The Challenge USA Power Rankings — Weeks 1 & 2

Brian Batty
10 min readJul 19, 2022


I could write about someone like Jordan or Kellyanne or (insert random Challenge person here) all day. Even if I ran out of honest or interesting things to say, I’d just make stuff up. Anyone who’s read my stuff in the past knows I never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

But that stems from years and years of sweat equity put in getting to know Jordan and Kellyanne or anyone already existing within the greater Challenge ecosystem. On the contrary, I’ve spent two hours with this group.

I say that to say this, for the Power Rankings this season, I’m gonna try something different. Rather than update this list once a week like normal, every two week’s I’ll be checking in and placing each competitor in various tiers that will change and evolve as we go.

You’re all intelligent people, otherwise you’d have never figured out how to connect to the internet, so I’m sure you’ll figure it out. So enough of the boring stuff, let’s get on with the chlorophyll…

Group G: It Was Nice To Meet You

— Tiffany, Cely, Cashel, Javonny —

Being the first set of people eliminated from this brand new venture you and your select group of hot reality television people from everyone’s parent or guardian’s favorite broadcast television network must be a tough pill to swallow.

On one hand, if you’re Cely or Javonny, you got an all expenses paid trip to Argentina and got to meet TJ Lavin. And if you’re Cashel, you were probably going to run out of black nail polish eventually and your ex had, by this point, talked enough shit about you to anyone that would listen, that your hook-up possibilities were rapidly eroding by the minute.

Then there’s Tiffany, who almost certainly was working under the assumption that she held this game firmly by it’s balls. I’m not entirely sure how Big Brother works, but almost all Big Brother players who wash up on the shores of The Challenge get their Challenge Gods reality check pretty quickly.

Except for Josh. He’s been nothing but successful on this show. A true inspiration to all.

Any reason the is best reason to be voted into an elimination round here on Challenge Island. And the best part about said elimination rounds is that you can fight and earn your way back into the game.

But that means you actually have to fight and earn your way back into the game.

Tiffany lost because she chose to play the game, and the game won. Classic.

Group F: When Did You Get Here?

— David —

Honest to goodness I didn’t even know there was a David on this cast until I sat down and wrote out all of their names onto a legal pad.

My father’s name is David. One of the bartenders at the bar around the corner from my apartment is named David (pronounced Dah-veed). Both of those gentlemen have been known to provide me with various tools to survive the world over the years. My Dad taught me how to calculate a pitcher’s ERA and built a basketball hoop in our driveway. David sometimes doesn’t charge me for shots of Malort.

All are equally important to my growth as a man.

Thus far, this particular David has merely provided me with an opportunity to talk about my dad and a local Chicago bartender in an article that nineteen people will read.

One has to note, though, it’s still early, and around this time while Double Agents was airing, I still wasn’t sure which Amber was which. And now one Amber is a Challenge Champion and the other Amber fell off a cliff and died on impact.

Group E: Nany’s Never Won Anything Either, But She Still Matters

— Shannon, Kyra, Leo, Cashay, Shan, Cayla, James—

My least favorite part of any episode of The Challenge is the actual challenge itself. And since we’re here, my second least favorite part? The elimination round.

This show thrives in the small moments. The moments on the margins providing color and context for all the pyrotechnics that takes place in the middle and end of any given episode.

A whispered conversation in the corner. The look on someone’s face when the cork is finally yanked from a bottle of wine. Apologizing over breakfast for a vodka-fueled verbal sparring match that would lead to global conflict if it happened anywhere other than inside of an internationally rented mansion that the travel secretary at Bunim-Murray AirBNB’ed at a discounted monthly rate.

The point is, not everyone on a cast should be able to win. I wouldn’t want that. Nobody would want that. The Shannon’s of the world, those competitors who cry to their friends regarding the difficulties of performing a push-up, are vital to this process. Those like James who are fully aware of how things would go in a Hall Brawl against Cinco, but are willing to put all their effort politically and socially into avoiding such a thing, carry this show.

So log off Microsoft Teams, take three shots of tequila, start a group text with the last five people you hooked up with, and simply text them “U Up?” at 1 o’clock in the afternoon next Saturday, and say nothing else. Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.

Chaos is a ladder, and Nany’s afraid of heights.

Group D: Danny’s Wife Kiki

— Danny’s Wife Kiki —

When Season 3 of Are You The One? ended I was left sitting on my couch, wiping Cool Ranch Dorito crumbs off my chest, and became extremely sad.

No, I wasn’t sad because the transcendent season of reality television I just mainlined into my bloodstream had finally come to an end. Although, that was a real bummer too. I wasn’t sad because all of my Doritos were gone. That was a huge bummer as well.

What saddened me most was that Kiki The G.O.A.T. was left standing alone at the end of it all. Kiki did in fact have a perfect match, but that guy got sent home a few weeks prior after he tossed Amanda most of the way across one of the bedrooms. So as the rest of the cast frolicked around in confetti celebrating being able to split a bunch of money 20 different ways after they all found their perfect matches, Kiki was left to celebrate solo. Solo and sad. Like me, on my couch, unable to work the remote because my finger tips are covered in Dorito dust.

You see, Kiki came to that house with not only a suitcase full of bikinis and a sense of entitlement, but two love bracelets that she went back in time to middle school arts and crafts to make as well. One for her, and one for her Perfect Match.

Over her time there, Kiki got sent into so many Truth Booths (Truth Booths! Are You The One was so ridiculous) that the show became less about everyone finding their perfect matches, and more about figuring out who Kiki’s perfect match was. The show was really just an Algebra 2 Test question and Kiki became the X to solve for, but regardless her journey for Instagram followers really suffocated the room.

That was the last time we saw Kiki. So it warms my Dorito loving heart to see she ended up finding her Perfect Match.

Group C: Frisky, But The Jury’s Still Out To Lunch

— Xavier, Cinco, Domenick, Derek, Ben, Danny, Enzo, Justine, Azah, Tasha, Alyssa —

One of the pitfalls many Challenge fans are currently facing (or maybe it’s just me because I spend way too much of my time sitting on my deck and thinking about these people) is that it’s extremely difficult to tell who’s any good at anything with zero prior knowledge of this group of Influencers.

Challenge One had them repelling down a building and performing rudimentary math skills. Challenge Two allowed them to show off a bit more of their skills, but there are so many hot people and so little time to process anything beyond cleavage and chiseled six packs like a primate, that attempt to determine who’s good at what is a bit of a fool’s errand.

For the most part, this group all looks like contenders for various reasons, but The Challenge is about so much more than the eye test. Certain people come onto The Challenge as “just good at stupid shit All Stars”. They don’t necessarily look the part, but they think quickly on their feet and stay calm under pressure, and a lot of times that’s all you need to do to be successful on doing the things they do.

Oh, and make sure you’re also able to run super fast for a super long time. Basically, be able to run a marathon while sleeping on a bed of snakes and eating insect-filled empanadas somewhere in the middle. But that’s for another day.

In the coming weeks, this group will splinter off into any number of sub groups. The information that we have on them, for now, is minimal. Xavier sure looks the part, but maybe he has a crippling bugaboo that will eventually be his downfall.

Same goes for every other name on that list. Stay tuned.

Group B: Contenders, For Now

— Desi, Sarah, Angela, Kyland —

Let’s just his this one with bullet points because I’m nothing if not un-original…

  • Desi has the most defined shoulders in this show’s illustrious history of shoulder definition.
  • Sarah mentioned that she ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. To which I would politely respond with, “chill out”. That’s some Jordan-level overachieving that makes normies like you and me look like complete assholes. I once ate at seven different Taco Bells in seven different Chicago neighborhoods over seven days. I’ll let you be the one to decide which of those Herculean feats of human willpower is more impressive.
  • Angela won the first competition, earned the stamp of approval from the guy coming up in the next group, and generally seems to have the respect of her peers. And, honestly, if she’s not in this group, she’s exuded such minimal charisma so far that I wouldn’t be shocked if she hooked up with David (not my Dad) and even the camera person had no interest in it.
  • Kyland has made it extremely clear that he did his homework, and so far is the only one who’s gotten to play a classic Challenge game when he emerged victorious from Knot So Fast. Plus his name sounds like that of a nautical explorer from the 1400s who stumbled upon a group of undiscovered islands only for the natives to systematically kill off his crew one by one and pillage all of their belongings.

Group A: The Clear Favorite

— Tyson —

Anyone who’s been looking at the television for any minute of the two episodes we’ve seen so far is aware of how dominant of a presence that Tyson has been.

He’s 2 for 2 in daily challenges, both of them using completely different skill-sets. His political moves have been on point as well, with both teams he’s voted into elimination being the ones boarding a plane shortly thereafter. If there were a ring, he’d be the leader.


Reality Television editing is some of the most manipulative shit on the plant. Those of us who’ve watched enough reality TV are well aware of this, and are able to recognize the emotions that they’re feeling as something that the people making this show want us to feel.

Taking all actual results out of the equation (which is a stupid exercise, I’m well aware) Tyson is by far the top contender because The Challenge Gods want us to think that he’s by far the top contender. Editing is everything. He’s gotten the most confessionals, the most screen time, and been shown to have easily the largest presence in the house.

But he’s also smoking everyone like a packed bowl right now, so all that fancy shit aside, I’m firmly of the belief that on The Challenge, the results are the only thing that matters.

The Challenge created a spin-off show to widen the pool of competitors due to the interest in the MTV talent either withering like a dying vine or crushing it on All Stars. And just as everyone expected, a skinny, long-haired, doofy-looking cyclist from Utah in his 40s is running away with it and making his hot reality TV counterparts look silly as he does it.

Thanks for reading! See you in a few days for Winners and Losers from Episode 3! And, as always, Happy Challenge Watching!!!



Brian Batty

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