The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episode 18 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
10 min readFeb 15, 2024


The 18th 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 18th Episode.

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

10 Family Letters & Awkward Narration

Before the Final officially began, we saw the players get emotional as they received letters from their families during a Finalist feast. When they got to the field for the Final, production edited in three whole minutes of awkwardly inserted TJ Lavin voice-over narrations as he described each player’s journey to the Final. Both of these moves by production were incredibly Survivor-esque, and let me tell you… It did not stick the landing.

While the letters from home were a cute touch — there’s a difference between The Challenge and Survivor. On Survivor, you’re isolated on the Island. On The Challenge, we see the players get their weekly Facetime calls and live in a decently nice house. They get separated from the real world but not entirely disconnected. And then the voice-over narrations…they were rough. As a host, TJ Lavin is like an excellent Domino’s Pizza Chef. He can cook the hell out of a two-topping medium pizza, but when you ask him to make a five-layer lasagna from scratch, expect nothing edible. The TJ narrations were hysterical because it didn’t sound like he believed what he said about these player’s games.

9 Winners Purse

It’s been referenced and implied a couple of times by competitors throughout the season that the Top 3 finishers win money. This week, we got specific numbers: 1st Place gets 250k, 2nd Place gets 70k*, and 3rd Place gets 36k. I’m not going to scoff at 250,000 dollars — hell, I’m not going to scoff at 36k because if I had an extra 36,000 dollars dropped into my bank account, my life would be dramatically better and more comfortable.

That said, a total winner’s purse of 356,000 dollars after 7 straight seasons of a million-dollar prize pool feels so weak. Everyone already thinks this is a JV season, so they don’t even get half the prize money. At least do 500k like on Challenge All Stars or Vendettas.

8 Conquest Portion

Now imagine if they took away another 16,000 dollars from the prize pool during the fucking Final? 16k is such a “Fuck You” amount to these Challengers, especially considering there was no money added to the pot for completing it.

Well, the Conquest portion of the Final went as well as the first daily challenge of the season. There needed to be more strategy and cohesion from the 7 players. They let Corey go off on his alone first, a decision that ended up being fatal as Corey accidentally dropped one of his ropes early into the trail and didn’t realize it till it was far too late. Obviously, Corey fucked up, but it’s such an easy mistake to make, especially when in a high-pressure situation.

Now, I do think some of the onus should be on his teammates as I don’t think a single player should have walked/run the trek back alone. There should have been a buddy system so that they all made sure nobody dropped/was missing any of their ropes. Alas, they lack brains.

7 Corey calls out Jay

Over the last ten weeks, Corey has mentioned in multiple episodes that he’s playing a scared and cowardly game. On Spies, Lies & Allies, Corey cut a deal with Fessy where he was ready to face Amber as long as they threw in the weakest guy in the game alongside her (Hughie). He then looked like a fool after losing that elimination to Hughie. Corey is a true fan of the show, and the person he’s been to this point isn’t 100% who he has wanted to be as a competitor/personality.

After getting voted into this elimination and with his back against the wall, Corey took a swing to be the player he wanted to be. Corey gave respect to Nurys for fighting through this game, announced that if he doesn’t win, he wants it to be a woman, and then took a shot at the top by calling out Jay. Corey has had to play Jay’s game all season and did so out of respect for Michele. With Michele gone, Corey took his shot at Jay. Corey could’ve chickened out like he did with Hughie by calling out Berna or Colleen. Instead, he took a shot at the top with Jay and made the big play he’s wanted to all game. To me, it was a redemptive moment.

6 Corey vs. Jay

When Corey called him out, Jay tried his absolute best to look calm and cool with the situation. Jay tried to smile through his anxiousness, hoping his positive demeanor would will him through the elimination.

Then TJ blew the horn for the elimination, and Corey looked like a superstar. Corey was sprinting like an Olympian and climbing like a Ninja Warrior — if Jay wasn’t rattled before, he was definitely losing it a bit once he saw Corey outclimbing him.

Based on the way the crowd reacted as well, Corey stacked his blocks crazy fucking fast. There was a night and day difference between the Corey we saw in this elimination and the guy who lost early on Spies, Lies & Allies. Likewise, there was a big difference between the Jay we saw today versus the one on Total Madness. The version of Jay we saw during this elimination almost looked more focused on not looking bad than he cared about winning. Whereas what was awesome about Jay before was that he was this scrappy underdog who was willing to fight and claw to win.

6 Jay’s Exit

Considering how massive of a figure Jay has been this season, his exit was wildly anti-climatic. MTV didn’t even give Jay a true exit confessional! As much as I’ve made fun of Jay all season, losing him this early in the Final is a bit sad and disappointing.

On paper, Jay should do really well in a Final and didn’t even get to compete in it truly. To which, many people online have been saying that with the way Jay has played this season, it’s unlikely we see him get to a Final again. This was a prime season for Jay to win, and to watch him go out like this sucks from a narrative perspective. I wanted Jay to lose, but not like this. At the same time, it was fun to watch Jay lose after being a snot-nose brat for weeks.

5.5 Chaos Portion Grievance

It’s funny that they called this Chaos when this format of the six players partnering up in five different sections is similar to many Finals we’ve seen before. If anything, this was pretty standard to most Finals we’ve seen. The early portions of this Final, especially, were far more tailored to men physically. If the men and women had to carry objects and weights throughout this Final relative to their own size/weight, then it would be more fair. Nope. Which is a significant reason why Emanuel and Corey finished Top 2 in every single portion.

I considered doing a full breakdown of all 5 of the partner sections of this Final, and it was turning too much into a boring summarization. So instead, we will air some grievances and knock out some highlights/lowlights of the players in the next four sections.

4 Berna Is The Actual Chaos

Berna is a fucking mess. One moment, she’s crying about her groin injury; the next, she’s sprinting and leaping into Emanuel’s arms. Whenever the going gets tough for Berna, she folds instantly — including in the eating portion, where it was all mental willpower, and she squandered an excellent opportunity to catch up on time. Hilariously, she finished 1st in two portions.

Forcing the other five people to compete as partners with Berna is what makes this the Chaos portion. Moriah & Colleen were so disappointed when Berna checked out during their portions, and then Nurys (who hates Berna) won a portion with her! I don’t know if I’ve been as annoyed yet also entertained by a cast member as much as Berna. I go from hating her to enjoying that she’s providing some content.

3 Nurys is trying her best

Straight up, Nurys is not performing as well as I hoped during this Final. I think she is trying her best — unfortunately, there are parts of her game where she isn’t the strongest (raw physicality, water sports, eating). And even then, it’s not like Nurys has given up. No, she’s given 100%; it’s just not what she’s best at, and her partnerships haven’t been optimal.

It was disappointing to see her not solve the tangram during her portion with Moriah. Still, I have hope for Nurys to pull off some magic, only because if she doesn’t… Well…then this season gets really sad.

2 The Rest

Colleen actually performed better than I expected in this Final. While she’s coming in 3rd in three portions, I think she’s done her best considering her physical limitations and partners in certain segments. She and Nurys were always going to come in 3rd in the box portion, and then in the eating portion, Colleen finished first out of everyone; Berna couldn’t hold up her part of the bargain.

In both portions where Moriah had a male partner, she won; in each one she didn’t, she came in 3rd. The only loss I place any major blame on Moriah for is the kayak/tangram with Nurys, where they both aren’t great kayakers.

Corey’s done well; he finished 1st in the eating portion and then swept 2nd across the board. He’s performed great — just not as good as Emanuel.

1 Emanuel Dominates The Partner Portion

Emanuel dominated the partner portion. He came in 1st Place in three portions, 2nd Place in the other two, and looked like an elite competitor. Now, were people sleeping on Emanuel during the season? Yes and No. As good as Emanuel has been, we aren’t watching him go toe-to-toe with this season’s “top” players. That’s not me saying Emanuel would suck going against Kyland, Horacio, and Ed. No, Emanuel is good, regardless. I just don’t think Emanuel would look superhuman in this Final that has been catered a little more towards men if more strong male players were there.

I think it’s pretty clear that Emanuel will throw Nurys into elimination, as those two have been at odds throughout the game. Additionally, even though Corey has been closer to Emanuel in this Final, Emanuel knows that if it comes down to a puzzle, Nurys is the bigger threat. Seeing who Nurys will call down to face her will be interesting. If I had to guess, Nurys is calling down Colleen in case it’s physical.

Right now, Emanuel is in the driver’s seat to win. Then again, with the way Finals have been formatted in recent years, it does feel like anyone can win if it comes down to just running up a mountain and memorizing a 20-digit code like on Spies, Lies & Allies.



Allan Aguirre

28 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.