Challenge Retrospective: Exes 1 Awards

While we have the objective history of the Challenge in the wikias, and the show intact to look back on to see how great the olden days were, we are missing some big things: AWARDS. As a major basketball fan, my friends and I spend hours on discussing who the league MVP is, who the rookie of the year is, and who are the top players per position are. I began with Fresh Meat 1, and now done the Duel 1,Inferno 3, Gauntlet 3, the Island, the Duel 2, the Ruins, Fresh Meat 2, Cutthroat, Rivals 1, and now Exes 1. If you want links to them, they’ll be at the bottom of this article.

Exes 1 like Rivals 1 is generally overrated due to its freshness as a format. While the casts and relationships were more organic on Exes 1, the Exes 2 show had better competition and game-play. Exes 1 was plagued due to the exits through DQs of Dustin/Heather and Sarah/Vinny, as well as the early exits of fan favorites like Wes and LeRoy. Cara Maria and Rachel Robinson didn’t quite bring it, while Tyrie and Jasmine stayed too long. What made Exes 1 great was the final 3 women of the show: Camila, Emily, and Diem, they each brought something special to the show, making it one of the toughest MVP decisions for me.

The Rules: I will be giving out an MVP award for both male and female competitors on the season. MVP does not just go out to the pair that won the season, but the individual competitor who brought the most to the show: physically, socially, mentally, entertainment wise, hook ups, arguments, circumstances, etc. I will be naming First Team All Challenge, and Second Team All Challenge. These will be 5 person lineups consisting of the best/most important competitors from that season using the MVP criteria, and it can be 5 guys and 0 girls, or 5 girls and 0 guys, or just 3 guys and 2 girls. It will consist of 5 competitors regardless of gender.

Rookie of the Year awards will be given to both genders, and I will also be giving awards out for Most Disappointing Players of the Season(both genders), Top Physical Competitors, and Underdog of the Season. Here we go:


Male: Johnny Bananas Female: Camila Nakagawa
Out of all the seasons where I had to choose an MVP, none has been quite as tough as this one. On a season like the Duel 2, picking between Evan and Landon was tough, but I felt each had completely understandable reasons for winning.

With Exes 1, the Camila-Emily-Diem situation is one of the toughest that I have ever faced. Emily was a beast who won 3 eliminations and carried Ty to his only final ever. Physically she was the most dominant, but besides the whole “black face” scenario, Emily brought little drama and action to the show. Not to mention the black face situation is not a good look, even if she was ignorant to the severity of what she did. Diem on the other hand, was a great competitor, and while the relationship rekindling between her and CT was romantic and seemed storybook, they did not spark until the last few episodes of the season. There were glimpses early on, not full on till the end though.

The reason I chose Camila was that she had one of the great physical seasons, topped with drama, and partner relationship dysfunctional-ism. It’s become fun to claim that Johnny carried Camila on Exes 1 these days, but if you watch the season over again, it is not true. Johnny and Camila were the best team in daily challenges on Exes 1, they won 3 dailies and finished 2nd or 3rd in many of them. Before Camila, Johnny’s record in daily missions was less than stellar, aside from his time on the Ruins and Gauntlet 3 where the Champs and Vets basically never lost. As an individual or pair, he had never been special. Camila was the best swimmer on the season, had great endurance, and killed all heights challenges. She also had enough heart to climb the top of that mountain with Johnny in order to become a champion. I’ve grown to dislike Camila recently, but the total amount of heart she showed when trying to prove herself was admirable.

You also have to add on the layers that Camila was an explosive house presence. While we do not enjoy seeing the Camilanator these days, this was the first true appearance of that beast. Her relationship with Johnny was tearing her apart, and she went full postal on Johnny.

Camila has done stuff like this in multiple seasons, however, the novelty of it all was in this season. I was jarred watching this for the first time. I’ve seen some people go crazy and hectic, Camila took it to a different level.

The key that also helped my decision in the end that Diem & CT did not deserve to win MVPs, was that they sealed their own fate. During the second to last elimination, they decide to vote in Paula and Dunbar as they are more afraid of them in a final. Which is generally a smart choice, except why are you afraid of Dunbar? Johnny and Camila have been the best team all season, while Mark and Robin have the best team chemistry, going for Paula and Dunbar decided they were not going to win. Had they sent in Johnny and Camila, they would have lost the elimination due to the massive size difference between Emily/Ty and Johnny/Camila. Even worse is that Dunbar and Paula had assured them they would not throw them into elimination if they kept them safe.

Johnny’s MVP case is strong this season. His first 3 Challenge titles are very suspect, as he was carried to them by his friends. Exes 1 was the first season where he got to compete without a Kenny, without an Evan, and without Derrick. What did he do? He began dominating dailies for the first time, walked in the best shape of his life, and played his own game for once. Not a fan of Johnny, but sometimes you have to appreciate a great season.

Rookie of the Year:

Male: Dustin Zito Female: Heather Marter
Former couple turned former Exes was an actual couple on this season. They did fine in the two challenges they participated in, while being pretty faces. Dustin’s busted knee cap was the end of their journey, and the last/only time we ever saw Heather on a Challenge.

First Team All Challenge

Johnny Bananas, Camila Nakagawa, Emily Schromm, Chris CT Tamburello, Diem Brown
Understanding how good Emily was on Exes 1 is hard to explain without some other stats. One of her elimination wins was against Cara Maria in the Exes version of Pole Wrestle which used an X. She beat her 2–0, wherein the second round, she ripped the X straight out of her hand in less than 7 seconds. Cara Maria was nowhere near the shape she was in now or even in Free Agents, but she was always known for her upper body and went on to win this elimination a couple times. Emily dominated her. She also completely took out Paula in their version of Dug Out, which involved one row between two people. Paula, known for being a runner, was outgunned and beat down by Emily. I will save her most impressive physical achievement on the season for later.

The CT and Diem relationship is almost the basis of the Exes franchise. They are the most famous couple to have ever been developed on a Challenge. This couple is the main storyline of multiple seasons: Duel 1, Exes 1, and Rivals 2. It’s also a major plot point in Gauntlet 3, Duel 2, and Exes 2. Watching CT’s affection for Diem and the repairing of their relationship was one of the sweetest things. I force all my closest friends to binge watch the Challenge, where I will sit with them to answer every questions and explain all the backgrounds. We start with Rivals 1, where we see a version of head-smasher CT. When we hit Exes 1, they were always jarred by how different CT was with Diem compared to everyone else. Them not winning that final hurts my soul, that’s how life goes sometimes though.

Second Team All Challenge

Paula Meronek, Ty Ruff, Mark Long, Abram Boise, Robin Hibbard
Paula and Ty’s relationship is one of the weirdest hookups in Challenge history. Paula hated Ty on Cutthroat and Rivals 1, and now they were having fun between the sheets despite Paula having a boyfriend at home. Eventually, it was Ty and Emily who took out Paula and Dunbar in elimination. The couple competed solidly on Exes 1, not the best, solid.

Mark and Robin were the old couple on this season. 42 year old Mark Long showed he still had a lot left in the tank, winning a daily mission, and performing well throughout. He saw his first ever elimination, a shocking loss to Johnny. Though there are some reports he cut a deal beforehand, in classic Mark Long fashion. Robin showed spunk on this season, she played for her son, and it was the last time we ever got to see her on a Challenge. Wish she could have saw the final, although it was a good finish to a decent career.

Abram was a better character behind the scenes on Exes 1. First, they wanted him and Coral on so desperately. When Coral decided to not go on, they let him compete with his current girlfriend, Cara Maria. He loved to be naked, often to the chagrin of Johnny. He and Cara Maria also had sex all over the place, learning that if you always have sex, it becomes boring to the editing and production team.

Best Physical Players

Male: Chris CT Tamburello Female: Emily Schromm
Emily’s most impressive achievements was winning the Banded Together elimination when her and Ty used a horrible method when playing the game. In the game you’re tied to a rubber band and have to run to a pole where you and your teammate must each hold it at the same time for 5 seconds. The right way to play the game is to let the girl go first and hold on to the pole, then the guy will sprint after the pole. This is due to the force put onto a person’s body when both people are running towards the pole. If the girl goes solo, she goes with only the resistance of the pole, and only has to push their own weight. Emily and Ty went in unison, meaning Emily was not only pushing the resistance of the rubber band, but also the weight of Ty. Good God.

CT was on this season? Yeah, this award makes sense then.

Most Disappointing Players

Male: Wes Bergmann Female: Cara Maria Sorbello
This was the quickest exit by Wes in a season ever. He saw the first two eliminations, and was out-manned by LeRoy in Pole Wrestle, a game where he became legend years earlier.

After a strong performance on Rivals 1 where she finished in 2nd with Laurel, and struggled less than most of the guys in the final, expectations were high for the possible power couple of Abram and Cara Maria. Instead, she often relied on Abram too much, looking for him to tell her what to do, when she can instinctively find out on her own. Not a good look for her on this season.



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.

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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.