The Challenge Season 40 Way Too Early Male Cast Power Rankings

Allan Aguirre
22 min readMar 11, 2024


Thanks to the Spoiler Team at Vevmo, we now have the cast for The Challenge Season 40. I decided to spend way too much time power ranking all the competitors based on who I think has the BEST SHOT TO WIN THIS SEASON. Today’s blog will focus on the men.

I’m not ranking them as all-time players or even purely as individual competitors. We are talking about who has the best shot of winning within the context of this game. When you have a cast full of physical beasts, it’s not just who can win in a Pole Wrestle. To win, you need to be able to run at a high level, crush puzzles, and play the game socially/politically. Some people enter with targets and baggage; others come in with loads of friendships and alliances. Those are things we have to account for when predicting who can win.

Also, when doing the predicting & projecting…some people on this list are at a disadvantage because I know what they can’t do. If I’ve seen someone lose multiple Finals in a row for the same reason and gameplay… Then it penalizes them compared to people I haven’t seen run a Final in a while.

Now, let’s jump right into it.

19 Ryan Kehoe

I’m copying and pasting most of what I said about Ryan during my All-Stars 4 cast preview:

Straight up, Ryan is not a good player. Statistically, he is one of the worst daily challenge competitors ever. Ryan is worse in puzzles and mental comps than as a physical competitor. Even though Ryan has many friends in the house, he never has the balls to make a move that will further him in the game. Ryan only plays to survive, which does not matter if he cannot beat better competitors in the Final, which he likely won’t go to as he’ll get tossed into elimination as an easy target/lay-up.

In theory, I should be excited by Ryan’s casting as it’s his first MTV season appearance since Fresh Meat 2 in 2009 — except I don’t think he was a good cast member then or now.

18 Brandon Nelson

While he’s set to make his comeback on All Stars 4, Brandon Nelson is back on The Challenge for the first time since Free Agents! Will Season 40 go better than any of his past seasons? Most likely not.

Brandon is a nice guy, but he’s a completely average competitor who will be going against a stacked cast. Most people remember Brandon fondly from Cutthroat, where he picked up three elimination wins. Now, winning three eliminations is impressive on paper; my issue with it is that all the wins were headbangers going against subpar/undersized players. It’s not much to ride home about.

If Brandon were to play a more active social and political game, he might have a better shot at making a long run into a season. Except I don’t see that coming because Brandon prefers to be low-key, which I won’t knock because that’s authentically who he is. Well, I will knock it by ranking him lower on this list as the lack of political game will get him thrown into elimination.

17 Derek Chavez

Derek is not anywhere near the strongest competitor. That said, I have a respect for the effort he gives and how much he cares about the show. If you’ve ever closely watched Derek compete in the daily challenges, he moves like an athlete and always gives 110%. When I think of Derek as a competitor, I remember the mini-final on Battle of the Seasons, where Zach & Frank were berating and pushing Sam on a mountain; meanwhile, Derek put Jasmine on his back and ran up the mountain. That’s the type of person that Derek is. Additionally, I interviewed him many, many years ago, and he remembered every single detail of every daily challenge he’s competed in. It’s the type of passion for the game that I love to see as a fan.

Unfortunately, besides Battle of the Seasons, we’ve never seen Derek make a far run. Hell, Derek has gotten thrown into the first elimination in 3 out of the 4 seasons we’ve seen him compete, including a loss to Brandon on Cutthroat. Unlike Brandon, though, I do see Derek playing a more active social game. Derek has been super active in The Challenge Mania circuit and is coming into this game with people who will be looking out for him, such as Jonna, Averey, and Olivia. Then again, Derek, being close to Olivia, might as well guarantee that she’ll be the one to send him into elimination.

16 Josh Martinez

Every season Josh does, he makes it much farther than you would expect. Josh is a lay-up who will get to coast by for a decent amount of weeks due to his friendships and because nobody sees him as an actual threat. At a certain point, Josh will go into elimination by default of being one of the weakest players, where he will lose.

Josh has no real shot of winning due to his lack of athleticism, skill, and puzzle skills. He also has no prior experience running a Final either. Despite all this, Josh will cry once he’s eliminated and claim that this was his season to win. If you include USA 2, Josh has the potential to tie the record for most seasons by a male competitor without a Final appearance (7).

15 Brad Fiorenza

Recency bias is a thing, and we just saw Brad compete as a mercenary on Battle For A New Champion, where he looked rough. I know Brad got called in at the last minute; nevertheless, you expect a player of his caliber not to get lapped 3–4x times in a cardio/physical daily challenge. Seeing him on screen was jarring. Brad looked 20–35 lbs lighter than he was on All Stars 3, and I had worries about his health.

Since then, I think Brad has entered a better mental health space and is likely in better condition. Regardless, I am much less optimistic about his chances of winning this season.

The last time we saw Brad as a full-time competitor was recently on All Stars 3, where he was Bionic Brad and in the best shape of his life. Against a stacked male cast, Brad dominated the daily challenges and played the game at a high level, which makes the stark contrast between what we saw on Battle For a New Champion even more shocking.

Partially why Brad is getting ranked so low is because I thought he played his best game ever on All Stars 3…and at his best…he still lost the Final to Wes by a decent margin. That was a golden opportunity for Brad, and the window feels like its closed now.

14 Derrick Kosinski

Putting a 3x Champion at #14 is crazy. Then again, I’m not sure if anyone’s reputation as a competitor has lowered due to All-Stars as much as Derrick. After finishing 2nd on Dirty 30 and beating Joss on Vendettas, Derrick had cemented his status as a Top 8–10 Challenge competitor.

Since then, Derrick returned for three All-Star seasons where he hasn’t been remotely close to winning despite coming into each game with so many allies. In Derrick’s one final appearance, he got purged immediately due to his inability with puzzles & kayaking. On All Stars 2, he was politically blindsided by Casey Cooper & Steve Meinke, where Brad took him out in a puzzle. And then, on All Stars 3, Derrick got smoked and embarrassed by Nehemiah in a Pole Wrestle. Derrick’s gone from being firmly a Top 10 guy to now where I’m placing him between 15–20….

Derrick is still very much a beast. The guy is scrappy, has excellent hand-eye coordination, is fearless, and has a great social game due to his likability. It would not shock me if Derrick went to the Final of this season. Unfortunately, I can’t take Derrick seriously as a individual Final threat due to his lack of puzzle skills, and he’s also not great/willing when it comes to eating gross foods.

13 Cory Wharton

Including USA 2, Cory has made the Final in three of his last four seasons. He finished 2nd in two of them, and on Total Madness, Cory probably had the best overall time during the entire Final except shit the bed in Day 2 when hit with a math equation. Going to 3 out of 4 Finals is nothing to scoff at.

Tragically, like Derrick, I can’t take Cory seriously as a winner pick because he refuses to put time and effort towards improving his puzzle skills. Cory’s cardio and strength have improved significantly over the years — if he ever puts in the same effort to tangram and basic multiplication skills, then he has all the makings of a Champion. Till then, Cory will just always be one of the best to never win.

12 Tony Raines

The last MTV season we saw Tony compete on was Final Reckoning, where he came up short of the Final alongside Bananas. I genuinely have no idea what to expect from Tony.

In Tony’s first four seasons, he was a piss-poor competitor. The guy was a clumsy mess and went into daily challenges with zero strategy other than brute force. Then, on Vendettas, Tony flipped the switch out of nowhere and became a top competitor, racking up daily challenge wins. Tony followed that up with winning Champs vs. Stars 3 with CT. At that point in time, it truly felt like Tony was The Challenge’s next superstar. After that, I thought Final Reckoning was a bit of a step back for Tony. Rather than being equals, it seemed like Tony stepped back into Tony’s shadow, and while he was still a strong competitor, he wasn’t quite as good as his Vendettas/Champs vs. Stars self.

Now, it’s been 5–6 years since those seasons, and I’m not certain which version of Tony we are getting. Even if we get Vendettas Tony this season, I’m still not 100% sure he’s a massive threat to win, as that version of himself had questionable cardio and wasn’t a puzzle guy.

11 Nehemiah Clark

I’m not sure if any male competitor has had a bigger impact during the All-Stars spin-offs than Nehemiah. He was a significant character on All Stars 1, crushing dailies and winning an elimination before coming up short of the Final. We then saw Nehemiah form and lead the King’s Palace on All-Stars, where he won multiple eliminations and came in clutch by winning the final daily challenge to ensure a Brad/Jodi vs. Darrell/Janelle elimination. Nehemiah & Melinda then shocked many by winning Part 1 of the Final (which was 95% of the Final), despite taking a wrong turn and Melinda severely spraining her ankle less than an hour into the Final. If it were a straight-up Final, they likely would’ve won.

On All Stars 3, Nehemiah took more of a backseat…That is until Derrick called him out for a Pole Wrestle, and Nehemiah demolished him in a way that cemented Nehemiah’s place as a competitor and put him in his second straight Final.

Whether it be cardio, swimming, a headbanger, or a puzzle, Nehemiah has proven to be competent at almost every facet of the game. In the right type of game, I could realistically see Nehemiah beating anyone on this cast in elimination. Likewise… Nehemiah is also somewhat a master of none…where I could see someone getting the best of him in any elimination. I think the lack of an elite skill hurts Nehemiah’s chances in a Final. Nehemiah’s a threat to win against weaker Finalists whose flaws will hold them back; against a cast like this that’s full of other stronger players, you need to be able to outpace or outpuzzle them.

10 Kyland Young

You probably think I’m underrating Kyland after his epic performance on Battle For A New Champion. Last season, Kyland won four eliminations, including two strong wins against Champions like Darrell & Brad, and importantly, he looked & carried himself like a future Champion. I do believe Kyland has the makings for a future Challenge Champion because when he competes, he shows high-level problem-solving skills, a natural athletic motor, and is always giving 110%. Kyland studies the game and has passion & desire that will translate to a win eventually.

This season, though, I’m not too fond of Kyland’s chances because I think he & Horacio enter this season with big targets, as they are the young guns in the house. While I don’t think they’ll get as heavily targeted as they were on Battle For A New Champion, they are joining a cast of people who have competed for 7–20 years together.

Kyland is a great competitor, and even if he gets targeted early on, I can see him making a decently far run by winning eliminations, as he did in Battle For A New Champion. At the same time, Kyland isn’t a perfect player by any means. One of Kyland’s biggest flaws is that I’ve seen him compete in challenges/eliminations where he gets fixated on a strategy that he went in with and refuses to adapt when it doesn’t work. Now, that type of tenacity and game-planning is why Kyland sometimes looks like an elite competitor because sometimes he finds the perfect shortcuts. In other circumstances where it backfires, it can end his game.

I’d love to see Kyland take home a win; I’m just trying to be realistic. We must remember that as much as Kyland has already accomplished, he’s still technically never seen a Final.

9 Mark Long

One of my favorite things about Mark Long is that you must refer to him by his full name, even though there’s no other Mark. I would say there’s a 60–85% chance that Mark Long makes the Final. Mark Long has essentially made the Final of every season he’s ever done, and the only times he hasn’t was when he cut a deal with a fellow cast member(s) where he’d bow out in exchange for some money from the Final prize pool.

Everyone loves The Godfather. He is one of the most well-connected and well-liked social game players The Challenge has ever seen. Even if you throw Mark into elimination, he’s 6'3, 225, and is an experienced competitor who can seemingly tackle any challenge/elimination.

In his 50s, Mark is still a strong player who can realistically beat anyone on this cast in an elimination. The reason Mark ranks 9th is that I don’t think he has the speed or cardio to win a Final against other elite competitors. Mark won’t ever gas out in the Final, but he doesn’t have the speed or puzzle skills to go toe-to-toe with the big threats.

8 Leroy Garrett

Leroy’s retirement from The Challenge was short-lived, and considering how much it costs to raise kids, I don’t blame him for returning. Since All Stars 4 is yet to air, the last time we saw Leroy on the show was Double Agents, where Leroy had far and away the best season of his Challenge career. Leroy won more daily challenges with Kaycee on Double Agents than in his seven other partner seasons combined. He controlled the game politically & socially alongside Kam. Crucially, Leroy showed demonstrable improvement as a swimmer and with puzzles.

If Leroy can sustain the growth he showed with puzzles & swimming, then we know he has the physicality and the gas in the tank to potentially win a Final. It’s the fact we’ve seen Leroy show improvement in these parts of the game is why I have him ranked over people like Cory & Derrick.

Historically, Leroy has an elite social game as one of the most likable men The Challenge has ever seen. The big question mark is how will Leroy play the game without Kam? Without her, Leroy has enough friendships to where he can coast for an extended, but if we are talking about winning, Leroy needs to actively take some shots at power players if he seriously wants to become a Challenge Champion finally.

7 Theo Campbell

After War of the Worlds 2, I probably would’ve rated Theo as the #1 or 2 threat to win on this cast. As a Rookie, Theo finished 2nd in the War of the Worlds 1 Final, easily the toughest Final the show has ever seen, and had he been more careful during the math/kayak portion, he probably would’ve won. Following up, on War of the Worlds 2, Theo won three eliminations before coming up short against Jordan in a sledgehammer elimination, where we know that swinging a sledgehammer is something Jordan excels at.

After two seasons, Theo already had a Challenge resume that people would salivate to achieve, and yet, I don’t think he was close to his competitive potential. Theo was immediately a top competitor based on raw athleticism alone. As he competed more, I felt like Theo kept improving and figuring out how to tackle daily challenges with his brain. Then there was a cork accident where he lost a majority of vision in one eye and MTV would not clear him to compete for years until they brought him back for The World Championship’s.

While Theo made it to the Final of The World Championship season…He was nowhere near the player we saw on War of the Worlds. Which, we can put some blame on Sarah Lacina as someone who isn’t easy to work with. Still, I wanted to see more from Theo. Even though Theo’s been medically cleared, eyesight and balance are two things directly linked. There’s no way his balance and coordination are anywhere near what they used to be pre-injury. Balance is so essential on The Challenge because there are so many heights challenges and carnival-game challenges where precision matters. It’s why Josh Martinez isn’t a threat, because he’s a clumsy goof. This gap in his game could potentially hurt him in eliminations or a purge challenge. Now, I’m not saying Theo is Josh; he’s too good of an athlete. He just might not be War of the Worlds Theo anymore, and that could be the difference between being a good competitor and a Champion.

I do question how Theo will navigate the game politically, as he has a big ego and often gets into conflict. Theo has relationships with people in the house; his relationships are not the decade-long connections that some of these OGs have, though. If Theo can get to the Final, he is a massive threat as he can outrun most of this cast and is decent with puzzles.

6 Darrell Taylor

Before anyone gets mad at me, I want to acknowledge that I rated Darrell as the #1 male competitor going into each of the first three Challenge All-Star seasons.

Sadly, like Derrick, Darrell’s recent losses have led me to drop him down my rankings. For the longest time, Darrell was the guy where if he goes to a Final, he’s not losing. Then Yes beat him on All-Stars 1. On All-Stars 2, Nehemiah & Melinda beat him & Janelle in Part 1, and Jonna & MJ beat him in Part 2 to win it all. Seeing Darrell lose to inexperienced finalists was tough for his mystique as a competitor.

The last couple of MTV appearances haven’t been outstanding either. We saw Cory obliterate Darrell in a speed-based elimination on Double Agents. Then, on Ride or Dies, he and Veronica lost a PUZZLE elimination to Amber and Chauncey, two people who barely know how to spell their own names (literally, Chauncey miscounted how many letters were in his name during a daily challenge).

Even at age 44, Darrell still looks as amazing as ever. The guy does not age and has the motor to run a marathon whenever. It’s underrated how good of a swimmer Darrell is; he’s someone you don’t want to see in a Pole Wrestle or a Tangerine Puzzle. Overall, Darrell is a real threat to win this game, and I hope it happens because he’s good. Yet, we do have to acknowledge that he has yet to make the Final on an MTV season since his win on Fresh Meat in 2006. Which…has been a while.

5 Paulie Calafiore

We saw Paulie make his return on The Challenge USA 2, and it was a get-right season for him. He did not impress much as a competitor, and I think that was weirdly beneficial for his game going into this season.

Paulie lowered his threat level a ton and showed he could be a calmer version of himself. If Paulie made his return this season, he would be public enemy #1. He’s not this time around, and that’s fantastic because Paulie is statistically one of the best daily challenge competitors ever.

Mr. Sorbello is quick on his feet, moves like an athlete, is a fantastic swimmer, has some of the most muscular legs I’ve ever seen in person, and is wicked good with puzzles. Although at times Paulie can come off as a psycho, he’s someone who is very charming when it comes to one-on-one interactions, which allowed him to run the game politically in both War of the Worlds seasons. The difference between Paulie and some of the other male competitors on this cast is that if he brings some of the old Paulie late in the game, then I think he has the strategic gusto to put himself in a position to win.

The big question mark for Paulie is the Final. Cardio is supposed to be one of Paulie’s strong suits, except we saw gas him out embarassingly during the War of the Worlds 2 Final. It was funny and shocking to see. On paper, Paulie has all the skills needed to win a Final — it’s just in every big moment he’s had, Paulie’s choked. Which…If there’s ever a time for redemption…this would be a golden opportunity. We’ve seen people like Wes & Devin gas out in Finals and then come back to win.

4 Horacio Gutierrez

Pretty simply, when I watch Horacio compete, it feels like he’s a different level of athlete than the other 98% of cast members. Horacio effortlessly does crazy stuff on a level that I would compare to Landon, Jordan, and CT. He is strong, coordinated, agile, and seemingly has a limitless gas tank.

Horacio has three crucial weaknesses. The first is his resistance to playing the social/political game. It will make him a target, although, having Laurel on his side on top of his obvious allies (Nurys/Kyland) will benefit his game as she’ll look out for him. The second weakness is eating challenges — it’s something he has to tough through. Then the third weakness is puzzles. Horacio is not entirely terrible at puzzles; when it comes to anything that is shape-based or tangram-related, he struggles badly. Horacio needs to practice his overall puzzles skills, and if he does and gets to decent/above-average in puzzles…Then, everyone on the cast should feel scared.

Even without it, Horacio is a signifcant threat to win based on his raw athleticism and fitness alone.

3 Devin Walker


A lot of people are sleeping on Devin. Like Wes, Devin is a fervent pregamer who is coming into this game with many alliances. When it comes to the men, Devin is basically CT’s #1, is friendly with Bananas, is super close with Tony & Josh, and via Wes, I expect Nehemiah & Brad to have Devin’s back. Additionally, Devin has women like Tori, Kaycee, and Michele in his back pocket.

Even though Devin won’t wow you with his raw athleticism, he is pretty coordinated and thinks like an athlete. Devin kills the mental aspect of daily challenges, specifically carnival games. And if they have to work in teams or partners at any point, Devin is a great communicator and leader.

Importantly, Devin realized that the key to winning a Final is running and doing puzzles. So…guess what? Devin has excessively trained to crush those two things. He and Tori torched the competition during the Ride or Dies Final. Devin is very beatable in eliminations, especially if they ever give him a true headbanger. The difference is that Devin knows that, so he will play the game hard politically and socially to stay out of elimination as long as possible. Along with that, Devin is calculated, and he’ll make big plays at the right moment if they dramatically increase his shot at winning.

2 Johnny Bananas

Just like Darrell, for the longest time, the conscious thought has always been that if Johnny Bananas gets to the Final, he’s winning. It’s not a guarantee anymore; Bananas is coming off Final losses on Ride or Dies and USA 2. On RoD, he and Nany got completely outworked and outsmarted by Devin & Tori. While the USA 2 Final was flawed, Chris Underwood played perfectly and beat him straight up in that Final.

I feel safe saying that Johnny Bananas no longer has his fastball and hasn’t for a while. We are living in the post-prime Johnny Bananas era of The Challenge. That said, in the post-prime era, Bananas has made the Final in 3 out of his last 4 appearances and won Total Madness within the last five years.

Even though Bananas doesn’t have the same fastball, he still has a wicked curveball, a great change-up, a decent slider, and he knows how to work against inexperienced and flawed batters. On USA 2, I made fun of Bananas early into that season for being a whiney baby. Only for me to have to eat my own words because Bananas was able to adapt his gameplay style socially and politically and won crucial daily challenges and eliminations to keep himself safe. The ability to adapt is key.

This is going to be a historic season, and I expect Bananas to pull out every fucking trick in his bag. Five years ago, I feel like if you said anyone other than Bananas was The Challenge GOAT, you came off as a Bananas hater or contrarian. I don’t think that’s the case anymore, where Jordan & CT both have legitimate claims with some of their recent wins and performances, and Bananas can feel that. Bananas wants to be the unimpeachable face and GOAT of The Challenge, and he knows winning Season 40 will reaffirm his status. Additionally, if Bananas wins this season, we won’t see him back for years.

I expect Bananas to come into this season with so many pre-game deals & alliances, and I don’t blame him one bit for it. When you look at this cast, Bananas has many close, strong allies: Leroy, Tony, Mark, Derrick, Emily, Tori, Jenny, and Laurel. Even Bananas’ past enemies like CT, Devin, Paulie, and Amanda are on good terms with him these days. He’s got an undeniably great shot to win. Not to mention, nobody has won more Finals than him.

1 CT

CT is coming off back-to-back wins on Double Agents and Spies, Lies & Allies. He’s won 3 out of his last 4 seasons, and even though he isn’t in his best shape currently, CT is still in significantly better shape than his Dirty 30 — Total Madness era. Although CT doesn’t have the freaky raw athleticism he had during Cutthroat & Rivals 1. It feels now, more than ever, that CT’s in a different realm as a competitor.

In every daily challenge, CT knows the cheat code to win, and he picks and chooses within the game when the right moments are for him to turn on the gas. Once CT is in the house, too, he becomes a different person. I fully expect CT to drop 10–25 lbs during this season, and if he makes it to the end, I think CT will look the same as he did on Double Agents.

When it comes to these Finals, not only is there nothing stopping CT; it’s more a matter of you knowing he’s likely to win any puzzle or eating portion. He’s smart enough to know how to pace himself so he doesn’t gas out like he did on Exes 1. The biggest fear for CT in a Final is Jordan, and Jordan isn’t here, so CT’s chances are excellent.

The big question is whether anyone will actually take a real shot at CT? The last time CT got called out for elimination was randomly by JP on War of the Worlds 1, and the only reason that happened was because he was blissfully unaware that it was an unspoken thing you don’t do. Prior to that, Free Agents was the last time CT got traditionally voted in (literally a decade ago). If CT can get the win this season, he’ll join Darrell, Jordan, Derrick, and Jamie Murray as the only men to win three seasons in a row.



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.