Since 1998, “Real World” and “Road Rules” alumni, as well as some lucky “Fresh Meat,” have been squaring off in “The Challenge.” The show has seen some true heroes, a few infamous villains and more than one tear-inducing underdog story, and though many have claimed they’re among the series’ greatest, we have to wonder after 24 seasons: Who’s the strongest of them all?
In honor of “Free Agents,” premiering this Thursday at 10/9c, we’re asking you to vote throughout the week on categories that will narrow down the game’s male and female MVPs, most intense fights, hottest hookups and more. Then, on May 29 at 11/10, MTV will reveal your picks on the “ChallengeMania: Super Fan Edition” special. Today, we’re kicking things off with the guys. Take a look at some of the competition’s fiercest warriors, and vote for who you think is the ultimate MVP! (Note: If you don’t see your top choice, check the “other” box and write your nomination in the comments.)
Stats: One win for nine tries, 3-2 in eliminations
Strengths: Physically, few trump CT. He has the ability to defeat most opponents as if they’re pesky flies.
Handicaps: Lately, CT’s had a bad habit of gassing out when it matters most (“Exes” finale, anyone?) and his need to stir up trouble hurts him strategically.
Stats: Four wins for nine tries, 3-3 in eliminations
Strengths: Batting nearly .500, JB’s a solid player on and off the field, and his more recent wins make him feared among his peers.
Handicaps: For every person that’s on Bananas’ side, there’s another competitor who loathes him. His cockiness hasn’t won him any popularity contests.
Stats: One win for two tries, 2-1 in eliminations
Strengths: Zach’s a tried-and-true athlete, and his size intimidates all who cross his path.
Handicaps: He has a tendency to lose his cool when his back’s against the wall, and his anxious play ultimately got him DQ’d on “Rivals II.”
Stats: One win for two tries, 1-0 in eliminations
Strengths: Frank’s a smart guy, and knows how to play his fellow Challengers like fiddles. His athleticism is nothing to sneeze at, either.
Handicaps: He hasn’t always used his wits for good, and his habit of hitting his cast mates below the belt during arguments has earned him some enemies.
Stats: Two wins for six tries, 0-1 in eliminations
Strengths: Having kicked off his “Challenge” adventure in 1999, Mark definitely knows how the game is played. He’s also a genuinely good guy, so people don’t usually want to send him home.
Handicaps: It’s admirable that Mark is still going strong in his 40s, but most of the folks he used to rely on for support have retired, and “Exes” proved he’s not always a sure thing for the finals.
Stats: One win for eight tries, 4-2 in eliminations
Strengths: People see Brad as a leader, and when he keeps his cool, he commands the battlefield.
Handicaps: …Brad doesn’t always keep his cool, and when he reaches his breaking point, he often snaps (see: his fight with Darrell on “The Ruins“).
Stats: Two wins for nine tries, 11-4 in eliminations
Strengths: Wes is a self-proclaimed political mastermind, and his chess-playing often leads to success. Plus, if he goes into an elimination, he usually comes out alive.
Handicaps: When Wes gets the sense that his political game isn’t working, he has a tendency to shut down. And, sadly, competitors usually relish any chance to send him home.
Stats: One win for four tries, 5-1 in eliminations
Strengths: Back in the day, Alton was a force to be reckoned with. He’s typically stood as an ideal balance of strength, smarts and calm.
Handicaps: “Battle of the Seasons” showcased a whole new side of Alton, and his combativeness and stubbornness got him quickly sent home.
Stats: Zero wins for three tries, 2-2 in eliminations
Strengths: Leroy’s a good guy, and the fact that the ladies usually take a liking to him frequently helps his game. Plus: HE’S HUGE.
Handicaps: While athletic, Leroy’s not quite as cutthroat as his peers, and though he made it to the finals during his first “Challenge” outing, he’s yet to repeat his performance.
Stats: Zero wins for two tries, 2-0 in eliminations
Strengths: Dustin has the heart to win, and the fact that he and Trishelle survived “Battle of the Seasons” in spite of their fighting speaks to his conviction.
Handicaps: He’s a bit injury-prone, and though he’s proven he can make it to the finals, he’s still a little green.
Photos: Ian Spanier, Rene Cervantes, Piotr Sikora