After watching the first four episodes of The Challenge: All Stars on Paramount Plus, the 22 contestants who started this season have been reduced to 18. This feels like the perfect time to assess where these players stand for a couple of reasons. There have been two male and two female elimination rounds, so that’s provided a good amount of opportunity in the context of this 9-episode season to see what these veterans are made of. Furthermore, 18 divides perfectly by 3 to give us equal groups of 6 for contenders, dark horses, and the field. Since they are competing to become the sole winner of this season, I did not divide between men and women. So without further ado, here are my assessments of the remaining players!
Most of his screen time so far has been devoted to marveling at his athleticism, but when we see Alton interacting with other players, he clearly has good relationships with them. It’s clear we’ve gotten more of Gauntlet 2 Alton than the Battle of the Season version. That’s the version Alton needs to be to get his second Challenge win.
Considering he was one of the stronger players of the most recent main series season Total Madness, it’s no surprise he’s one of the top competitors among players who have mostly been out of the game for years. It doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed victory, just that he’s a safe person to bet on. He’s won every final he’s participated in, so as long as Darrell can make it there, he’s got a good chance.
One of the preseason favorites to win, it’s clear to see why. Derrick was relatively recently on Dirty 30 as a competitor and Vendettas as a “mercenary” who knocked front runner Joss out of the latter season. He’s been a consistent strong performer in these challenges and has friendships across the board. There’s almost a 0% chance anyone who finishes last in a challenge will campaign for the house to vote Derrick in against them for elimination.
If anyone is willing to make a power move to take out a big threat, it’s Jemmye. While she was seen as an average at best player in the main series, she is one of the strongest players athletically in this field. She also has the social bonds and knowledge of the game to make moves when she needs to. The question is will those moves come back to haunt her?
Another strong competitor whose last season was more recent than most in this cast, KellyAnne does what she does best: fly under the radar. I think she is one of the least likely players to see an elimination, and if she does, she has a good chance at winning. She performed admirably in the final on The Ruins where the odds were stacked against her and Sarah Rice, the lone survivors of the Challengers team. I would love to see what KellyAnne could do in a Solo Final.
If The Challenge cast past and present are the Avengers, he might give TJ Lavin a run for his money as Nick Fury. After all, Mark got the ball rolling to get this season started. Given his role in this project, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to send arguably the most connected player in the game into elimination. He also still clearly spends a lot of time in the gym, likely dunking on kids half his age in pickup basketball, so fitness isn’t an issue. Mark just has to not defeat himself, and he did kind of play with fire this last episode.
Her struggles in Total Madness and Double Agents, particularly in any challenge resembling a Final, have stirred many conversations among fans and players alike. While she is closer to a top tier competitor in this crew than the current generation of main series challengers, TJ is still not pulling punches with these challenges. Aneesa bossed the trivia competition and has a lot of connections to draw on, but has to be wary of her enemies like Ruthie.
The premiere of The Challenge All Stars was Jisela’s finest hour in any of her seasons. She was one of the biggest question marks going into this season, most people thinking she wasn’t an All Star. Her reputation may have been lacking, but so far Jisela has played like an All Star. Her confidence has not been misplaced and she’s done well in the challenges. Can she keep it up?
Unfortunately for Jonna, she has been one of the more underedited cast members. That does not bode well for her chances to win, but her role in this season is gradually increasing. Jonna is typically a middle of the road competitor so this feels like a good spot for her.
Beloved by the fans, Kendal isn’t experiencing that same reception from her competitors. Kendal clearly is one of the fittest players, and she is favored to win at least 80% of possible eliminations against the field. However, she nearly became the first player to experience two out of a possible two eliminations. Even for elite challenge players, if you get into enough eliminations, you could go home. It’s also clear other women don’t want to see her in a final, but if Kendal makes it, she has what it takes to win.
If you ask even some hardcore challenge fans to list as many former winners as possible, they are likely to either omit Nehemiah or list 30 players before him. Yes he benefited from being at the right place at the right time in Gauntlet 3 (on the opposite team of Big Easy), but he remains an underrated force in the Challenge. The field is still strong enough to relegate him to this tier, but he is capable of springing an upset.
An early star of this beloved franchise, Yes was another wildcard coming into this season. Clearly an intelligent and likeable guy, I wasn’t sure where he would rank athletically. He did fairly well in both the physical and mental portions of Deep Sea Dive, which shows promise should he reach the final. More data is needed, however.
Always a risk of being in an elimination, Beth has the heart and desire to win. I’m not sure if that heart and desire will be enough. One thing Beth has going for her is that for the first time in her Challenge career, she may have at least as many friends as enemies. Old rivals like Derrick and Aneesa don’t appear to be gunning for her. That could buy her some time provided she doesn’t get sent in by another challenge performance.
Eric “Big Easy” Banks
Having lost a lot of weight since his infamous performance in the Gauntlet 3 final, Big Easy still has that stigma of being a liability in a team setting. He hasn’t been awful in any of the challenges so far, but Jemmye has already talked about throwing him in because she doesn’t want to be partners with him. The cards are stacked against him from reaching a final let alone winning one, but good luck to anyone who stares him down in a Hall Brawl or other physical elimination.
Winning the first elimination over Ace was a big weight off the shoulders for Laterrian, but he’s relying on coaching from players like Syrus to be in the loop strategically. Physically, Laterrian is top tier. But as an all around player, I think he leaves some things to be desired. I wouldn’t mind him proving me wrong though.
If the final awarded the most entertaining player, Katie would be a front runner. She is a fierce and determined competitor, but there are significant holes in her game. Katie benefited from her friendship with Mark and Mark’s fixation on wanting to learn about the Life Saver this past episode to avoid elimination. She mentioned if she’s unable to complete a daily challenge, she’d take her chances in elimination. That “luxury” won’t help you in a final.
The main aspect that held Ruthie back from being a stronger competitor than she already is would be keeping her emotions in check. Aneesa knows how to push her buttons and Ruthie could see it coming a mile away, yet she overreacts to any assertions of paranoia. Ruthie will probably be thrown into elimination at some point, and there are some events that could spell doom despite her athleticism.
Admittedly, Syrus came into this game in good shape and with the right mindset to play the game. He somewhat stuck out like a sore thumb on the Champions team on The Ruins as the clear weak link, but he appears to be equals with most of this cast. However, I still have my doubts in Syrus’s ability to excel in a modern final. As far as getting there is concerned, he is in little danger of seeing elimination. There’s just too many roadblocks to win a final.
There’s still a lot of season left, so players have plenty of time to shift tiers. Furthermore, there are players in all three tiers that I’m rooting for! Regardless of where you stand, there’s also no escape for TJ heckling you if you screw up. I look forward to that, because you can’t have a good season without TJ enjoying himself and that certainly has been the case so far (minus Arissa’s quit).
Whatever the case may ultimately be, if Double Agents is any indicator, I’m confident whoever the winner will be will be deserving. Thank you for reading. Come back after episode 8 for my next Challenge article previewing the finale and reflecting on how right or wrong I was about these players. Follow me on Twitter @IvanOrnelas2 and Instagram @ivanthewriter95.