In a surprising twist, TJ shook up the game and deactivated all partnerships. Now, we have three big teams. This gives the season a new dynamic, but was it the right move for this season?
We haven’t seen a Challenge with a three-team format since 2010’s Cutthroat. Many people have asked for a sequel to Cutthroat or for the 3-team format to come back. So, it is refreshing to see a format we haven’t seen in a long time reemerge on the show. We also saw the teams form in a semi-random pattern again.
It’s great to see production trying something new, but it doesn’t seem to fit the format of this season. This season will have two winners: one male and one female. The inclusion of teams doesn’t serve much purpose in reaching that goal.
Most likely, this format was implemented to give rookies a fighting chance. With the change into a three-team format, we saw a couple other transitions. Firstly, the entire winning team has immunity. This means rookies are far more likely to survive another week. We also see the competitor in The Lair call out his or her opponent. So, gutsy competitors like Priscilla can force veterans to compete.
While The Challenge has always been unkind to newbies, this season has been particularly hard. Production likely saw a scenario where all of the rookies could be forced out of the competition because the veterans have been mostly united. At least a team format would need to factor veterans into the equation. Veterans will need to hesitate before sending rookies into elimination because they’ll fear for their safety.
While it’s good to see a change in production’s direction, it comes as a result of a predictable season. Had Cory and Bettina been able to pick their own partners after winning, Cory would have taken Kaycee and Bettina would have taken CT. This would have forced Emanuel and Emy to be a team and allow the rookie/rookie teams to get picked off.
Hopefully, this serves as a lesson for future seasons that are over-saturated with rookies. They’re trying to make changes, but it seems to be too little too late.