MTV’s The Challenge returns on January 6th, and now that the fantasy draft is in the books it is time to break down the competition, in reverse order of likeliness to win. There are 13 teams of two, with the definite possibility of twists and turns along the way.
Tied for 12th – Both Are You the One Teams
The rookies never fair well, and with all the veterans around, and the fact that these two teams will probably be more alienated than ever1 since they are coming from a totally different show. Admittedly having not seen the show it is impossible to know whether they are talented at all anyway, but that doesn’t matter. There is zero chance either of these teams wins.
11th – Tom and Hailey
Most people don’t understand why the two teams from the most recent Real World are the ones that were selected. Jenny and Brian made a ton of sense (maybe they aren’t ex’s?), but the two that were selected are horrible. Hailey is going to be a train wreck on this show. These two could easily be the first ones eliminated, and they stand almost no chance of winning an elimination.
10th – Jay and Jenna
Another strange selection. Jay was terribly uninteresting on the Real World and it stands to reason he won’t add anything here. Jenna has some feistiness to her that could lead to them hanging around a bit longer than Tom and Hailey.
9th – CT and Diem
It should not be considered a spoiler to mention the tragic end for poor Diem this past fall as she finally lost her battle with cancer. Almost everyone knows at this point that she leaves the show somewhere along the way, although at this point no one is entirely sure when. It is unclear whether CT get’s a new partner or not, but even still their chances are better than any of the aforementioned teams here. If CT does stay until the end, no matter who his partner is, he is probably in good shape.
8th – Dustin and Jessica
Jessica showed some fire and lasted much longer in Free Agents than anyone thought she would. But she is still a weaker competitor than most of the females ahead of her on this list (except for maybe Avery or Jonna). Dustin is also solid, but he went out very early last time out and he will need a lot of luck to make it further this time.
7th – Knight and Jemmye
Knight tragically died just before Thanksgiving, but since it was after the filming of the show he should be on the entire thing. He and Jemmye have a massively dysfunctional relationship, and will certainly end up fighting with each other several times along the way. Jemmye seems to often find a way to hang around for a while, and as crappy as Knight is they could scrap together a win in an elimination or two. Plus they are the kind of team the big guns like to keep around to easily beat later.
6th – Johnny and Avery
Avery has not been on a Challenge before, but Johnny was a breakout start of Free Agents. He would likely have been a lot higher with a partner who was not such a mystery. This team is a dark horse that could win it all with a little bit of luck.
5th – Zach and Jonna
Zach has turned into one of the stars of this show. Bananas is the calm cool veteran, Wes and Jordan are the villains, and Zach is the muscular beast who should be able to dominate most one-on-one matchups. Except he tanked hard in the finals last time out, and he is stuck with Jonna, who while scrappy, doesn’t match up well with the women ahead of her on this list. With the format being unknown, there is a possibility that an elimination could come down to the guys being an afterthought. If it’s that plus Jonna vs. someone like Sarah, Jonna is in trouble. Zach should carry them deep, but they probably won’t win.
4th – Leroy and Nia
This is probably the ultimate wildcard team. “Hurricane” Nia was new last time out and didn’t last very long, but sometimes rookies just need to get a feel for things. She is unstable, but strong and should be able to hold her own against every other female in the game. Leroy is very lethargic on these shows, just trying to hang around and have fun without ruffling feathers or getting kicked off, but he also never seems like he is trying super hard to win. He has the physical talent, and if he decides to go all out this team could be great.
3rd – Jordan and Sarah
Sarah has come close so many times and is liked by many fans of the show. She is pretty physically gifted, smart, and definitely tries as hard as she can all the time. She was not on Free Agents and was forced to leave Rivals early when her partner quit, so she should be out for blood. Jordan is one of the up and comers, but he has a major cockiness problem, as well as a major rivalry with Bananas. The question with him is often whether or not will be able to keep his cool. They are the kind of team that could find themselves in eliminations early as other teams try to eliminate a good team. If they make it to the final though, they will be tough to beat.
2nd – Wes and Theresa
Wes may be the ultimate villain on this show at this point, disliked by fans and fellow competitors alike. But he is strong and smart and has done more than enough to prove his place in these competitions. Barring some really bad luck he should at least be around until the latter half the of show, especially with a pretty athletic veteran partner like Theresa. This is her 6th Challenge and she has never even made the finals despite coming in 4th on Free Agents. She has what it takes to break through and with this partner they should coast for a while.
1st – Bananas and Nany
If The Challenge truly were the 5th major American sport as Bill Simmons and Dave Jacoby often lament, then Johnny Bananas would be the Bill Russell/Michael Jordan/Wayne Gretzky of the franchise. In 10 appearances he has one an astounding five times, and been to the finals two other times. That means that he makes the finals with a 70% clip. This is Nany’s fourth straight Challenge and she is fresh off a 2nd place finish to the she-beast that is Laurel. Many showed herself to be awfully good last time out, and this team is pretty stacked. Bananas doesn’t let his personal relationships get to him all that much at his old age, so as long as Nany keeps her cool this is the team to beat. It’s likely that Wes and Zach know that though, and Jordan hates him, so they may team up to try and get them out early.
Although the above represents the likelihood that any one of those teams might win, it could play out significantly different. A bad break here or there can easily knock a team out. Someone always ends up in the finals who doesn’t seem like they have a chance at all, someone like Dustin and Jessica could find a way in for that matter. Bananas/Nany and Wes/Theresa would have to really hit some bad luck to not make it to the finals. Sarah and Jordan are a really strong team as well, and seem like the kind of team that should be able to co-exist to win. So those three teams should make it there. Zach might be the single strongest male competitor at this stage of the game, but Jonna could be a major weakness if they end up in any elimination rounds. Leroy is another strong competitor but Nia is a wildcard and can fly off the rails at any point. So going off the board a bit and picking Johnny Reilly and Averey as the last of four teams (assuming it’s four) to be in the finals.
- Unless Wes and Bananas go old-school “alliances” on everyone [↩]