The Challenge All Stars 3 Player Preview: Veronica Portillo
Queen V has finally arrived to make her Challenge All Stars debut. When the OG show initially got pitched, Veronica was one of the names everyone wanted on, and for good reason. Veronica’s one of only two female players in Challenge history to win 3 Championships and is one of the original icons of the franchise. While we did see a Veronica return from Dirty 30-Final Reckoning, at long last, we get to see how she mixes it up with her fellow OGs.
Veronica’s Cheat Sheet (TLDR Version)
Introducing Veronica: A true OG, Veronica debuted on Challenge 2000, literally, the third season of the franchise. Veronica was kind of the first cast member to be a consistent staple of the franchise, appearing in six straight seasons from Battle of the Seasons (S5) to the Inferno II (S10). She held the record for most seasons appeared until she returned to the franchise for the Ruins (S18). Love her or hate her, Veronica is part of what defines the Challenge and what it became over time, making it fitting that’s she finally back for an All Stars season. Let’s get into her career as a competitor.
Veronica’s first season was Challenge 2000, a season with no eliminations, and her Road Rules team took home the win, giving her a championship. From there, the Queen V persona is what she became known for, where either she was running the game politically or had a target on her where everyone immediately tried to burn her at the stake. She was the first voted out of the Battle of the Seasons. Then she went on Battle of the Sexes 1, did well in the challenges, yet, got voted out in favor of multiple players she was outperforming. Veronica came back for the Gauntlet 1, where she and Rachel Robinson took hold of the female side of the game for the Road Rules team. Neither of them saw an elimination the entire season, and Veronica won 2 out of the 8 lifesavers that season, beating out players such as Darrell, Abram, and Theo Von. She went to the Final and got her second win.
Her next season, the Inferno 1, is Veronica’s most impressive game. She skirted out of elimination all season by winning the 3 lifeshields, the most of any player on her team. While people will say: “well, she won only them because her teammates threw the challenge so she could win,” one must understand that for an entire team to throw a daily challenge for a single player, that person has to wield a ton of power. Veronica was Queen V for a reason, and she knew how to play the game before it became what it was. Also, Veronica took home a third championship this season, a record that has only gotten tied by Evelyn Smith since.
Edit: I accidentally skipped over her Battle of the Sexes 2 run, whoops.
Veronica came back for the Inferno 2 and had a lot of control of the Bad Ass team alongside Mean Girls Rachel & Tina. She crushed Jodi in their weird carnival game elimination showing you needed more than brute strength on the Challenge, and then went to the Final, where a couple of her teammates shit the bed.
It would be years until we would see Veronica again on the Ruins. After all those years, Veronica didn’t have control of the game, as the JEK jerk-off squad had the numbers. Veronica showed she still had a trick or two up her sleeve regarding social manipulation, keeping herself out of a couple of eliminations before ultimately losing to a strong player in KellyAnne in a hard-fought elimination. We didn’t see Veronica for about eight years until Champs vs. Pros, where she only lasted one episode; nevertheless, we got a full return from her for Dirty 30! A return that crashed Vevmo.com when it got announced.
Veronica’s Dirty 30 season is massively underrated. While she wasn’t some super athlete, Veronica proved to have an intangible ability when it came to the more cerebral parts of the Challenge; she was fearless and an innate problem-solver. Veronica won the obstacle course daily challenge alongside Nelson, looking like the person who had won Challenge finals in the past (albeit much easier Finals back in the day). She won an obstacle course type elimination against Aneesa, one of the Challenge’s elimination queens. Her big performance was solving the massive 3D puzzle for her team in that intense purge challenge, giving her team the ability to purge out CT & Cara Maria. Even though Kailah & Jordan took the heat for the move, it never happens if Veronica doesn’t solve the puzzle. Veronica then took the game by the horns by shaking things up and taking advantage of a Britni Thornton burn vote on Leroy, forcing him into elimination because he wasn’t affecting her game positively. Sadly, Veronica’s game ended via one of the worst purges the show has ever had.
She came back for Vendettas and Final Reckoning, and while I love Veronica, her presence felt like: “I’m cashing an appearance check.” I don’t think Veronica enjoyed being there that much, which I don’t blame her, conversations with Hunter and Cory after a certain point have to be mind-numbing. This time around, Veronica will be back with her people.
Player Vitals & Stats
Veronica Portillo: 44 Years Old, 5'1, 11 Seasons, 2–2 Elimination Record, 3x Champion (Challenge 200, Gauntlet 1, Inferno 1), 4x Finalist, 1 Spin-Off Seasons (Champs vs. Pros)
Skills and Physical Strength:
Veronica’s biggest strength is her fearlessness and ingenuity in daily challenges. She is comfortable with heights challenges as long as Julie Stoffer isn’t trying to murder her by unhooking her safety harness. Veronica is intelligent; in the funkier challenges where there is no way to train for them, she will figure out the best strategy for herself to succeed.
Sadly, in terms of pure athleticism and physical capability, Veronica’s size limits her. Back in the day, when Veronica would work out and train with Rachel, she was perfectly able to run finals or do well in anything requiring cardio. While she’s still in good shape today, Veronica will not be the person climbing a rope faster than everyone or the person lapping people in the pool. The Challenge as a competition has moved away from Veronica’s strengths, which is a pity, as fans love the wackier/more creative challenges. Veronica isn’t weak; however, notions of strength often come down to who would do well in a Pole Wrestle or Hall Brawl, and that’s not Veronica.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game:
It’s difficult to gauge Veronica’s social game. Back in the day, she could rally numbers and influence easily, whereas, in the more recent seasons, she didn’t have the energy to have fake conversations with people who were ten years younger and whose IQ’s were 10 points lower. Veronica made loads of enemies even back in the day, so her social game is mixed. Her number one female ally is likely to be Jemmye, which is beneficial as Jemmye will have numbers on her side.
Veronica’s strength is her political/strategic game, where if she gets a little bit of power, she knows how to maximize it. There are no small moves for Veronica; she goes after power players or people who are sheep/in her way. She is willing to play the game and knows how to appease people’s egos to make the moves she wants. The issue is gaining power is tricky; you need to win challenges to make big plays nowadays generally.
On the mental side, Veronica is good with puzzles, and this is the part of her game she needs to solidify most to go far in the game. If she can’t dominate mental challenges, her chances are slim to none.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: Most of Veronica’s elimination experience has come in recent years. Veronica took out Aneesa in a climbing elimination on Dirty 30, where she had to be agile. Then she faced Aneesa on Vendettas in a modified Pole Wrestle and got medically DQ’d due to a broken finger (with the size advantage, Aneesa was likely to win). We saw her lose on the Ruins in a Hog Tie in an elimination where she had to lift her body weight, though, KellyAnne is a beast. Her big win was against Jodi on the Inferno 2 in a carnival-game type elimination. Veronica won primarily due to having zero nerves, whereas Jodi was a mess of self-doubt. I’m not too fond of Veronica’s chances in most physical eliminations as she is out outsized; if it is a carnival game or a puzzle, she is a real threat.
Can Veronica win? Yeesh, I don’t like being mean; I just can’t envision it. She hasn’t made it to a Final in her last four appearances, hasn’t competed in a Final in over 15 years, and has never done so as an individual or pairs player. I’m not saying Veronica would perform poorly because she can do puzzles, eat gross food, and is mentally fierce, but to expect her to outpace people more prepared and experienced is a tough sell.
It’s exciting to have Queen V back.