The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episode 14 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
13 min readJan 18, 2024

The 14th Episode of The Challenge Battle For a New Champion is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from the 14th Episode.

If you prefer audio/video, my podcast recap can be found above/below:

10 Slimy Jay

On paper, I fully agree with Jay going all out to get everyone to put Horacio, Kyland, and Zara into eliminations, as those three are very clearly massive threats in the game. Additionally, Jay picked a bunch of good allies in terms of people he could easily manipulate, who would be loyal to him, and who he could beat in a Final.

Where things have gone wrong is that in the face of adversity or even just his allies wanting to play their own game, Jay has completely gone off the rails as he’s coming off as egotistical, power-hungry, and deeply insecure. Last week, I thought Olivia looked uncomfortable as Jay continually slandered Horacio as a means to get her to turn on him. It seems like Jay did the opposite as Olivia is now shading over to Nurys, Kyland, and Horacio’s side of the house.

Jay needs to take a chill pill and understand that just because someone is playing their own game, it doesn’t mean they’re against you. Over the past month, I’ve said Jay on this season reminds me of when Wes spiraled out as his massive alliance on Fresh Meat 2 was crumbling. Wes learned from those mistakes where he was trying to control too much of the game, like Jay is now. My advice to Jay is to take note of Wes’s political games on War of the Worlds 1 and All-Stars 3. On those seasons, Wes had clear #1 allies, yet was also protected by so many side deals with friends where he didn’t go after him, they didn’t go after him, but they didn’t have to always be on the same page at all times. Nurys and Olivia had/have Jay’s back; unless he acts like an asshole who wants them to do his bidding. So plain and simple, stop being an asshole, Jay, and turn your hat around.

9 Mini Final

Generally, I love a Mini Final as it often highlights strengths and weaknesses you didn’t know players had. So many players this week got exposed for a lack of mental fortitude that has me wondering whether or not they have what it takes to win. We will get more into that in a minute.

From a physical standpoint, this week’s Mini Final was a tad underwhelming. As they ran in “Random” teams 4 of carrying weight in unison, it didn’t seem like players had to run quickly (at times, it looked like it was mostly walking/jogging), and the distance trekked didn’t look to be that much either. When I think of great Mini Finals, I think of people puking and cramping as they race up and down hills on Exes 2. Partially why I thought this Mini Final lacked difficulty is that James held up pretty well, which was shocking as he saw him get gassed after 5–10 minutes of running in his elimination with Chauncey.

Zara, Horacio, and Olivia looked like superstars cardio-wise, and Olivia did her best to keep up with them. Colleen was the only person who looked out of shape in this Mini Final. That’s not a great look for someone not bringing drama or entertainment to the table. At this point, it feels like Colleen is lucky to be there.

8 The Pain of Finding Out Someone You Like Is Dumb

It is always a tough day when you realize your favorite player doesn’t know basic math or can’t figure out a 3rd-grade puzzle. Today’s Mini Final was a brutal look for so many players. While I didn’t think Zara, Horacio, and Olivia were geniuses — I had a baseline amount of respect and expectations of them to be able to do the math. Nope. Zara & Horacio’s team had a massive lead that got depleted as they couldn’t do multiplication and didn’t know the difference between a square and a rectangle. They’re quietly dumb, as are many of their fellow cast members.

Well, except for Ravyn. Who was loudly dumb. Ravyn was confidently throwing out crazy wrong guesses from the jump using numbers that weren’t close to being divisible by 39. Bless that girl’s soul. As easy as it is to make fun of her — Ravyn just says out loud what so many of these other idiots are quietly thinking.

Shoutout to Ed for having the best strategy during the math portion. When I was prepping my notes for my recap, I was ready to explain the best way to solve the code, and then Ed came and did it. You create a starting point guess and then add 39 until you get it right. It’s as simple as that. Ed took his team from dead last to first, and to me, he proved he is one of the game’s best competitors/biggest threats.

7 Michele’s Puzzle

For the third time in her Reality TV career, Michele Fitzgerald encountered this spatial awareness stacking puzzle and for the third time, she’s solved it for the win. Was this unfair? Honestly, not really. It’s what comes with Reality TV experience. During the Spies, Lies & Allies Final, CT blew by a puzzle that he had solved/encountered in multiple seasons prior. Cara’s taken down similar color memorization puzzles over the years. Likewise, we’ve also seen people get destroyed by the same exact puzzles in multiple seasons. The stacking tower puzzle is also quite tricky because, as we saw with Jay/Ed’s team, if you’re off by a millimeter, you basically have to restart. It’s so easy to fuck up.

Michele has a superpower when it comes to these types of puzzles, and it got her team the win. Now, I wouldn’t be shocked if production had this puzzle in place, knowing that Michele would be on a *random team* with James. Theoretically, James could have held them back cardio-wise, and then Michele could dramatically take them from 4th to 1st in “out of nowhere” fashion. As I write it out, I would definitely do that if I were a TV producer.

6 Horacio Gets Voted In and Actual Chaos Ensues

With Michele, Moriah, and James holding the voting majority over Kyland, they toss in Horacio. Now, this is where things got fun, as the only people eligible to be eliminated alongside Horacio were Jay, Corey, Asaf, Emanuel, and Ed. Finally, this alliance had to turn against each other in a real way.

Since Jay is closer to Asaf & Emanuel and because Michele’s got Corey under her wing, they decided to throw Ed under the bus. In retaliation, Kyland’s group decided to take a shot at Emanuel as they view him as a significant threat in the Final, and since Olivia/Nurys wouldn’t vote for Jay, it’s the next best choice for them.

Once Ed caught wind of all of this, he wasn’t even super mad, just perplexed by the fact that his loyalty meant nothing, whereas Corey was trying to pull off shady plays earlier in the game.

5 Double Stalemate

The deliberation was fantastic. Kyland gleefully watched as allies turned against one another and stirred the pot by telling them to watch out who votes for whom.

In the first vote, Jay’s group, consisting of himself, Corey, Emanuel, Berna, Colleen, and Asaf, tossed their votes on Ed to protect Emanuel.

Ed had been so loyal to Jay’s alliance. Yet, in this episode, his votes behind him in voting for Emanuel were from Kyland’s group: Horacio, Zara, Ravyn, Nurys, and… Olivia! Big shoutout to Olivia for playing her own game.

With it tied 6–6, they had to revote. When it came to the revote… In all honesty, I expected Olivia to flip to Jay’s side to avoid conflict. Nope! Which made me even more impressed by Olivia taking a stand. The first person to flinch in the revote was Corey. Corey burned a vote on himself, essentially turning his back on his alliance to guarantee his safety and that Emanuel would be going in. Except when it got to Ed’s vote, Ed took this as an opportunity to save himself and Emanuel by burning on Jay to make it a 5–5–1–1 outcome.

Ed’s burn vote was brilliant as it forms a stronger bond between him and Emanuel, his “allies” have to come back and apologize for voting for him, and it put a target on Corey as someone playing selfishly for himself. It was a real 3-D chess move from Ed and a reasonable risk, as he’s unlikely to get called out by a mercenary. Corey exposed himself during the revote. However, I appreciate Corey taking action for his own protection, unlike others.

4 Why Do Jay & Michele Feel Like They’re Owed Something?

The most annoying thing coming out of the Double Stalemate was Michele & Jay angrily blaming Nurys & Olivia for making Jay “unsafe.” They acted as though Jay did not have a vote. Jay could’ve easily voted for Emanuel or burned a vote on Corey and kept himself safe if that’s what he wanted.

Rather than take any ownership, Jay got mad at everyone else and continued to rub them the wrong way with his attitude. Jay’s behavior after the vote reminded me a lot of Johnny Bananas. There’s a difference, though: when Johnny Bananas yells people’s ears off for not being pawns in his games, there are the intimidation factors of multiple Championships behind him. With Jay, he’s got nothing other than an elimination win over CT, to which he proceeded to lose his successive three eliminations in a row right after, including one where he got demolished and concussed in seconds.

3 CT’s Epic Entrance

CT coming as a mercenary is The Challenge equivalent of when The Rock makes a “surprise appearance” in the WWE. Like we all know its coming and they’ve been teasing for weeks, yet the moment he steps on the field, the energy in the room changes. 14 years ago, CT stepped foot as a “Heavy Hitter” on Cutthroat, and the world changed that day.

It’s funny to think about because, at that point in time, CT had essentially been “banned” from The Challenge, where cast members said they wouldn’t go on The Ruins if CT were there following his actions on The Duel 2. Cutthroat was a way to test the waters for a CT return, and he created the most iconic moment in this show’s history. Even crazier to think about is that CT wasn’t even a Champion when he walked in as a Heavy Hitter and was still 3–4 years removed from when he would eventually become one. This is a healthy reminder to fans to give some players some slack because CT is a legend of the game, and it took him a decade to win this show.

In 2024, CT walked in today as a 5x Champion, still as intimidating as ever. CT held the chaos mase, gave Horacio a break, gave Jay some props, said some kind words to the crowd, and called Asaf down for elimination on the basis that he knew him the least. Asaf was gobsmacked as he’d been so comfortable in this game for weeks, and now CT’s come to an end his game. Jay was PISSED off to see Asaf get called out and acted like a dick to Nurys, who went to congratulate him for remaining safe. Again, if Jay didn’t want Asaf or himself to go into that elimination, he could’ve switched his vote for Emanuel.

2 CT vs. Asaf

Let’s first give some credit to Asaf, who gave 150% when pushing that 250-pound wheel to try to keep up with CT. Meanwhile, CT was hilariously pushing it around like it was light work. It reminded me of when CT singlehandedly carried the giant concrete swan out of Mandi Moyer’s bed!

Unfortunately for Asaf, winning The Challenge is tough when you don’t have a brain. Not only was Asaf bad at simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication — he just straight up didn’t even know what a prime number is. Asaf was probably wondering whether Logan Paul or an Amazon Delivery driver would show up to the elimination because he had no fucking grasp of what a prime number is, even with Ed trying to tutor him in the arena.

CT eventually got it, pulled off the win, and left Asaf and much of the crowd in tears. I’m sorry if I sound sadistic; I laughed at all the tears shed for Asaf, especially from Jay. We haven’t seen a player get eliminated in 5 weeks, and to see it be someone who has been coasting through this game as part of the power alliance felt so satisfying.

1 I’m So Glad We Got To See CT Do Math

Up until this point, I’ve given production some slack when it comes to mercenary eliminations. In my opinion, most of the mercenary eliminations were directly in favor of the strengths of the Champions, and even this one from this episode was an elimination that favored CT.

That said, the fact we did not get to see C motherfuckin’ T get super physical in this mercenary elimination was so disappointing. CT is the Final Boss. Having CT come in and do the Backpack elimination 14 years after his original mercenary arrival on Cutthroat would’ve been iconic. If CT came in and squashed someone, it would’ve struck fear into the crowd. It would have shown them what a true Champion/Legend is made of, and it would’ve been an excellent moment to get fans excited about Season 40. To which CT telling the crowd that he’s excited to shake the rust for Season 40 got me excited in a way that I didn’t know I had in me.

Although the elimination wasn’t close to as good as it could’ve been, it was still amazing to see CT.

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Allan Aguirre

27 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.