The only thing worse than coming in 2nd Place is doing it two seasons in a row, especially when you are accustomed to winning championships. Darrell Taylor is one of the legends of the Challenge and is simply one of the coolest human beings on the planet. Not many people make me laugh as consistently as Darrell, and the fact he’s an absolute monster competitor is just an impressive bonus. Darrell’s back for his third straight All Star season, and the King wants his crown back.
Darrell’s Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version)
Introducing Darrell: After appearing on Road Rules Campus Crawl, Darrell transitioned onto the Challenge with the Gauntlet 1 as a member of the Road Rules team. Darrell played an under-the-radar game where he fit in socially. Physically, while Darrell was never the top player in daily challenges, everyone respected him. He won the Gauntlet 1 and then won the following season, the Inferno 1, the same way (except he did a get lifesaver win as well). Darrell mostly coasted on by when he returned for the Inferno 2, in part because there were only four male eliminations the entire season. Still, he was able to keep himself out of the last elimination by showing a willingness to be cutthroat, seeking out the lifesaver for individual safety over team victory in a daily challenge. It worked out for Darrell as he won his third straight championship among a legendary Good Guy squad that consisted of himself, Landon Lueck, The Miz, and Jamie Chung.
He then came back for Fresh Meat 1, the first true-partners season of the Challenge, where he and partner Aviv were able to stay under the radar primarily due to Wes going into every elimination. Once things got serious in the late game, he and Aviv stepped up to the plate. They won the final five lifesaver to keep themselves out of elimination, trouncing Derrick & Diem in the last elimination of the season and then dominating the Final against Kenny & Tina and Wes & Casey. After all that, Darrell became, at that point, the only 4x Champ in Challenge history and, to this day, the only player to win four straight appearances.
A few years later, Darrell returned for the Ruins and Fresh Meat 2. He won two eliminations on the Ruins and was likely to go to the Final with 31k guaranteed in his bank account until Brad provoked him into a fight, sending them both home. His chances on Fresh Meat looked good when he got the #1 overall pick in the draft and took Cara Maria. Unfortunately, Wes had the entire house against them from the jump and thrown into the first elimination, where they got beat by Pete & Jill in exile, Darrell’s first ever loss on the Challenge. We wouldn’t see Darrell again for another 6–7 years until Invasion of the Champions.
Even though Darrell hadn’t been on the show in years and struggled a bit at first in some of the daily challenges, he quickly proved that he was still a beast, taking down Zach in Pole Wrestle and Bananas in Balls In. His season came to an end after CT got extremely creative during their Knot So Fast elimination, which was a quality loss if there’s ever been one. He came back for Dirty 30 and got taken out by the weird opening purge and then shockingly lost his Redemption to Tony. In-between those seasons, Darrell filmed Champs vs. Pros, where he cruised through the game the same way he did on Fresh Meat 1 with Wes seeing all the eliminations. Darrell went to the Final with Cara Maria, and the two dominated their competition.
There was another few-year break from Darrell as he came back for Double Agents. He won a trivia challenge, beat Devin in a tangerine puzzle elimination, and looked to be in a good spot. Sadly, he had to face another elimination and got smoked by Cory in an elimination that came down to a dead sprint.
Darrell returned for the first two All Stars seasons. In the first one, he had no opposition, went to the Final, killed it, and then got passed up in the last portion by Yes Duffy, his first-ever loss in a Final. He came back strong on All Stars 2, probably had his best season ever in the daily challenges, and pulled off a massive win alongside Janelle Casanave against Brad & Jodi in the last elimination of the season. They went to the Final and came in 2nd in Part 1 despite Janelle having a bad back. It looked like they were going to pull out the win, except Jonna was able to pull out the puzzle at the end of Part 2, leaving Darrell/Janelle in 2nd Place. Darrell had never lost a final before, and now he’s lost two in a row. The guy will be hungry to win, and we might see him pull out some new tricks in order to do so.
Player Vitals & Stats
Darrell Taylor: 42 Years Old, 5'11, 190 lbs***, 9 Seasons, 6–3 Elimination Record, 4x Champion (Inferno 1, Gauntlet 1, Inferno 2, Fresh Meat 1), 4x Finalist, 2 All Star Seasons, 1–0 All Star Elimination Record, 2x All Star Finalist, Champs vs. Pros Winner
Skills and Physical Strength: Let’s start with his weaknesses: Darrell openly hates heights and is not flexible whatsoever. The guy’s body is pure steel which is a positive for headbangers, not so great in funky carnival game daily challenges. In more recent seasons like Dirty 30 and Double Agents, Darrell’s age has shown when it comes to raw athleticism and foot-speed, as he could not keep up with Cory in their elimination. It won’t be an issue on an All Stars because Darrell is going up against his fellow mature adults. Jordan could be an issue in an elimination where speed plays a factor. Not a true ding either, but Darrell doesn’t always give 100% in every daily challenge, partially because he plays such a stellar social game that there isn’t a need to win daily challenges. People who need to win daily challenges are the ones that can’t beat certain players in Finals, and Darrell knows he can win any Final.
Moving into his strengths, Darrell is an ox; he can carry a ton of weight, go on and on for miles and miles, and is powerful. As a former Golden Gloves boxer, nobody wants to face Darrell in a true Pole Wrestle or headbanger elimination. Darrell is probably the most underrated swimmer in Challenge history; he was killing the water challenges last season and was one of the few people able to pull puzzle pieces in the opening daily challenge of All Stars 1. Known for his cardio, Darrell has a lot in the tank, can run at a fast pace, is able to carry extra weight for partners (literally has put people on his back & shoulders), and knows how to push partners to be their best.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: When it comes to the social game, everyone loves Darrell; he’s funny, likable, and isn’t going to bullshit you. There is one wrinkle to All Stars 3 as Darrell does have someone who tends to go after him every season they do together…and his name is Wes Bergmann. Now, Wes and Darrell have a much better relationship these days than they do in the past. However, Wes sees Darrell as a massive threat in a Final, and because of that, he will take a shot at him. Luckily for Darrell, he enters this game with many allies (Yes, Derrick, MJ, Mark, and Brad). Wes would need unanimous power to take a shot at Darrell as a house vote would likely be on Darrell’s side.
In terms of strategy, Darrell goes for the path of least resistance. He makes moves that create the least waves or goes for the people taking shots at him. For the mental game, Darrell is good with tangram puzzles and is generally solid when it comes to everything else. He did refuse to read instructions throughout the All Stars 2 final for some reason. I blame that partially on the fatigue of competing in an intense elimination and then getting no sleep before jumping into the Final itself.
Part of me thinks Darrell may need to be more savvy and cutthroat going into this season as there are people who can go toe-toe with him 1-on-1 in a Final. We saw his friend Yes outpace him at the end of All Stars 1, and Jordan Wiseley is no joke in a Final. Darrell might need to play a little bit like Wes to win.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: We have seen Darrell win eliminations consisting of: a Pole Wrestle, Balls In, cardio-intensive games, puzzle eliminations, exiles that were mini finals, and a bunch of other random games in the arena. Darrell is capable at whatever you throw at him.
Can Darrell win? Yes. Not only can Darrell win, but we should look at him as one of the favorites to win any season he is on. He is a 4x Champ, and in the last three spin-offs (Champs vs. Pros, All Stars 1 & 2), he’s come in 1st, 2nd, and 2nd, respectively. In the past, the common thought was that if Darrell made it to a Final, he would win no matter what. That is no longer after the last two seasons, yet, he’s still come pretty damn close. If luck goes Darrell’s way, he adds another championship to the total. There will be some obstacles in his way (Jordan, Yes, potential bad partners). Even then, you have to like Darrell’s chances.