Can ‘Game of Thrones’ see off a new challenger at the 2016 Emmy Awards?

With no less than 23 nominations, HBO's hit fantasy series "Game of Thrones" is the big favorite of the 68th Emmy Awards, held September 18 in Los Angeles.

However, a new show from USA Network could prove a serious challenger this year.

Since launching on US TV in 2011, "Game of Thrones" has established itself as the must-watch series of the moment. But the drama had to wait until its fifth season to lift the coveted "Outstanding Drama Series" gong at the 2015 Emmy Awards. Can it take the prize for the second year running?

On paper, "Game of Thrones" has everything on its side. Its sixth season — which aired in the spring — grabbed plenty of attention thanks to its usual mastery of edge-of-your-seat twists and turns. The show already scooped nine prizes at the first instalment of this year's Emmys this past weekend, with awards in technical categories.

HBO's global hit is already close to matching the 12 awards it scooped in 2015.

'Mr Robot' waiting in the shadows?

This Sunday night, "Game of Thrones" will go up against familiar rivals "Better Call Saul," "Downton Abbey," "Homeland" and "House of Cards" in the "Outstanding Drama Series" category.

But its most serious competitor appears to be "Mr Robot," a cyber-thriller on USA Network which already pipped "GoT" to the post at the Golden Globes. This more recent show (launched in 2015) is based in a contemporary context, focusing on the dangers of the digital world.

As for the cast, there is no risk of "Mr Robot" overshadowing the HBO favorite, since the two shows aren't nominated in the same categories.

Five actors from "Game of Thrones" (2015 winner Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey and Maisie Williams) are nominated in categories for supporting roles, but Christian Slater is nowhere to be seen, despite bagging a Golden Globe in January. Only Rami Malek — the main star of "Mr Robot" — is up for a gong in the lead actor category.

For the moment, "Game of Thrones" seems to have the the edge, with the Emmy Award for "Outstanding Casting" already in the bag, beating nominees including "Mr Robot."

The winners of the 68th Emmy Awards will be announced Sunday, Sept 18, at an awards ceremony presented by Jimmy Kimmel at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles and broadcast live on ABC.

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