Tonight, after 50 champions gave it their all in talents ranging from comedy to music, ventriloquism to magic, danger to dogs and more, it all comes down to this final moment, these final dozen contestants and the title of best in the world.
It was definitely not an easy decision, as all twelve acts came to impress and boy did they deliver. Comedian Preacher Lawson ripped his shirt off while Deadly Games nearly killed all the judges. Kseniya Simonova moved us all with sand while Darci Lynne proved a puppet can sing opera.
Paul Potts proved why his operative voice is already a champion and he was flanked by a slew of powerhouse vocalists including Cristina Ramos, Kechi, Angelica Hale and Brian Justin Crum. Current winner Shin Lim and Jon Dorenbos treated us to a double-dip of magic. And Susan Boyle, who helped make "Got Talent" a household franchise, brought it all back to the beginning.
But who's going to win? We made a bold prediction we absolutely did not believe in last week. In ranking the acts, we had Jon Dorenbos at the top, but even we didn't think he'd win. So our Top 3 was Brian Justin Crum, Susan Boyle and Shin Lim with the edge going to Brian.
Were we right? Anywhere close? Were you? Read on to find out. After all, there was two hours of show to get through before that big reveal.
To mix things up, many of the finalists were performing duets on the night, but that was more challenging for comedian Preacher Lawson, who made the rounds trying to find the act that was right for him.
Deadly Games was a disaster and he quickly wore out his welcome with the singers, flopped disastrously with Darci and had the card tables turned on him with the magicians. Finally, he found someone after his own heart, but Terry Crews already had a gig ... and definitely didn't have time for all of this.
Tokio Myers & Voices of Hope Children's Choir
The avant garde percussion pianist and "Britain's Got Talent" winner Tokio Myers was the perfect accompaniment for this choir that wowed everyone last summer on "AGT." It was a short moment, but a powerful and beautiful one nonetheless. Tokio is such a unique and singular talent while the kids proved they've still got the harmonies to touch our hearts, even if there were some technical difficulties that subdued their solo work.
This couple certainly found a fun way to randomize their stunt, shooting balls into the crowd. Everyone in the audience had an envelope but only four balls had the names of the judges on them. And so, only four audience members brought their envelopes to the respective judges. They even added another layer of chance and choice with Terry randomly selecting Howie Mandel for an even more complex reveal, and all four of them were mind-blowing. These guys never fail to impress, though we still wish they had a more dynamic stage presence.
She's been associated with this show for nearly a decade now after finishing in second back in Season 5 and she's only 18 years old. It's certainly easy to see why as she has a voice that soars so effortlessly to classical heights even on more contemporary songs. Honestly, we'd have much rather get a full song out of Jackie than watch a five minute montage on the history of "AGT."
We've seen some hit-or-miss performances from Cirque du Soleil on these various reality shows, but his was easily one of their most polished and impressive displays yet. The aerial acrobatics was truly impressive, but even that had nothing on some mind-blowing seesaw work they did on the floor to wrap it up.
Brian Justin Crum, Cristina Ramos & Deadly Games
Perhaps no voices on this season could have handled Freddie Mercury better than Brian and Cristina, and their voices together were absolutely magical. Honestly, they should consider performing together professionally. It was legitimately that good, and the addition of Deadly Games making all our hearts race made this an even more exciting performance. It was easily the biggest moment of the night to this point.
Terry Crews' "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" costar got to join in on the close-up magic of Shin Lim and she was as blown away as everyone else who's sat next to him and watched what he does. We're still not sure how he does it, though at times it feels like we're getting a glimpse into the trick, like with the reflective back of the blank card he turned into her card. But overall, he's so stellar at what he does and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
Darci Lynne (w/ Edna) & Rowlf the Dog
What a logical pairing with the adorable young ventriloquist and a classic Muppet character, considering the skills are at least in the same family. We're going to say their puppet cousins. And what a natural pairing they were, with Darci immediately showing what kind of entertainer she could be. At 14 years old, she'd fit perfectly on a quirky Disney or Nickelodeon variety show so she can spotlight what she does and bring on cool guests like this.
The first thing Terry did was whittle down the singers, pulling up Brian Justin Crum, Cristina Ramos and Kechi, with Cristina Ramos moving on, which immediately puts us right out. We did not pick her and we did pick poor Brian, who just has an amazing voice.
Darci Lynne was next brought up alongside Susan Boyle and Jon Dorenbos and you couldn't ask for a more eclectic trio. The next act in the Top 5 was Darci Lynne. Terry then grouped Paul Potts, Angelica Hale and Preacher Lawson, which was another odd combination, with Preacher Lawson keeping things diverse in that Top 5.
At this point, there were only three acts left with two moving forward. So who moved on out of Deadly Games, Shin Lim and Kseniya Simonova. In a way this was the cruelest cut of all as only one of these acts had to walk off stage empty-handed. But it wasn't Kseniya Simonova or Shin Lim.
Which means of our own Top 3 pick, only one of them made it through, and it's the reigning "AGT" champion. In fact, this doesn't match up with our picks at all. Only Shin Lim was even in our Top 5. We did say it was almost impossible to predict when everyone is so good ... at least we were right about something!
Fifth: Poor Preacher Lawson barely got to enjoy being in the Top 5 before Terry cut him, but we can understand. We had him eleventh in our rankings because he just didn't bring it last week as he has so many times in the past. He's a world-class talent who had an off night, so this ranking shows how loved he has become.
Fourth: Cristina Ramos fell next, and we had her eighth in our rankings as we didn't feel she bring enough to her operatic take on "Call Me" last week. This week, though, she was stellar alongside Brian Justin Crum. That music is in her wheelhouse and she killed it. Plus, we still think they should exchange numbers and duet again for sure!
Third: Kseniya Simonova was the next act sent home, leaving the most recent two winners of "AGT" to battle it out, which is certainly interesting. Would they then just give the title to the most recent one? Anyway, Kseniya is one of the most unique and beautiful talents to ever grace the "AGT" stage. What she does with sand art is emotional and powerful, but it just wasn't enough this time.
Second: It turns out giving the title to the most recent winner is exactly what the 50 states were going to do, as Darci Lynne had to settle for second place for the first time in her "AGT" career, but we have a feeling she's going to be just fine.
First: And that means it was back-to-back wins for Shin Lim, who gets the honor of being reigning "AGT" and "Champion" winner at the same time. Who would have guessed that he could do it all again against such stellar talent, but it is a testament to how brilliantly mesmerizing he is at what he does.
While it was a short run, "AGT" proved that it has what it takes to hang with the big dogs during the regular season, so we wouldn't be surprised if another season of "Champions" or another variation of the format returns in the spring again next year.
For now, though, we're just a few short months from the kickoff of the usual "America's Got Talent" summer series with its fourteenth season. Terry Crews is sticking around, replacing outgoing host Tyra Banks. And Tyra's not the only one leaving.
It's a clean sweep of all the woman, oddly enough, with both Mel B and Heidi Klum also bidding farewell to the show after six seasons each (plus "Champions"). They're set to be replaced by Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough, who will join returning judges Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel.