The Challenge Battle For A New Champion Female Cast Breakdown & Power Rankings
I wrote this blog back when the cast got originally announced on Vevmo, and I touched it up a little after learning the format yesterday. I ranked the 12 women based on who I believe have the best chance to win this season. Simple as that. Each player gets an overall rating that I would compare to player ratings from Madden — which, someone can have a higher overall rating, but not necessarily mean I think they have a better shot at winning. Let’s get excited that The MTV Challenge is back.
12 Jujuy Jimenez
We saw Jujuy for a minute on The Challenge World Championship. Jujuy finished 2nd-to-last and last place in her two dailies on World Championship, followed by an embarrassing elimination loss alongside Nelson. She was also an early exit on The Challenge Argentina. In the brief glimpses of Jujuy, I’ve enjoyed her energy. Sadly, I have to rank her low because Jujuy hasn’t proven to be good at anything other than providing excellent vibes. When I looked up her history on other reality competitions in Argentina, Jujuy didn’t go far on those shows; it’s okay, though, she’s succeeding in life.
11 Jessica Brody
Jessica was on The Challenge Australia and was an early exit after three episodes. She did win a daily challenge alongside Troy during her brief stint, and a slight positive is that Jessica’s elimination loss was against the eventual champion and all-around beast Kiki Morris. There’s not much to go on in terms of competitive sample size. Jessica doesn’t have many social connections on this cast besides Ciarran, a man who she had a messy split with back on Bachelor in Paraside Australia.
At 5’1, Jessica could also get targeted as an easy opponent to beat in a headbanger elimination. Jessica is a gorgeous tattoo artist, a former stripper, and a model with a super-fit body. On top of likely having good coordination and balance, her looks are partially vital to success on the show because when you don’t know anyone, being able to flirt and form an immediate alliance with a powerful player can benefit your game immensely. Jenna’s showmance with Zach on Exes 2 helped her get farther than he did. If Jessica can’t form quick bonds, I do not like her chances this season.
10 Colleen Schneider
We just saw Colleen on Ride or Dies. There weren’t any dailies where she stood out, and her elimination win was primarily due to Tommy Bracco’s all-time awful performance. That’s not to say Colleen was a lousy player by any means; she and Kim did work well together and almost won in a communication/memory elimination against Laurel & Jakk, where they weren’t allowed to talk in their native tongue (German).
Colleen does not have the type of allies and connections that will let her coast to the Final. What Colleen does have is friends who won’t make her the easy first vote into elimination. I will note that Colleen is super sharp socially. Her original show was The Mole, where she was the literal Mole, having to deceive people constantly. Colleen always keeps a big smile on her face and has a fun demeanor, but she’s smart and knows how to read people. As a whole, Colleen is a big question mark. She’s tiny and could get targeted for her size, except I’m not even entirely sure what she’s capable of strength-wise. Her Instagram is very fitness focused and she looks to be in fantastic shape.
9 Ravyn Rochelle
Ravyn won the first daily challenge of Ride or Dies and almost won an endurance-based daily challenge in the episode where she and Johnny got eliminated. I was super impressed by the brief sample size we got of Ravyn. Ravyn is fit and naturally athletic, and in terms of Reality TV, things got a bit messy between her, Johnny, and Nurys.
Then again, part of what ranks Ravyn lower on this list is that she has/had beef with Nurys, and Nurys enters this game with stronger alliances due to her getting much further into Ride or Dies. Since there are technically no Rookies and no Champs on this cast, players will be desperate to find an easy target. And unfortunately for Ravyn, that small beef with Nurys might be enough to put a target on her.
The two did seem chummy behind the scenes of the Ride or Dies reunion, and if they put their squabble behind them, I love Ravyn’s potential as a competitor.
8 Big T
After a one-season break to pursue her culinary school passions, Big T is back on The Challenge. It’s crazy because Big T did four straight seasons of the show, took one season off, and yet somehow feels completely distant from this new-era cast.
Big T has great confessionals and is a delightful human being; that said, Big T rarely feels part of the show’s main plot. She’s never inside the major alliances, has never been a significant game threat, and hasn’t been part of any showmances worth a damn. In spite of all that, Big T was the star of Double Agents for many as her partnership with CT took center stage.
What I’ve always admired about Big T is she gives 110% and performs to the best of her abilities, improving each season she comes on. In terms of size, Big T has limitations to what type of challenges she can succeed in. Despite that, we’ve seen her crush swimming challenges and perform well in competitions where one has to lift their own body weight. The one major thing that has killed Big T again and again is cardio — she hates training for it, and if she doesn’t improve on it, Big T won’t have any chance of winning.
7 Melissa Reeves
The last time we saw Melissa on The Challenge, she won a few daily challenges, beat Nany in elimination, and made it to the Final of Total Madness while being four to five months pregnant. Melissa enters this season not pregnant, hopefully. Thus, one would assume she’ll do better this time around.
Like Big T, Melissa enters a game where she might struggle socially without being connected to the Ride or Dies people. On top of that, Melissa lives across the pond, where she isn’t mixing it up at the same clubs and influencer events as some people who see each other frequently.
Melissa is very mentally tough. When it comes to heights and balance challenges, Melissa always seems fearless. Her memory skills are decent, and her ability to carve people up with her tongue is always there. As we saw from her elimination with Sylvia on Vendettas, Melissa is willing to play dirty. Due to her slender frame, Melissa’s height goes a bit under the radar — she’s 5’6 with long limbs, which comes in handy during daily challenges.
Despite all this, Melissa is not a gym rat. She’s not the most prepped for a Final, and if the eliminations come down to raw size and weight, she can get outmatched by a decent amount of cast members. It’s also been over three years since she last competed on the show! I’ll be rooting for Melissa, knowing it will be an uphill battle for her to get to another Final.
6 Michele Fitzgerald
Now we are entering the tier of people I think have a real shot at winning on the women’s side. Michele is a dark horse threat because she’s a strong swimmer, book smart, a solid communicator in partnerships, and has decent cardio. Along with those skills, Michele does a ton of yoga, meaning she has a good sense of balance. She is also in the Top 1% of humans in depth perception/spatial awareness, as there are certain puzzles she demolishes with ease.
Michele’s biggest strength entering this season is all the connections she’s formed during her last two MTV seasons. She will likely align herself with the Ride or Die ladies: Nurys, Olivia, and Moriah; additionally, she was on good terms with Ravyn before her exit. Michele has a Ride or Die male ally in her former partner, Jay. Not to mention, Michele did Spies, Lies & Allies, where she had a showmance with Emanuel, was partners with Corey, and is probably friendly with Hughie & Ed. Going into this season, Michele has numbers, and if she wins a daily challenge, she’ll be wielding massive power in the house.
At the same time, Michele is not a physical juggernaut. I could see Melissa or Ravyn roughing her up in a headbanger — and that’s not even mentioning our physical powerhouses or the mercenaries on this season. Michele is very beatable, yet her game has undeniable strengths where you can envision a path to victory.
5 Moriah Jodea
Moriah is likely the most fit person in this cast. In terms of lifting weight and endurance, Moriah is a legitimate threat. She won the mini Final with Fessy on Ride or Dies, won another endurance/obstacle course challenge with him as well, and the gym is her life. What also benefits Moriah’s game is that she is genuinely kind and will not create conflict. I don’t expect Moriah to have any enemies, and since she’s so fit/muscular, most players won’t want to face her in physical eliminations.
Yet, I rank her outside the Top 5 because I didn’t see any problem-solving skills from Moriah on Ride or Dies. During a kayak challenge, she couldn’t figure out how to row her boat and then kind of just sat there. In her elimination against Bananas & Nany, Fessy struggled mightily, but she didn’t seem to have a strategy either and didn’t even try to copy her opponents’ tactics. Part of that is a lack of experience, which she’ll gain over time. Then again, most of the all-time great players display the ability to tackle daily challenges early on and then get better and better at it. Hell, it took Cara Maria about 8–10 seasons before she began to win dailies, not relying on pure strength. Some players never put it all together, even good ones.
Puzzles are crucial to winning Finals, and as much as I trust Moriah to outrun and outlift her opponents, she needs to hone in on the mental side of her game.
4 Zara Zoffany
Zara was one minute away from winning The Challenge UK. Nobody on this show has been closer to winning a Final than Zara. The basics about Zara are that she is super rich, committed her life to fitness, and is a super quick cardio machine. On The Challenge World Championship, Zara beat all other women in the opening daily challenge and then had some impressive sprints during a different daily challenge win with Wes. Zara & Wes looked like a duo where they would outrun everyone if they got to the Final.
After living a luxurious life, Zara does not need to be on a show like The Challenge, especially for the rookie-level pay given out on MTV. She is here because she has that competitive spirit and is a scrapper. On The Challenge World Championship, we saw Zara lifting weights past her limit in her elimination against Ben & Kaycee; she was in tears by the end. No part of her wanted to drop the weight — sadly, she couldn’t hold on any longer. That type of raw emotion and passion inspires me to put her 4th on this list even though she enters this game with zero allies, and her size/frame does not bode well for a headbanger elimination. Another factor that does worry me about Zara is UK Reality Stars have, for the most not been great when it comes to puzzles on The Challenge. It’s Rogan, Tristan, kind of Theo, and that’s about it when it comes to UK players who are above average in puzzles.
Still, Zara has a great head on her shoulders, a desire to win, and the ability to outrun anyone on this cast.
3 Nurys Mateo
Someone who does have the mental side of the game locked down is Nurys. Going into Ride or Dies, I thought Nurys would be a lay-up competitor who was there only to get into a Showmance and grab some Instagram followers. I was totally fucking wrong.
Well, she did have two showmances during the season. So I wasn’t completely wrong.
What I didn’t know is that Nurys is incredibly intelligent, calculated, and a true fan/student of The Challenge. For years, Nurys was campaigning and hoping to be on the show, and people clowned her online for it. It wasn’t just a plea for relevance — Nurys wanted to be on the show because she fucking loves The Challenge and wants to compete. Nelson lost 50+ straight daily challenges, and Nurys was essential to breaking that streak. They won their two dailies because she went in with a strategy in one and then proved to have a stellar memory in the other. During the mini Final and endurance comps, Nurys’ cardio was up there with the best.
Winning a Final involves running and solving puzzles, and Nurys has that down. She’s also a gamer — Nurys definitely has some premade alliances going in. There will probably be a showmance for Nurys this season, maybe strategically or for fun or both. Importantly, Nurys knows who she can and cannot beat and will try to make the plays to further her game.
Similar to Michele, though, Nurys is beatable in eliminations because she lacks raw size/strength. Against this cast, it wouldn’t be as big of an issue — it does become a larger problem facing the mercenaries, though.
2 Berna Canbeldeck
I might be completely overrating Berna, but as someone who has watched and studied this show way too much, certain performances stand out and catch my eye. On Spies, Lies & Allies there was a daily challenge where players competed in an obstacle course that included running through mud under a cargo net, climbing a wall, etc. Berna was so far ahead of every other female during this challenge it was honestly comical. She was agile, coordinated, strong, every adjective you can throw out. Even before the daily started, all the players were shirtless or in their tank tops, and Berna’s back was so damn defined, muscular, and her frame was well built to throw a fucking shoulder tackle at someone. Berna had the build of someone who would fuck a person up in a Pole Wrestle or Hall Brawl and then was also the most nimble person on the field by a mile.
If you aren’t aware of Berna’s background, she is a former acrobat, trained with the Circus growing up, was classically trained in Dance, and is devoted to fitness these days.
I’m going to talk a bit in hyperbole now. I would compare Berna’s body to Emily Schromm on Exes 1 (not as jacked at Rivals 2, but still crazy fit), and I would compare the way she moves as an athlete to Evelyn Smith or Camila Nakagawa. It’s the mix of fitness and athleticism that wows me.
So why the fuck is Berna #2 when I’m comparing her to three of the Top 5 women in Challenge history? It’s simple. It’s all about the puzzles and the mental side of the game. Berna went to school for Circus, so she never learned math. Well, except for when it was her turn to sell peanuts. She also hooked up with Nelson, another indicator of her intelligence (wait, that’s three people on this cast). The game has an emotional mental factor where if people get on Berna’s nerves and pick at her, she might unravel. Jodi Weatherton is one of the great athletes in Challenge history, and we’ve seen her lose multiple eliminations because she got flustered in the moment. Berna’s elimination loss against Priscilla & Jeremiah was due to her inability to deal with Hughie’s franticness.
Berna is such a great athlete that I don’t even believe she needs to have a strong mental side of the game to win; she just needs to be average. That might be too much to ask, though.
1 Olivia Kaiser
The moment that golf ball shattered Olivia’s face, I became immediately convinced she would become a Challenge Champion. Olivia was already an instant production and fan favorite on Ride or Dies. She was fit, blonde, spoke well in front of the camera, was willing to make fun of herself, mixed it up in the house politically/socially, had a showmance, and was a strong physical competitor. By Episode 3, Olivia looked dead into the camera as she literally knocked Ravyn out of her shoes multiple times in their Hall Brawl-esque elimination. Olivia and Horacio were the Rookies of the Year, winning elimination after elimination — and she brought the charisma and fun he was missing at times.
Olivia was clearly on the path to being one of the faces of The Challenge. When that golf ball hit her, and she tried to keep running the Final, that path became much, much shorter. It reminded me of when Cara Maria broke her hand on Free Agents, where you knew the next time we saw her, the world would be behind them. As excited as I was, I didn’t think Olivia’s moment was as monumental as Cara’s, and I thought she was still a couple of seasons from being ready to win a Challenge Championship.
Then they created this cast and game format where there aren’t super veterans on the show, and Olivia’s time to be the face of the show is here right now. If Challenge production wants Season 40 to be all Champions, they’ll love an Olivia win as she checks every box you want in a reality character.
Now the question is…. Can she win? Olivia technically did not win a single partnered daily challenge on Ride or Dies. However, she and Horacio were routinely in the Top 3, typically in the most difficult daily challenges. Olivia never had a daily challenge where she was a complete failure — she was competent across the board. While she didn’t have the greatest cardio or wasn’t the best swimmer, Olivia was naturally fit, athletic, and well-built to compete on this show. Olivia got to experience over 15 daily challenges, compete in multiple eliminations, and see what a Final is like. She then got six to nine months to train and prep for her next season.
Albeit her second season, Olivia has more quality experience than most of this cast, and she got to spend a ton of time pre-gaming and making friends. Battle for a New Champion feels like it’s Olivia’s season to win.