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Top 10 Best Game of Thrones Players

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
If you’re going to survive in Westeros, you have to be among the best players of the Game of Thrones. These characters are the most adept, clever, and successful players in the political machine that give “Game of Thrones” its name. The Great Game is terrifying, and so are the ones who play it. WatchMojo ranks the greatest Game of Thrones players. Who do you think plays the Game of Thrones best? Let us know in the comments!

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The Great Game is terrifying, and so are the ones who play it. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 best players of the Game of Thrones.

For this list, we’ll be examining the most adept, clever, and successful players in the political machine that give “Game of Thrones” its name. Some characters, like Ramsay Bolton, play their own sort of games in the show, but that’s not what we’re looking for. Naturally, because this is Game of Thrones, there will be spoilers ahead. Also, we’ll be ranking them based on how well they play the game, not necessarily how long they play it – whatever some may say.

#10: Sansa Stark

We suppose it’s fitting that the youngest player on our list also ranks the lowest, but Sansa Stark has come a long way since the show began. At the story’s beginning, she’s incredibly naïve and is frequently a pawn in the plans of others, often as a bride to be married off. However, Sansa observes those who use her carefully and is able to correctly anticipate their actions; using her knowledge of Ramsay Bolton to win the Battle of the Bastards and even managing to finally topple Littlefinger once and for all. She may be young, but if she survives the series, she may grow into the greatest player yet.

#9: High Sparrow

Sometimes humility is the path to power. The High Sparrow, whose real name is unknown, manages to go from a traveling holy man to the most powerful religious figure in Westeros, exerting tremendous influence over even the throne itself. Skilled in manipulating his followers, as well as nobility, the High Sparrow manages to leverage the imprisonment of several notable players to gain even more power - including characters who may appear later on our list. Whether he’s entirely sincere in his beliefs is a matter of interpretation, but it’s clear that however deep his convictions are, the High Sparrow uses them and the faithful populace as very effective weapons.

#8: Olenna Tyrell

Known as the Queen of Thorns, due to her sharp wit and even sharper tongue, Lady Olenna Tyrell may not be the official leader of her house, but make no mistake – she runs the show. Olenna plays the game behind the scenes and in a quiet way, though her moves often have a big impact - always with the intention of advancing her family’s interests. Her masterstroke however, may be her murder of King Joffrey by poisoning his wine. She clearly took pleasure in the act, but her primary motivation was saving her granddaughter from the little monster and giving Margaery a chance to marry his nicer, and more controllable brother. See what she did there? Here’s to you, Lady Olenna!

#7: Daenerys Targaryen

She of many titles, Daenerys Targaryen is, supposedly, the last of her house and nominally the heir to the Iron Throne. Dany has spent her from Westeros acquiring a host of disparate allies, while also learning how to govern. Her ability to inspire and lead people from many different backgrounds is very impressive, and the big, fire-breathing dragons don’t hurt either. However, Dany is also prone to costly mistakes due to her righteous anger and implacability. The Khaleesi has not found much success in playing the game in Westeros yet, as she’s a better conqueror than she is a politician, but hey, she’s proven to be a quick learner in seasons past, so maybe she’ll catch up.

#6: Margaery Tyrell

Lady Olenna’s granddaughter, Margaery takes a more proactive role than her grandmother and aims to be a queen. Sorry, the queen. Not only is Margaery ambitious, she’s also extremely tactful when it comes to dealing with others and is a superb actress, even managing to manipulate the volatile King Joffrey. Beloved by the common people in a way few others on our list are, most of Margaery’s setbacks and defeats happen due to the actions of others and not her own mistakes; making her a rare player indeed. If she can be said to have one fault though, it’s that she underestimated her rivals.

#5: Tyrion Lannister

Given his stature, Tyrion Lannister has had to hone his mind since a young age, and it has served him well in the Game of Thrones. When his father entrusts him with being the Hand of the King in his stead, Tyrion takes to politics with gusto, playing several major figures against each other to achieve his goals and even successfully leading the defense of the capital. After losing his brief position of power, he eventually regains it, this time under Daenerys. However, Tyrion’s success is somewhat marred due to his ignorance of warfare and having the one thing that the other Lannisters lack – a good heart.

#4: Tywin Lannister

Tyrion’s formidable father, Tywin, is the Lannister patriarch and is nearly single-handedly responsible for his family’s success and reputation. A master military commander, Tywin is equally skilled in financial and political matters, skills which he acquired during the decades he spent as Hand of the King. Cold, calculating, and utterly ruthless, Tywin helps bring about many major events, from advantageous alliances to even the infamous Red Wedding. Although obsessed with securing his family’s legacy at any cost, Tywin treats his own children like pieces on a game board, a strategy that ultimately leads to his undoing.

#3: Cersei Lannister

Let’s close out our Lannister streak with the Queen lioness herself. Nearly as smart as Tyrion and even more ruthless than Tywin, Cersei is absolutely one of the biggest power players in the Game of Thrones. After orchestrating her husband’s death, Cersei became the power behind the throne, to some degree or other, when her two sons sat on the throne; working all the while to increase her authority. Although her willingness to murder and torture her way to the Iron Throne has been successful, Cersei’s hatred makes her prone to mistakes that cost her dearly, and her quest for power has caused her to lose nearly everyone she cares about.

#2: Varys

The series’ resident spymaster, Varys uses a network of informants that spans multiple continents to influence events in Westeros and beyond. Cunning and incredibly intelligent, the bald eunuch has surprisingly benevolent intentions for someone nicknamed “the Spider.” Varys’ main goal is to keep the players from trampling the common people and working to install someone good and strong on the throne; though he attempts to accomplish that dream with callous efficiency and a healthy bit of self-interest, of course. Varys only misses out on our top spot due to his lack of…audacity.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Grand Maester Pycelle

Roose Bolton

Walder Frey

#1: Petyr Baelish

There are players in Game of Thrones, and then, there’s Littlefinger. Petyr Baelish manages to ascend from minor nobility to one of the most powerful men in Westeros. Possessing a spy network only surpassed by Varys’ and having no loyalty to anyone but himself, Littlefinger’s ambition extends to the Iron Throne itself. His schemes help bring about the death of two Hands of the King (including the one that kicked off the plot of the show), and led to Joffrey’s murder. Heck, he even killed his wife. Littlefinger is the very definition of a magnificent bastard, and while his schemes were no match for an all-seeing Bran Stark, ultimately leading to his downfall, watching him climb the ladder was endlessly entertaining.

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