So that was Mirajane in like the cat costume on page 4? When did she have the time to change clothes I thought she had a stronger version of Elfman's abilities not the ability to change clothes and outfits like Erza, or do neko fanservice like Lucy. She's stealing both of their sthicks. Surprised she looked that weak. Thought she would be wasting little movement, effort, and power to quickly get rid of the smallfry. Certainly hope her and Erza don't lose, but possibly doubting that now.
I was think if he really wanted to change the whole dynamic of the manga for a little or even the rest of the manga he could do like a combination of your 3 ideas. Let's say Ft gets defeated but the majority lives. but like joshecalpoly says they get kicked out as a legal guild. Now GH is still not the main threat but they put the whole world on notice and every1 knows to take them down they would have to work together and there would probably be some severe losses either way. So it results in a stalemate. But FT goes rogue possibly but not quite like a dark guild. More like dark guild hunters. Something for which they will need a new classification, but honestly I don't get how they will get like loads stronger for the rematch but when it happens and they finally defeat GH, then lots more moderately powerful dark guilds will pop up or w.e. Anyway just a guess @ the possibilities, just to change the "won and done" feelings of the arcs. They win and there are little changes but the last arc tends to not really affect their world as a whole. This seems like the arc that has the best possibility of a turning point. This could be a way to switch it up connecting the next couple of arcs, establishing possible mainline villains, handing a 1st real defeat, and doing arcs that have lasting effects.
Although I'm probably wrong B/c judging from how badly Hades wanted to reach the island @ a certain time, he has some "immediate big bad omega level plans that must be defeated immediately or the whole world would be in danger", thus continuing the cycle. Suppose it might be interesting if Markov survives just long enough to sacrifice himself to save the world and destroy said (big bad omega level plans that must be defeated immediately or the whole world would be in danger) plans.
Think that Zancrow's ability is talk. It's definitely a different type of magic but I kind of doubt he had to do anything that great to earn it, or at the very least it's doubtful he's anywhere near as strong as he thinks he is. Even if he can't eat the fire, should even powerful intense fire hurt or effect Natsu? Could it be possible for him to get charged up not by eating the fire, but by being surrounded by it can help him basically be more comfortable( kind of like closer to what a natural environment would be like for him) and thus more powerful?
Although I can't believe that another mangaka does that. It's really sad. It tends to go something like this: "We are the greatest. All our warriors even the lesser ones are extremely strong. You guys will not even be a match. Let's bring in all of our people to show our strength. bet you no 1 gets defeated. Okay, so they were no match for you, apparently they are weak. I'll kill them all so now it could be a 1vs 1" That's really just a waste. I don't believe you could not know that your people were that weak before. Or were you really that arrogant to believe your own hype? Why not kill them then or just not let them join?