The Top 10 Most Undeserving Finalists in Recent MTV Challenge History

Allan Aguirre
12 min readFeb 13, 2024

The Challenge Battle For A New Champion Final is set to begin this week. In this Final, we have 7 players, six of whom have not seen an elimination all season, and let me tell you, fans are not happy about that fact whatsoever. Many say that none of them except Nurys deserve to go to the Final and that nobody should be crowned a Champion… Yadda yadda yadda.

The online discourse did get the wheels in my brain moving and got me thinking about who the most undeserving Finalists are in Challenge history. This isn’t a ranking of best and worst players to make a Final. Not to throw anyone under the bus, as an example, though, Jemmye is not regarded as a strong player. However, Jemmye earned her spot in the Rivals 2 Final by winning 2 eliminations alongside Camila. We’re not rating the players based on talent as much as we are based on what they accomplished to get to the Final and if there were others in the game who deserved to be in the Final more than them.

For this blog, I decided to stick to “modern” Challenge history, which will be the last 20 MTV seasons, so from Season 20 Cutthroat to now. I’m not taking into account any spinoffs, as that would’ve forced me to spend a lot more time on this blog, and I don’t have much free time these days.

Crucial to Note: How you performed in the Final does not 100% dictate where you land on this list. For example, even though Georgia immediately DQ’d during the War of the Worlds 1 Final, she deserved to be there based on her daily challenge and elimination wins. Additionally, you’ll see some players on this list who performed well in their Finals but didn’t have the best overall seasons leading up to it. I will say if you had a shit season and then performed poorly in the Final, then that Final performance essentially stamps your spot on the list.

Honorable Mention:

Jay Mitchell & Jenna Compono (Exes 2): Everyone expects these two to be on the list. Except I actually think they “earned” their spots in that Final. Jay made an alliance/deal with Wes very early into the game, and as a duo with Jenna, they embraced the Rookie Lay-Up role. Jenna got into a real relationship that ended up being some upper-level polidicking. They also won a daily challenge! Now their performance in the Final…

Let’s move into the actual Top 10.

10 Johnny Reilly & Devyn Simone on Free Agents

I want to start this on a positive note and say that Johnny Reilly and Devyn played solid games on Free Agents. Reilly won the only solo physical daily challenge (Ceram wrap challenge) during the season, and Devyn won the solo trivia daily challenge. Specifically, Reilly’s daily challenge win allowed the house to set up the famous Bananas vs. Jordan face-off.

At the same time, these two got incredibly lucky with the Kill Card twist. Devyn went into 5 Draws without pulling the Kill Card, including the final three of the season, and Reilly went into 6 Draws, including the final four. While they did play good social games, these two lucked out, especially Reilly, as he would’ve had to face the likes of Leroy, CT, and Bananas in those eliminations if he had pulled the Kill Card.

Putting Johnny Reilly & Devyn on here makes me somewhat wish that I had made this blog a Top 8 or Top 7 list — unfortunately, Top 10 just has a better ring to it.

9 Hunter Barfield & Ashley Mitchell on Final Reckoning

This one might take people by surprise as Ashley & Hunter WON the Final Reckoning Final.

So why are they on this list? Straight up, they got carried by their alliance. Amongst the Lavender Ladies & Young Bucks, Amanda won the most daily challenges during the season, Sylvia won crucial eliminations and dailies, and Shane did the most legwork and was the strategic force behind the alliance. Ashley and Hunter reaped the benefits of all their actions while they were a team that underperformed in daily challenges and didn’t play a good social game as they got into their share of fights, including with each other.

I’m a massive fan of Ashley and liked Hunter, so when they got paired together, I thought they would torch the competition all season. Nope. The only daily they won as a pair was an eating challenge where Hunter dominated — except it was a Purge Day, so all you had to do was not come in last. Compared to other teams on Final Reckoning and other teams in their alliance, Hunter & Ashley didn’t deserve to be in that Final. It didn’t matter because they won it all once in the Final.

8 The Floating Five From Battle For A New Champion

Considering they’re the basis for this article, you had to expect them to be on the list. On Battle For a New Champions, Nurys has clearly earned her spot on the Final, and no matter how you feel about Jay, it’s evident he’s hand on the steering wheel for this season. To me, Jay & Nurys are deserving Finalists. I can’t say the same about the other five.

We got a five-way tie between Emanuel, Corey, Berna, Colleen, and Moriah. They are five people who coasted/floater through the game either under the wings of Michele & Jay or benefitted from Horacio, Kyland, Nurys, Ravyn, and Zara being bigger threats. I’ll say something many people online aren’t willing to say, and that is… I think all 5 of these floaters are “good” players. Each one of them has skills they bring to the table game-wise and a baseline competency to where they aren’t complete lay-ups. Emanuel is very skilled, Corey is fit and a massive human, Moriah has cardio for days, Berna is a fucking gymnast… and, well… Colleen might suck. All 5 of them have glaring flaws as players as well; still, they definitely aren’t close to the worst players I’ve seen make the Final.

That said, none of these five players are elite or have done enough in this game for me to think they deserve to be in this Final. Individually, if you toss one of the people into a random Final, you wouldn’t blink. It’s the collective mediocrity and unimportance of the floating five that is bringing the view of the season down. If one of them wins, then that will suck for the franchise.

Also, I’m ranking them all at #8 to account for recency bias and the fact that it’s tough to individually rank each one by who deserves it least. Maybe they should be ranked higher — I just don’t want to be overreacting in the moment.

7 Dunbar Merrill on Cutthroat

I don’t think Dunbar deserves anything as a human being. The dude is a categorically average (at best) competitor with a massive ego. The worst part is that there was a perception in the house for a few seasons that Dunbar was a strong competitor. Except if he can’t outrun, outlift, outpuzzle, or outswim any good players head-to-head and have anger issues over small things…I don’t know how that makes you a top competitor.

On Cutthroat, Dunbar benefitted from Brandon going into 4 Gulags, giving Dunbar a pass for literally half the game. While Dunbar did have to see an elimination, he got to face Dan Walsh, who is a nice guy but an awful competitor. Then, in the end, Dunbar got a free pass to the Final as Tyler went into the last two eliminations. Maybe I’m underplaying Dunbar’s social game and abilities? As someone who watches the show, though, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone carry themselves with such arrogance while never delivering competition-wise. People shit on Fessy in the modern era, except he’s a guy who actually wins comps. Dunbar floated by due to his allies and his perceived strength.

Even worse is the fact that Dunbar and the Red Team essentially won the Final by default, as the Blue Team was depleted, and Abram/Sarah got taken out immediately via dehydration. Straight up, I believe Dunbar is the worst Champion of the last 20 seasons, and this article is a way to voice that grievance.

6 Ninja Natalie on War of the Worlds 2

Someone from War of the Worlds 2 had to be on this list. Nobody on the original UK team was in consideration for me as their team went into 12 eliminations, and CT/Rogan/Dee all politically maneuvered their way through the game to where they never saw elimination. CT & Dee’s link to the Paulie/Kam/Cara alliance was crucial to the game’s overall flow.

On the U.S. side, Kam & Paulie were running things, Leroy & Ashley strategically flipped sides masterfully, and Cara was a figurehead for the alliance. Thus, it came down to Zach & Ninja. Zach was quite good in the daily challenges, whereas Ninja was just fucking annoying and bad.

Ninja didn’t know how to communicate with teammates, couldn’t swim, and had bad vibes. She got carried by an alliance, plain and simple. I know she *technically* won the elimination against Laurel, but Ninja was an absolute hindrance to her team during the season and in the Final.

5 Kyle Christie on Total Madness

My hatred of the Skull twist is largely embodied by Kyle on Total Madness. On Total Madness, Kyle went basically the entire season without winning any daily challenge and was unwilling to toss himself into elimination against any decent competitor for a Skull. Considering how much TJ was pressing people on how there was limited time to earn a Skull, I kept waiting for him to announce the Final was here and Kyle would get purged for not going into elimination earlier.

Nope. Instead, Kyle volunteered for one of the final eliminations, where not only was he not punished, Kyle was given The Goof on a silver platter. Kyle got to face Josh fucking Martinez in elimination, and of course, Kyle beat his ass. After doing nothing all season, Kyle got the easiest elimination opponent, won his Skull, and went to the Final.

And am I mad at Kyle for it? No, it’s hysterical how much things worked out for him. Kyle made a farce of the format that was supposed to make players “earn” their way to the Final. I’m mad at production and the Skull twist, not Kyle. Kyle did perform well in the Final at least.

4 Nany Gonzalez on Double Agents

Even worse than Kyle was Nany on Double Agents. As much as I love Nany, she was a total nonfactor on Double Agents. She competed in all 16 daily challenges and did not win one. Nany’s elimination came down to her and Gabby Allen volunteering to go in to earn their Skulls. Despite having a massive size and experience advantage over Gabby, Nany still almost lost the elimination.

From there, Nany cruised to the Final without anyone targeting her. To her credit, Nany did have a solid political and social game as she was connected to Leroy & Kam and Kaycee & Josh. Sadly, her Final performance was depressing. Nany & Leroy came in 3rd, except had Kaycee’s leg not snapped in half, they would’ve likely finished in 4th and gotten purged.

3 Nelson Thomas on Spies, Lies & Allies

You probably expected some vacation alliance people to be on this list for Spies, Lies & Allies. Well, many of them won daily challenges and influenced social, strategic, and political decisions. They weren’t the most impressive games; regardless, they did the bare minimum.

On Spies, Lies & Allies, Nelson lost all 16 daily challenges, extending his historic losing streak, didn’t win an elimination, and wasn’t in a power position socially, strategically, or politically. Nelson was simply a beneficiary of the vacation alliance, all without doing any leg work or having any accomplishments under his belt.

I love Nelson and had wished him to make a Final again after how close he came on Invasion for years. Then we saw Nelson compete in the Final, where he couldn’t swim without a lifevest, accidentally rolled his team’s boulder into a ditch, couldn’t help with any puzzles, and then lost an elimination to Kyle. It was a painful performance to cap off an individual season that did not deserve to be in the Final.

2 Natalie Negrotti & Paulie Calafiore on Final Reckoning

I want to open this portion by saying Paulie & Natalie accomplished multiple impressive feats on Final Reckoning. In the final six episodes of the season, they won a Redemption elimination against Brad & Kyle, won two consecutive daily challenges, and then took down Bananas & Tony in the final elimination of the season. If anything, Natalie & Paulie have one of the most impressive end-of-season stretches in recent Challenge history.

Except they’re #2 on this list because, as impressive as all that was, they lost three fucking eliminations! I can excuse one elimination loss; if it were two, it would still be on the list, but a lower spot…three losses is flat-out ridiculous. Especially considering two of the losses were in eliminations going against Jozea, one of the worst players I’ve ever seen compete in Reality TV History.

You just cannot get eliminated three times with zero repercussions and then expect to get full respect for making the Final.

1 Devin Walker & Cheyenne Floyd on Rivals 3

Devin & Cheyenne were literally the first team eliminated on Rivals 3 and got taken out by the abysmal and dysfunctional pair of Jessica McCain & Johnny Reilly. Due to multiple teams getting taken out via injury or quitting, production decided to bring Devin & Cheyenne back into the game for a second chance. They didn’t even have to win anything to re-enter the game.

From then on, Devin & Cheyenne did not come in Last Place in any daily challenge. It is a feat to never come in last, but they were never close to winning any daily challenges. Devin & Cheyenne were up for elimination 6 times after this moment and got to the Final by the luck of the draw as they pulled White Skulls every time. To put it in perspective, statistically, there was a 98.43% chance that Devin & Cheyenne would go into AT LEAST one elimination if they did 6 Skull Pulls. Lucky for them, they were the 1.56% and got to go to the Final.

Their performance in the Final was not very good either, as they weren’t even close to 2nd Place Jenna & Vince. Considering the mix of absurd luck and the fact they were given a free second chance, Team Princess did not deserve to make the Final. That said, Cheyenne is raking in Teen Mom checks, and Devin is now a Champion, so in the end, they probably won’t mind being #1 on this list.



Allan Aguirre

27 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.