by clicking around the page with my eyes closed. I’ve got no clue who half of these people are. But I look forward to caring deeply about each beloved team member’s narrative arc, probable bloody death, and capacity for winning me points in an internet fantasy sports league. Go… Nora?

Adi’s game plan is quite possibly my favorite because it’s how I go through life: I don’t know who you are, where I am, or what’s happening, but if there’s wine and attractive people, I will show up week after week.

Image: HBO

The Staccato Stargaryens

Shannon Liao, reporter

  1. Sansa Stark
  2. Melisandre
  3. Tormund Giantsbane
  4. Missandei
  5. Gilly
  6. Ned Umber

Shannon’s game plan:

When I came to work here, I staked my job around Game of Thrones. Now that the show is coming to an end, I’m not quite sure what I’ll be writing about after this. That said, I’ve been following Game of Thrones very closely. And I know that even though the show has not made Sansa the bloodthirsty killer she could be or given her more to do than accompany Jon Snow or stare at her bloodthirstier younger sister, I have faith that this is the season when it happens. Sansa Stark will overthrow her own brother, her future sister-in-law (I assume), and everybody else who would stand in her way. If not, well then, my team doesn’t stand a chance — unless Ned Umber swoops in at the last moment to surprise us all.

Shannon betting heavily on Sansa Stark is a smart play. She’s only gotten more ferocious over the last few seasons, and she’s ready for blood. Sansa was born to lead! Could she lead from the Iron Throne and deliver some witty one-liners in the process? It’s very possible.

Image: HBO

Ser Pounce’s Suicide Squad

T.C. Sottek, managing editor

  1. Drogon
  2. Viserion
  3. Nymeria (direwolf)
  4. Ghost
  5. Robin Arryn
  6. Hot Pie

T.C.’s game plan:

What did you just say about me? I’ll have you know I graduated top of my class at the Night’s Watch, and I’ve been involved in numerous secret raids beyond the wall, and I have over 300 confirmed kills. I am trained in Dothraki warfare, and I’m the top Ranger in the entire Army of the North. You are nothing to me but another side character. I will wipe you out with precision the likes of which has never been seen before in this world, mark my words. You think you can get away with saying that shit to me with a raven? Think again. As we speak, I am contacting my secret network of sparrows across Westeros, and your house sigil is being traced, so you better prepare for winter.

Did anyone else read T.C.’s game plan to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger”? No? Only me? That’s cool. His plan makes me want to rip open a shirt and run up a set of stairs in Philadelphia. Animals, beasts, and fantastical creatures like dragons have always played a big role in Game of Thrones, but heading into the final season, I have a feeling those creatures will become even more important. What may have started off as a joke for T.C. could help him become the winner.

Last chance: sign up for your own Game of Game of Thrones fantasy league ahead of the Game of Thrones season 8 premiere on Sunday at 9PM ET on HBO, and follow along on Mondays as we award points and look for the winner of the game of thrones — even if it isn’t really a game of thrones anymore.