When the final portion of the Challenge All Stars Final began and Yes Duffy immediately went to grab a walking stick to help him traverse the rocky/uphill course, I was simultaneously thrilled and annoyed. I was annoyed that all these Challenge veterans saw Yes continually make excellent use of a walking stick throughout the Final and decided for some reason that they were better than using one. Or maybe simply too dumb to realize it just might help them a bit. Meanwhile, I was thrilled because the smartest player in the game continued to outsmart his opponents, along with proving that physically he was as good if not better as the men we consider “Legends.”
Before the season, I ranked Yes in the bottom half of male competitors, not because I didn’t like him, but because he competed in a completely different era of the show, lacked the social connections other players came into the game with. The male cast for this season was, for the most part, physically stacked. He immediately proved me wrong in the first daily challenge of the season. In that opening swimming challenge that led to multiple players on their backs and out of breath, Yes tied for the most blocks recovered (3) and was the person solving all the math equations for his team. By setting such a standard on Day 1, Yes proved that you would be silly to throw him into elimination despite not coming into the game as the top player or with the most connections.
As the season went on, Yes continued to put up stellar performances, even under the radar of what the editing team was portraying. During the daily challenge where players had to traverse their way from one platform over water to another using ropes as their bridge/pathway, Yes basically sprinted back and forth as if he was walking on a regular sidewalk, yet, it was somewhat hidden because they threw up a Ruthie confessional as he was competing. Also, it happened so fast; you could blink and miss it easily.
During the mini-final daily challenge, Yes was on the last-place team to start and rallied with Jemmye up to a 3rd place-overall finish. When it came to that deliberation, Yes was not afraid to stand up for Syrus and note that Alton’s performance legitimately brought their team down. Yes was willing to speak his mind because he is a genuine human and was not going to play a scared game by any means. That genuine personality shined bright during the final deliberation of the season. His words swayed Aneesa to vote Nehemiah into the final elimination, which I must note was simultaneously an excellent argument by Yes and a boneheaded choice Aneesa.
Of course, then we had the Final, wherein every single portion, Yes acted as a supportive partner to whatever female he was with, consistently pushing forward when behind and keeping steady when ahead. Yes is in fantastic shape — he knows to run, climb, swim, and do whatever at a high rate for long distances. What sets him apart is the way he tackles obstacles. Instead of just attacking them head-on, he uses his head to think of the most efficient strategy (like a walking stick) and then applies his skills to optimal performance. Watching Yes compete on Challenge All Stars was like watching Tiger Woods in his prime. There is a cool, calm, collectedness to Yes that tests the limits of opponents and makes him attractive to viewers and allies.
The moment where Yes became the True King of the Mountain to me was when he decided to shit-talk Darrell as he finally passed him in the finishing stretch. It was a deservedly cocky moment from Yes as he and Darrell had agreed to run the last stretch together, and Darrell just left him in the dust to start. Never in my life did I expect to see Darrell get outpaced in an individual long-distance race, and if it did happen, I’d have expected to be against a younger Jordan Wiseley, not someone actually older than him. Yes Duffy fucking did that. Entering this season, so many casual fans wondered who Yes even was, and in the end, he put up an all-time season dunking on the fan favorites in the process of becoming one.