Challenge Retrospective: The Duel 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. Thus, I have decided to look back on many of the Challenge seasons of the modern era, beginning with Fresh Meat 1, and will be awarding competitors with certain titles. Today, I will be talking about the Duel 1, a season with many historic male competitors, in the greatest individual Challenge format ever.

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: Chris “CT” Tamburello Female: Diem Brown
It was hard to tell sometimes during the Duel whether CT & Diem’s budding romance and relationship was the main plot, or if the actual competition was. Coming back from Cancer treatment, Diem had loss all of her hair, and it was barely growing back by the time the show had begun filming. CT’s organic interest and support of Diem was one of the cutest things. This big testosterone beast was showing a different side of himself, an actual open warm heart. Diem was a fighter on her first season of the Challenge, but she was heavily supported by Derrick. This season she was on her own and proved to be a strong individual.

Diem did well in many of the daily Challenge despite not being a major physical threat and dealing with not being at her physical peak due to Cancer. Her loss in elimination to Aneesa in “I Can” was heartbreaking. You could tell that she would have died trying to lift all the logs. A strong 4th place finish in a format like the Duel is admirable. CT finished in 3rd, DQing against Brad. However, he dominated most physical events and beat Evan (his biggest threat) in a Duel. Good season.

Rookie of the Year

Male: Nehemiah Clark Female: Svetlana Shusterman
While the Duel was the introductory for season of the Challenge for Real World Key West and it’s All Star male competitors: Johnny Bananas and Tyler Duckworth, the rookie of the year for the guys came from Real World Austin, Nehemiah. In this season he defeated Kenny in a Duel, the first person ever to do so, and the only one! In Kenny Santucci’s 8 season on the Challenge, Nehemiah is the only person to have ever eliminated Kenny. That enough earns him Rookie of the Year.

For the girls it is obvious, Svetlana. The little Russian with big natural boobs was the biggest stunner of her sole season the Challenge. After being whiny and childish on her season of the Real World, Svetlana came on the Challenge and still acted childish… She constantly threatened to quit and wanted to every day, but production had to beg her not to. However, she somehow finished in second place, outlasting solid competitors like Kina Dean, Robbin Hibbard, and Diem Brown. She won 3 Duels, beating Aneesa, Kina, and Beth. Svetlana was a great swimmer and surprising athlete, as well as just attractive. And we never saw her again.

First Team All Challenge

Chris “CT” Tamburello, Wes Bergmann, Evan Starkman, Diem Brown, Svetlana Shusterman
I’ve talked about CT, Diem, and Svetlana already, they had great seasons, and brought interesting storylines. As good as Jodi was as a competitor, all she did was win. In most seasons that is guaranteed first team, but the Duel 1 is one of the best seasons ever, and on this one, we had too many people bringing multiple elements to the game.

Wes as the male winner of the Duel gets him on the list. The Duel is the greatest male line-up in the history of the Challenge. 9/10 males on the Duel went on to win at least one Challenge: 1st Wes(2x), 2nd Brad(1x), 3rd CT(1x), 4th Evan(2x), 5th Big Easy(RIP), 6th Derrick(3x), 7th Nehemiah(1x), 8th Kenny(3x), 9th Tyler(2x), 10th Johnny(6x).

Wes won in an individual format where your alliances can keep you safe from being the last man picked, but winning the Challenges was the only way you could protect yourself. Wes had the most clutch performance in Challenge history on the Duel. On Wes’s Duel Season, he only had 4 total wins: #1 beating Derrick in the Pole Wrestle Duel, #2 winning the second to last male elimination day daily challenge to pit Evan against CT, #3 winning the final daily challenge to have CT face Brad before the final, #4 winning the final. It does not matter if you dominate the season, it just matters getting the final and performing when your number is called. Wes proved that and stood atop the pile of champs.

Evan was the same dominant Canadian moose from Fresh Meat 1. He won 6 daily challenges, and 4 of them on male elimination days gaining immunity. Evan was the only guy to be consistently competitive with CT. It was sad to watch him get manipulated by Wes and end up losing his Duel with CT. A solid 4th place finish for Evan.

Second Team All Challenge

Jodi Weatherton, Brad Fiorenza, Aneesa Ferreira, Beth Stolarczyk, Kina Dean

Jodi, the Champ was a monster. She got her second Challenge win, took her big chunk of money, and we never saw her again. Brad was the biggest loser of the season, a penalty shoot-out against Wes sealed his fate in the final, and he walked away with no cash after an amazing Duel performance. Aneesa never would have won a final, and never will, but she proved her strength in eliminations by winning 3 Duels — against Paula, Robin and Diem(fun fact: Aneesa won 3 eliminations on both Duels). Aneesa/Svetlana/Beth aligned with Wes and Nehemiah after finding themselves as the seasonal outcasts. Aneesa was important for Wes in terms of winning.

Beth is one of the great all time Challenge villains, and was in full form on the Duel. She had a weird relationship with Nehemiah, and created an alliance that actually accounted for half of the final 6 people in the game(Wes, Svet, Aneesa). Good season for Beth, and it was fun to watch her DQ. Kina was hot.

Best Physical Competitors

Male: Chris “CT” Tamburello Female: Jodi Weatherton

We get it, CT is a beast, now let us talk about Jodi. On the Duel, Jodi won 7 daily challenges, including 5 out of the 7 daily challenges on female elimination days. Those other two occasions, nobody dared try to call out. She was good at everything, swimming, running, strength, balance, endurance, speed. Her only weakness was the lack of strong competitors around her. She never got to compete with Evelyn, or Laurel, or Emily S and that is just a shame.

Most Disappointing Players

Male: Derrick Kosinski Female: Kina Dean
As beautiful as Kina was, this season was one of her best chances to excel. Kina was already a champion (Gauntlet 2), and was in a field of people who were either new, or had not won a Challenge before, besides Jodi. Instead, she only won 1 daily challenge all season, and was taken out by little rookie Svetlana. Kina never returned to the Challenge, and it sucked for her to go out with a bad showing.

This was a tough one to watch. After losing on the final in the Inferno 2, it just went downhill for the Diesel. He lost on the final elimination of Gauntlet 2 after 4 winning eliminations that season, lost on the final elimination of Fresh Meat 1 with Diem, and then got taken out early by Wes in a straight physical man vs man elimination. 5 seasons in and still not a winner. Luckily, Derrick came back from this disappointing finish for a 3peat, so that was cool at least, right?

Underdog of the Season: Svetlana Shusterman

If you ever watch the Duel for the first time, or go for a re-watch, I ask that you watch Real World Key West first. Svetlana making the final is just weird after the Real World season she had. More surprising than Smashley and Jenna being good when she showed up, just to give perspective



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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.