The Challenge

10 Most Underrated Challenge Champions

Put some respect on these names.

The Challenge has a long list of Champions, and many of them are highly celebrated. But some competitors get more recognition than others, and there are some successes that are often overlooked.

These competitors are part of the winners’ club, and though some performances are discussed less frequently, that doesn’t make them less unremarkable. That’s not to say these are the best final performances, but they’re definitely not the worst, and they don’t get the recognition they deserve.

To be clear, these are individual appearances in finals. So someone like CT won’t be assessed as the sum of his 5 victories. Rather, we’ll look at all of them individually.

10. Tyler Duckworth (Cutthroat)

Tyler Dunbar

A lot of people point to Tyler on Cutthroat and think one of two things: He technically won the CT/Bananas elimination or the fact that he was a bit heavier. But here’s the thing, his size was an asset, and didn’t slow him down in the final. In fact, his spur-of-the-moment Russian knowledge helped his team win, but his performances in Gulags might be his biggest contribution. Imagine a blue team with Derrick and/or Bananas on it. They would have had a much better shot at beating the red team.

9. Veronica Portillo (The Gauntlet)

Watching The Gauntlet and The Inferno, Veronica comes across as a sneaky and fairly ruthless competitor. While these claims aren’t without merits, she was also a solid competitor who was vulnerable at times. If Sarah or Cara weren’t going into The Gauntlet, she’d be next in the pecking order, and she was on the verge of going into the final elimination. But here’s the thing about Veronica: When her back is against the wall, she manages to pull a rabbit out of a hat. She won the Dukes of Saturn mission, making her the only girl to win two lifeshields, and saved herself from going into that last Gauntlet. So, she got to the final and crossed the finish line with her team.

8. Jenny West (Total Madness)

Jenny West

To be honest, it feels like Jenny is overlooked in this final because it’s the one where Johnny got his seventh victory. But she played this game flawlessly. She actually beat Johnny and would have been the solo winner (if there was only one winner that season). And what did that do for her? It made her the biggest threat we’ve never seen again.

7. Derrick Kosinski (The Ruins)

During the peak of the Johnny/Evan/Kenny alliance, Derrick’s significance to the group shouldn’t be understated. He made it to the end of the game, which isn’t super surprising, but the fact that the team was willing to jeopardize Johnny before Derrick speaks volumes to his importance on the team. His performance in the final was fine, but the fact that he got there with such ease is the remarkable part.

6. Landon Lueck (Fresh Meat 2)

Landon Fresh Meat FM2

Many people give Landon props for his victory this season, but this still seems to understate just how impressive his feat was. Carley was the last girl picked in the draft, and while the duo did win a couple of daily challenges this season, the team nearly lost in a Black Out Exile. This made it look like Carley would gas out in a long final, and it was obviously a concern for Landon. Yet Landon kept his composure and relied on his biking skills to coach her. The team won, and while Carley remains fairly forgotten in Challenge history, some people point to this final as a reason to call Landon the GOAT.

5. Aviv Melmed (Fresh Meat)

Aviv

It’s weird to look back at Fresh Meat, because so much of this show really comes down to the puzzles. Throughout the season, Aviv was a solid competitor, and she won in the end. Yet most people praise Darrell for his fourth consecutive Challenge victory. This is true (and impressive), but we shouldn’t discount Aviv, who solved the puzzles quickly and displayed great endurance.

4. Amber Borzotra (Double Agents)

People slept on Amber during the beginning of Double Agents, which is understandable because she got approximately 2 confessionals in the first 8 episodes. And she didn’t have the most challenging road to the final, but a lot of that can be attributed to the skull twist. If we look at the final alone, Amber gave it her all. She ran her ass off and ate anything production gave her. A lot of people will attribute her victory to CT, but don’t forget, she earned CT as a partner after the Decryption checkpoint. Apparently, the gap between first place and second place was pretty big this season, so it’s clear Amber was prepared to go the distance and then some.

3. Jordan Wiseley (War of the Worlds 2)

I hate to inflate Jordan’s ego more, but his performance this season was seriously impressive. He used the turncoat twist to join Team UK, and turned them from a failing team to respectable competitors. By the time he was in the final, after winning a tug-of-war elimination, he was able to sustain a serious lead on Team USA and secure his third win. But by this point, no one was surprised to see that he’s good in finals.

2. Ashley Mitchell (Invasion of the Champions)

By this point, Millionaire Mitchell is mostly remembered for her victory on Final Reckoning, but her performance in the Invasion final proved how well-rounded she was. The other girls were struggling with the puzzles, to the point where Nicole wasted time having production explain the answers and Camila threw a fit over Cory. But these were the instances where Ashley was at her best, breezing through and making up time. She also proved she has endurance (literally) for days, winning this three-day final.

1. Jamie Banks (Battle of the Bloodlines)

While most people celebrate Cara’s win this season, Jamie did a lot of the work to make that win possible. While Cara was crying about the beer, he was chugging it down. While everyone else was gagging on the food, he cleared his plates and was ready for dessert. Then, he solved the final puzzle at the end of the competition. Knowing that his team was in second place going into day 2, it’s hard to believe Cara would have won without the time Jamie gave the team.

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