Challenge Double Agents Player Preview: Faysal “Fessy” Shafaat

Fessy impressed fans all last season by physically killing the first couple of challenges, bringing an overall cool demeanor, and of course, absolutely demolishing Jordan in Pole Wrestle. Obviously, it was an easy win for Fessy, but for the fans who dislike Jordan for valid reasons, it was a big moment for them. I think it is fair to point out that before MTV banned and edited out Dee, Fessy wasn’t getting many confessionals or screen-time. Once she was, he was someone they gave more screen-time. They showed his backstory where he talked about being a Muslim kid/teen in America after 9/11. He displayed vulnerability and a backstory that makes you want to root for him. Fessy seems like he will be a staple on the show for the next few years. Eventually, fans will turn on him for being “boring,” and a few already have, but until that moment hits, he’s going to be living it up and thriving.

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Introducing Fessy: His original show is Big Brother 20. On this show, Fessy gained fame for being part of one of the worst alliances (in terms of gameplay) in Big Brother history. What made Fessy incredibly known is that he made one of if not the dumbest moves in Big Brother history. At Final 9, Fessy won the Head of Household competition, and his alliance at that point was down to 3 people, himself, his showmance Haleigh, and his friend Scottie. Obviously, the right move would have been to nominate two people who clearly are in the opposing alliance. Hell, any move would have been good, except for what Fessy did, which was nominate alliance member Scottie. Unfortunately, Fessy was gullible enough to get convinced by the opposing alliance that Scottie had flipped on a previous vote, which was not true. Even if it was, the other people in the house were clearly against Fessy’s alliance. Fessy literally knocked out one of the only people on his side, and the following week, he got nominated next to his girlfriend and got voted out of the game. WOOF.

He is a nice guy, and Big Brother was not his game. The Challenge players might be more cutthroat, but there isn’t a lot of options to attack people like Fessy. I mean, the top women want to keep Fessy in the game in case they get partnered with him at some point, and most of the men are too terrified to vote him in, let alone see him in elimination. On Total Madness, Fessy didn’t win many tribunals, and it was never really his fault. It was more symptomatic of the teams he was placed on or simply came up short against other top players. From an athleticism standpoint, Fessy stood out as one of the best. Sadly, the final itself was in the snow, and historically, the bigger men crumble in the snow. Fessy finished second-place on Day 1, and the lead he created on Day 1 was meaningless in the end, especially as every foot-step in that snow became harder and harder. He proved to have good cardio and speed throughout most of the challenges, just not in the snow. The problem is this season looks like another cold-weather game.

Player Vitals

Faysal Fessy Shafaat: 29 Years Old, 6'5, 243 lbs, 1 Season, 1x Finalist, 1–0 Elimination Record, Highest Finish: 4th Place Total Madness

Skills and Physical Strength: Unlike other Challenge competitors with fake NFL dreams, Fessy had the legitimate talent, athletic ability, and skills to play in the NFL. Honestly, looking at his game tape, the only reason it never happened for Fessy is that he tore his ACL tear his senior year and the fact he played for a non-D1 school. It’s evident he was an upper-level D1 talent who got overlooked in high school. Fessy used to run a 4.78 40 yard dash, which easily makes him the fastest person on this cast, and the fact he is bigger than everyone is the gravy on top. He also played tight-end, which means Fessy knows how to block and take a hit.

Last season, Fessy proved to be capable in most of the challenges thrown at him. Whether it was obstacle courses, heights, or swimming, Fessy will only improve with more experience and knowing what is getting thrown at him. At this point, his cardio in high-altitudes/cold weather settings is all he can practice. He could practice running with the elevation masks, but I’ve heard contradicting reports on whether they work. Theoretically, he could cut weight at this point as well.

SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: I’m a little afraid the Red Skull twist may lead Fessy into playing a lazy game. People do not want to face Fessy in elimination for obvious reasons. If Fessy can get his Red Skull early, he might coast to the end. Which wouldn’t suck at all; everyone would take a free ticket to the final if given. The problem is, for Fessy to stack the odds of winning better in his favor, he needs to play a more active and cutthroat game. He needs to see people like CT and Darrell as enemies, even if they don’t attempt to throw him into elimination. Last season, we saw Fessy openly vote Bananas into an early elimination, and Wes/other people weren’t willing to pull that trigger. That initiative shows that Fessy is ready to go after significant threats. You just have to worry that because the game caters too easy to a player like Fessy, will he become complacent?

In terms of allies, Fessy is close to the Young Bucks (Cory, Nelson), Jay, Kaycee, and Josh. That’s a solid group of allies. Fessy is set up to make plays. If you include Darrell (who said he plans to work with the Young Bucks), then Fessy is allied with 40% of the male votes in the game, and then you add in a few floaters, and he could run the game. Or he could sit on his ass and coast to the final. When it comes to the mental game, Fessy is hit or miss. On both Big Brother and the Challenge, he has solved puzzles and won mental comps, and other times, he has flopped. I’d consider him average in this category.

Eliminations & Winning Potential: Fessy in a Hall Brawl or Balls In is a terrifying prospect. I would love to see how he would do in a Knot So Fast or a climbing type game. Does he have the mobility/flexibility to do well in those competitions? When it comes to the more endurance-based eliminations, I would still hedge towards Fessy. One of the main reasons why is because he can keep a faster pace than most players.

Could Fessy win? Yes. He would need to be on his A-Game, it has to not be a snowy final again, and he has to come through on his puzzles. I think he could win a final against the top players; however, it would be much easier to win if those top threats aren’t there. The Red Skull twist almost makes him a lock for the final in my mind; it’s about creating the best situation for him to win at this point.

Fessy’s Overall Rating: 91/100 (+6 from Total Madness)

25 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.