The Challenge: Double Agents Power Rankings (Pre-Season)

The Challenge is back! America’s fourth most important sport returns Wednesday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Each week, I’ll be ranking the competitors. These rankings are based on…well nothing I guess. No numbers, no science, just feeling. They’re going to fluctuate wildly week-to-week, and I gave myself really no rules. I didn’t want to muck things up with speculation, so I kept the rookies unranked at the bottom. But that will shake itself out over time. So let’s stop wasting time and get right to it!

30–22. Amber B., Amber M., Gabby, Joseph, Lio, Liv, Mechie, Nam, Natalie

This is a friendly space. And because you pressed your thumb against a picture of this link, that makes us friends. So in the spirit of friendship, I’m going to let you all in on a little secret.

I don’t know these people at all.

The Amber’s seem fun; Gabby and Liv seem lost; Joe’s pretty; Lio was colleagues with The Miz; Mechie ties Challenge Legend Johnny Bananas for the record of Sex Tapes Accessible via Google Search (1); Nam’s German so that’s…cool? Dennis Schroder’s kind of a dick, but otherwise I’m not really sure where we stand with German’s these days; Natalie won Survivor. Or did she? Maybe her twin won and she’s actually incredibly lazy and nonathletic? Maybe she failed a COVID test before flying to Iceland, but her sister went instead. It’s hard to know for sure, but Wes will most certainly be the one to shed some light on it.

21. Lolo

On the other hand, I do know this person. It’s a bit funny to me that I have Aneesa, who is a citizen of Philadelphia, ahead of Lolo Jones, a literal multi sport Olympic Athlete, in a ranking of competitors in an athletic competition. But if that doesn’t explain this show, than nothing does. She’s only here because she’s technically a rookie, but as soon as the arbitrary rules I put on myself are over, my guess is she’ll be much higher.

20. Josh

No, I don’t think Adam threw the final elimination on Rivals, and here’s why. That season was a redemption for both himself and CT, but for obviously different reasons. Adam always played the game with something to prove without any of the ability to back it up. This insecurity was the straw that stirred the drink between them on their Real World season in the first place. A win in this one, against Johnny and Tyler no less, would have satisfied that itch he was dying to scratch every time he came on the sh…..oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about Josh? Oh yeah, uh, whatever. Josh is back.

19. Big T

She’s a lot of fun, but the competition on the women’s side is just too deep this year. I have a sneaky suspicion the voting is going to get pretty cutthroat (lol) this season, so unless she actively plays the lay-up card, I don’t see her sticking around for very long.

18. Aneesa

It’ll be a sad day when Aneesa stops coming on this show. Aneesa has been in our lives since 2001. We hadn’t even gotten to the second Harry Potter movie yet. The Toyota Prius hadn’t been brought to America, let alone being able to order one from your phone to take you to a party at Marissa’s house. What does any of this mean in the context of the show? Well, nothing, I guess I just thought it was fun to point out.

17. Devin

Similar to Big T, he’ll make a few jokes here and there. Provide exactly what he’s there to provide. And again similar to Big T, I have an inkling the veteran dead-weight will start getting picked off pretty quickly. Unless Devin can spin it, nobody has any reason to keep him around.

16. Kaycee

I’m gonna sit here and wait until somebody can explain to me what Kaycee brings to the show without having to do mental gymnastics to get there. Alright, here I go…..

15. Nany

Nany’s hard to talk about objectively, because to me she represents the life-blood of the show. Sticking normal people into insane situations. But in reality, what is she even bringing to the table anymore? Oh yeah, that’s right, she threw a Cup-O-Noodles at Aneesa’s head last season. I stand corrected. Let it be trash bro, let it be trash.

14. Theresa

Filling the “welcome back veteran” slot this season is Theresa. Which is, ya know…fine. Shout out Milwaukee. She’ll quickly notice some changes from the days when the Jonna’s and Jasmine’s of the world were her biggest concerns. She’s a mom now, and for the most part probably lives a pretty decent life. I have a feeling there will come a day where she looks around, and the only people in the room are two of her exes, a camera guy, somebody sticking a huge boom mic in her face, and a bunch of drunk 25 year olds. She’s going to say to herself, “I don’t need this shit” and check all the way out.

13. Kyle

Single Kyle was way more fun than “I’m just here for the appearance fee” Kyle. In this day and age where society is divided on every and any issue, I think that’s something we can all come together and agree on.

12. Jay

Will his charming, happy-to-be-here attitude continue? Or will he start peacock preening around the house a bit? Does he drop the “I beat CT” card? Or does he play it cool, letting that factoid linger as the rest of the group perpetuates it? How Jay handles this season, and how the group handles him, will be pretty interesting to watch.

11. Leroy

If I went back in time and made this list prior to every season, I’d wager Leroy would be around this number every single time. Two important take-a ways from that hypothesis. One, consistency is extremely important in life. Number two, I’ve been trying for ten minutes now, but I cannot think of a bigger waste of a time machine.

10. Cory

Gimmick Re-Use Alert: Childless Cory was so much more fun than appearance-check-for-diaper-money Cory is.

9. Tori

I hear Humble Pie tastes great this time of year. Total Madness was a total wake-up call for her. I’m worried she’ll be an untethered balloon this season though. Unless she leeches onto a strong alliance, I’m not sure where she fits in the hierarchy. Regardless, she’ll be a tough out. Maybe she’ll write a rap about it.

8. Wes

Here’s a brief, yet definitive list of the greatest athletes in the history of Kansas City.

5) Tony Gonzalez

4) Sylvia Membreno

3) George Brett

2) Pat Mahomes

1) Wes Bergmann

I dare you to disagree.

7. Nelson

I know what you’re saying to yourself, “the ordacity of this guy to rank Nelson so high!”. And it’s true, this is probably way too high. But I just love me some Nelly T on MTV baby! Last season he cemented himself as the only fashion icon I’ve ever held sacred. Fake Versace jumpsuits as leisure-wear? Yes, please. He’s perfectly imperfect, just like any of us. He’s the realest person on the cast, while simultaneously understanding he’s filming a TV show. It’s a tight-rope to walk, and the best part is he doesn’t even know he’s walking it.

6. Kam

“Lemonhead, end up dead, ice like Winnipeg/Gemstone, Flinstones, you could say I’m friends with Fred”

— Cam’ron, directly threatening his rivals with the extravagance of his jewelry collection

“But as me friend Kam says, you’re untouchable until you get touched”

— Kayleigh, indriectly threatening her rivals by quoting something Kam said to her at a bar once

“Beef: I hammer mine, when I get my hands on nines”

— Cam’ron, dealing with enemies

“If every vote cancels out, then only my vote will matter”

— Kam, doing the same

5. Nicole

Watching Nicole wade through a sea of strong women will be an interesting subplot throughout. She’s never really been in any real danger of getting voted in any other time she’s shown up. And if it weren’t for triangles and pot holes, she might be a two-time champ right now. But as for the GIALS (what she really cares about), I would be flabbergasted if she didn’t make a run at Lolo. Or anyone named Amber. Basically this rookie class has no idea what they’re walking into.

4. Fessy

Second Season Syndrome. It’s an undefeated, mythical Challenge force, that is no doubt going to swallow this man whole. All I needed to see was the small clip of him dancing, shirt unbuttoned, around a group of women to know he’s got his work cut out for him.

3. Ashley

The following timelines did not happen concurrently…

In 2010, the San Fransisco Giants won the World Series. On Invasion of the Champions, Season 29, Ashley won the final becoming a champion for the first time.

In 2011, the Giants missed the playoffs. On season 30, Ashley left before it even started.

In 2012, the Giants won the World Series. Ashley’s next season, season 32, she won the Final.

In 2013, the Giants again missed the playoffs. On season 33, Ashley went home first.

In 2014, the Giants went back to the World Series and won. On season 34, Ashley got all the way to the end and was a puzzle away from yet again winning.

In 2015, the Giants missed the playoffs. On season 35, Ashley went home week 4.

In 2016, the Giants went back to the playoffs, but lost to the eventual champion Chicago Cubs, breaking the longest championship drought in sports history. This can only mean that Ashley will lose in the Final to a team consisting of Leroy and/or Nany.

I need a life.

1a & 1B. CT & Darrell

The top dogs in the house as far as me or anyone else is concerned. They have more championship belts than the entire cast combined. CT looks like he showed up in shape, and Darrell looks exactly the same as he did a decade ago. With no Bananas around, the top of the pyramid looks a lot like these two.

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Brian Batty

Writing about MTV’s The Challenge, one of America’s great institutions, from a fan’s perspective. Inquires: WillaMediaManagement@gmail.com -Twitter: @TJsAirhorn