Challenge Double Agents Player Preview: Nicole Zanatta

Nicole is back! Just kidding, it’s more like Nicole is back… It’s weird. Generally, when people take a four-season break, fans are ecstatic to see a player return, especially if they performed well in the past. Nicole is a two-time finalist, has never gotten eliminated, and despite this, reactions are either muted or negative. She gained the ire of some fans during the initial two-season run of Invasion/Vendettas. Nicole then drew even more hate after the way her and Laurel’s relationship/break-up played out, especially after Ex on the Peak. Nonetheless, Nicole has been successful on the Challenge and should make an impact this season.

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Introducing Nicole: Her original reality show is the Real World Skeletons (Chicago 2). In this season, she would usually try to be one of the boys in the house when it came to who she hung out with. She had similar interests as the men — working out, hooking up with hot women, etc.

Nicole seemed prime for the Challenge, joining the show for Invasion, where she cruised through with immunity for most of the game due to her physical prowess. She didn’t get tested until the Underdog bloodbath, where it came down to a battle between her and Jenna for who is worse at puzzles. Jenna proved to be slightly worse. In the physical portion, she lost to Ashley in part one due to an Amanda/Ashley team-up effort. During part two, she was less than an inch from being taken out by a much smaller Amanda in a physical elimination, as Amanda was playing to the rules of the game and outsmarting her. Nicole was able to pull out the win and then had one of the most embarrassing finals performances ever. She and Cory were unable to solve a 7th-grade puzzle and received a 30 minute time penalty that immediately ensured the best she could do was 3rd Place. On Invasion, she tried to lure in Cara Maria and started a relationship with Laurel instead.

Nicole and Laurel would break up eventually, as she couldn’t commit. She then went on Vendettas single, and among a weak field, she had an easy ride to the final, excelling in a few of the challenges (never saw an elimination either). Nicole had an early showmance with Melissa as Melissa saw Nicole as a power player. She also hooked up with Jemmye, but that wasn’t shown on camera and seemed like a simple physical entanglement. Her final performance was cut short due to an ankle injury, however, she likely would have finished 4th in the final due to the puzzle at the end. Her next reality TV experience was Ex on the Peak (the snow edition of Ex on the Beach). Laurel, Jemmye, and Ashley Caesar (RW Explosion) showed up as Nicole’s exes. She rekindled her love with Ashley, and they currently live together in California.

Edit: Apparently, Ashley and Nicole have recently broken up. Their social medias are still full of pics together.

Player Vitals

Nicole Zanatta: 30 Years Old, 5'6, 135–145 lbs, 2 Seasons, 1–0 Elimination Record, 2x Finalist, Highest Finish: 3rd Place Invasion of the Champions

Skills and Physical Strength: As an athlete, Nicole is fantastic. She has a rock-hard body that is mostly muscle. Nicole has great cardio, but she can run at a breakneck pace and can keep up with some of the men. Being fast matters, especially in games like Hall Brawl or Balls In. She was the strongest female swimmer on Vendettas. Her upper-body strength is highly impressive, as well. There is more to be desired when it comes to her abilities in heights challenges. Nicole isn’t bad with heights; she just could be better.

When evaluating Nicole’s abilities, one of the crucial things to know is that Nicole commonly overestimates her strengths and talent. She is one of the best athletes on the show and sometimes dominates, yes. However, not knowing her limits can lead to absolute catastrophe. She doesn’t always think on her feet or will be brash for no reason. Too much bravado. A little thing that made no sense was her taking her shoes on and off to jump into a little swamp during the Invasion final. She did it because she didn’t want “wet” shoes, but this is a final where every minute matters and the shoes are going to get wet regardless from her feet being in the swamp, and also, you don’t know what you could step in/on. If she steps on a piece of broken glass or something sharp, her final could have ended right there. Not to mention, the time she took to tie and untie her shoes could be equal to the two minutes that Nelson (who was partnered w her) lost to CT by.

SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Nicole’s social game is solid, even though many people dislike her in the house. What generally tends to happen is she makes friends with the men, is flirty with some girls, and then after the show/in confessionals, people air out their distaste for her. The fact she took a 2-year break from the show may hurt her massively as two of her best friends, Tony and Zach, are somewhat out of the casting pool currently. She’s never displayed a strategic game, other than when Shane cut a deal with her on Invasion for mutually assured safety, and that was more on Shane’s part, if anything.

For Nicole to even have a chance this season, she needs to gun for the strongest girls in the house: Kam, Lolo, Natalie, and Theresa. Yet, when MTV posted a video of people talking about their allies, she listed Lolo, Natalie, and Kaycee, which is idiotic. Nicole thinks that by aligning with the strongest people that they will dominate the game together. She doesn’t realize that all the strong players will torch her in a final because she cannot solve puzzles. For Nicole to win, she needs to run against people who can’t solve puzzles like her or people she can outpace cardio-wise by enough margin to make up for her mental comp inability.

Eliminations & Winning Potential: If the elimination involves problem-solving, then Nicole might have some issues. If it is purely physical, then she will likely excel. Then again, I don’t think she can beat Kaycee or Lolo in a Hall Brawl because those people are legitimate athletes who can match/exceed her speed. As mentioned above, she’d get killed in a puzzle.

Likewise, for Nicole to win a final, she needs to eliminate her biggest threats or eliminate them herself. If not, she will lose another final. Nicole needs to have a level of self-awareness that she has yet to exhibit during four reality shows. Do I think she can make a third final? Of course. Except it means a hell of a lot less if she finishes last again.

Nicole’s Overall Rating: 87/100 (-2 from Vendetta)

Vendettas Player Rating: 89/100
Invasion Player Rating: 94/100 (didn’t know she couldn’t solve a single puzzle)



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Allan Aguirre

Allan Aguirre

26 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.