When we think of Challenge greats, a few names often pop into mind. Then, there are some people who have uniquely great stories that get lost over time. Perhaps Tyler Duckworth is one of the best examples in the later categories.
Tyler competed on four seasons: The Duel in 2006 and The Gauntlet 3 in 2007 (aired in 2008). He later returned on 2010’s Cutthroat and Rivals in 2011. It’s kind of funny to see how different his earlier two seasons were when we compare them to his later two seasons, and how much more successful he became.
If we simply look at The Duel and The Gauntlet 3, Tyler would be an entirely unremarkable competitor. He did defeat Bananas in a Duel, which would probably leave him out of a discussions for all-time worse competitors. However, his performance really wasn’t all that great.
Admittedly, Tyler was kind of interesting on The Duel. He competed against Bananas which really made no sense. He won, but it destroyed his Key West alliance. Then, he swung for the stars and challenged Derrick. This is when he went home, but it would have chipped away at the majority alliance and caused a break in their chain. That never happened, but it was a noble attempt. Then, The Gauntlet 3 was really a disaster. He was mocked by Bananas, lost in an early Gauntlet, and came on the show for a big party.
Fortunately, his story didn’t end here. Tyler’s return three years later would mark an incredible redemption story. When Tyler returned he has bulked up and was stronger than ever. He was always an athletic guy, but he struck me as the type of person who would have done better in the final than physical contact. On Cutthroat Tyler was ready for the physical competitions.
He was on the red team, and we able to integrate himself into the core of that alliance. As a result, he made it half way through the season without seeing elimination. When he did compete, he faced his nemesis Bananas (but really faced CT). While CT eliminated Bananas, I really think Tyler also would have defeated Bananas, just in a less embarrassing fashion. He also eliminated Derrick in Pole Me Over, proving he could compete in physical competition against some of the strongest players.
Tyler won Cutthroat and returned on Rivals, the next season, with Bananas. Again, he was prepared for more intense competitions and this time he was forced to work with Bananas. Prior to this season, Tyler called himself Bananas’s Kryptonite. Every time Tyler was on a season with Bananas, Johnny wouldn’t get to the end. As we know, Bananas and Tyler won Rivals together and broke this curse.
This was the end of Tyler’s run on The Challenge. He scored 2 out of 4 wins, which is actually incredibly impressive. Despite this, he really isn’t discussed as one of the best competitors on the show. He’s typically discussed as an antagonist in the Bananas story.
Cutthroat should be our strongest indicator that Tyler could be a great competitor on his own. Yes, Bananas was on that season, but their games didn’t really overlap until the elimination. Even then, CT drove a wedge in the storyline. Tyler was a great competitor in his own right and played an interesting game independent of Johnny.
Another big change in Tyler’s story relates to his status in the game. On The Duel people kind of admired his ambition to rise as an underdog who took out a top dog. On Cutthroat and Rivals, he was friends with all the big names. Paula, Jenn, Brad, and Kenny were running those games. Tyler was working with them and was actively opposing underdog teams. We can’t deny his alliance was pretty solid, but this is a reality show. People always like the underdog storylines and Tyler was removed from that position on his later seasons.
For this reason, many people view Tyler as somewhat unlikeable on the show. In hindsight, he really has one of the best redemption stories on the show. He took four seasons off and returned stronger and more socially savvy. He won back-to-back seasons and last time we saw him he was taking home the gold. He really was a capable competitor and could have won another season if he continued. It’s a shame he never returned, especially because he had some interest, but he leaves us with a great redemption story and proof that The Challenge is a place with you’re not defined by your first seasons or Real World persona.