The Challenge Spies, Lies & Allies Comprehensive Male Rookie Previews & Power Rankings
Normally, I try to 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). 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. I will note that the male rookie for this season pale in comparison to the females. There are some good gems in there with loads of potential.
9 Hughie Maughan (Big Brother UK)
Overall Score: 66/100
Hughie came in 2nd Place on his original show, Big Brother UK. One of the immediate takeaways with Hughie is his Irish accent which becomes very thick when angry. He is one of the LGBT male competitors this season (along with Corey Lay), and that is huge as Sean Lineker was the only representation we had in the previous four seasons, and he lasted one episode.
It pains me to rank Hughie in last place among the rookie males because when doing my preseason research, I found myself incredibly entertained by him. Hughie is funny, charismatic, gets into hilarious drama, and should add so much to the party element of the house. Based on the promos for this season, it seems like everyone enjoyed having him around too. Hughie’s social skills could be the key to him having success on this show. As a physical competitor? While Hughie is not out of shape, he does not have the physiques the other competitors do, and historically, LGBT males get targeted due to a perceived “weakness.” It will be a steep hill to overcome for Hughie.
8 Pumped Gabo (Warsaw Shore)
Overall Score: 68/100
Gabo comes from Warsaw Shore, the Polish version of the Jersey Shore. Based on all research I’ve done of him, fans of the show call him boring, and even in the preseason promos, people refer to him as quiet and reserved. He first gained fame on the body-building circuit, transitioned into reality television, and is now competing on the Challenge.
Sadly, I don’t project him highly because the bodybuilder types generally do not succeed on the Challenge; it is the more cardio-based skill athletes who thrive. Gabo is not the most hulking bodybuilder either, so people won’t be super afraid to face him in a size-based elimination. The prospects for Gabo going into this season are not great.
7 Tommy Sheehan (Survivor Island of the Idols)
Overall Score: 72/100
Tommy won his Survivor season; he is 6'4, weighs over 200 lbs, and is a Challenge superfan. Despite all his success on Survivor and on paper, checking some of the boxes you want to see in a rookie, I can’t help being skeptical. In terms of lifestyle, Tommy significantly differs from most of this cast; he is a married elementary school teacher. When you’re a rookie on the Challenge, you need to bring in good fun energy, and being able to flirt with the female is crucial towards building a well-rounded social/political game.
I also believe playing Survivor can potentially negatively affect the way you play on the Challenge. Survivor is like an open-world type game where you can choose your own adventure where you can play from the bottom, the top, the middle, and so on so forth. The Challenge is the opposite. It puts you in a box and limits your options, especially as a rookie. So not only is Tommy’s potential strategic gameplay limited, but he also has to deal with the burden of everyone in the game seeing him as a massive threat as he won such a strategic game and already has a million-dollar check in his bank account. Another reason I doubt Tommy is because he did not win a single individual immunity on Survivor going up against lesser physical competition than he will see on the Challenge. Even his cast picture does not inspire me much.
6 Renan Hellemans (Ex on the Beach Double Dutch)
Overall Score: 73/100
I am 25 years old. Renan Hellemans is supposedly 22 years old, looking at his cast photo, and I feel like a fucking boy in comparison because this dude looks like a man. Renan works as a Sex Therapist and Model. Based on all the clips I’ve seen of him from Ex on the Beach Double Dutch, this guy is a professional when it comes to hooking up. Renan’s season can go one of two ways. He can pull a Kyle Christie where he hooks up with one of the strongest girls in the house, and they carry him along in the game, or he pulls an Asaf Goren where people don’t give a shit if he is making out with a vet, throw him into an early elimination and he gets taken out.
5 Jeremiah White (Love Island US)
Overall Score: 75/100
Jeremiah had an abbreviated run on Love Island US. He is the basic model/influencer/musician who comes on the Challenge to boost their followings and audience. There is not much to go off of with him. When reading his profiles/interviews, he revealed he played football growing up. Still, I wasn’t able to find any scouting pages, in part due to the fact that Jeremiah White is an exceptionally common name for football players. The guy does have good size, and the 3-minute trailer for this season features him quite a bit. They are hyping him up as eye candy this season, and he even shares a kiss with someone in the trailer.
MTV cast Jeremiah because they could get him easily for cheap, and he might turn into a legitimate content provider on the show.
4 Corey Lay (Twelve Dates of Christmas)
Overall Score: 76/100
Like Tommy, Corey is a Challenge/Reality TV superfan. He is well-versed in the show’s history and knows what is needed from him to get cast again for future seasons. His original show was HBO Max’s 12 Dates of Christmas, a show where he made a splash by basically falling in love on the first date and putting his entire heart out there. As mentioned above, Corey is some LGBT representation this season, and I wish we had more to have some same-sex hookups. We see it with the females, whereas it hasn’t happened between two males since Rivals 2 (Marlon and Derek).
Corey is likely aware of how difficult it is for gay men to navigate their way through the Challenge. However, Corey is ready to combat that. He has worked as a personal trainer, and when he takes his shirt off, you get a feel for how massive he is. If you perceive any weakness in Corey, he will shut you up real fast.
3 Emanuel Neagu (Survivor Romania)
Overall Score: 78/100
One of the more impressive male rookies entering this season is Emanuel Neagu from Survivor Romania. He was the runner-up of his Survivor Romania season and spent 132 days living on the island, literally more than 3x the time they spend on the island on US Survivor. Emanuel works as a professional dancer and choreographer, having performed on the Romanian version of X-Factor as well. When he first got announced as being on the cast, people immediately compared him to Jordan Wiseley as Emanuel’s haircut is similar to Jordan’s from Total Madness. It is a tough comparison because Jordan is maybe the greatest player in Challenge history. If Emanuel can be a tenth of the player that Jordan is, then he will have a very successful challenge career.
Having watched his highlight reel from Survivor Romania, Emanuel is a skilled athlete who is quick on his feet, has elite hand-eye coordination, and can easily lift his own body weight. I also have insight that he was a soccer goalie growing up, meaning his quick-twitch reaction muscles are likely on point. Based on the trailer, he is confident in his skills, which translates well with the women. In almost every scene, the women look drawn to him because of the way he carries himself. I don’t have him scored higher because he does not have too much meat on his bones. With players like Cohutta Grindstaff and Jay Starrett in the past, we have seen you can kill the daily challenges, but if people they think can sit on you in a headbanger elimination, they will gun for you. From the video promos and trailers, Emanuel does not look as thin as he does in his photos. He’s still slender, just maybe big enough to avoid being labeled a small guy.
2 Kelz Dyke (Too Hot To Handle)
Overall Score: 78/100
Our first player to come from Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle is Kelz Dyke. He was known on this show as the “Accountant” as he was business-focused and tried to keep everyone in the house from hooking up to ensure they won as much money as possible. I was personally disappointed from a reality tv standpoint when he turned down shower sex with the hottest girl in the house as she was naked in front of him. If Kelz could stay that committed to a maximum of 100k dollars, imagine what he will do for a million dollars?
Kelz is a mammoth of a human being, standing 6'6 and weighing over 200 lbs. He plays/played in the London American Football league, where he is a 6x National Champion. Based on everything I have looked up, though, the best team in that league is probably on par with a junior college level team (maybe even D1 high school teams). Regardless though, people see 6'6, and they’ll be intimidated. What I worry about Kelz is that he’s got a bit of an ego (a deserved one), and I think if he actively tries to play politically/strategically, people will target him. If he takes a step back and focuses only on competing and forming friendships, nobody will want to test a 6'6 football player in elimination. I was also impressed when researching him to discover that he was a personal trainer who worked his way into an office job at the same company. Kelz wants to make money and is working his way up the corporate ladder. It is very respectable.
1 Logan Sampedro (Survivor Spain)
Overall Score: 80/100
Our other European Survivor Runner-Up is Logan Sampedro. He spent 92 days on the island, which is nothing compared to Emanuel, but more than double the US version. When researching Logan, I was thankful I speak Spanish because I could see a clear difference between any interviews/promos he has done in English versus when he gets to talk in his native tongue. Logan has the look and feel of a legit contender. He is big enough to compete with the heavyweights and fast enough to run with the cardio people. During his promos for this season, he mentions having a martial arts and boxing training, which in my mind, he is saying to appeal to American viewers, so we know that he is ready to get dirty for headbangers.
Yet, when I went through his self-made promos in Spanish he was sending to TV stations/modeling agencies, his genuine passions were soccer and skateboarding. Which, to me, translates better to the Challenge, especially since he looked damn good with the ball in his feet and on a skateboard as well. Soccer players are built for the Challenge because it naturally builds your cardio. The way the game never stops and forces players to constantly think on their feet and adapt to what is in front of them is similar to some of the carnival games on the Challenge. Being a good skateboarder also requires outstanding balance and core strength. Also, going to cheat a bit; Logan looks impressive in the trailers. His weakness is that he does not stand out personality-wise. By the way, if you are wondering why his eyes are different colors, it is due to an accident where a drone ran into his eye and changed the pigment. He can still see out of both eyes; they just are now different colors.