Alf - 8.1/10
Start: Turban, Reaver, Maketso, Jones, Not u
Sub: Singer, Shaun, Fork, Mythril
Alf are in the enviable position of having, for my money, both the best javelin (Turban) and the best 7* javelin (Jones) in TWDT-J currently. Turban has said that he will be flaky this season, but realistically he's just been dampening expectations. If he shows, then he must play a leadership role and organise the rusty talent that surrounds him. Indeed, their season rests on whether old-timers, Maketso, Singer and particularly Reaver can regain their peak form, which is hard to predict at this stage. Despite being off radar for a few seasons, I believe Reaver will be an unlikely boon for Alf, because he brings a sense of legacy that his co-javs should be lifted by. Overall, Alf has a nice amount of depth, without being crowded. Shaun is a much safer bet in terms of activity, and is good if not yet great. Fork is also there as a keen backup, if a tad over-rated at 8*. Both players have also been known to bitch from the bench, so strong leadership is key for this team. Their main weakness appears to be their 6*, with no obvious candidates or 2nd-ship options.
Power - 9.1/10
Start: Zidane, Roiwerk, Okyo, Ricko, Saari
Sub: Trasher, Bacon, Kim, Aprix, Weak, Paradise
Zidane, as one of the most successful captains in TWDT and TWLJ, has put together a ferocious DTJ line up. Early pick Roiwerk can rack up 15 kills regularly without breaking sweat. Zidane himself seems to be as hungry as ever. Indeed, there is a lot of 8*+ talent on this team- but perhaps too much. As the phrase goes, too many cooks spoil the broth. After all, only 3 of these players can play at any one time, and feeling like you're surplus to requirements can be bad for morale. I think Zidane, who has always tended to stick with a Thunder / North American base, will struggle to man-manage this team, who will have little patience for his outbursts. Of course the quality and experience of Roiwerk, Trasher, Kim & Aprix barely need mention, and maybe that will be enough on the day. But they're all individually-minded players, and similar personalities for that matter… with more than a whiff of that North European nonchalance that comes when you live in darkness for 10 months of the year. Obtuse personalities & likely resentment aside, Power have some huge weapons, with two of the better 7* javs in Ricko & Bacon, some solid 6*s, and Okyo who is uniquely aggressive.
Brexit - 8.4/10
Start: Commodo, Tiny, Ro, Omega Red, Pat B
Sub: Temujin, Iron, Geio, Pressure
Brexit may not have the most decorated or the most active jav-line, but it does comprise some of the most naturally gifted pilots to grace TW in recent history. This team could potentially produce fireworks. Both Tiny & Commodo (me) are reigning TWLJ champs, and having a familiar duo at this level gives an on-paper advantage above other teams. Of course there are untested & unknown elements in this team, particularly Ro & Temu's activity / zest. If they don't show, then this team will be ordinary. Though Iron Survivor & Geio should fill the gaps against lesser teams, and won't mind sitting out against the better ones. For me, Attacks shuffled the deck perfectly during draft, with four, creative, deft 9ish*s all competing for 3 spots. Beyond Omega Red, however, we lack mid-star depth, which could be a major stumbling block.
Terrorist - 8.6/10
Start: Dreamwin, Kess, Havok, Zizzo, Tiger the Crab
Sub: Ra, War, Afri, Rasaq
Conversely, Terrorist's core strength comes from below. And in a ship that is particularly brutal for low-stars, that could prove vital. War, Tiger the Crab and even Afri are all good enough to know how to play cautiously without inviting too much pressure. Moreover, Zizzo is horribly under-rated at 7*, which is clearly a category error. Another nice aspect to Terrorist is that all their key players will show every Sunday. Despite these advantages, high-star Havok is relatively unproven at the highest levels of the 5v5 game - and could conceivably be broken down by some of the heavy-hitting teams. Kess has played second fiddle as jav for a long time, but now has the opportunity to show his full potential, which (in my opinion) is at least equal to his brother's. Dreamwin's form has been patchy in the last season, but remains one of, if not the, best match player. Without much depth to hide behind, this could be a rough season for Terrorist. Nevertheless they remain strong contenders.
Baratheon - 6.0/10
Start: Kado, Revered, Hellkite, Spectacular, Holy Ship
Subs: Rampage, Cripple, Ogron
It's fair to say that Baratheon won't win TWDT-J 2017. But they could cause some upsets if Ogron can successfully instil a 'siege mentality' in his players- headed up around Kado, who possesses some nascent leadership qualities. Revered, if he shows, can make even a one-sided loss interesting through near kamikaze aggression- though is equally likely to go out early in close affairs. HK & Rampage are competent but not great. Spectacular does call jav his home at 7*. Beyond him there are few redeeming low stars. Baratheon would make a killer javduel freq, but I fear they will be taking some punishment this season.
Paladin - 7.4/10
Start: Cape, Vys, Mean Gene, wbm, too fresh
Sub: Tanzu, Racka
Jessup has put together an assortment of good players who can jav, without much thought beyond that. She lacks any natural 7*s, when there are an abundance in the league. Her 6*s aren't much better either. But Paladin does have one advantage above all other teams: cunning. Racka, Tanzu, Vys and even MG are those players who will be tricky to play against, and will trash talk between rounds. They are the frat boys of TW, eking out marginal gains through cunning. Unfortunately they lack any real big hitters, with Cape not showing much interest in jav in recent history. They will go hard, and will definitely cause some upsets, but without any focal point, I don't see Paladin getting far if they even reach playoffs. Personality clashes may also be an issue.