Team Of The Season
White Swans and Protectors form the bulk of our writer's top performers of the year
Usually, when picking the Team of the Season, we'll find the best players to suit one of the three popular formations: 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3.
But this time, we've decided to pick a different set-up.
Albirex Niigata have gobbled up every piece of silverware on offer this season, and could make it an unprecedented quadruple if they beat Tampines Rovers in the RHB Singapore Cup final tomorrow.
So, as a homage to their dominance this season, The New Paper's Team of the Season will line up in a White Swans-esque 3-5-2.
Several shot-stoppers have impressed this term.
Balestier Khalsa skipper Zaiful Nizam, Geylang International's Syazwan Buhari and Hougang United's Khairulhin Khalid have all made a number of eye-catching saves throughout the season.
But, to me, the safest pair of hands in the S.League is Albirex skipper Yosuke Nozawa.
Not only has he kept the most number of clean sheets - 10 (five more than any other team) - but he has also pulled off big saves in crucial moments time and again.
Albirex play with three centre backs, so it is only right a White Swan takes his place in the heart of it.
At the back, Atsushi Shirota has stood out for the Japanese outfit.
He has played every minute of their season - except their dead rubber last game against Tampines - and has been an unshakable presence in the middle of their back three.
Picking the other two centre backs alongside him is not so easy.
Shirota's compatriot, Yuki Ichikawa of Geylang International, makes the team for helping the Eagles claim the third-best defensive record in the league, despite them finishing in mid-table.
Home United's Abdil Qaiyyim and Shahrin Saberin formed a good central pairing for a while, but young Shahrin was eventually shifted to fullback while Abdil missed 10 weeks of action with a fractured leg.
So Brunei DPMM's Brian McLean gets the nod.
The Ulsterman has been a vocal presence in DPMM's defence, and his height (1.88m) makes him useful at the other end as well - he has scored three times, more than any other centre back.
Providing the width in this system are the wingbacks.
A shoo-in on the left is yet another Albirex man, Naofumi Tanaka.
The 22-year-old has dominated the flank of every game, and is a real threat going forward with his lung-bursting sprints.
He has racked up seven assists and three goals.
Of the other left-sided defenders, Zulfadli Zainal Abidin (Warriors) and Shakir Hamzah (Tampines) have done well, but both struggled for consistency.
On the right, Geylang's Faritz Hameed has shown good form and earned a recall to the national team.
But my pick would be Home's Juma'at Jantan.
The long-serving Protector is versatile enough to play on either side of the defence and has been a stabilising influence for a young team that earned a place in next season's AFC Cup.
Here is where many players have impressed.
DPMM's Azwan Ali, last year's Young Player of the Year, endured a slow start to the season, but grew in influence, and his return of eight goals isn't bad at all.
Another award winner from 2015, Player of the Year Fumiya Kogure, has shown flashes of brilliance for Hougang United.
But it is his teammate, M Anumanthan, who gets a spot in the middle of the park.
The 22-year-old has been a rock in midfield or defence - his midfield partner Raihan Rahman deserves an honourable mention too - and has gained confidence to play a more progressive passing game than before.
Alongside him is Tampines Rovers man Hafiz Abu Sujad, who has given the Stags dynamism with his tireless running, albeit on the left side of midfield.
But since there is no left midfield in this system, and Hafiz has shown he is equally adept in the middle, that's where he'll fit in our team.
His teammate, Yasir Hanapi, perhaps can consider himself unlucky to miss out, but he lost a bit of steam after an excellent first half of the season, when he caught the eye with a rare mix of aggression and technique.
The third and final spot in midfield goes to Home United man Azhar Sairudin.
The 30-year-old has had the best season of his life, and has formed a telepathic understanding with Ken Ilso for the Protectors, creating eight goals.
It may come as a surprise no Albirex midfielder makes the team.
While the White Swans trio of Shuto Inaba, Kento Nagasaki and Masaya Jitozono have been key to the team, they have been solid as a unit, not as individuals.
Neither of the three has impressed consistently enough to claim a spot in the best 11.
Here's perhaps another shocker - top scorer Rafael Ramazotti misses out, despite his 20 goals for DPMM.
That's mainly because he had a sluggish first half to the season, scoring just six times in 13 games, before coming to life when DPMM's title hopes had already more or less gone down the drain.
In addition to that, he is an old-fashioned targetman, making use of his 1.93m height to bully defences - and that just won't do for our team.
In this 3-5-2 system, we need the strikers to have speed, clever movement, and the technical ability to score from half chances.
So Home United's Ken Ilso (19 goals from 22 games) and Albirex's Atsushi Kawata (13 goals in 22 games) would make a dream front pairing.
Former Bundesliga striker Ilso's class has shone often this season, while Kawata has been a livewire all year for the White Swans.
S.League debutants Stipe Plazibat (Hougang, 15 goals in 24) and Jonathan Behe (Warriors, 19 in 23) have impressed with their strike-rate, but their overall play can be better.