Top 10 MTV Challenge Competitors Perfect for Survivor
First, I want to note, that I’m upset that we still have not gotten a Challenge Season 35 trailer. Second, I’m more upset the Cobra Kai Season 3 trailer isn’t out either. Now onto the article.
If you are not a fan of Survivor or haven’t been keeping up, CBS is currently running the 40th season of the franchise and the format it “all winners.” 20 of the 38 Survivor winners (one 2x winner) will be playing the game together where one will be crowned the champion of champions. Watching all these winners go head to head with one another makes me jealous that even with hundreds of Challenge champions, we’ll probably never get an all-winners season, or a good cast for one even if we did. Can’t stop me from still wanting one though.
While re-watching old Survivor seasons, I took some time and thought about which Challenge competitors would do well on Survivor. The Challenge is a completely different game from Survivor. Being a good athlete makes you a huge target to get voted out in Survivor (sorry Laurel and CT). Social etiquette matters in a jury vote (sorry Jordan). And you have to be self-aware (most Challengers have emaciated egos). In order to play and succeed, you need alliances, you need to be aware of whether you are on the top of the totem pole or the bottom. Here are the Challengers who I think would thrive:
10 Ashley Mitchell
Let me preface this Ashley passage by explaining that I don’t think many Challenge cast members would do well at Survivor. Floating to the merge and making jury doesn’t count as doing well, in my opinion. Thus, I put Ashley on this list knowing full well that she could quit from not being able to keep up with the survival aspect, but also, merely going on a tirade that would ultimately blow up her social game.
Yet, she has managed to become a 2x time Challenge Champion with all her faults and instability. So why wouldn’t she succeed in a game catered to her strengths? Survivor challenges benefit those with good cardio and endurance, have excellent strength to weight ratio, can eat weird things, and are strong with puzzles. Ashley is good at all those things. Not to mention, she is adept at creating hysteria by stretching the truth and knows when to flip to the majority when she sees a sinking ship. Ashley instigated the giant Turbo and Jordan debacle because she was bored. Imagine her potential when motivated? Ashley is more than willing to shoot a gun and knows how to pin the crime on someone else.
She has all the skills to be a Survivor Legend… granted she makes it through the first three days.
9 Rogan O’Connor
I am not going to say that Rogan is smart because that would give him too much credit. However, I do think Rogan consciously knows how to make people believe he is dumber than he actually is. It doesn’t sound like much, but being underrated is one of the biggest strengths you can have. Nobody expects Rogan to pull a fast one on them because they think he’s an idiot. Thus, if he fools them, they would have to be dumber than him. Rogan knows he doesn’t need to be the smartest guy in the room; he just needs to be better than you think he is.
Rogan also uses his friends and allies to make his moves. On WOTW 2, when it was time to vote Kyle into elimination, finally, Rogan didn’t put his vote in till Joss (Kyle’s friend) did first. He kept Dee on a string, and she kept coming back when proved even though he was only looking out for himself. In a game like Survivor, Rogan would not only thrive, but he would keep goats next to him in a Final Tribal situation. Not to mention, he has an uncanny ability to look someone in the eyes and lie. He has those vacant eyes that you can’t truly get a handle on.
8 Derrick Henry
Derrick sucks/sucked at the Challenge. It’s a fact. Survivor is not the Challenge, though. And I think in a world where the cast is not 80% returning players and Derrick has a fair shot at playing the game politically and socially, he would thrive. We are talking about a guy who earned a master’s degree in four years while being a starter for a Division 1 basketball team. A man who makes friends quickly and creates connections so easily. It’s the reason why he has been on TV so much. He has a magnetic personality that comes out in person (met him twice). Derrick is a bit goofy, but in a Survivor atmosphere, it is more charming and approachable to competitors than someone like Cory ever would be. He is also strategic. On Ex on the Beach, Derrick convinced all of the other exes to send “crush hearts” to their exes and show love, so that he would have the sole vote to cut his enemy Tor’i.
One of his flaws on reality shows has been relationships with women. He hooked up with at least three girls from his Ex on the Beach. Not to mention, he had a relationship with Angela Babicz, which takes a mental toll on you. On Survivor, you take away alcohol and women, and now all we have is nerd Derrick, not fuckboi Derrick.
7 Mattie Lynn Breaux
I think Mattie could struggle in a game like Survivor because she might be too tall and too attractive. People will target her as they perceive her as a massive threat. Then again, those are also the reasons why I think she can succeed. Her physical appearance can allow her to intimidate when needed, and then use her looks to charm those attracted to her. Not to mention, she is funny, down to earth, and personable. Mattie could be a Southern Amanda Kimmel on Survivor.
When Mattie played on War of the Worlds 1, she cut a deal with Paulie and Cara once the game became individual. While that hurt Kyle’s feelings, it was merely a game move that put her closer to the final, and it’s the type of play you have to make in Survivor. She’s a loyal friend, but she’s also loyal to herself when it matters. Mattie is the type of person you could see winning a jury vote.
6 Sarah Rice
When I watch Survivor immunity challenges, all I can think is, “wow, Sarah Rice would kill these.” The immunity challenges are the weird games you play at camp, and Sarah is Ms. Camp Counselor. What is amazing is that she doesn’t look like a significant challenge threat either. Sarah gives off art teacher vibes, yet, she is a better athlete than most Survivor contestants, and does puzzles in her spare time. I think she would struggle with the living arrangements as she is known for being the person who would clean the kitchen in the morning, making you wonder if she could handle not having a regular shower for 40 days.
As a strategic player, Sarah enjoys being part of the “cool group” and the majority based on her early Challenge seasons. Her second to last season, Sarah played Wes and Bananas egos against one another, and she played the middle in such a beautiful way. I could see Sarah failing on Survivor because she gets too confident in her position in the game, and could see her being a perfect mix of challenge and social threat. In all honesty, she would likely get blindsided and humbled if she ever went on, but then go on to win as a returning player in a future season.
5 Wes Bergmann
Wes is the Challenge competitor who is most likely to find an immunity idol. He is also expected in most games to be a pre-merge boot because he will play the game too hard. Yet, I can’t help but think Wes would kill it on Survivor as a first-time player because, on the Challenge, he excels at working with rookies and creating one on one relationships with those generally on the outside. Wes is someone who would fit well into the main alliance, but also create the type of friendships where a late-game vote flip could turn the game in the direction he needs. So while he might not be trustworthy as a whole, but his ability to work with individuals and how they rank their status with him (virtually unknown), will allow him to navigate the game.
It would be a playstyle similar to Tony Vlachos, except he would look and conduct himself like Tyson Apostol. The first season Wes won, his alliance was himself, Nehemiah, Aneesa, Svetlana, and Beth. He is open to working with anyone.
4 Cohutta Grindstaff
When I think of Cohutta playing Survivor, I think of Cohutta on the Island. Cohutta would kill the lifestyle portion of Survivor. He would build a top tier hut for everyone to live in and would be able to find food with ease. Since Survivor endurance challenges are often weight to strength-based, Cohutta would be a favorite to win those. His friendly attitude will get him to the merge, at least.
The only question about Cohutta is whether he is too kind. If this guy doesn’t have the killer instinct or doesn’t find the right people to align with, he’ll get voted out for being the odd man out. He could win a season JT Thomas style, or he could be the fan-favorite who loses because he charmed the fans more than the other players.
3 Tori Hall
You could tell me that Tori Hall was already on Survivor, and I’d believe you. I feel like the white mom from the South who is a savvy political player, and a low-key challenge threat is a fake character bio you could attach to many different Survivor players. Tori Hall would kill it on Survivor as she has the killer instinct. While fans have mixed opinions on her Challenge appearances and the fact she may have acted entitled at times, Tori played to win and to ensure a final appearance for her and Brad.
On Cutthroat, Brad wanted to put himself in elimination as he felt terrible for Brandon going into elimination over and over again. Tori was not going to let that happen because that type of idiotic game move may look courageous, but it’s not what wins championships. She is a player who will speak her mind and divide lines with intent. Tori may alienate some, but she would play Survivor in such a way that her alliance would completely trust her. She’s the type of person who would easily be able to sniff out idol plays and figure out vote splits. Similar to Ashley Mitchell, Tori doesn’t look like an MTV Challenge Legend, but they’ve each won twice in not many attempts. Now throw them in a game like Survivor, and ooh boy.
2 Veronica Portillo
Young Veronica gives me Parvati vibes; older Veronica gives me Sandra Diaz-Twine vibes. While Veronica isn’t the same Queen Bee/Mean Girl that she was in her prime, she is still able to use her words to bite through any enemies. Likewise, Veronica has a BS sniffer that can figure out who is real and who is fake from a mile away. From years of being in the spotlight, working in reality TV as both production and cast member, Veronica knows when someone is authentic.
As a Survivor player, Veronica is the person who is at the bottom of the totem pole the entire game but is never once perceived as the threat they have to vote out. Veronica is the type of player to be content in the minority as she thrives best when she has to fend for herself and be creative. It is when the game gets real, and the numbers dwindle, that someone like Veronica would craft a plan, or create a fake idol, or start a rumor to flip the game on its head. Veronica knows it is much easier to throw stones at a glass house than to own one. As a Survivor player, Veronica would create the right types of friendships, she would manage the jury, and when it matters, she can rely on the fact that she is wicked good at puzzles and obstacle courses when it comes down to the final immunity challenges.
1 Darrell Taylor
Darrell would be atrocious in the immunity challenges. His skills in the challenge are running long distances and physical contact. You don’t have to do much of that in Survivor, especially for individual immunity challenges. For this reason, he would fit in excellently on Survivor. Darrell’s only flaw is that he might get perceived as too intimidating, but once they see him fail in the challenges, their fear will get assuaged.
As a social player, I don’t think there is anyone as dangerous as Darrell. On Invasion of the Champions, I watched Darrell hang out with Shane and CT, and they seemed to have a whole lot of fun just sitting around, cracking jokes, playing dominoes. Yet, he also established friendships with Nelson, Cory, and Hunter. While I enjoy Team Young Bucks, they are obnoxious and rowdy, and Darrell was able to keep up with them in the house. He can connect to the other parents as he has his own. Darrell is a small talk expert. He knows how to keep it real with people and have conversations to establish legitimate trust. Darrell is also money motivated. His performance at the end of Challenge seasons is always staggering. The guy is an average player for most seasons; he is on until the final approaches. When money is on the line, the dude lights a fire under his ass like you cannot believe.
In a game like Survivor, Darrell would be able to create the friendships and alliances needed to get him farther. As a non-challenge threat and as a courteous person, he would not get voted out as a ring leader. He would be able to blindside an ally late game as he is money motivated. And in the end, his jury management skills would be unparalleled.