Twelve people enter the final. One person will win. Which competitors stand the best chance of taking home $500,000? And who is lucky to just be there for the ride?
Here, I will take a look at all the competitors and determine who has the skills required to win. Of course, we don’t know what the final entails. We’ve seen some details in the trailer: running, kayaking, biking, and a puzzle. However, we don’t know the full extent of the race. So, individuals who have excelled in other areas will be given recognition.
As we’ve learned from seasons like Vendettas, the oddball skills can make or break you. While being a fast runner can advance you closer to the big check, a puzzle could cost you half a million in the end. This will be heavily factored into my consideration. You need to get to the last stage of the final, but you also need to be able to complete it quickly.
12. Jisela Delgado
Prior appearances in the final: None
At the start of the season, Jisela displayed tremendous heart. Swimming might be her strong point, but she hasn’t had the same intensity in later competitions. Her puzzle abilities are probably fairly strong, but her speed and stamina are going to be weaker points. However, her biggest deterrent is her knee injury she sustained during eliminations. Hopefully it was just the shock of the fall, but knee problems has serious potential to ruin a race.
11. Jonna Mannion
Prior appearances in the final: None
The biggest wildcard going into the final, Jonna admits she’s played an under-the-radar game. While this has gotten people to the final, it has always seemed to be her strategy. In the past, it never got her to a final and certainly didn’t win any seasons. Jonna probably isn’t the best swimmer, and she probably isn’t the fastest. However, she’s also the type of person with a lot of heart. I’d be surprised to see her quit, but even more surprised to see her win.
10. Eric “Big Easy” Banks
Prior appearances in the final: The Gauntlet 3
After watching him win elimination and slay a puzzle, there’s a part of me that thinks Eric might have more abilities than we anticipate. However, he still goes into this game as an underdog. He struggled in the Connect em All mission which TJ called the mini-final. The Gauntlet 3 will haunt him until he wins a season, and right now I still hesitate to call him final-ready.
9. Aneesa Ferreira
Prior appearances in the final: The Gauntlet 3, The Duel 2
Season after season, we see Aneesa talk about being underestimated. However, this is her first final in a decade and she isn’t showing any more promise than she did on Duel 2. Aneesa is the type of person who gives short bursts of extreme intensity. This allows her to win eliminations, but it also jeopardizes her in a final. Her biggest chance of winning would be slaying checkpoints while opponents struggle. This would allow her to make up the time she’ll inevitably lose when she slows down.
8. Jemmye Carroll
Prior appearances in the final: Rivals 2
Jemmye’s biggest strength in this game was her political prowess. While she did exceptionally well in this capacity, she’s also a middle-of-the-road competitor. I don’t see her quitting the final easily, but I also don’t see a whole lot of opportunities for her to pass people. With the right partner, she’d excel. In an individual game, it’s going to be hard for her to win. But, if there is a loophole she’ll be the one to find it.
7. Yes Duffy
Prior appearances in the final: Challenge 2000
Finals won: Challenge 2000
This season, Yes has been the dark horse. We know he’s great at math and he’s pretty good at puzzles. This will help in a final, but he’s also not the fastest person in the game. His performance in Connect Em All left a lot to be desired, and he never competed in anything close to a modern final. Perhaps Yes is going to channel some inner strength I didn’t know he possessed, but most likely he will fall in the middle of the pact.
6. Ruthie Alcaide
Prior appearances in the final: Battle of the Sexes
Ruthie is always a lovable underdog and she’s the type of person you want to see excel. Despite this, she does have some limitations. Her smaller size makes it hard for her to compete with bigger competitors. We see this on the Rib Cage Pass challenge, and we’ve seen it on prior seasons. Don’t underestimate Ruthie too much. She always finds crafty ways to outsmart competitors. Still, I think there are other competitors who might outperform her.
5. Alton Williams
Prior appearances in the final: The Gauntlet, The Gauntlet 2, The Inferno 3
Finals won: The Gauntlet 2
There was a time when Alton would have been at the top of this list. This season, he’s always fallen somewhere in the middle. We know he has unique talents such as climbing, but his performance in Connect Em All left a lot to be desired. There’s a possibility Alton might struggle in the final, but there’s a greater chance he’s been hiding the fire all season. He’s the type that loves a competition, and this might be the type of environment that reignites the old Alton. Hiking, kayaking, and biking all seem like the types of activities Alton should love.
4. Derrick Kosinski
Prior appearances in the final: The Inferno 2, The Inferno 3, The Island, The Ruins, Dirty Thirty
Finals Won: The Inferno 3, The Island, The Ruins
Derrick enters competitions with a great level of intensity. He trains regularly, and the endurance required to win should not be an issue for him. However, he’s never been a puzzle master or math wiz. This season he’s shown definite signs of improvement, but he’s also not the best. If this final were like the Vendettas final, I could see him finishing stage one in first place then losing it all in a silly puzzle.
3. Kellyanne Judd
Prior appearances in the final: The Ruins
On the woman’s side, Kellyanne seems to be an understated beast. We finally saw her shine on the Rib Cage Pass challenge, but she’s usually really close to first place for the ladies. With Kendal out of the game, she seems to be on top. Kellyanne is a yoga lover and trains frequently. The endurance shouldn’t be an issue, and she seems to approach mental challenges with a good amount of clarity. This might be what she needs to kill the checkpoints and take home a win.
2. Darrell Taylor
Prior appearances in the final: The Gauntlet, The Inferno, The Inferno 2, Fresh Meat, Champs vs. Pros
Finals won: The Gauntlet, The Inferno, The Inferno 2, Fresh Meat, Champs vs. Pros
Darrell isn’t doing every Challenge season nowadays, but he still has a drive to win. While puzzles might be his weakness, he’s not the worst at them. He also knows how to push himself when necessary and when to take it easy. It’s hard to undersell a guy who has won every final he’s ever been in. If he doesn’t win this time around, it would be his first loss in a final.
- Mark Long
Prior appearances in the final: Real World/ Road Rules Challenge, Battle of the Sexes, The Gauntlet 2, The Duel 2
Finals Won: Real World/ Road Rules Challenge, Battle of the Sexes
There would be something serendipitous about Mark winning the season he worked so hard to organize. Just look at him, he’s in great shape. Even though he’s nearly 50 years old, it seems he adds a pound of muscle each year. We know he’s a competitor, and he’s riding high off of his Rib Cage Pass win. If something prevents him from winning, it will be a puzzle. As we know from the past, that won’t slow him down too much. He’ll find a way to get through a checkpoint, even if it means copying someone else’s work. Mark’s a nice guy, but his sneaky side comes out when he needs it. This might be all that’s needed to turn him into a 3-time champ.