With most seasons of the Challenge, I write detailed individual previews for each player competing on the season. Unfortunately, for the Challenge All Stars, I am limited on time, and thus, will be doing a Preseason Power Ranking of all the players.
One of the key details when creating these rankings is remembering the Challenge is inherently a social game, and some of these OGs have stayed in touch long after they stopped appearing on the show. Meanwhile, others really are returning for the first time in over a decade, and might get treated like rookies if they don’t actively play politically or dominate athletically. It is going to be a fun season that I am hyped for nonetheless.
Also, if you want more information about this season, I broke down the entire trailer scene for scene in this video.
11th Beth Stolarcyzk
Beth is in 11th place out of respect. It would feel wrong putting her in 8th place. She is the oldest player in the game, is the most disliked player in the game, and despite getting older, if you have ever seen Beth on social media, she is still the same villain she was back in the day. I am so excited to watch 52-year-old Beth cause unnecessary drama and stir the pot. Beth is more of a threat to quit the season than to make a final.
10th Jisela Delgado
A welcome surprise. Jisela is just as gorgeous as back in the day, and according to an interview Mark Long did, she shows a ton of personality this season. Also, he started a new Twitter account, and her first tweet is teasing some spice.
My only issue with Jisela is she was not a great competitor back in the day and lacks social connections.
9th Arissa Hill
Arissa made the final of Battle of the Sexes 2, which is tied for the hardest season to make it to the final of statistically. Similar to Jisela, Arissa will suffer from the fact that she is not that well-connected. She did her Real World and Challenge appearance and dipped. To navigate Battle of the Sexes socially is impressive, and I would not be surprised if she made it to the end of this season.
8th Katie Cooley (Doyle)
While Katie is one of the most connected players with loads of friends on the cast, she was always looked at as the weak link on almost all her seasons. It is not completely fair since she owns four career elimination wins, all of which she competed in as an individual (yeah, she has 6 losses, but to win 4 elimination, you need to have competency level). Based on the trailer, Katie can still pack a punch in verbal altercations. Although, her verbal tenacity may get her into hot water. She still looks as gorgeous as ever; her dimples are to die for.
7th Jonna Mannion
She appeared on Seasons 21 and 23–26, a particular three to four-year window that does not connect her to too many players. Even players like Derrick, Darrell, and KellyAnne, who returned after absences, completely missed Jonna. Being the youngest player could get Jonna thrown in early as the “house rookie.” As a massive fan of Jonna, I hope she can do well; however, my expectations are tempered based on her situation entering the game.
Someone pointed out recently that Jonna first competed on reality television on the show endurance as a teenager. Then we got to see her on Real World/Challenge as a single woman in her 20s, and now with the OG show, we get to see her as a mom/wife in her 30s. That’s honestly so fucking cool.
6 Trishelle Cannatella
As a competitor, I’ve never thought Trishelle was as strong as others claim her to be. Regardless, if people on the shows think she is a solid competitor, I have to rank her 6th at least. Trishelle carries baggage entering this season. Conflict always finds her. Is her being roommates with Katie and Kendal back in the day a positive? Or is that a negative? Based on the trailer, they seem to be arguing over something from the old days. Trishelle does have some friends on this cast (she and Jemmye are close) and looks to be in mostly the same shape she was on Battle of the Seasons 2012 (I now realize that was 9 fucking years ago, Jesus Christ).
5th Jemmye Carroll
The difference between Jonna and Jemmye is Jonna went on these shows, had fun, and then went and became a mom/wife. Jemmye is still active in the Challenge community, has relationships with players across different eras, even ones she never did seasons with, and is a massive fangirl of some of these legends at the end of the day. She looks in better shape than when she competed in her past couple of appearances as well. Jemmye making the final based on social game alone is very possible. Her winning a final is not in the cards, though.
4th Aneesa Ferreira
I legitimately have no clue how Aneesa will do. The fact she competes in the modern seasons means she should be one of the favorites to win. Except, I have seen her compete on these modern seasons, and in all the mini finals or hardest challenges, she flops. Likewise, watching Double Agents, it is not like Aneesa make the best social or political game moves either. If there is anything I want from Aneesa, it is to for her to stop letting Tori Deal rap on their podcast.
3rd Kendal Sheppard
Kendal has been trying to get back on the Challenge for the past few years and has been the absolute nicest human being to so many fans. She has friendships with both OG males and females and physically is in fantastic shape. If you check her Social Media out, she does a ton of Yoga, and as someone who has met her in person, the woman is in killer shape and looks damn good. The fact she has wanted to come back on the show and actually compete is also a major factor in why I think she will do well.
2nd KellyAnne Judd
She is looking quite a bit different from the KellyAnne we saw four-five years ago on Rivals 3. KellyAnne got her implants removed and had people double-checking to figure out who she was. Regardless, KellyAnne is still an athlete and has kept in good shape. Cardio has always been one of her strengths, and in terms of a modern-ish final, she is the woman most capable of winning one based on past experiences. After all this time, KellyAnne still seems a bit chaotic in the best way possible. She is an excellent addition to the cast.
1st Ruthie Alcaide
When the cast pics came out, it was great to see how different all the competitors look these days. Then Ruthie’s cast pic came out, and she still looks like an absolute beast. Ruthie was one of the first real competitors to look at the most insane challenges and innately understand the proper strategy to attack them. That is a skill that is generally acquired over time. I expect a majority of the OGs to struggle with his aspect due to taking some time off. Not Ruthie, I think she will kick ass on Day 1; all the men will want to keep her in the game in case they have to partner with her at some point, and most importantly, I could see her performing well in the final. Size-based eliminations were Ruthie’s only major weakness back in the day.
11th Teck Holmes
Teck appeared in one season twenty years ago. Ruthie (his RW housemate) is the only cast member he has a connection to in this game. In a connections-based game, he could be one of the first to go. Production might be his best friend as Teck had mainstream fame outside of the show, and MTV had to contact his agent to get him on the show. Maybe they have enough invested in him that he will get to stay a few extra episodes. What I hope to see is him and Ruthie diving into the pool naked on Day 1, just like their Real World season.
10th Syrus Yarbrough
Having met Syrus in-person multiple times, what I can say is that he is one of the most chill humans ever. He is a true OG who loves being part of this franchise. The reason I have him ranked this low is because he feels legit old. Syrus could probably knock out anyone on this cast with one good punch, and if he walked up to a heavy set of weights, he could probably pump a rep with no problems. That’s not what the Challenge is about. You need to have flexibility and mobility, and Syrus is a big dude who already was not moving the best fifteen years ago. It does not help either that one of his top allies is Beth, which will immediately put a target on him.
9th Laterrian Wallace
Nowadays, it is common for a player to come on the Challenge with an impressive physique and then flop competitively. Laterrian was a forefather of this genre. To expect him to have improved after not being on the show for close to twenty years is a bit farfetched. Nonetheless, he is still in great shape, and cardio-wise, he can probably keep up. What I wonder is whether he will have the social connections to keep him around for a decent amount of time.
8th Ace Amerson
Based on past performances, you could make the argument that Ace should be in last place. He is famous for being funny, likable, and getting taken out early in multiple seasons. While Ace did make a finals appearance on the Inferno 3, it was mostly due to veteran status and likability. His personality is why I am putting him in 8th as he was friends with multiple OGs on this season, and charisma alone could get him far. Once he has to compete, questions will arise.
7th Yes Duffy
It will be difficult for my auto corrector to understand that there is someone named Yes on this season. Yes is technically a Challenge Champion. He won on a season that did not have any type of eliminations or vote outs. In the two other seasons he competed in, he got taken out early. Originally, I would have him in the Laterrian spot, but Mark Long’s podcast interview swayed me into thinking Yes might bring a little more than I expect.
6th Big Easy
Every time Big Easy returns, he has just lost 10–20 lbs, and as proud as I am of him for getting healthier, the weight has only been half the issue. The guy is not the most coordinated athlete. During Battle of the Seasons, he struggled mightily with heights. He lost a Pole Wrestle to Brad on the original Duel since he really did know how to wrestle. Also, Big Easy is not a puzzle person either. You could argue that his weight was his biggest strength since people did not want to go into elimination with him. Big Easy not being able to run a 1–3 mile final on the Gauntlet 3 thirteen or fourteen years ago does not inspire me to believe that he now has spectacular cardio.
So why is he 6th? It’s simple; his name is Big Easy for a reason. He is fun to party with and is socially connected to most of these players. Big Easy ran a travel agency and was the person hooking people on Spring Break trips.
5th Nehemiah Clark
Saying Nehemiah looks the same way he did on the Real World Austin would be an insult. He looks way more handsome and in shape now than back then. Nehemiah is classically underrated; he is the only player to eliminate Kenny Santucci from the Challenge and likely would have been able to pull off a win against Evan had Evan not been allowed to cheat egregiously. Nehemiah is the last black Champion in Challenge history, although as it stands, there is an 80% chance we will get at least one Black winner on Double Agents.
4th Alton Williams
The difference between the top four men and the rest is a pretty monumental jump. Alton is an absolute beast who is still in phenomenal shape. He does not have the muscle mass he used to, but the six-pack is still there. Compared to the top three on this list, Alton lacks connections, and you cannot get the taste of him essentially quitting on Battle of the Seasons 2012 out of your mouth. It will always be there, the same way Michael Jordan’s Wizards season and that Rocky V/Balboa exist.
If he could pull out a classic Alton performance, this could be his Creed/Hanes commercial moment.
3rd Mark Long
At first, my gut response was to put Mark Long in first place because no way in hell does this man see an elimination for the show he pitched (where he reached out to, I believe, the entire cast). Then my brain swung the other direction and thought, well, Mark winning the show he pitched would make it seem like he pitched it just for him to win. The healthy medium is to rank him third.
He was always a top player when he competed and has kept himself in tip-top shape. It took until the final four of Battle of the Exes 1 for Mark to finally see an elimination in his Challenge career. The guy plays as good of a political game as he does physical, and we all know that’s he an absolute beast. Just assume he is going to be in the final when projecting forward.
2nd Derrick Kosinski
Through hosting Challenge Mania, Derrick is as connected as Mark. You also know that Derrick gives 110% in all competitions; I mean, look at his elimination with Joss as a mercenary when he had no real incentive to win. Derrick is socially connected, is in as good of shape, if not better than back in the day, and will be going all out to win. The only issue Derrick might have in a final is solving puzzles as an individual. I will be biasedly cheering for Derrick as more than a fan because, over the years, he has been very supportive of my columns and is part of the reason I have had any success. When I see him in person, he treats me like a long-time friend. I’ll be cheering for him this season as a friend.
A little storyline I am interested in is how he interacts with Beth because Beth was one of the few people who could get Derrick legitimately angry. It is an underrated rivalry.
1st Darrell Taylor
Darrell and Derrick are super close, along with Mark Long, I assume the three of them are going to be the power alliance that runs this game. All the women love Darrell, the men don’t want to face him in elimination, and we all know in a final that Darrell is not the person you want to face. He has never lost a final in his life, and the key difference between him and Derrick is that Darrell is a tangerine puzzle expert. I had Darrell as one of the favorites to win Double Agents, and now here he is on the OG season. This feels like when Joe Johnson played in the Big 3 League immediately after retiring from the NBA and lit everyone up.