X Factor 2017: Which finalist is favourite to win?

Nicola Agius, Tom Eames
Photo credit: ITV

From Digital Spy

X Factor 2017 is finally here!

We're not sure how because it seems like just yesterday Honey G was trying – and miserably failing – to be the next Missy Elliott before Matt Terry eventually won last year.

But moving forward, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh are officially back and on the lookout for the next big thing.

So far, we've watched the good, the bad and the ugly battle it out in the initial audition process, seen the chosen few sing for their lives in Boot Camp, felt sorry for both the judges and contestants during the Six Chair Challenge before the finalists were chosen at Judges' Houses.

There's still a long way to go until The X Factor 2017 winner is decided but now the live shows are about to start, the countdown is officially on.

Here's everything you need to know before this year's champion is crowned...

Photo credit: ITV

X Factor finalists: Who are they?

THE BOYS:

Sam Black

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 28/1

The plasterer was cut from the competition way back at Boot Camp, but was given a second chance after Anthony Russell pulled out – leading to his getting a place in the Live Shows.

Lloyd Macey

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 25/1

"I see so much potential in you, and I know you're going to work hard," Louis told Lloyd as he revealed he was going through to the next stage of the competition.

Spencer Sutherfield

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 33/1

Spencer was overcome with emotion as he found out he would be making the Live Shows. "I've never wanted this more in my life. I promise I will do whatever it takes,"he told mentor Louis.

THE GIRLS:

Rai-Elle Williams

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 20/1

It was a yes for the young singer, who gave a "fantastic" performance according to Sharon.

Holly Tandy

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 4/1

Sharon noted that Holly had "that magic of pulling people into you", giving her a place in the Live Shows.

Grace Davies

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 9/4

Despite a hiccup in her Judges' Houses performance, Sharon decided to take a chance on Grace and put her through.

THE GROUPS:

The Cutkelvins

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 12/1

The Cutkelvins were the first group Simon put through to the Live Shows, calling them "current" and "original".

Sean and Connor Price

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 7/1

"You don't know how good you are," Simon told the brothers from Ireland as he put them through to the Live Shows. "How could I say no to them?" he asked.

Rak-Su

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 5/1

Cheryl and Simon agreed that Rak-Su were coming into the industry at the perfect time, making them the final group that Simon chose to put through.

THE OVERS:

Matt Linnen

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 16/1

Although Nicole said that there was "a lot more work to be done", she decided to give the plasterer a chance in the Live Shows.

Kevin Davy White

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 25/1

Nicole said that he had an "amazing voice", and praised Kevin for being a lovely person.

Tracy Leanne Jefford

Photo credit: ITV

Odds of winning: 50/1

Nicole said her "voice sounds like a record", and despite concerns about Tracy's vocals "breaking", she earned a spot in the Live Shows.

X Factor wildcards: Will there be one?

Yes! One wildcard will be chosen by the public for each category.

One lucky act from each category will get this second chance and will appear on the live shows, starting on October 28.

The wildcard vote is open now, but will close at 1pm on Monday October 23. The results are expected to be announced next weekend.

X Factor judges: Who has which category?

This year, Simon is delighted to be mentoring the groups.

Meanwhile, Nicole is heading up the overs while Louis is looking after the boys.

Earlier on in the series, Sharon confessed the one category she didn't want was the girls, but that's the group she's been allocated. Oh well!

X Factor live shows: When do they start?

It's finally time for the X Factor 2017 live shows!

Boot Camp has been and gone, the Six Chair Challenge is over (thank God) and Judges' Houses was aired over the weekend of October 21 and 22.

Now, Simon, Nicole, Louis and Sharon have each chosen three finalists to represent their category at the live shows, which kick-starts on Saturday, October 28 on ITV at 8.20pm. The second episode will air on Sunday, October 29 on ITV at 7pm.

X Factor final: When is it?

Previously, the show has always finished around two weeks – sometimes less – before Christmas. But not this year.

X Factor 2017 is the shortest series to date, and bosses have moved the finale to the weekend of Saturday, December 2.

At least it won't clash with the Strictly Come Dancing final...

Will X Factor clash with Strictly Come Dancing?

Good news! Simon has reportedly tucked into a slice of humble pie and moved the X Factor finale so that it will NOT clash with Strictly. Yes, really!

Unfortunately though, throughout the rest of the series, the shows will clash with each other's schedules. Strictly hasn't been finishing over on BBC One until after 8pm most Saturdays, and X Factor usually starts on or around 8pm – meaning the shows are likely to clash. Thank goodness for ITV+1 and iPlayer!

The X Factor 2017: Are there any big changes this year?

Simon confirmed earlier this year that he's completely revamping the live shows (again), and he's starting by getting rid of the not-at-all-random jukebox.

He announced the news at the show's auditions in Wembley, telling fans (via The Sun): "All these crazy things we used to do with themes have gone, no more jukeboxes, none of that rubbish this year.

"The public are smart enough to know what's real – that's what we are focusing on this year."

There have also been reports that contestants will be encouraged to perform their own original songs this year, while it has also been claimed that there will no longer be performance-only Saturday live shows, with contestants voted off on Saturdays AND Sundays, and that the number of live weekend shows look set to be cut from ten to six, though this has yet to be officially confirmed by ITV.

The X Factor host: Who is presenting this year?

Photo credit: Rex Shutterstock

Dermot O'Leary, of course! Remember when he took some time out in 2015, leaving the show in the hands of Olly Murs and Caroline Flack? Well, Simon has learnt his lesson and won't be repeating that mistake any time soon.

Explaining why he ever let Dermot go in the first place, Simon told The Mirror: "I think there was probably a misunderstanding. I thought he wanted to go and he probably thought I wanted him to leave. Neither of us, being stubborn, spoke to each other and then we realised that we miss him."

Last year, Dermot is understood to have signed a contract worth £8million to return to The X Factor. As part of the deal, he's required to stay on as presenter until at least 2019. Yay!

What about The Xtra Factor? Who's in charge of that?

Awkward question... After 12 great years, the Xtra Factor has been axed.

Sadly, this means Rylan Clark-Neal and Matt Edmondson are now out of a job.

However, ITV is launching a new digital series called Just Eat's Xtra Bites instead, which will be hosted by Becca Dudley. She will also be the face of all X Factor social media platforms, including Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.

Will there be any X Factor guest judges?

Of course there will be!

We've already seen Britain's Got Talent star Alesha Dixon step in for Nicole, when she couldn't make one batch of auditions.

But who else could Simon and his pals be signing up? And could Louis Tomlinson make a return after his performance of the series last year? We'll let you know as soon as we do.

X Factor air date: When did it start?

The show will now be on ITV every Saturday and Sunday until the series finishes. X Factor 2017 launched on Saturday, September 2 at 8pm.

In the past, Simon has had a habit of kicking off the series on the last Saturday of August over the Bank Holiday weekend. This year, however, the series started a little later than usual as the programme is running for just 13 weeks, making it the shortest season ever.

The X Factor airs on ITV.

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