Challenge Vendettas Team Preview: Chris Tamburello and Veronica Portillo
RINGS. With 5 Challenge wins, 2 Spinoff Wins, and a whopping 11 Finals appearances it is fair to say the duo CT and Veronica have more experience than over half the cast combined. The pair did their first season together all the way back on the Inferno I (Season 8), a decade and a half ago. CT was on the Real World team and Veronica was on the Road Rules team. On the Inferno, CT won the most lifesavers for the Real Worlders with 5, while Veronica won the most for the Road Rulers with 3 (beating male competitors). Two years later they were on the Inferno 2 together as teammates on the Bad Asses team where they made the final together. It took another decade for them to be reunited again when competing on Champs vs Pros and subsequently Dirty 30.
To put into context how long these two have known each other, some of the teams on this season were in middle school when CT and Veronica did their first season together. It was so long ago that people complaining about MTV not showing music was an actual complaint and not an ironic existence.
Introducing the Rivalry: Compared to many of the rivalries on this show, it is harder to really pinpoint a big blow up between these two players. Ironically, there is much more depth to this rivalry than almost any of the other ones on this season. It is not two people who dislike each other because they were fighting over another person romantically or they shaded the other on Twitter; these two philosophically do not get along after years of knowing each other as their personalities do mesh.
When CT enters a Challenge house, he spends his time in the working out in the gym, sleeping, or making ham and egg sandwiches. In the past when CT would get horny he would make use of the talent surrounding him. Essentially, he was/is a caveman. On the other side of the house, Veronica spends her time by the pool with friends, drinking, talking, and treating the game like a vacation. She does not dedicate her life to the gym in order to dominate the game physically, Veronica is a force socially, politically, and mentally (she’s also not a slouch physically). This is where the two diverge. CT is all about strength and performance, where Veronica plays the game of navigating the field and understanding how she can advance with the least resistance possible while yielding her the best chance to win.
To pinpoint where MTV wants to state the rivalry began … during Dirty 30, CT voted Veronica into elimination by asserting she was the weakest player remaining in the game, a person he would not want to run the final with. A bit idiotic of a claim considering Veronica had won finals in the past, albeit a decade ago. Of course, this claim would offend Veronica as she has the most Challenge wins by a female competitor in the history of the show and has more wins than CT himself. Here they are together, forced to compete with one another with a million dollars on the line.
Chris Tamburello: 37 years old, 6'2, 13 seasons, 7 finals, 2x Challenge Champion: 1st Place Rivals 2 and Invasion the Champions, 3 spinoffs (2 spinoff wins), 5–3 elimination record
Veronica Portillo: 40 years old, 5'1, 10 seasons, 4 finals, 3x Challenge Champion: Winner of Challenge 2000, the Gauntlet, and the Inferno, 1 spinoff, 2–2 elimination record
Team Skills and Physical Strength: What can I say about CT that you do not already know? Whether he is in peak shape or dad bod shape, he still manages to dominate the competition. CT has hit the point where not a single thing thrown at him can actually scare him. As a partner, he does a great job of elevating his partners. During Rivals 2, Wes was able to play the field without fear of repercussions because he had CT backing him up. Adam King, Diem Brown, Cara Maria, Ashley Mitchell, and many others when partnered with CT for a season or an individual challenge have done their best when competing with CT. A Veronica Portillo resurgence could be seen now that she is partnered with CT.
Then again, the Portillo resurgence was already in full-effect on Dirty 30. Veronica was the 3rd or 4th best girl all season after Cara/Camila and is a toss-up with Tori. Yeah, I said it, Veronica was better than Kailah and Jenna on Dirty 30. Veronica only participated in the double cross one time all season during Dirty 30, she beat Aneesa in elimination and was the reason her team won the 3D puzzle purge that would send CT/Cara to the Redemption house. She would later make the move to force a tie vote that would eventually result in Leroy getting voted in instead of Hunter. Unfortunately, this all gets lost because Veronica was sent to the Redemption House via a random purge, not even an actual elimination, and had to compete in a Redemption with four other people where only one person makes out. Veronica proves a competitor does not need to commit their life to the gym to compete, she shows you only need to keep up as long as you can show fearlessness, tenacity, and make up for it by playing the mental part of the game.
Experience matters in the physical realm of this competition. There is a certain muscle memory players gain by competing in these type of events. CT and Veronica will win the strategy part of how to approach challenges. They might not win a sprint, but the Challenge is a marathon.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: Veronica plays a much lazier political game than she used to. Part of this is back in the day she would control the entire house, versus now when she could care less to actually learn certain people’s names. Though the savvy strategic politician still comes out when she is given actual power in the game. Veronica is efficient when given power, she goes for big moves to yield a higher chance of her winning. She plays the game with no fear. Ironically, CT plays a game where he usually only makes small moves. On Dirty 30 and Free Agents, CT continually made the move to vote for the weakest player because they are someone he would not want to run the final with and because he does not want to get voted in later. The method is smart because he does not get voted in, but he was crushed in the final on Dirty 30 as he did not make an effort to eliminate the Champions whom he played the game with. CT needs to let Veronica run their team socially and politically if they want to win. CT can run it if they want to make the final, Veronica runs it if they want to win.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Let this sink in, Jemmye and Jenna have seen as many eliminations in their Challenge career as CT and Veronica. For a duo that has done 23 seasons of the show, they average only .5 eliminations a season. Essentially, there is a 50–50 chance they see an elimination this season if you look at the track records. This team can win any type of elimination. At the same time, it would not be crazy to see them lose to a stronger physical team. If their chemistry is not there they will fail when put under the pressure of an elimination. CT can get flustered when he gets angry.
Can they win? It would necessitate them making moves to get the teams who can beat them in a final eliminated. Shane/Nelson, Zach/Amanda, Paulie/Natalie, and Bananas/partner are all teams who can probably outrun Veronica in a final even with puzzles included. To win the game they need to make big moves. Making the final would be cool if they did not have 11 finals between them. They are playing to win.
CT’s Rating: 95/100
Veronica’s Rating: 80/100