Footy's night of nights is back in full force in 2022, with the Brownlow Medal set to be celebrated in traditional fashion at Crown Palladium after a stunted two years.
Although the glitz and glamour side of things were absent, the meat and bones of the night were still there with punters hedging all kinds of bets to mark the occasion.
Every year, there are players - who may not necessarily be in the conversation to be in and around it come the end of the night - that leap out of the blocks to an early lead.
As always, there will be shocks and unexpected votes on the night considering the subjectivity of the umpires voting, so there could be an extremely left-field player who may be on top after five rounds.
- Predicting every likely three-vote performance
- Which club will poll the most votes?
- Brownlow winner, top 3, top 5, top 10, top 20
- Every club’s likely leading vote-getter
- Likely leader after 10 rounds
- Most votes in the last eight rounds (16-23)
- Players to poll in most games
- Stats Insider: The algorithm that's tipping a close Brownlow
- How to watch the Brownlow
Although punters use a variety of metrics to determine who will be leading after five rounds, we here at Zero Hanger will be using our final MVP poll to determine five players who will be the hottest starters at this year's Brownlow night.
Without further ado, let's get stuck in.
Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle)
The Dockers young gun has had his best year yet and started as he meant to go on with a string of elite displays to begin season 2022.
According to the Zero Hanger panel, Brayshaw is a chance to poll in all but one round in the first five rounds of the season, meaning that he could be on top of the leaderboard early on.
Although he wasn't voted unanimously as best-on in any of these games, there could be a chance that he is looked favourably upon in one or two of those games and receive a contentious three votes.
Brayshaw didn't dip under 26 disposals in his opening five games, with the pick of the bunch being against the Saints in Round 2 where he picked up 40 disposals, one goal and seven tackles in a losing side.
Being one of the favourites for this year's count, don't be surprised if the midfielder's first few rounds set him up for success later in the night.
Ben Keays (Adelaide)
The Crows midfielder is a certified ball-winner, being at the centre of everything good that happens in Matthew Nicks' side.
Similarly to Brayshaw, there aren't any games that Keays unanimously was voted the best player in by the Zero Hanger MVP panel, however, it's his consistency of performance that will likely see him poll at least one vote in every game for the first five weeks.
Whilst only likely to get three votes in Round 1, Keays is also likely to poll at least some votes in Round 2 and Round 5 all things going well, meaning he could be there or thereabouts come the conclusion of the fifth round.
It's highly unlikely that he will take home 'Charlie', but Keays could be a dark horse to leap out of the blocks early on.
Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
One of the hot favourites, Christian Petracca is looking extremely well placed to be topping the leaderboard after Round 5.
The Melbourne game-breaker was voted best-on-ground by all four members of the Zero Hanger panel twice in the opening five games, in Rounds 1 (38 disposals, two goals, nine clearances) and 2 (40 disposals, six clearances). His other high-polling round came against the Giants in Round 5, with 30 disposals, two goals and seven clearances to his name.
Petracca could have been in a better position should he have had two better games in Rounds 3 and 4, however his efforts in the matches he did play well should really see him rack up six votes minimum to start proceedings.
Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Similarly to Petracca, Patrick Cripps leapt out of the blocks thanks to a series of dominant performances in his opening few games.
Massive performances in Round 1 against Richmond (30 disposals, three goals, eight clearances), Round 2 against the Dogs (35 disposals, two goals, 11 clearances) and Round 3 against Hawthorn (31 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal) should place him well to poll high in each round.
Unfortunately, a hamstring injury saw him only play less than a quarter in Round 4 before sitting out Round 5, meaning that there will only be a maximum of nine votes for Cripps at the conclusion of the fifth round. Still, there is a relatively high chance he is sitting at the top of the leaderboard at that point in time.
Isaac Heeney (Sydney)
His Round 2 performance in Lance Franklin's 1000th goal match saw him boot five goals and gather 21 disposals to put him in good stead to receive all three votes, however, his Round 1 performance - despite booting three goals and having 25 disposals - was overshadowed by teammate Luke Parker who racked up five goals and 21 disposals from midfield.
There is also potential for him to receive votes in Round 4 (17 disposals, 11 tackles, two goals) and Round 5 (16 touches, six tackles, three goals), putting him in a nice spot to be up the pointy end of the leaderboard come the end of the first five rounds of the season.