I do not claim to be a superfan of The Challenge to the extent I am for Survivor, although I’ve come to love this show in the short time I’ve watched it. To be honest, the first season I watched live was Total Madness. Between Total Madness and Double Agents, I binged every season from 11–34 on CBS All Access/Paramount Plus (except 14, the lost season) and then I watched the Inferno II as well once it arrived on Netflix. Based on all of that, I’m excited about almost everyone that they’ve brought back for this season for whom I’ve seen their seasons before.
That is why it was tough narrowing it down to just five players I’m excited to see again, so here are some Honorable Mentions:
You need drama starters in any season of the Challenge no matter how old the players are. The original Agatha from WandaVision, Beth will be stirring up the pot early and often and I’m here for it. Even if she’s only here for a good time and not a long time, those few episodes will be worth watching.
Eric “Big Easy” Banks
Someone who divides opinion among his peers and fans (largely because of his collapse in the Gauntlet III final), I’ve almost always enjoyed Big Easy throughout his seasons. He provided a different perspective and a body type while showcasing his strengths as well as his weaknesses. He’s lost some weight in his latter seasons and recent years, so hopefully he’s coming back to this season stronger.
For much of Jonna’s challenge career, her story had been more about her relationships with other players such as Jasmine Reynaud and Zach Nichols than her own journey. From what we did see from her, she’s an underrated competitor and someone worth rooting for. She’s also one of those undoubtedly funny confessional givers.
Another player who experienced many ups and downs in their challenge career. From being one of two survivors on the decimated Challengers team alongside Sarah Rice in the Ruins to her conflict with Aneesa, KellyAnne is a real individual who adds to every season she’s on. Many of those seasons she was one of the strongest women, so I expect her to be competitive this time around too.
Aneesa Ferreira and Darrell Taylor
These are two players virtually every fan of the challenge likes to some extent and for good reasons. Aneesa and Darrell each accomplished a lot over the years on this show and they are among the best confessional givers. However, they miss out on the list proper because we’ve seen them both on this recent season. Regardless, they remain entertaining players and I look forward to seeing them interact with some of their old frenemies.
#5: Syrus Yarbrough
Syrus is a hilarious guy who didn’t have the body type of a typical challenge competitor, but still gave it his all in every challenge. Even in defeat, I’ll never forget his matchup in Beach Brawl against Derrick in Gauntlet 2. I look forward to hearing his quirky assessments of his competition and see what he’s still got in the tank. You can always rely on Syrus to keep it real.
4. Ruthie Alcaide
Ruthie is a warrior who is strong willed and has heart in spades, which are qualities we love on the challenge. She was a Team Captain on Gauntlet 2 which Derrick can attest to was a difficult role. Ruthie’s athleticism makes her a top tier competitor in this field and it’s been so long since her last appearance on Duel 2. Based on how well she competed that season, I thought she would’ve been in at least a few more before riding off into the sunset. I look forward to seeing her compete again, and she’s one of the safer bets to reach the final if her social game is on point.
#3: Katie Cooley (née Doyle)
Katie is a firecracker who doesn’t back down from anyone. One of the physically smaller competitors this season, Amber Martinez reminded me of Katie in her willingness to speak her mind and defend herself even when others went out of their way to disrespect her. Katie paved the way for those women to find their voice in the house. She feared no person in this game and that fearlessness will be much appreciated this season.
#2: Derrick Kosinski
A true challenge legend as a competitor and a personality, Derrick is a prime example of someone we’ve seen grow up through The Challenge. From talking himself into the Gauntlet in Gauntlet 2 to becoming a father in his later seasons, a few things remained constant: his determination to win, his heart, and his genuineness. His last appearance was an iconic elimination against Joss Mooney as a mercenary. Derrick is my pick to win this season.
#1: Mark Long
Championing this idea of an “OG season”, Mark is a beloved figure among everyone involved in the challenge players, production, and fans alike. Even in the heat of competition, Mark was almost always a level head and a mentor for his fellow competitors. He only faced one elimination in his entire challenge career, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he kept that record intact even in this season which we assume has a modernized format. He still looks like he’s in phenomenal shape and I know he’ll bring it!
Who are you most excited to see on The Challenge: All Stars? Leave a comment here or let me know on Twitter @IvanOrnelas2 and Instagram @ivanthewriter95. This season premiers on April 1st on Paramount Plus.