Today, I am ranking the 10 WEAKEST Male and Female casts the Challenge has ever seen. When I say the weakest, we’re talking COMPETITIVELY. Entertainment does not play a factor in this article, and that’s key because some of our strongest physical casts have not made for the best television. Likewise, there will be seasons on here with “weak” casts that are my personal favorites to watch. I’ll be going into detail on the Top 5 weakest of each gender bracket, listing out 6–10, and at the end, I’ll notice which seasons are on both Top 10’s.
EXPLANATION OF RANKINGS
For each season I detail, I sort people into different “Tiers” to recognize the level of player they are. A Tier = Elite, B Tier = All-Star/Good Player, C Tier = Average, D Tier = Below Average, F Tier = All-Time Bad Player.
Some critical details for these rankings. First, CONTEXT matters. Cara Maria on Cutthroat isn’t the 2x Champ that she was on War of the Worlds, and Bananas on the Duel isn’t the 7x Champ he is now. Second, players’ ratings will vary based on performance within the season or a general rating of who they were as a player, potentially a mix of both. For example, when they cast Tina Barta for Duel 1, MTV thought they’d be getting a solid player who came in 2nd Place the previous season. Even though Tina was the first out, we still give her a rating (B-) based on the player she was because in an alternate world, maybe she doesn’t punch Beth and DQ. Third, I didn’t include any season prior to the Inferno 2 as the game and casts were so much different then. Fourth, it’s okay to disagree. If you think a cast is way stronger or weaker than I’m giving it credit, give me hell in the comments on Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter.
Let’s jump into the female rankings.
TOP 10 WEAKEST FEMALE CASTS
10 Spies, Lies & Allies
9 Free Agents
8 The Duel 2
7 Gauntlet 2
6 Rivals 3
5 The Duel I
The Duel 1 female cast is generally competent with only one true lay-up (Casey Cooper). Its dilemma is that besides Jodi, none of the women on the cast are close to being top players, especially for an individual format (which is why Jodi won over 50% of the female immunities). You could even argue that Jodi is a weak enough player in the mental challenges to not even deserve a true “A” rating.
Kina, Diem, and Svetlana were all solid players, except I can’t help feeling they are drastically undersized. Which, in general, is an issue when comparing eras of the Challenge. Not to be weird, but the phrase “Do these jeans makes my ass look fat?” had a way different meaning in 2006 (when the Duel aired) versus now. It’s partially why Aneesa was so formidable in eliminations back in the day; she was just bigger than most girls. The problem is we can’t rank Aneesa as a top player because she didn’t have the cardio or skills to win any dailies or finals. I think the average female competitor is slightly bigger these days in a healthy way (look at the Total Madness female cast); the Challenge has also become more of a sport where people are training to compete.
Remember, context matters. Paula on the Duel 1 was nowhere near the player she would be in future seasons and, of course, an eventual champion.
4th Battle of the Bloodlines
Talk about a mess. Close to half the Bloodlines cast is below-average, and even then, there is still a big gap between the top player and the rest. Cara was the best player, and because Camila got taken out via her bloodline losing an elimination to Jenna, there was no real competitor for her in the women’s division. Players like Jenna, Aneesa, and Nany rank close to the top simply due to size and competency. Aneesa’s bloodline Rianna had to be one of the worst players I’ve ever watched as she had Aneesa looking like an Olympian in comparison. I thought Cohutta’s cousin Jill had great potential; unfortunately, she was out by Episode 2.
Bloodlines and Rivals 3 have very similar casts. The difference is players like Jenna, Nicole, and Christina are viewed as slightly better on Rivals 3 due to having more experience. Rivals 3 also has fun debuts in Ashley & Amanda, who were average players on Rivals 3, but average is better than being complete lay-ups.
3 Dirty 30
Dirty 30 had way too many below-average competitors on its cast while also dealing with a massive competitive gap at the top.
When Dirty 30 aired, the gap between Cara & Camila and everyone else was so big that people (like me) hyped up players like Kailah & Jenna to a level they weren’t. Partially why Tori Deal got hyped so much as the “Rookie of the Year.” Kailah and Jenna weren’t bad players; they were in good shape with decent athleticism. However, it wasn’t even a comparison when you look deeply at the two sides. Cara & Camila were in even better shape to run a final, had more experience in dailies, were able to eat gross food, and importantly, could crush mental challenges and solve puzzles. If Ashley Mitchell had not quit, and Amanda doesn’t get purged, Dirty 30’s female game and competitive female side maybe gets interesting. Instead, even when the best players on Dirty 30 were in peril, they only had to face lay-ups in elimination or redemption.
For people looking at the tiers wondering why Nicole Ramos is rated higher than Britni Thornton when Britni eliminated her, what it comes down to is both players are losing a physical elimination to any decent competitor. Whereas I can envision Nicole beating a good player in a puzzle or mental comp, I can’t say the same for Britni.
Let’s compare Vendettas to Dirty 30 since the casts are similar. I don’t think Cara on Vendettas is as good as Camila or herself on Dirty 30. Kailah was underwhelming on Vendettas too — the B- might be generous. You remove Tori, Jenna, Amanda, and Ashley’s on-paper addition, and it’s a clear step-down. Britni and Jemmye were a bit better on Vendettas than D30, Veronica was worse.
Kam and Nicole were great additions to the cast; their shortcomings are Nicole is a zero in anything mental, and Kam as a rookie who still had massive gaps in her game when it came to stuff like heights, swimming, and eating. Sylvia was an interesting dark horse; sadly, she left early due to a medical DQ. Natalie Negrotti performed well in the dailies on Vendettas. It might have been fools gold as her performances on future seasons were a bit lackluster, which reinforces the idea that Vendettas had a weak cast.
I do have to give kudos to Kayleigh, she stepped up/improved a ton once paired with Kam on Final Reckoning because on Vendettas she was a horrid competitor.
1 Battle of the Seasons (2012)
I want to preface by saying Battle of the Seasons (2012) is the season that made me a Challenge fan and is one of my top five favorites to rewatch.
BOTS as a whole has a super funky cast with a bunch of rookies or irregular competitors. Many of its players I grade low due to a lack of sample size or their history outside the season give me skepticism. Melinda & Jemmye have done well in recent memory in the All-Stars spin-offs; tragically, they are two of the worst female competitors ever in daily challenges statistically. So when they have teammates in Lacey/McKenzie who are worse players than them, what am I to do? The same goes for Marie & Laura. I want to rate Marie higher, the complication is her stats and historical performances are flat out not good. Marie’s competitive BOTS highlight is barely beating Nany in an elimination where Nany’s partner (Alton) was throwing the elimination.
Looking at BOTS top players, Camila and Cara were two of the strongest women, they got to be on the same four-person team, and it didn’t even matter because Big Easy was that much of anchor bringing them down. Sarah Rice put up an all-time season leading a rag-tag Team Brooklyn to the Final. They won multiple eliminations, clutch daily challenges, and ultimately came in 3rd Place due to cardio not being Devyn Simone’s jam. You’ll notice I rank Devyn as a C-, that’s because she is intelligent and has an excellent natural size/build to her. Devyn is not a lay-up, nor is she someone winning a final. Gosh, I really didn’t want to rate this season the lowest, and then suddenly, 7 out of its 16 cast members had D ratings.
Now, onto the men.
TOP 10 WEAKEST MALE CASTS
10 Duel 2 (without CT)
8 Exes 1
7 Inferno 3 (without CT)
6 Battle of the Bloodlines
Cutthroat is such a damn good season that people don’t realize the male cast is a bit underwhelming. Looking at its strengths, Abram was an absolute force and an excellent team leader. Tyler became a legit threat after gaining some size and had the cardio to kill a final, though he was missing an athleticism x-factor. Brad and Derrick are two of the best physical competitors the Challenge has seen; their Achilles heel is never adding the mental/puzzle dimension to their game. Bananas was good individually as a physical competitor, he hadn’t become the guy who finds the loopholes in every daily challenge yet.
Moving onto the negatives. Most of it comes down to inexperience, 8 of the 15 men were rookies or on their 2nd season. Some were clearly bad, like Vinny Foti, a total meathead, Big Easy, who couldn’t run a final, or Ty Ruff, who quit in the elimination arena. I liked Derek Chavez and JD Ordonez; too bad they got knocked out early and easily. Love Dan Walsh and his journey towards sobriety, he simply did not shine in any daily challenges, and he is the only male to ever lose an elimination to Dunbar. Dunbar fucking won the season after being completely unremarkable the entire time. The biggest indicator of the cast weakness might Brandon Nelson winning three eliminations, taking out Derek, JD, and Ty in physical games. Brandon then lost his next four career eliminations in a row. While he faced good players in each elimination, Brandon was never able to prove he was on the level of any of the people he was facing.
4 The Island
The Island has similar cast issues to Cutthroat, except when you only have 10 men on the cast, and when you don’t have as much to weigh, the weak links stick out more. Tyrie is straight-up one of the worst players the Challenge has ever seen, 0–4 elimination record, his size has been detrimental to his teams in challenges, and he’s never come close to winning a solo/paired daily challenge. Dave from RW Hollywood quit, he has no other sample size, and thus we view him only as a quitter. Ryan Kehoe is statistically one of the worst daily challenge competitors all-time, and Dunbar… well, he just stinks. Half the cast is below average in my mind.
Even looking at the stronger players, the best male competitor (Abram) quit after two episodes. Kenny gets an A because he had the social game on lock; besides Fresh Meat 2 with Laurel, he was never the dominant physical competitor that people like Evan and CT were. Johnny was still a sidekick and not the elite competitor he’s been since Exes 1.
3 Rivals 3
Dario Medrano is supposed to be on the graphic listed in the C Tier. Apologies to him and his estate.
The Rivals 3 cast is loaded with average, bad, and inexperienced players (8 out of 14 were rookies or in their 2nd season). Cory, Tony, Nelson, and Devin are all guys who have made a mark in Challenge history. On this season, they were scrubs. Cory had no ACL and got beat by fucking Nate in elimination. Tony was a clumsy mess who got DQ’d. Nelson wasn’t even supposed to be there and didn’t get to perform much. Devin was not in good shape, got eliminated first, got brought back due to other player DQs, and then made it to the final as the lay-up by pulling skulls every week.
Bananas was still in his prime during Rivals 3, which sucked for everyone else because he had the best female partner, making it easy for them to dominate. Wes was not in great shape and was a bit out of it; even apathetic, he was still the second-best guy on the cast. Cousin Jamie had put on some pounds, and Leroy went on the season knowing he was injured. Rivals 3 and Bloodlines have similar casts. The differences are that Leroy wasn’t hurt and was in his physical prime, Abram and his brother were solid players, and Mitch Reid was wicked with the puzzles. Bloodlines doesn’t have a total quitter in Brandon Tindel either.
2 Spies, Lies & Allies
An 18 person male cast where I only rate two players a B+ or higher is atrocious. Cory, Kyle, and Nelson aren’t bad players — at the same time, they can’t be top-tier guys of a competitive season because we know they can’t do puzzles or mental comps. The same goes for Devin on the opposite end; we know he doesn’t have the endurance or athleticism to compete with actual top guys. Logan, Emanuel, and Ed all showed promise as rookies, there was just something missing with them. So many of the rookies never got a shot to show their potential, and when they did, it was usually beating one of their fellow rookies. This led to a bunch of D ratings.
CT had an easy path to victory, made even easier by Fessy’s DQ.
1 Battle of the Seasons (2012)
10 out of 16 cast members were either rookies or in their second season, and there’s no player I rate above a B+. Wes and Alton, the two legends on this cast, were both shells of themselves and their ratings might be generous. Alton didn’t want to be there and physically wasn’t close to the guy from the Gauntlet 2 anymore. Wes had stopped training and lost all his muscle mass, yet he was still trying to play like a heavyweight. Frank and Zach were strong competitors who went on to have successful Challenge careers after this season; I can’t say the same for others. Dustin, Derek, and Chet are all people who had strong performances this season. All three were either the first or second boot in any season they did after Battle of the Seasons. CJ Koegel is regarded highly for his performance on BOTS, except, as we see, the competition isn’t that stout, he basically has no sample size outside of it, and in the end, he only lasted eight episodes.
Other low-light competitors to note: Preston and Knight are statistically two of the worst daily competitors of all time, Danny Jamieson is a career 0–6 in eliminations, and even though Big Easy won two eliminations, his performances in the dailies got his team sent there twice. Not having one or two players who are above and beyond better than everyone like CT was on Spies, Lies & Allies does lead to a more entertaining game, so at least BOTS was more balanced in that sense.
Again, never did I expect to rank the season that made me a Challenge fan the weakest male and female cast the show has ever seen.
Seasons that appear on both (Female & Male):
Battle of the Seasons (1st & 1st)
Rivals 3 (6th & 3rd)
Bloodlines (4th & 6th)
Vendettas (2nd & 9th)
Spies, Lies & Allies (10th & 2nd)
Duel 2 (8th & 10th)