The Challenge Spies, Lies & Allies Comprehensive Female Veteran Preview & Power Rankings
Normally, I try do a detailed player preview for every Challenge competitor going into a new season, and I was trying do that with Spies, Lies & Allies, even posting previews of Kyle Christie and Michele Fitzgerald in the days immediately after the cast was announced. Then I took a step back and realized there was no way I was going to be able to get all 34 previews done without being endlessly stressed for an entire month. To be completely frank, between balancing life, work, and all this stuff, I did not have the mental fortitude to tear down some of the healthier life habits I have been working towards to put out 1200 words on why Josh Martinez sucks.
However, I did do all the research for the previews, made some graphics, and will be doing mini previews for each player in a power ranking format. All the vets and rookies will get a player rating and a rank in four detailed previews (two per gender). The ranking is based on how much of a threat I view the player is to winning the season, whereas the rating focuses on just the talent/skill level of the player. Which is why someone with a lower rating might be ranked higher. If you want to know the lengths I went for researching this season, I might have been frantically translating random YouTube comments of a celebrity boxing match from Turkish to English at 2 AM to get insight on one of our competitors. Enough digression, l3et’s get into this preview of the veteran females, I hope you enjoy:
7 Aneesa Ferreira (15th Season)
(graphic is supposed to say 14 seasons, not 12).
We are ranking Aneesa last out of the veterans because, as a competitor, Aneesa is no threat to win the game, and history says she likely will not make the Final either. While Aneesa has made it through the halfway point of every season she has competed on since Rivals 1 (2011), she has not made it to the Final of an official canon season of the Challenge since The Duel 2 (2009). She did make the Final of the Challenge All Stars and was far away the worst performer of the five females who got to complete the entire event.
It is crucial to note that Aneesa is not a lay-up competitor. Aneesa has won multiple daily challenges over the last couple of seasons, has proven to be solid with tangrams, and has amassed 10 career elimination wins. The problem is, when she is not good at something, she is a walking DQ. She cannot lift her body weight at this point in her career, her cardio is worse than subpar, and her social game is flawed. She tries to be everyone’s friend, and in the process, ends up with no true allegiances. The only thing consistent about Aneesa is how often she will shift a narrative to fit whatever is appropriate at the moment. Her last-place finish on All Stars became about her proving everyone wrong that she could complete a Final when in reality, nobody doubted that; what they thought is that she would come in last and potentially bring teammates down (which she did). At the very least, though, Aneesa acts as a good gatekeeper/measuring stick for new players. If you are better than Aneesa, you should do well on the show.
6 Big T (4th Season)
I wish every competitor on the Challenge had the same drive, love, and care for this show that Big T does. Throwing out the term lay-up to describe is not nice, but that is what Big T was when she showed up on War of the Worlds 2. Big T entered the game with close to zero social connections, was thrown in due to her small stature and perceived weakness as she was not the gym/workout type. What did she do? She went to work, began training, put 110% into every challenge from then on, flexed her personality, and made loads of friends along the way. Fast-forward to Double Agents, and Big T comes in 5th Place, wins two daily challenges and an elimination. Big T proved to be an excellent swimmer, and even though she is small, she kept proving she was able to lift her own bodyweight.
There is a ceiling to how well Big T can do on this show due to her physical/athletic limits, and sadly, she is rapidly approaching it. Unless Big T becomes Jenny West 2.0 and entirely devotes her life to fitness, I cannot imagine her winning a Challenge Final as is. However, her social game mixed with her tenacity as a competitor makes me believe her slipping into a Challenge Final in the near future is possible.
5 Nany Gonzalez (10th Season)
Nany performed adequately during the Double Agents Final. She was mostly able to keep up with strong competitors, kayaked, ate gross food, and completed some puzzles alongside Leroy. It was not a bad third-place finish by any stretch of the imagination. At the end of the day, it is still a 3rd place finish that showed that while Nany has it in her to do well in a Final, for her to win, the more prominent threats cannot be there. Alas, I cannot envision Nany completely changing her style of gameplay after all the years. Now that the skull twist is gone, her chances of making the Final by simply existing are much higher.
She is a solid all-around player as she is capable in almost every physical category, just not dominant in any one part of the game. What I do find ironic about Nany making the Final on Double Agents is she did not win any daily challenges and almost lost a physical elimination to the much smaller Gabby Allen. Nany’s had multiple strong seasons in the past and fell short of a Final, and in arguably one of her worst ever, she makes it to the Final. Challenge karma works in mysterious ways.
4 Amanda Garcia (6th Season)
We have no clue what type of competitor Amanda will be going into this season. Although we are only 2 years removed from War of the Worlds 1, in that period, Amanda had a baby, went to work as a nurse in the middle of a pandemic, became newly single, and has jumped back onto the show. Last season, we saw Theresa come back after becoming a mom, and she had come back to the show solely to compete because she didn’t finish her Challenge career on her terms. Whereas Amanda is coming back for a little bit of everything — being a single mom and a nurse are two of the hardest jobs out there, and she does both simultaneously. Coming back onto the Challenge, she will undoubtedly miss her family, but she also gets time to reunite with her long-time friends (Ashley, Nelson, etc.) and also has a chance to win a lot of money on top of a decent appearance check.
Before we get into her strengths, we have to outline her weakness. Amanda is not athletic in terms of foot speed or explosiveness, and her tiny frame limits her in particular heights challenges. In a size-based elimination, she gets taken out by most bigger females. She is a scrapper, though, so if she went against a Big T or Michel F, I would put my money on Amanda every time. Amanda had good battles against heavier people like Nicole Z and Jenna in the past, ultimately though she ended up taking the loss in both cases. Moving into the positives, on Final Reckoning, alongside Zach, they won the most daily challenges of any team (went 4 out of 9) while being completely dysfunctional. Amanda is a puzzle master, and when it comes to mental comps, she has an edge on other players. Her upper-body strength for her size is also impressive.
On paper, Amanda has the skill-set for a Final similar to her friend Ashley or Sarah Rice. She is an excellent complementary partner to a physical male brute. The question is, can she get there? Amanda enters the game with good allies: Nelson, Ashley, Kyle, Devin, and Josh. It helps that people like CT & Nany will favor veterans in terms of alliances and thus won’t target Amanda — CT also thought Amanda was the smartest underdog female on Invasion and was glad she got taken out before the Final.
3 Tori Deal (6th Season)
Tori is coming off back-to-back early exits, both of which came in embarrassing elimination losses. After War of the Worlds 2, Tori seemed prime to be one of the top contenders in the game, and now we have to ask the question, “is Tori good?” The answer to that question is a simple yes. Tori is athletic; she played soccer in college, has a natural build/size that allows her to do well in headbanger eliminations, and is both a solid runner and swimmer. Tori is competent in almost every part of the game; in a team game like WOTW 2, she does not bring you down in any category. In an individual game, she does not dominate any category/challenges. Tori is if Nany took the Challenge seriously during the offseasons — the problem is her ego and style of social game are active deterrents. She often overestimates herself while underestimating others, and similar to her best friend Aneesa, by trying to be fake friends with everyone, at the end of the day, you end up with no loyal allies when it matters most.
On paper, Tori has the skill-set to be an All-Star level player. She needs to focus on forming genuine connections because if she can, then her athleticism and fitness level will shine bright. If she doesn’t, we might see another early exit.
2 Kaycee Clark (3rd Season)
The stat Daily Challenge Win Ratio weights the wins of a competitor against the field they were competing against (i.e., a player winning a daily challenge in a 2-team season weighs less than when 1 pair beats out 12 others). When ranking players all-time, we use a minimum of 30 daily challenges competed in for their career to remove those with a limited sample size. Based on this stat, Kaycee Clark is currently the best daily challenge competitor in Challenge history, regardless of gender. Kaycee is currently 2–0 in eliminations, both of which she went into because she needed a skull to run the Final, and each of those wins came in dominating fashion against good players (Kailah and Theresa). Last season, she was on the right side of every single elimination vote, something that not even Kam and Leroy achieved. Kaycee’s social and political game is arguably her biggest strength, which is wild considering how good she is as a physical competitor.
Why isn’t Kaycee ranked #1 then? It comes down to the fact that while her Final performances have not been bad, they have been less than stellar. Even before her injury on Double Agents, Kaycee was slowing down, and due to that injury, I know she didn’t have an entire offseason to run 8–10 miles a day. She was rehabbing to be good enough to compete, and while she checks every box during the regular season, her cardio is beatable, and her puzzle ability is questionable. I do think Kaycee is an almost guaranteed lock for a Final unless one of these rookies comes out of nowhere and takes her out.
1 Ashley Mitchell (9th Season)
I know Ashley has been an early exit 3 out of her last 4 seasons, but when it comes to running a Final, Ashley is still the biggest threat. When she came back on Double Agents last season after her first elimination loss, she was not only able to outpace opponents in the mini-final but was also the best puzzle person. Had Cory not got them lost, then who knows how far they go in the game together. Having Amanda by her side to be her rock and #1 ally is crucial. Amanda is key to Ashley’s game as Amanda will always look out for her and make sure that her allies have Ashley’s back. That’s what has been missing from Ashley’s game in recent seasons; while many people like her, they don’t trust her because she is a massive threat as a 2x Champ who has amassed over a million dollars in winnings. Having that person (Amanda) to be her support system will allow them both to do well.
Not to be overdramatic, but Amber B winning Double Agents has changed my outlook on the Challenge and what it takes to win. While Kaycee, Kam, and even Nany are better all-around players, Amber outran them in that Final. So while I gave Kaycee the higher rating as an individual player, I will never doubt Ashley because people have done so her entire Challenge career, and she’s won as much in the modern era as any female since Evelyn Smith.