Mr. Olympia 2019 promises to be one of the most open and exciting tournaments in recent years, with a new winner set to be crowned at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Defending champion Shawn Rhoden will not feature after having his eligibility revoked by Olympia's parent company American Media Inc. (AMI) after he was charged with rape in Utah, per FitnessVolt.com. Rhoden has denied the charges but turned himself in to police in July, per TMZ Sports.
Seven-time champion Phil Heath has also announced he will sit this one out. Heath told Ron Harris at Muscular Development that he has "chosen to bypass this year's event."
Australian bodybuilding champion Josh Lenartowicz is another big name not competing in 2019 after undergoing surgery on a tumour on his skull, while Kai Greene and Mamdouh "Big Ramy" Elssbiay also miss out, per Roger Lockridge at Barbend.com.
All of which means the title is there for the taking, and stars such as Hadi Choopan, Roelly Winklaar, Brandon Curry, William Bonac and Dexter Jackson head into the event as the favourites.
The 2019 winner will take home $400,000 from a total prize money pot of $1.4 million, which is a new tournament record, per Derek Hall at FitnessVolt.com.
The first event is on Friday at 7 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET/3 a.m. BST Sat), and the full schedule is available via the tournament's official website.
Top Bodybuilders and Predictions
Curry heads into Mr. Olympia 2019 after a great win over Bonac at the Arnold Classic USA in March.
It is the first time he has won the title, although he has clinched victory at the 2013 Arnold Classic Brasil and the 2017 Arnold Classic Australia:
The 36-year-old put in the best performance of his career at the Arnold Classic, and if he can come up with something similar in Las Vegas, he looks destined to win the Sandow.
Curry only finished fifth at the 2018 Mr. Olympia, an improvement on his eighth-placed finish in 2017, but he heads into the event looking in the best shape of his career and certain to improve on that placement.
He added: "Winning is the ideal, so right now I've just got a winner's mindset, and I know what it takes. I know what it takes to win."
He will face fierce competition from Winklaar, who placed third at this event in 2018. The Dutch star has been training hard in the gym, and his impressive physique will take some beating:
Jackson is another strong contender who has been wowing fans on social media with his progress ahead of the event.
The Blade will turn 50 in November but has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down:
The 49-year-old claimed the 2019 Tampa Pro in August and heads to Las Vegas hoping to win Mr. Olympia for the second time in his career and for the first time since 2008.
There will be no shortage of quality on show at Mr. Olympia 2019, despite some of the big stars missing out, but Curry looks to have the edge on his rivals and is the man to beat in Las Vegas this weekend.