Valuing every win in Challenge History
When fans compare Challenge competitors, they often use wins to estimate who is the best. Because it is both simple and easy, like football, a Challenge win is like a Super Bowl win. No matter how good a challenger’s stats may be, at the end of the day, we care about who won. Johnny Bananas has 6 Challenge wins and is recognized by many as the greatest to play the game, meanwhile great players like CT, Jordan, and Wes are viewed highly despite only holding 2 wins each. In this article, I placed a value on every Challenge win.
In my opinion, a win is a win, no matter the circumstances, a win can never be discounted. Personally, I fucking hate the Island and think it is a ridiculous season. Nonetheless, to the people who played the season, the win counts to them and I don’t see a reason to cherry-pick and say it does not count. However, some wins are more valuable than others. For example, Laurel won Free Agents, a season in which she had to play as an individual throughout. While she got to be on different teams and pairings for challenges, in the end it was only her when it came to all the eliminations, the politics, and the final. Her win is worth at least twice as much as that of a team season. To put it in perspective, the same amount of people won the Inferno 1 as have from Seasons 29–33 combined. My focus will be giving a new Win Value to each season based on their formats, not what happened in the season or who was on the cast, simply how hard it is to objectively win a season and how it should be rewarded.
From here, let’s breakdown the value of a win from each season from Season 1 to now:
Road Rules All Stars Win Value: 1.00
I legitimately do not like giving it the 1 win value considering winning was just completing all the tasks. Though they were trailblazers, so that counts for something.
Jon Brennan(1), Cynthia Roberts (1), Sean Duffy (1), Eric Nies (1), Rachel Campos (1)
Real World/Road Rules Challenge Win Value: 1.00
They had no eliminations and only a final Challenge. Simply a coin flip at that point.
Anna Wharton (1), Kalle Dedolph (1), Kefla Hare (1), Mark Long (1), Noah Rickun (1), Roni Martin (1)
Challenge 2000 Win Value: 1.00
Kudos to the Road Rules team for dominating. Again, no eliminations this season.
Winners: Yes Duffy (1), Los Jackson (1), Dan Setzler (1), Holly Shand (1), Piggy Thomas (1), Veronica Portillo (1)
Extreme Challenge Win Value: 1.00
No eliminations. Yet another coin flip.
Winners: Dan Renzi (1), Jamie Murray (1), Julie Stoffer (1), Kameelah Phillips (1), Rebecca Lord (1), Syrus Yarbrough (1)
Battle of the Seasons (2002) Win Value: 1.15
The first season in which teams were eliminated. There were no “eliminations” however, but vote outs instead. A healthy amount of people still won (six). Still nowhere near as impressive as the best wins, but far better than the preceding seasons.
Winners: The Miz (1.15), Sean Duffy (2.15), Danny Robert (1.15), Elka Walker (1.15), Coral Smith (1.15), Kelley Limp (1.15)
Battle of the Sexes 1 Win Value: 1.65
Some may say the value of this season might be inflated. My counter is that each sex had a whopping 18 people on it and 15 total vote offs per sex. Considering there were seasons with zero chance at elimination for some players and then others where it tops out at three, avoiding elimination fifteen times is remarkably impressive. I’d also consider this as close to a win as possible for any of the women who made it to the end.
Winners: Mark Long (2.65), Jamie Murray (2.65), Colin Mortensen (1.65)
Gauntlet 1 Win Value: Men 1.20 Women 1.50
The first season with actual eliminations gives them a bump over 1.
You might be shocked to see me valuing the Gauntlet 1 as a bigger win for the women than the men. Here is my logic: because of the unisex eliminations, women were thrown into far more eliminations because they were seen as dead weight. The eliminations in the game were fairly balanced, the males were just given a much larger margin of error than the woman on the cast.
Winners: Adam Larson (1.2), Cara Zavaleta (1.5), Darrell Taylor (1.2), Dave Giuntoli (1.2), Rachel Robinson (1.5), Roni Martin (2.5), Sarah Greyson (1.5), Theo Von (1.2), Veronica Portillo (2.5)
Inferno 1 Win Value: 1.10
While there were eliminations on the Inferno 1, there were only 4 male eliminations and 4 female eliminations the whole season. Mathematically, it was a possibility that half the cast would never see an elimination, and at least 20% of the cast did not.
Winners: Abram Boise (1.1), Christena Pyle (1.1), Darrell Taylor (2.3), Holly Shand (1.1), Katie Doyle (1.1), Kendal Sheppard (1.1), Timmy Beggy (1.1), Veronica Portillo (3.6)
Battle of the Sexes 2 Win Value: 1.65
The same rhetoric as Battle of the Sexes 1.
Winners: Dan Setzler (2.65), Eric Nies (2.65), Theo Von (2.85)
Inferno 2 Win Value: 1.10
The same rationale as Inferno 1.
Winners: The Miz (2.25), Darrell Taylor (3.4), Jamie Chung (1.1), Landon Lueck (1.1)
Gauntlet 2 Win Value: 1.33 (regular players), 2.00 (captains)
The Gauntlet 2 only gets a slight bump from the Inferno’s despite having way more eliminations, because Gauntlets have much larger casts to offset the numbers. I am giving the captains of these seasons a 2.00 win value because the format makes it incredibly difficult for any captain to succeed.
Winners: Alton Williams (2), Ibis Nieves (1.33), Jamie Murray (3.98), Jodi Weatherton (1.33), Kina Dean (2), Landon Lueck (2.43), MJ Garrett (1.33), Randy Barry (1.33), Susie Meister (1.33)
Fresh Meat 1 Win Value: 2.15
This is where we see a big jump. Single and paired seasons are inherently more difficult than team seasons. Yes, lay-ups exist, but there is even a bit of social and strategic gameplay to being a lay-up! In my opinion, making a final in some single/paired seasons is often more impressive than winning some of the seasons we’ve valued already. For this season alone, Wes and Casey finished third and won five eliminations. Kenny and Tina won the final daily challenge and eliminated Theo Von whose wins are valued at 2.85! Normally, all these players would go to a final together, and instead they were pitted against one another.
The season had twelve teams and eight eliminations. The format ensured that the only teams avoiding elimination would be those dominating the daily challenges and political game.
Winners: Darrell Taylor (5.55), Aviv Melmed (2.15)
Duel 1 Win Value: 3.00
I truly believe the Duel is the hardest and purest format of the Challenge. Most seasons of the Challenge, a weaker player can BS their way to the end and maybe luck out on a win. There is no bullshitting on the Duel. The only way to win safety is by winning the daily challenge. At any moment, anyone can call you out. The only person who did not see an elimination on the Duel was Jodi (technically Tina who DQ’d as well). Jodi literally won more than half of the safety challenges and the final three consecutively.
There might have been some Caribeener shenanigans on the Duel 1, but it’s still the most pure way to play the Challenge. To some extent, it also may be a bit flawed as it takes away some of the normal aspects of the game.
Winners: Wes Bergmann (3), Jodi Weatherton (4.33)
Inferno 3 Win Value: 1.10
The same rhetoric as Inferno 1 and Inferno 2.
Winners: Abram Boise (2.2), Derrick Kosinski (1.1), Evelyn Smith (1.1), Janelle Casanave (1.1), Kenny Santucci (1.1), Tonya Cooley (1.1)
Gauntlet 3 Win Value: 1.33
I really enjoyed the format of Gauntlet 3 and some of the ideas behind it. What sucked was the fact that one team completely dominated the game. It gets the same value as Gauntlet 2.
Winners: Frank Roessler (1.33), Jill Zoboroski (1.33), Johanna Botta (1.33), Nehemiah Clark (1.33), Rachel Moyal (1.33), Tori Hall (1.33)
The Island 1.15
Ugh, I really don’t want to talk about the Island and especially hate giving it anything more than a 1.00. The reason it gets more than 1 is because more than half the total cast gets eliminated and that’s about it.
My problem with the Island is not that it’s a bad Survivor rip-off, it’s that there’s essentially no format most of the game. The players were unaware when the final was occurring, what the face-offs would do in the beginning, etc. There are twists and then there’s leaving your cast and the fans literally in the dark. The Island is some real horse shit formatting.
Winners: Derrick Kosinski (2.25), Evelyn Smith (2.25), Johnny Bananas (1.15), Kenny Santucci (2.25)
Duel 2 Win Value: 3.00
I think Duel 1 and Duel 2 cut even. Even though Duel 2 had more eliminations, they had an extra spot in the final to even it out.
Winners: Evan Starkman (3), Rachel Robinson (4.5)
The Ruins Win Value: 1.33
There were fourteen men and fourteen women, and nine eliminations for each sex. That’s a decent amount of elimination for a two team season. Similar to the Gauntlet 3, it had good ideas in theory, but was bad in execution.
Winners: Derrick Kosinski (3.58), Evan Starkman (4.33), Johnny Bananas (2.48), Kenny Santucci (3.58), Susie Meister (2.67)
Fresh Meat 2 Win Value: 2.00
The only reason why Fresh Meat 2 is a hash below Fresh Meat 1 is because there was one more available spot in the final. Yes, that makes the final harder to win, but one more shot at the final gives you a higher chance to win overall. It’s why the Duel 1 win is so huge, there were only two spots available.
Winners: Landon Lueck (4.43), Carley Johnson (2)
Cutthroat Win Value: 1.50
It has the same amount of total eliminations and roughly the same cast amount as the Gauntlets, however there are three teams, which adds an extra twist overall to the game and the final. Sadly, the best team that season lost.
Winners: Brad Fiorenza (1.5), Dunbar Merill (1.5), Tori Hall (2.83), Tyler Duckworth (1.5)
Rivals 1 Win Value: 1.75
One of the lowest valued singles/paired seasons as there were only seven teams per sex and four eliminations. Based on simple math, at least 10/14 people out of each sex go to elimination. It’s a real boom or bust type season.
Winners: Evelyn Smith (4.00), Johnny Bananas (4.23), Paula Meronek (1.75), Tyler Duckworth (3.25)
Exes 1 Win Value: 2.15
The same value as Fresh Meat 1. Ironically, in both seasons four teams were supposed to make the final and only three did because a team was removed from the game via DQ/Injury.
Winners: Camila Nakagawa (2.15), Johnny Bananas (6.38)
Battle of the Seasons (2012) Win Value: 1.87
This season has a higher value than Rivals 1 because Battle of the Seasons had less total participants in the final with a bigger cast. Battle of the Seasons takes a lot of shit, but the format of this season is really well thought out and forced players to compete. Every single person on Battle of the Seasons saw an elimination.
Winners: Ashley Kelsey (1.87), Frank Sweeney (1.87), Sam McGinn (1.87), Zach Nichols (1.87)
Rivals 2 Win Value: 1.87
Why does Rivals 2 get a bump over Rivals 1? It’s simple, there’s an extra team and an extra elimination. Not to mention, the Day 1/Day 2 factor of the final was essentially a Purge.
Winners: Chris Tamburello (1.87). Emily Schromm (1.87), Paula Meronek (3.62), Wes Bergmann (4.87)
Free Agents Win Value: 2.65
Free Agents is basically the Duel, however instead of the call out factor there’s a huge luck element which I personally enjoy as a fan, though from a game aspect, makes it easier to navigate through. Devyn made the final for god-sake (also, I know she has a great social game).
It’s weird that there’s so many luck elements on Free Agents, yet good players were able to succeed in the end.
Winners: Johnny Bananas (9.03), Laurel Stucky (2.65)
Exes 2 Win Value: 2.15
The same value as Exes 1. The Exile House made this extra difficult to figure out. In the end, I believe the winners of the final exile should have faced whoever finished last in the previous daily challenge instead of a free spot back into the game. While Bananas/Nany ruined Wes’s game specifically, the team re-entering the game may not always have as big of an impact, but in that situation it drastically altered the game.
Winners: Jordan Wiseley (2.15), Sarah Rice (2.15)
Bloodlines Win Value: Co-Ed Pairs 2.35, Dual Sex Pairs 1.75
Why is there such a big difference between Co-Ed pairs and same sex pairs? It’s simply the fact that there were male and female elimination days. If you’re on a Co-Ed team that makes you eligible for twice as many eliminations, meanwhile the Dual Sex teams could laze through days when they were not eligible.
Winners: Cara Maria Sorbello (2.35), Jamie Banks (2.35)
Rivals 3 Win Value: 2.10
It follows mostly the same format as Exes 1, Fresh Meat, and Exes 2. The luck factor of the skulls dropped it .05.
Winners: Johnny Bananas (11.13), Sarah Rice (4.25)
Invasion Win Value: Champs 2.25 Underdogs 2.00
Champions only had to navigate through three eliminations to make the final. However, they had a 50, 66, and 100% chance of seeing those three eliminations against other champions.
The Underdogs did not have an easy route either as only 2/9 per sex could make the final, and with the final bloodbaths, all players were forced to win an elimination to make the final.
Winners: Ashley Mitchell (2), Chris Tamburello (4.12)
Dirty 30 Win Value: 2.5 (never eliminated in any form), 2.25 (if Purged)
I respect players for winning Redemptions, I simply believe it should not be regarded as high as eliminations are because you are playing for a second chance rather than still being in the game.
As much as I hate Purges, they are part of the game and the Challenge does have a history of vote outs from its origin. I hate the way it’s formatted, but if the game is formatted in such a way, I have to account for it.
Being able to go through every challenge, double cross, elimination, and purge without getting eliminated is highly impressive.
Winners: Camila Nakagawa (4.65), Jordan Wiseley (4.40)
Vendettas Win Value: 2.05
Valuing Vendettas slightly higher than Fresh Meat 2 is what made sense. Both seasons had eight finalists with roughly the same total cast. Vendettas had mercenaries and purges, but it also had guy/girl elimination days which allowed players to sometimes coast. Vendettas is hard to quantify, especially the late game. It’s pretty lame that there’s only one winner, I think Zach deserved a win for this season as well.
Winners: Cara Maria Sorbello (4.40)
Final Reckoning Win Value: 3.0 (if never hit the Redemption House), 2.0 (hit Redemption House once, or Mercenary), 1.25 (hit Redemption House multiple times)
I hate Final Reckoning. The amount of Purges, Twists, and Redemption Houses resulted in the game becoming convoluted and thus tough to figure out how to value. Paulie and Natalie were eliminated THREE times and were rewarded for it. On Vendettas, Nelson was simply Purged out of the game without even being warned that last place would result in elimination for the daily challenge. It’s hard to reward a team who lost that many times. Meanwhile, Mercenaries were able to skip challenges, and while they had to win an elimination, it’s not a high barrier of entry considering they are “Mercenaries”.
Winners: Ashley Mitchell (4.0) Hunter Barfield (2.0)
War of the Worlds Win Value: 3.05
I think War of the Worlds is the most quality win in Challenge history as it had a massive cast of people (34), only 8 finals spots, and only 4 people could place in the final. The Tribunal was a hidden negative to the players because even though they were given safety on the day, they were nominating players and hurting their political game. Meanwhile, this was a game where you can always get called out and you can get nominated whenever. There were no floater teams because you would just get called out and even the dominant teams had shots taken at them.
The difference between War of the Worlds and the Duel is the fact that it was a paired season which turned individual where there was only one sole winner. Again, it’s bullshit a woman did not receive a win for this season as Ninja killed the final.
So now what? Here are the Top 10 Male and Female Winners ranked by total adjusted wins:
TOP 10 MALE WIN TOTALS:
1 Johnny Bananas 11.13
2 Darrell Taylor 5.55
3 Wes Bergmann 4.87
4 Landon Lueck 4.43
5 Jordan Wiseley 4.40
6 Evan Starkman 4.33
7 Chris Tamburello 4.12
8 Jamie Murray 3.98
9 Derrick Kosinki 3.58
9 Kenny Santucci 3.58
Johnny Bananas at a massive 11.13 wins (literally double 2nd place Darrell) will probably incense those who hate him. I mean, I carry a distaste for him as a human, however, the man is a damn good competitor and racked up multiple wins in difficult formats. He is the only player to win three partnered seasons and is a winner from an individual season.
Darrell in the two spot makes perfect sense. Wes finishing third makes sense, his wins always felt big despite him only being a 2x Champ. Landon’s total seems a bit low considering he’s one the more dominant players ever, although my system only accounted for the format’s difficulty and not any specific difficulties an individual might have taken on. His win with Carley was remarkable considering he eliminated Evelyn and beat Kenny/Laurel in a final with the last pick of the Fresh Meat draft. To me it’s the most impressive win ever, nonetheless I didn’t account for his feats as I focused on the game format itself. Jordan is the modern day Landon, and while he only he has 2 actual wins, he has played under tougher circumstances and the two being neck and neck is so perfectly apt.
TOP 10 FEMALE WIN TOTALS:
1 Camila Nakagawa 4.65
2 Rachel Robinson 4.5
3 Cara Maria Sorbello 4.40
4 Jodi Weatherton 4.33
5 Sarah Rice 4.25
6 Evelyn Smith 4.0
6 Ashley Mitchell 4.0
8 Paula Meronek 3.62
9 Veronica Portillo 3.6
10 Tori Hall 2.83
Camila and Rachel being the top two absolutely shocked me, then again, they are both winners from individual seasons. Considering how much value there was an individual based seasons, it’s no surprise to see five out of the top seven female winners ever are women who won Individual seasons.
Best Yields (3 seasons or more)
1 Jamie Murray 1.326
2 Landon Lueck 1.1075
3 Jordan Wiseley 1.10
4 Dan Setzler 0.883
4 Eric Nies 0.883
6 Tyler Duckworth 0.8125
7 Evan Starkman 0.7216
8 Theo Von 0.7125
9 Darrell Taylor 0.69375
10 Frank Sweeney 0.623
The Yield accounts for players adjusted win value divided by the amount of the seasons they have played. I only accounted for those who have played three seasons or more (Sorry Turbo). Despite Johnny leading total wins with a massive 11.13 wins, his Yield was not good enough to make the top 10 as he averages 0.618 wins per season, which is very impressive, just not top 10 material. Had he retired after Rivals 3, Bananas would have 11.13 wins in 13 seasons and a massive yield of 0.856. Having that big of a yield with the most total wins probably cements him as the GOAT statistically (of my fake number system). Similar to Albert Pujols, Bananas is ruining his legacy with each at bat he takes.
Jamie Murray with the highest yield makes perfect sense as he is 3 for 3 in actual wins. Meanwhile, Jordan and Landon continue to be neck and neck. Those are two quality candidates in terms of ranking all-time competitors, neither played a lot of seasons, yet the ones they did, they easily made their mark. Dan, Eric, and Theo as throwback names are fun to see on this list. Tyler Duckworth might be the most underrated competitor in Challenge history based on this experiment.
1 Jodi Weatherton 1.433
2 Tori Hall 0.9433
3 Ashley Mitchell 0.80
4 Susie Meister 0.6675
5 Kina Dean 0.666
6 Rachel Robinson 0.642
7 Emily Schromm 0.623
8 Evelyn Smith 0.571
9 Laurel Stucky 0.530
10 Cara Zavaleta 0.50
Jodi has one of the biggest wins in a Duel and only played three total seasons, she is a beast whose low amount of appearances gives her a great yield. Tori Hall making the top 10 adjusted win total and then having the second highest yield was a surprise. I’ve always thought Tori was underrated, but her being this high will definitely infuriate those who are Team Brad. Regardless, Tori is a great competitor. As Patrick Beverley once said: “Men Lie, Women Lie, Numbers Don’t”.
Ashley would be pulling a 1 win average if she had not shown up for Dirty 30 at all. Kina’s appearance on this list was another eye popping stat, except when it comes to Yield, those with a good win accompanied by a low amount of appearances can find a way to squeeze in.
I added an extra section for miscellaneous honorary wins. If you wanna go down that rabbit hole, go for it.
HONORARY WIN SECTIONS:
In this, I will allot “honorary” wins for finalist spots because the particular season had an added element of difficulty.
Battle of the Sexes 1 FEMALES 1.50 Wins
Winners: Ruthie Alcaide (1.5), Ellen Cho (1.5), Lori Trespicio (1.5)
Battle of the Sexes 2 FEMALES 1.50 Wins
Winners: Coral Smith (2.65), Arissa Hill (1.5), Sophia Pasquis (1.5)
Fresh Meat 1 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Kenny Santucci (4.83), Tina Barta (1.25)
Duel 1 2nd Place: 1.50 Wins
Winners: Brad Fiorenza (3), Svetlana Shusterman (1.5)
Duel 2 2nd Place: 1.50 Wins
Duel 2 3rd Place: 1.00 Wins
Winners: Brad Fiorenza (4.5), Mark Long (3.65), Brittini Sherrod (1.5), Aneesa Ferriera (1)
Fresh Meat 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Kenny Santucci (6.08), Laurel Stucky (3.90)
Exes 1 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Chris Tamburello (5.37), Diem Brown (1.25)
Battle of the Seasons (2012) 2nd Place: 1.00 Wins
Winners: Dustin Zito (1), Trishella Canatella (1)
Rivals 2 2nd Place: 1.00 Wins
Winners: Johnny Bananas (12.13), Frank Sweeney (2.87), Cara Maria Sorbello (5.4), Heather Cooke (1)
Free Agents 2nd Place: 1.40 Wins
Winners: Johnny Reilly (1.4), Nany Gonzalez (1.4)
Battle of the Exes 2 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Leroy Garrett (1.25), Theresa Gonzalez (1.25)
Bloodlines 2nd Place: 1.15 Wins
Winners: Cory Wharton (1.15), Mitch Reid (1.15)
Rivals 3 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Vince Gliatta (1.25), Jenna Compono (1.25)
Invasion 2nd Place Champ Wins: 1.33 2nd Place Underdog Wins: 1.25
Winners: Camila Nakagawa (5.98), Nelson Thomas (1.25)
Dirty 30 2nd Place: 1.50 wins if not Purged/Eliminated, 1.25 wins if Purged/Eliminated
Dirty 30 3rd Place: 1.00 wins if not Purged/Eliminated
Winners: Derrick Kosinski (5.18), Cara Maria Sorbello (6.65)
Vendettas Male 1st Place: 2.00 Wins
Vendettas Male/Female 2nd Place: 1.25 Wins
Winners: Zach Nichols (3.87), Kyle Christie (1.25), Kailah Casillas (1.25)
Final Reckoning 2nd Place: 1.50 Wins if not Purged/Eliminated, 1.25 Wins if so
Winners: Joss Mooney (1.5), Sylvia Elsrode (1.5)
WOTW Female 1st Place: 3.00 Wins
WOT Male/Female 2nd Place: 1.50 Wins
WOTW Male/Female 3rd: 1.00 Wins
Winners: Ninja Duran (3), Theo Campbell (1.5), Cara Maria Sorbello (8.15), Wes Bergmann (5.87), Mattie Lynn Breaux (1)
Honorary Top 10 Per Sex
1 Johnny Bananas 12.13
2 Kenny Santucci 6.08
3 Wes Bergmann 5.87
4 Darrell Taylor 5.55
5 Chris Tamburello 5.38
6 Derrick Kosinki 5.17
7 Brad Fiorenza 4.50
8 Landon Lueck 4.43
9 Jordan Wiseley 4.40
10 Evan Starkman 4.33
The biggest jump is Brad. He is a 1x actual champion, yet with honorary wins he has at 4.5 wins. He is a 2x Duel runner up and should be respected for that, unfortunately, his actual luck has not been great. Derrick and Kenny saw themselves get healthy bumps from their second place finishes in past seasons.
1 Cara Maria Sorbello 8.15
2 Camila Nakagawa 5.98
3 Rachel Robinson 4.50
4 Jodi Weatherton 4.33
5 Sarah Rice 4.25
6 Evelyn Smith 4.0
6 Ashley Mitchell 4.0
8 Laurel Stucky 3.90
9 Paula Meronek 3.62
10 Veronica Portillo 3.60
Cara has a massive lead in total wins when Honorary Wins are added because she is an 8x women’s finalists and has finished in second place five times now (if you include WOTW). She is the compiler of the group. Laurel is the one person who was outside of the top 10 who able to jump into it.