Challenge Total Madness Player Preview: Dee Nguyen
Dee Nguyen is now a Challenge Champion! She won a title before Tori Deal, before Killa Kam, before Kailah or Jenna, and before Tyrie Ballard. The women ushered in a new era of the Challenge, becoming faces of the franchise, and even all appeared on the Champs vs. Star spinoffs before they even won Challenge championships. Yet, the newest female Challenge champion is Dee Nguyen. Dee is the first new female winner since Ashley Mitchell on Invasion, and before that, it was Cara Maria on Battle of the Bloodlines.
Ashley and Dee share many of the same qualities. They are puzzle people who are deceptively athletic and play stellar political games. Dee is not as wild as Ashley, but stability does not hurt at all. She is entering this season with a tiny chip on her shoulder despite already being a champion. Instead of just being happy with her win, Dee trained her ass off between seasons, even while traveling the world. Dee has tasted victory and money, and she wants more of it. She also wants to prove her win wasn’t a fluke. Then again, Dee going out early wouldn’t be shocking either. She has a massive target on her back as the reigning champion, her #1 ally is Wes (making her an even bigger target), and her half showmance/half enemy Rogan is a sneaky bitch. Ashley won Final Reckoning and then was first out on War of the Worlds 1. Fans of her will be ready to champion her wins, and her haters will immediately detract once she shows any weakness.
Introducing Dee: Dee has been continuously underrated and overshadowed as a competitor. On War of the Worlds 1, Dee and Wes led the pack in daily challenge wins, yet, people were always more interested in Wes as he was the one making the decisions for their team politically, and at the end of the day, he is a Challenge legend. What people don’t realize is that Wes is historically very average in daily challenges. He has made his money by winning eliminations and making big political plays. Dee helped Wes do better than he ever has in daily challenges. During the mud pit elimination, Dee proved she can get physical by snatching Shaleen’s ball in cold blood with ease. She overcame her fears in heights challenges, proved to have solid endurance/cardio, and even won a swimming challenge despite barely learning how to swim during the season. Dee was able to win this swimming challenge because of her puzzle abilities, something that would get her a daily challenge win once the game went individual.
Over time, Dee has shown that she is a ride or die friend. When Ninja Natalie and Turbo got into a tiff during a daily challenge, Dee went for Turbo without even knowing the situation. While Dee yelling at him was rude/unfair to Turbo, she went all out for her friend. Dee also stood by the same alliance of guys who almost blindsided her into elimination because she understood that her friends on Team USA had protected her for a long time, and to go against them now would be unfair. She is loyal to a fault, but Dee is someone you’d want to be your friend, and you’d want to align with because she’d have your back.
On War of the Worlds 2, Dee did not get the chance to shine during any of the daily challenges. She played a vital role in the game politically as she was the one who flipped Team USA on their head when she put Laurel into elimination. Laurel lost the elimination, and from there on, Paulie and Cara’s alliance on Team USA controlled the numbers that would ultimately keep Dee safe for the rest of the game. Dee sealed her spot in the final on episode four. When in the final, Dee silenced any doubters, and she and the entire UK team cruised through with ease. Dee’s puzzle prowess came in clutch as it guaranteed her a spot in the last portion of the final, and in the end, she became 250k USD richer (434.5k AUD).
Dee Nguyen: 26 Years Old, 5'3, 132 lbs, 2 Seasons, 1–1 Elimination Record, 1x Champion (War of the Worlds 2), 1x Finalist
Skills and Physical Strength: In terms of individual physical fitness, Dee is very fit. Her core strength is fantastic from Pole Dancing she used to do, and her calves/thighs have a healthy amount of thickness. While Dee probably can’t dominate someone in a Hall Brawl or Pole Wrestle, she can lift her own body weight and carry herself in the more cross-fit type challenges they play.
If you notice Dee’s social media, her arms are looking jacked, she lost some fat, gained some muscle, and gained some healthy thickness in legs/glutes. She quit her job to go on War of the Worlds 2, so it only makes sense she is prioritizing her fitness even more now. You’re only in your 20s for so long, and Dee is taking advantage of the fact that she gets to party, travel, and compete for large sums of money.
Dee will face stiff competition as many of the females on this season tower her in height. Players often fail when they try to play the game the same way other top players do. Dee isn’t as physically imposing as Mattie or Tori or Jenny, but she can be as good as them by cutting the right corners in daily challenges, keeping a pace that’s good for her, and playing Dee’s best game.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Her social game is quite strong because Dee enjoys drinking and partying. She brings chill vibes and is someone who will spend time in the gym and at the bar. Dee aligned with Ashley last season, and her #1 guy is going to be Wes. While she is often on the verge of murdering Rogan at times, the two also find themselves in each other’s beds just as often. They are toxic, but in terms of the game, two people using one another is likely more beneficial than actual Challenge relationships where they get emotionally torn apart, trying to protect each other.
Ultimately, Dee should rely on Wes, Rogan, and CT. These are three males who she has aligned with before, and they will likely win a considerable amount of daily challenges. Dee’s priority should be to align with Tori, Jenny, and Mattie as they are the power player females. In an individual game like this, Dee needs to assure she won’t get thrown into elimination by any Tribunal/Troika/Power Vote. Dee knows she can win a final; thus, her ultimate goal should be to get there.
In terms of mental ability, we already know she is above average at puzzles. We have seen in recent seasons that you need to be above average in puzzles to have a chance to win an individual/paired game (the lone exception being Hunter, who had Ashley as a partner).
Eliminations & Winning Potential: She is a career 1–1 in eliminations. Dee won her first elimination easily as it was a puzzle. Her second elimination was an upset loss to DaVonne. Dee’s loss to DaVonne was a humbling experience for Dee, and as we can see, she came into War of the Worlds 2 more prepared.
I think Dee would fail in most overtly raw physical and headbanger type eliminations. As fit as she is, Dee has short legs and short arms. Dee isn’t super quick, so when you throw her into Hall Brawl, her opponents will likely have an extra step or two on her. She can make up for her little legs in a final with her cardiovascular strength and heart, but in a dead-sprint, she will get beat by lesser overall competitors.
If the elimination is a problem-solving game with physicality or is endurance-based, then Dee has a great shot against anyone. Dee has that Sarah Rice/Ashley quality where they will figure out a way to win. Imagine the elimination Jenny played against Nicole last season. The players had to slide up and down the glass tower and memorize a pattern. Jenny could climb the tower much faster than Dee, but you know Dee would memorize the pattern in two to four fewer treks up and down than Jenny would. The Challenge isn’t all Hall Brawls and Pole Wrestles. Except when it is.
Can Dee win? Absolutely. People who have won a final are statistically much more likely to win a final again. It’s once you get over the hump that you understand the mental toll that a final requires of a competitor, and you learn what the shortcuts are, how to pace yourself, etc. As fit as someone like Jenny or Kaycee might be, they’ve never seen a final, and they won’t know what it is like until they are in the heat of things. We saw someone like Georgia flame out despite having the cardio to run for days. What matters is that Dee gets to the final. She’s not a player who needs the perfect circumstances to win. This female cast she is going up against is strong across board but is there no overtly dominant figure. I’d love to see Dee shock her haters once again.