The Challenge Battle For a New Champion Episode 19 Finale Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways

Allan Aguirre
15 min readFeb 22, 2024


The Finale 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 Finale Episode.

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

10 Nurys vs. Moriah

It was no surprise that Emanuel called out Nurys. Considering Nurys’ beef with Berna & Colleen, it would’ve been much more exciting to see her pull their names for this elimination. Instead, she pulled Moriah’s name in the draw and proceeded to beat her in that puzzle box elimination.

With how puzzle-heavy this Final was, I don’t think Moriah was going to win this Final even if Nurys didn’t pull her name. At least Moriah gets to be part of Nurys’ resume, where she’s sent five people home via three eliminations.

In Moriah’s final confessional, she talked about how she will come back bigger and physically stronger next season. Moriah…girl…your strength has never been the issue. Though, Moriah’s puzzle performances make more sense when you realize that’s where Moriah’s head is at after losing.

Unless she gets partnered with Bananas on an Exes season, I don’t know if we’ll ever see Moriah on this show again.

9 Up All Night

I might be getting soft, but the nighttime portion looked brutal. Forcing players to stay awake by the edge of the water where they’re going to be freezing, but not allowing them to sleep, so instead, the cold feels even harsher… That’s intense. At least in other Finals where they didn’t allow players to sleep, they had clothes that allowed them to brave the cold a little more. All they had during this Final were some lightweight jackets.

Their task, where they had to move the tiles through the fence, looked very mind-numbing. However, Nurys knocked it out fast, got the blanket, and promptly sabotaged Emanuel and Colleen. Weirdly enough, though, other than Nurys, who got the blanket, I don’t even know if I would want to sit and rest after this challenge because I’d fall asleep and get penalized. Corey even said in the moment that at least the task keeps him busy and awake.

8 Day 2 Format

I want to start off with some of the faults. First off, nobody gained a time advantage from Day 1, which essentially means that Day 1 was an additional two daily challenges and eliminations to get to the actual Final. Along with that, Day 2 of the Final was very repetitive and a copycat of the eliminations.

Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed Day 2 because I legitimately thought all five players were going to win this Final at various points. It’s probably the first MTV Final to have me on my toes since…gosh… I don’t even know. If the competitors in the Final itself were more compelling to root for, then I think we would be talking about Day 2 of this Final as one of the better Finals in Challenge history. This isn’t a crazy thing to say at all when you realize most Challenge finals are bad.

Four additional notes from Day 2 that I don’t know where to shoehorn:

  • The opening swim was definitely not 2,000 meters. If I had to guess, they dropped an extra zero to make it look more extreme. A 2,000-meter swim is 20 back-and-forth laps in an Olympic-sized pool. Nurys would’ve been 30 minutes behind everyone if that were the real distance. That’s coming from someone who loves Nurys.
  • TJ making fun of Corey for trying to quit during the rappel was hysterical.
  • Nurys & Corey teaming up during the memorization board was a smart move for each as they needed to catch up with Emanuel, allowing them to leapfrog Colleen.
  • Emanuel crushed it.

7 Berna Cries, Cheats, and Comes in 5th

For someone who consistently complains about how tough their life has been, you would think Berna would be prepared to face adversity. Nope. Berna crumbles the moment a problem gets put in front of her. Oftentimes, they are problems she creates for herself. Berna is so overdramatic that it didn’t even feel serious when she threatened to quit because she didn’t want to drink the Tuna & Beet Juice. It felt more like a cry for attention because she was performing so poorly in the Final.

I did think Berna copying Colleen during the sudoku was a brilliant move — there was no shot that Berna was solving it herself, so she played like a veteran. It was hysterical that everyone, including Colleen (who was walking on the balance beam), turned around when Berna got a correct check on her sudoku. Even funnier is that Berna refused to admit that she cheated.

Berna performed poorly throughout the Final, yet had a chance to win if she could’ve figured out how to do the puzzle stack checkpoint. Seeing Berna fail at that was surprising, as circus/balance stuff is typically her strong suit. I’m glad Berna didn’t win because she played an awful social game the entire season, was carried as a pawn, and did not perform amazingly in this Final. It would’ve been funny for all those reasons if she won, though.

There is part of me who thinks Berna is so authentically insane that she’s fantastic Reality TV at times. And then there’s a much larger part of me who wants to change the channel when she’s on screen. My opinion varies on Berna from minute to minute.

6 Corey blows a Three-Place Lead

Corey was the first person to collect four flags, and I thought for a second that he would pull off the win. Honestly, a Corey Lay victory would have been cool; a black man hasn’t won an MTV season of The Challenge since Nehemiah on The Gauntlet 3; it’s about time it happened.

Sadly, Corey ran into two mortal enemies: a balance beam and sudoku.

Now, the sudoku set everyone. It was mindblowing to see how much Corey struggled with the balance beam walk everyone else was seemingly sprinting through. Based on both the balance beams and the rappel down the hill, it’s clear that Corey’s issue with heights is bigger than typical fear. It seems like Corey has a deep-seated depth perception weakness that affects his sense of balance.

In the end, those issues cost Corey not only the win, but he didn’t even finish Top 3! It was a historic collapse by Corey and one that will live in his brain forever. Corey had a legit shot to win in his grasp and then clunked out into 4th.

Would I like to see Corey on another season? Sure. Provided that he is willing to get messy and that we see the same Corey who called Jay into elimination fearlessly and compete like his life depended on it. If we get that version of Corey and not the scared wallpaper he became for 10 weeks on this show, he can return.

5 Colleen’s Comeback

We watched Colleen go from dead last to looking like she would pull off the greatest comeback in Challenge Final history. Overall, Colleen was very impressive through Day 2 of the Final. She killed the swim and solved the tangram puzzle that Nurys, Corey, and Berna timed out on. Colleen had a hiccup during the memorization portion that derailed her, but she was also the first person actually to solve the sudoku.

After two seasons, Colleen had the best performance of her Challenge career in the Final. Going into this season, nobody expected Colleen to finish in 3rd Place Overall (2nd Place Female); she should be proud. Do I want to see Colleen on another season? No. If Colleen had brought more to the show entertainment-wise or physically as a competitor prior to this Final, yes. It was just too little too late.

4 Nurys is the People’s Champion

Anyone who reads my blogs knows that the only person I was cheering for going into this Final was Nurys. I knew Day 2 of the Final would be an uphill battle for Nurys once it began with a long swim, and then once I realized it had a diving portion, I took an even deeper breath than she likely did.

Unfortunately, as much as those set Nurys back, she failed to capitalize on the tangram and sudoku puzzles. The tangram was her chance to catch up from the swim, and instead, Nurys timed out on it, which, thankfully, there was a time out, or else the gap might’ve been more significant. Then Nurys’ real shot to win it all was the sudoku, a game she plays every day, and other cast members in interviews have mentioned that she does it all the time. The pressure got to Nurys, and she didn’t knock it out of the park. If Nurys was going to win, she had to dominate those parts of the Final. Overall, this Final was a C/B- performance by Nurys.

Despite it not being her best performance…Nurys still came in 2nd Place. By proxy of being the top female finisher, I believe Nurys deserves the title of Challenge Champion the same way Zach (Vendettas), Ninja (WOTW1), & Jonna/KellyAnne (All-Stars 1) do, as the 1-winner format is dumb. Does Nurys get the title officially? Sadly no.

Regardless, now in the moment, and when we look back on this season in ten years, we will refer to Battle For A New Champion as the season of Nurys. She went from being an interesting supporting character in her rookie season to becoming an absolute star with the face of the franchise’s potential. Nurys plays the game for herself and those she’s loyal to, gets into drama, competes at a high level, and looks stunning while doing it all. Whether the next season is Exes, Rivals, or Best Friends, Nurys has put herself in a good position, and I hope she gets the title of Challenge Champion one day.

3 Emanuel Is The Newest Champion

Credit to Emanuel; he killed this entire Final from start to finish. The guy was the clear winner on Day 1, and on Day 2, he took a big lead with the swim, tangram, and memorization. Truly, the only thing that held Emanuel up was the sudoku — the same sudoku that delayed everyone else’s time (except Berna, lol) by a significant margin.

Other than the Sudoku, Emanuel was speeding through the course at a ridiculous rate. Emanuel is a great competitor, plain and simple, and that’s why he is now a Challenge Champion.

Am I happy about it? No. I’m not happy about it because I don’t think Emanuel brings enough to the show personality-wise or drama-wise, and as good of a competitor as he is, watching Emanuel doesn’t feel like it does when I watch a Jordan, CT, or Landon, etc. And I know that’s a high bar to set and live up to, except when you’re not bringing much to the table personality-wise, you need to sweep me off my feet.

Do I respect Emanuel’s win? Absolutely. For the franchise’s sake, though, Emanuel can barely hold my attention when he talks — he’s not anywhere close to being someone who can help carry this franchise.

2 Players Who Could’ve Actually Won This Final

There are five players who got to the Conquest Phase of the game who I believe could’ve won this Final. It’s a good thing the players in the game got them out of there beforehand.

We saw Horacio & Kyland solve Sudokus during their elimination with Zara. Considering Horacio’s otherwordly physical abilities and cardio, he would have won this Final by a decent margin. I don’t feel as confident about Kyland, but he would have a good shot.

I’m confident Ed would’ve won this Final as well — he’s an elite swimmer and was one/if not the best, with numbers, memorization, and general puzzles. To a much lesser extent, Jay fills most of those boxes as well, and I think he could’ve given Emanuel a run for his money.

This one might surprise you, but if Michele could solve the sudoku in a decent time, then I genuinely think she would have won this Final. I say this as we saw Nurys come in 2nd while getting set back and struggling with the water portions of the Final; meanwhile, Michele is great in the water! It’s crazy to say because I wouldn’t put money on Michele to win most Finals, except this one…she really could have pulled it off, which makes her getting Purged feel even more painful.

1 End-of-Season Awards

Back in the day, I used to do blogs where I would name the MVPs and All-Challenge Teams (Top 5 Players Overall) for each season based on impact. I’d also throw some other accolades out there. Here’s what I got for this season:

MVP’s: Nurys Mateo & Kyland Young

Nurys is the clear-cut female MVP of the season; no discussion is needed. Kyland takes the Male MVP as someone who brought so much to the table. He had his showmance with Melissa, had a rivalry with Jay & Asaf, formed a cute bond with Horacio & Nurys, won 4 eliminations, and beat two mercenaries.

1st Team All Challenge: Nurys Mateo, Kyland Young, Michele Fitzgerald, Jay Starrett, Ravyn Rochelle

Michele set records for confessionals, had a showmance with a cheating fuckboi, beat Cara Maria in elimination, and played a phenomenal political game. Jay makes it because his fingerprints were all over the season. When people talk about Battle For A New Champion, Jay is one of the major talking points.

And then I’m tossing Ravyn on the list because I found her to be a natural magnet for drama, showmances, and storylines. Additionally, Ravyn proved to be a great physical competitor.

2nd Team All Challenge: Emanuel Neagu, Melissa Reeves, Berna Canbeldeck, Big T, Horacio Gutierrez

Emanuel winning the season gets him on the 2nd Team. The duo of Melissa & Big T didn’t get far in the game, but they took up a lot of real estate when they were on. Melissa is still a fireball, and the beef between her, Ravyn, and Nurys was great to watch. Big T’s was production’s favorite toy for creative edits, and she beat a mercenary in elimination.

Even though watching Berna pained me at times, similar to Jay, her presence on the season was undeniable. Horacio rounds out the list because he has multiple storylines and relationships fans care about. From Olivia’s betrayal to his relationship with Nurys and his friendship with Kyland/Zara, I think people are somehow even more invested in Horacio now than they were in his rookie season.

Most Disappointing Player: Olivia Kaiser

I would go as far as to say that Olivia was the Female MVP of Ride or Dies in terms of impact. Coming into this season, it should’ve been the Olivia show, and instead, she dropped the ball. Olivia wasn’t entertaining, didn’t compete at a high level, threw her friends under the bus, and didn’t even make the Final. Brutal.

Biggest Surprise: Nurys Mateo

She eliminated both Horacio & Kyland in an exile/Mini Final elimination… Even the biggest Nurys supporters would have never expected that to happen.

Overall Season Grade: C+

Even though I hated the winner of the season and a majority of the format choices — I enjoyed Battle For a New Champion quite a bit. To me, the goal of a season like this is to build a new generation of the show that can stand alongside our long-time, and the season, for the most part, succeeded in that. There’s a handful of players who I believe have fully established themselves as characters in this franchise: Nurys, Michele, Jay, Kyland, Horacio, Big T, and Melissa. Then you have people who have proven to be good competitors, like Emanuel, Zara, and Ed. I’m not sure where Olivia & Corey currently fit in the franchise; it seems like they will be along for the ride, though.

Obviously, there were a lot of casting misses and weeks where the show was dragging. At the same, the final weeks of Chaos and the first weeks of Conquest was one of the best stretches of Challenge episodes I’ve seen in the last five years. All-in-all, Battle For A New Champion will rank near seasons like Rivals 3, Inferno 3, etc; nonot the best, but also definitely not the worst.



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.