Going into the show I'm rooting for Niecy and Erin, but will reserve judgement on the others I'm iffy about.
I wonder if Kate knew she wasn't getting her requested partner and maybe it surprised her, or maybe things aren't really going so well. If it's Maks, we'll definitely hear about it Pamela and Kate I think would be just about pushing it for Derek and Louis but I guess it's still possible. Louis seems excited about this season, so unless he's been living under a rock, he has to know Kate isn't popular. I read the new guy Damien is on the tall side, so that's why I think Pamela, Kate, Erin go to Tony, Maks, and him and that Derek and Louis will get Nicole and Niecy. I wouldn't mind the new guy getting Kate. Especially if he's a one time pro. None of the pros seem like they're on the quiet side, except Tony, but he's got frustration there that comes out. Derek would probably get almost as frustrated as Maks being paired with Kate. That'd be the ideal test for a newbie.
My ideal pairings would be:
Shannon: Mark (allegedly confirmed already-besides, it might be the clash of the divas)
Erin : Tony (would love to see Tony have another great run, and they'd make a pretty looking pair)
Nicole: Maks (I just want Maks around this season! And I think they'd bring a pretty good dynamic and sizzling routines to the dancefloor)
Kate: Derek (sorry Derek, you're waaay overdue)
Niecy: Louis (think they could be a lot of fun together)
Pamela: Damian or whoever the other guy is
Buzz: new girl
Evan: Edyta (I want her to win dang it!)
Chad: Chelsie (even if he might be a little too tall for her)