Challenge Vendettas Player Preview: Zach Nichols
The Zach Nichols redemption arc began a tiny bit on Invasion of the Champions, grew exponentially on Champs vs Stars. Hopefully, he can recover more of his image on Vendettas. If you watched Zach on Battle of the Exes 2, he was a dickhead (being polite). There are no excuses for his behavior towards Jonna on that season. He yelled at her, treated her like a lesser human being, and was even shown on camera saying women are essentially less than men. Following Exes 2, Zach definitely needed to take a break from the show, for the fans sake and his — especially after he broke the heart of Challenge sweetheart Jenna Compono.
After all those events, Zach’s worst moment to this day is the Free Agents final. Zach was on the path to becoming one of the faces of the Challenge following his rookie season win on Battle of the Seasons and his strong performance throughout Free Agents. During the final, we saw him crumble up and his body quit on him while scaling up a mountain. A major cramp almost made him quit the final, had him crying in fear, and made Laurel almost lose the final despite coming in first place in every other portion of the final. Through everything, there’s one image Zach hasn’t wanted to put out, and that is him being weak.
On the last two shows Zach appeared on, we have seen a more kind and caring version of him. When he entered the game on Invasion, he was gentle and understanding towards Jenna while she was dealing with Amanda spreading rumors about her. He made a bigger splash recently while appearing on Champs vs Stars. Zach has arguably been the most valuable player on the Champs team during the spin-off as his size and speed has not been matched by any other competitor. His off-cuff jokes and confessionals have been incredibly self-aware and funny.
98% of the time, Zach is one of the coolest guys on the show. Zach is not only a phenomenal competitor, but he is genuinely charming and funny. People look at his giant exterior and underestimate the fact he is great at confessionals, a good social player (always friends with the strongest players), and at times a great political player (he played a major part in getting Bananas voted into elimination three times between Free Agents and Exes 2). When Zach’s brain is in the game, he is one of the most dangerous players in Challenge history — the problem is he sometimes takes his eyes off the target. If he can stay focused, we may see Zach winning his second Challenge.
Skills & Physical Strength: He does not have the same level of speed that he did five years ago as he has gotten older. Then again, he is still at least one of the three fastest guys on the entire cast, and when you throw in his size, he is the last guy you want to see in a physical football/rugby like mission. Zach is a freight truck who recently dropped off some of his shipment, as he as trimmed a decent amount of weight.
Zach is lighter and his legs are stronger. He is more functionally fit than ever before. Swimming used to be one of his big weaknesses, and since Exes 2 and Champs vs Stars, Zach has been at worst an average swimmer. If you can go from being awful at something to being average, you’re doing the best you can. His muscular and cardio endurance are both stronger than ever, and you add in his speed to the equation — Zach has become one of the most well-equipped players for daily missions.
Social, Mental, & Political Game: His social game is usually strong considering who he aligns with. He ran Battle of the Seasons with Frank Sweeney, then ran Free Agents with CT, Reilly, and Jordan. Exes 2 he worked with Wes to get Bananas out of the game, a brilliant move until Wes found a way to pull the rug from under Zach. He is entering the game with no major friendships, but that doesn’t matter because he makes friends on the fly pretty easily. Zach is currently dating Jenna, which may translate to an alliance with Kailah and Nicole, and his game won’t end up lost to due to a showmance.
His size and strength often intimidate people; his charm and charisma makes people want to follow him. Zach is a giant history buff — low-key one of the smartest guys on the show and a favorite to win the trivia challenge. As long as he doesn’t have an angry lash-out moment, he should get far in the game.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: With a career 3–3 record in eliminations, Zach does not seem that scary. Then again, his two most recent losses came against Jordan and Darrell, two of the greatest players in Challenge history. Zach would have a better record if he saw more eliminations, though most players are terrified of facing Zach in the case they get a physical elimination.
Could Zach win the final? It would help if it was not in cold weather or higher altitudes — the main reason why he died during the Free Agents final. Other than Bananas, Zach is the most recent male champion on the show. His job should be to get rid of Bananas and Nelson, the two players most fit to run a final on the cast. The way to do it is by winning daily missions, if he can win missions, Zach can make big moves.
Overall Rating: 91/100