Casting MTV’s Next Season of The Challenge

With no podcast for us to ramble on, Chris (a.k.a. Lion) and I decided to take to email to discuss how we would like to see the next iteration of MTV’s The Challenge setup and cast.

Hippo: So now that Battle of the Exes 2 is in the books, let’s start casting the next season of the Challenge. Before we start casting I think we need to determine the format.

I think we both want an “old school” large team setup. And we both want Mark Long back on a Challenge. I have been tossing around ideas in my head and wondering what would work. I was thinking something like old blood vs. new blood where the teams are either separated by some cutoff of when your first challenge was, or the number of times you have been one. Another idea was a team of champions vs a team of people who have never won. But a quick glance through this leaves the loser team with not much talent. Thoughts on format?

Lion:I have been clamoring for a season with large teams for awhile now. Every season lately has been teams of 2 (1 on Free Agents) except for Battle of the Seasons when we had teams of 4. I have been watching old seasons. A lot of those had two large teams competing. At the end of each challenge, there was always some sort of voting that was two fold. First, there was voting who, from your team, was up for elimination. This was followed by who, from the other team would ultimately have to go into elimination. Each challenge was worth some denomination of money that was put into a team’s bank account. Only the winners actually got to cash out. That was fun. I want these large team competitions back.

Here is my suggestion – hold a fantasy draft. They did this in Cutthroat, I think. It worked. Start with a large group of people. Create some sort of competition to determine team captains and then have an old school playground team picking. Then we would have the interplay within the teams and between the teams in terms of alliances and enemies, etc. We could even go a little deeper with the captains. Maybe there will be a rotating captain based on the previous challenge and that person has some sort of great power (similar to the power couple from BOTE2).

Rookies vs. Vets did not work so well in the past (Gauntlet 3). I think the same thing would happen if we did Champs vs. Challengers, or some form of that. There is a reason that the Champs are champions. Look at Jay- he clearly didn’t belong (and let’s be honest, even if he did drink that nonsense, Jenna wouldn’t have been able to finish the whole final). A team of Jays will not be able to compete with a team of Jordans and Banani. It has to be more even handed. It would just be tough to do that without a random selection of sorts.

Hippo: That all makes sense. So many teams? It has to be like 2–4 right? How many total players? There were 26 on BOTE2. Let’s start with that.

Lion: So, 2 or 3 teams makes sense to me. If there are 2 teams, then each elimination round would be Team A vs. Team B. If there are 3 teams, the winner of the challenge might get to sit it out. I am in favor of somewhere in the 25–30 range for number of contestants. It might also be great if there was a situation where two people from the same team had to fight it out to stay on the show. That could be interesting. For example, Jordan’s team loses. Now, Bananas’ team gets to vote in two of Jordan’s players to fight it out in the elimination round to stay in the game. Loser goes home. That might make it a little too lopsided though because then we would always have strong people in the eliminations and be left with the Jays of the world at the end.

It would have to be Team A vs. Team B in the eliminations. I think I am favoring a 3 team setup though so that there can always be a “power” team/captain. I really like all the power being with one entity.

Maybe the deal is that the two losing teams get to nominate two people who are now eligible for the elimination. The power team/captain gets to pick between the two for each team and then set up each elimination. This would give us good reason to try and win EVERY challenge because it would be a complete wildcard plus there is the motivation to play the political game and build alliances.

Hippo: I was thinking three teams was a good fit. I do agree that the “power” angle is necessary. But it can’t be too much power either. My proposal is that for each challenge first place gets to pick anyone from third place to throw in, and 2nd place has to decide from their own team someone to throw in? That way there is more strategy to the deciding. Then you have motivation to win every challenge and also not to just give up.

Lion: I like that idea. Let’s go with 30 players. Each week, one guy and one girl get eliminated. At the end of the show, that would leave 10 people. Leader team would probably have 5 people. Other teams would have 2–3 for the final. Then we would get the questions of “who do you want running the final with you.” That would add the strategy of the best team trying to get rid of bad players.

Sidenote: I always loved those angles. The old days when the team would throw the same person into an elimination over and over again trying to get rid of them. Beautiful.

So, how are teams picked? Random, school yard style, maybe based on where they live within the US?

HippoI want to modify my previous selection. I don’t like the 2nd place team voting in someone because it creates a possibility of someone pulling a Wes and sabotaging their team so they don’t get voted in by their team. I think the 2nd place team should face a wheel with all their names on it and it’s random! How about that twist??

Random teams creates too much possibility of lopsided teams even though it could setup some epic feud. Regions might make it tricky to balance teams AND include everyone you want. Love the schoolyard idea. Could go random captains. But let’s be serious, would any fan object to Bananas/Wes/CT as captains?

Lion: We need to fix the elimination voting then. I guess I would default to the two loser teams having to nominate two options (so four total – two guys and two girls). The power team/captain then gets to make the matchups.

I love the school yard picking. Makes the team selection another fun part of the show (hopefully they will have shirts in each color so we can avoid the Leroy/Theresa mismatch again). For captains, I don’t think you can have them preselected. I think there has to be some sort of competition right when they arrive at the house. In Cutthroat, they made them race with all of their luggage to the house. Then they had the winner and everyone thought they were going to get something. Turns out, they used the three people who came in last place to pick the teams. I hate that, but what if they decided captains like this: when everyone runs into the house to select their beds/rooms, etc., there are certain beds that have a card underneath or something. There will be three beds that are randomly designated as captains. Then, whoever happens to pick those three beds becomes captains and has to pick teams right away.

Hippo: I don’t understand why we have to change the elimination voting? I think the 1st place team selects a guy+girl from the third place team, and the second place team spins a wheel to see who gets put in. Why won’t that work?

I like the idea of random captains that way. Definitely a cool idea. Let’s go with that. Is it time to start talking about which 30 people are coming? Or are there more details we need?

Lion:One of the cool things about the big teams was voting from within. That is why I altered the rules slightly. Either way, we are down to 3 teams and the bottom two teams from each challenge have to send a guy and girl to the elimination round.

Contestants time. Starting with people we haven’t seen lately. I know it’s unlikely given their alleged actions on the show, but I want Evan and Kenny back. If they take Nia back, that would be pretty hypocritical (although the alleged actions by Evan and Kenny was far worse than Nia’s point/touch). I need Laurel and Emily back. They are the two best girls and definitely picked first in the run of girls. Camilla is always great for the house. I am also pretty nostalgic for Derrick and Landon. They were two scappers who were always tough to beat.

We also need Bananas, Wes, CT, Leroy, Jordan, Reilly, Sarah, Nany, Theresa, Zach, and maybe even Jenna back.

I will wait until hearing your returners before I suggest new additions. With regard to Mark Long – eh, we can leave him out. His time has way passed. At this point, he is trying a little too hard to be recast.

Hippo:So here is what I have from what you said:

Guys (11): Evan, Kenny, Derrick, Landon, Bananas, Wes, CT, Leroy, Jordan, Reilly, Zach

Girls (6–8): Laurel, Emily, Camilla, Sarah, Nany, Theresa, Jenna (?), Nia (?)

That only leaves 4 spots for guys. I am not sure if I see Derrick or Landon wanting to come back after all this time. I guess the question is whether or not this is our dream scenario or if we are trying to be more realistic. So that is important factor to decide on.

If we are assuming this is purely fantasy, I would definitely add Evelyn as well.

Regardless of fantasy/reality, I would add: Frank (can’t believe you forgot him!), Cara Maria, Cohutta, Mark Long (I want him back).

Lion: This is definitely a dream scenario for me. It would almost be too many good players. We’d need a few Jays in there. Let’s go with our 15 and 15 number. I will add in the rest, with a few extras. You can make some cuts. Based on the way they introduce new people, I think all 4 of my new AYTO people have to stay and probably at least two of the new RW people. Go for it.


  1. Evan
  2. Kenny
  3. Derrick
  4. Landon
  5. Bananas
  6. Wes
  7. CT
  8. Leroy
  9. Jordan
  10. Reilly
  11. Zach
  12. Frank
  13. Cohutta
  14. Mark Long
  15. Layton (AYTO S.2)
  16. Anthony (AYTO S.2)
  17. Tony “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. what she look like?” (RW Skeletons)
  18. Jay
  19. Preston


  1. Laurel
  2. Emily
  3. Camilla
  4. Sarah
  5. Nany
  6. Theresa
  7. Jenna
  8. Nia
  9. Evelyn (great call)
  10. Cara Maria (another great call)
  11. Mandy
  12. Casey
  13. Nicole (RW Skeletons)
  14. Ellie (AYTO S.2)
  15. Christina (AYTO S.2)
  16. Jenny (RW Explosion)

Hippo: So at one point you say “it’s all fantasy” and then you put in stipulations about AYTO and new RW people having to be included, so which one is it? The first four guys on your list are the most “realistic” cuts. But if we getting into true fantasy land then chop off any 4 of the bottom 5 guys.

Is Mandy the one who won with Landon that time? I don’t know Casey. Rumor has it, Jenny from RW Explosion is pregnant so it probably won’t be her. While we are on the topic of Ex-Plosion, I think Cory is still a good pick to show up at some point. I also think Violetta or Sylvia are good chances from the recent RW. Again, it goes back to be being purely realistic. Jenny, Mandy, Evelyn and maybe Casey seem like obvious cuts if we are being real. I’d fill the final three slots with Violetta, Brittany (AYTO S1) and Jasmine (who doesn’t love her antics?). If it’s pure fantasy I’d dump the ATYO S2 and replace them with Violetta/Sylvia.

Lion: Casey was the terrible girl who was paired with Wes for Fresh Meat.

Let’s try and make it more realistic than not. Go ahead and make your cuts to finish this off.

I like Jasmine and Corey. Go ahead and cut the dreamer guy picks too.

Hippo: I don’t want to totally crap on everything! But there is basically a 99% chance we never see Kenny and Evan again. Let’s keep Derrick and Landon because at least that is possible. And Mark Long since he so badly wants back in. (Side note: some sort of Derrick/Landon/Bananas/Long/Wes/CT/Cohutta(?) old timers team vs. Leroy/Jordan/Reilly/Zach/Layton/Anthony/Tony (or Adam) looks really interesting.) Let’s dump Jay because after the reunion there is at least a chance he isn’t back. And as much as it pains me let’s dump Preston. I am happy with what is left for the guys. Realistically Preston probably replaces Derrick though.


  1. Derrick
  2. Landon
  3. Bananas
  4. Wes
  5. CT
  6. Leroy
  7. Jordan
  8. Reilly
  9. Zach
  10. Frank
  11. Cohutta
  12. Mark Long
  13. Layton (AYTO S.2)
  14. Anthony (AYTO S.2)
  15. Tony “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. what she look like?” (RW Skeletons)

I am thinking we dump Jenny because if she is pregnant now that isn’t happening. I still don’t remember Casey but I suspect you have some secret reason for wanting her back. I am replacing her with Sylvia from RW Skeletons because I see her a more likely candidate.


  1. Laurel
  2. Emily
  3. Camilla
  4. Sarah
  5. Nany
  6. Theresa
  7. Jenna
  8. Nia
  9. Evelyn (great call)
  10. Cara Maria (another great call)
  11. Mandy
  12. Sylvia
  13. Nicole (RW Skeletons)
  14. Ellie (AYTO S.2)
  15. Christina (AYTO S.2)