Type keyword(s) to search

Features

Who's Got the Edge on The Challenge: All-Stars 3?

It's an all-finalists season, which means more recent players and very few easy outs.
  • The Challenge: All-Stars  returns to Paramount+ for its third season Wednesday, May 11.
    The Challenge: All-Stars returns to Paramount+ for its third season Wednesday, May 11.

    Paramount+ appears to be striking while the iron is hot with its nostalgia properties, delivering its third season of The Challenge: All-Stars in the span of just 13 months. As The Challenge itself has branched off in more wide-ranging directions in recent years, casting from other reality shows, All-Stars has gone back to basics and cast original Real World and Road Rules alums only. The first two seasons had a kind of old-timers' game aesthetic, with competitors who hadn't been on the show in many years returning to see if their old bodies could take being put through the ringer of a modern challenge. MTV can't seem to help itself, though, and with the third season, we're seeing many of the old-timers shuffled out and more of The Challenge's more recent (and younger) players shuffled in. Which is why this third season will feature players like Jordan and Wes and Kailah who haven't competed in… three-ish years?

    The gimmick this season is that the show has only invited back players who have competed in a "final," which in this case is being interpreted as "were you there for the final stage of any season you competed on?" This has led to casting almost entirely major contenders with very few "layups" (the show's preferred term for easily bested competitors). So who's got the edge in this cast of all killers, no (or very few) fillers? We've broken down the cast by their impressive resumes to see who's got the best shot.

    Brad Fiorenza

    Original Season: The Real World: San Diego (2004)

    Challenge Seasons: Eleven (11), starting with Battle of the Sexes 2 (2004) and most recently The Challenge: All-Stars 2 (2021)

    Finals Appearances: After runner-up finishes on The Duel, The Gauntlet III, and The Duel II, Brad won Cutthroat.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Brad lost a tough elimination battle to Darrell last season but in general seems fired up enough to make it to the end here, so long as he doesn't end up on the wrong side of an alliance.

    Cynthia Roberts

    Original Season: The Real World: Miami (1996)

    Challenge Seasons: Two (2), starting with the very first Road Rules: All-Stars season (1998), and ending with Battle of the Sexes 2 (2004).

    Finals Appearances: Since no one was eliminated on Road Rules: All-Stars, Cynthia was technically a finalist there.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Cynthia's been out of the game the longest of pretty much anyone else on this season, and she was never particularly athletic or competitive the few times she was on the show. She'll be a huge rooting interest for people who cherish old-school Real World, but it's hard to envision her lasting all that long.

    Darrell Taylor

    Original Season: Road Rules: Campus Crawl (2002)

    Challenge Seasons: Eleven (11), starting with The Gauntlet (2003) up through All-Stars II (2021).

    Finals Appearances: Darrell famously won the first four Challenges he appeared on, and seemed poised to win his fifth in The Ruins until he was disqualified for punching the holy hell out of Brad in a drunken fight that Brad started. The mystique faded a bit as he hopped back on for later seasons, but he's been a finalist in both seasons of The Challenge: All-Stars.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: There's no reason to think Darrell won't be a major contender once again, though with sneakier, more politically savvy players like Wes and Jordan playing this season, ywe may see some scheming to get Darrell thrown into an elimination early.

    Derrick Kosinski

    Original Season: Road Rules: X-Treme

    Challenge Seasons: Twelve (12), starting with Battle of the Sexes 2 (2004), up through The Challenge: All Stars II (2021)

    Finals Appearances: Derrick was riding the "best to never win" narrative for a while, but he racked up three wins with Inferno 3, The Island, and The Ruins, in addition to landing in the finals on Inferno 2, Dirty 30, and The Challenge: All-Stars I.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Derrick's Challenge performances have been unpredictable. He's incredibly tough, but his game can verge on erratic. He fares best when he can nestle himself into a majority alliance and dominate from there. He fares worst when he breaks off into personal rivalries, like he did last season with Nehemiah.

    Jemmye Carroll

    Original Season: The Real World: New Orleans (2010)

    Challenge Seasons: Eight (8), starting with Battle of the Seasons 2 in 2012 and most recently with the first Challenge: All Stars in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Jemmye was a finalist twice, in Rivals II, paired with Camilla, and in the first Challenge All-Stars.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Making the finals two seasons ago bodes well for Jemmye, as does the fact that this season has a lot more schemers on board, since that's how she tends to operate on the show. Jemmye is a shit-stirrer, and there's a lot of shit to be stirred with this cast.

    Jonna Mannion

    Original Season: The Real World: Cancun (2009)

    Challenge Seasons: Seven (7), beginning with Rivals in 2011, up through The Challenge: All-Stars II in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Jonna was never much of a threat to win in her original run on the show, but she's been a force in the All-Stars seasons, finishing strong as a finalist the first time around and winning All-Stars II with MJ.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: There's no reason to think Jonna won't once again be one of the strongest players in this cast, even if her status as defending champion — and one who played politics well enough that she never saw an elimination round before the finals — will have a target on her back from minute one.

    Jordan Wisely

    Original Season: The Real World: Portland (2013)

    Challenge Seasons: Six (6), starting with Rivals II (2013) and most recently in Total Madness in 2020.

    Finals Appearances: Jordan has only failed to make the finals twice in six attempts, winning in Battle of the Exes II, Dirty 30, and War of the Worlds 2

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Jordan's one of the consistently most successful Challenge players in history, and he's also one of the youngest cast members this season. His achilles heel tends to be how easily he pisses people off, which could get him voted into elimination if the numbers align against him, but he's otherwise a heavy favorite to win.

    Kailah Casillas

    Original Season: Real World: Go Big or Go Home (2016)

    Challenge Seasons: Five (5), starting with Invasion of the Champions in 2017, up through Total Madness in 2020.

    Finals Appearances: Kailah's only appearance in a final came in Vendettas, where she finished second to Cara Maria.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Kailah tends to make enemies easily on these shows, and since she isn't sufficiently intimidating as a competitor, that's added up to more early exits than finals appearances. She's definitely one of the youngest competitors here, though, which ought to give her some kind of edge.

    Kellyanne Judd

    Original Season: The Real World: Sydney (2007)

    Challenge Seasons: Five (5), starting with The Island in 2008, up through All-Stars I in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Kellyanne has finished as a runner-up on two Challenges: The Ruins, where she and Sarah Rice were the last women standing on their team, and All-Stars I, where she and Jonna tied for third place.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Kellyanne has always been more entertaining than competitive on these shows, but her All-Stars 1 showing makes her impossible to overlook among this group.

    Kendal Darnell

    Original Season: Road Rules: Campus Crawl (2002)

    Challenge Seasons: Three (3), starting with The Inferno in 2004, up through the two All-Stars seasons in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Kendal won her only season of the original The Challenge, on the winning Road Rules team in The Inferno.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: While Kendal proved herself to be a tougher contender than she initially appeared to be in All-Stars I, she hasn't made the finals in either of her two seasons. With the talent level of the cast taking a sharp upswing this season, Kendal could find herself in dangerous waters sooner than she's been used to.

    Laterrian Wallace

    Original Season: Road Rules: Maximum Velocity Tour (2000)

    Challenge Seasons: Five (5), starting with Real World/Road Rules Extreme Challenge in 2001 and up through both All-Stars seasons in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Laterrian's only appearance in a "final" was on Extreme Challenge, which was from before The Challenge became an elimination competition, so a runner-up finish was also a dead-last finish.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Laterrian has always seemed like he would be much better at this show than his results have shown him to be. He's tough, athletic, and seems to be fairly popular among his castmates. And yet he's only barely qualified to be on this season of all-finalists. How ironic would it be if this was the season where Laterrian ascended to the top?

    Mark Long

    Original Season: Road Rules Season 1 (1995)

    Challenge Seasons: Seven (7), starting with the very first Real World/Road Rules Challenge in 1999, up through the first All-Stars season in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Mark has a pretty stellar Challenge record, having won twice (the first Challenge and Battle of the Sexes) and been a finalist three more times (Gauntlet 2, Duel II, and All-Stars I).

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: When All-Stars was first announced, it seemed like it was setting up Mark — the oldest of old-schoolers — to have one last ride of glory. But he couldn't hack it in the finals, and then he was absent (possibly training?) for All-Stars 2. Mark seems to want it more than almost anyone else on the show, and he's jacked to holy hell, especially for a man of his advanced age. He's gonna have to best a lot of younger bucks to get to another final, but he's certainly formidable enough to do so.

    Melinda Collins

    Original Season: The Real World: Austin (2005)

    Challenge Seasons: Five (5), starting with Fresh Meat in 2006, through last year's All-Stars 2.

    Finals Appearances: After having never been much of a factor in her previous Challenge seasons, Melinda finished a strong runner-up in All-Stars II.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: You'd have never guessed that Melinda would have come into All-Stars 2 with the determination she did, and it took her almost all the way to the finish line. That's promising for her prospects in All-Stars 2, although much will depend on how much her close alliance with Nehemiah will benefit from the presence of their Real World: Austin castmate Wes.

    MJ Garrett

    Original Season: The Real World: Philadelphia (2004)

    Challenge Seasons: Four (4), starting with Gauntlet 2 in 2005, up through All-Stars 2 last year.

    Finals Appearances: MJ won his first ever Challenge on the Rookies team that won Gauntlet 2, and then he won All-Stars 2 last year paired with Jonna.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Defending champion is a nice perch to be on, but MJ is going to be a much bigger target now, especially with the influx of more recent Challenge vets like Wes and Jordan who have no alliance with him.

    Nehemiah Clark

    Original Season: The Real World: Austin (2005)

    Challenge Seasons: Six (6), from The Duel through the most recent All-Stars in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Nehemiah was part of the winning squad in Gauntlet 3 that won while Big Easy was nearly dying on the course. His only other appearance in a final came last year, when he and Melinda made it all the way to third place.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: As ever, Nehemiah's determination to win is only equalled by his tendency to make enemies of the dominant alliance. The big consideration is whether his Austin pal Wes will end up aligning with him.

    Nia Moore

    Original Season: The Real World: Portland (2013)

    Challenge Seasons: Two (2): Free Agents in 2014 and Battle of the Exes II in 2015.

    Finals Appearances: Put a big ol' asterisk next to Nia's name, since she only counts as a finalist in Exes II if you ignore the fact that after she qualified for the finals, she was disqualified before competing in them because she touched Jordan inappropriately.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Nia is forever a wild card, not so much because of her athletic prowess but because you never know when she's going to pop off and do something rule-breaking to get herself disqualified. One supposes there's the hope that she's mellowed out with age, but she's only been away from the show for seven years, that's not exactly a life-changing hiatus.

    Roni Martin

    Original Season: Road Rules: Northern Trail (1998)

    Challenge Seasons: Two (2) seasons: the original Real World/Road Rules Challenge in 1999 and the first season of The Gauntlet in 2003.

    Finals Appearances: Roni is a perfect two-for-two, having won both team-based seasons she's competed on.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Roni is the All-Star in this cast who's been away from the show the longest, which tends to spell trouble in a game that is dependent on past relationships to succeed. She's got a small handful of teammates from her original seasons, including Mark, Darrell, and Veronica, but those boys tend to be mercenaries out there, and you trust in Veronica's loyalty at your own peril.

    Sylvia Elsrode

    Original Season: Real World: Skeletons (2014)

    Challenge Seasons: Three (3), from Invasion of the Champions (2017) through FInal Reckoning (2018).

    Finals Appearances: Sylvia was an early exit in her first two Challenges, before getting paired up with Joss in Final Reckoning and finishing mere minutes behind the winners that year.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: She's one of the younger cast members and is one of the more recent finalists, but her personality tends to put her into conflict with others, so we could see a wide variety of outcomes for Sylvia.

    Syrus Yarbrough

    Original Season: The Real World: Boston (1997)

    Challenge Seasons: Six (6), starting with the Extreme Challenge in 2001, up through All-Stars 1 in 2021.

    Finals Appearances: Syrus was on the winning Real World squad in the Extreme Challenge (where he was on a team with, among others, Jamie and Julie from Real World: New Orleans, if you want a sense of how old everybody is). Hey made one other final after that, on The Inferno.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Syrus is definitely the elder statesman on the male side of the cast, though he showed a fiery determination in All-Stars 1 that makes him hard to root against. He's up against a whole lot of younger dudes this time, though.

    Tina Bridges

    Original Season: Road Rules: South Pacific (2003)

    Challenge Seasons: Six (6), starting with The Gauntlet in 2003 up through All-Stars 2 last year.

    Finals Appearances: Tina has never won a Challenge,but she made the finals in Inferno II and Fresh Meat.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Tina was expected to be a major force last season, which made the fact that she basically forfeited in the arena against Melinda all the more surprising. This season she'll have an old ally around in Veronica, but that won't be enough to keep her out of elimination rounds. If she's going to win, she's going to have to want it and earn it.

    Tyler Duckworth

    Original Season: The Real World: Key West (2006)

    Challenge Seasons: Five (5), starting with The Duel in 2006, through All-Stars 2 last year.

    Finals Appearances: Tyler is a two-time Challenge winner from Cutthroat and Rivals, the latter of which teamed him with Johnny Bananas.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Tyler has always prided himself on his social game, but just as often that's led to early exits, as it did last season. He's a strong enough competitor to hang in with these guys, but he's going to have to get good and solid with an alliance to persevere.

    Veronica Portillo

    Original Season: Road Rules: Semester at Sea (1999)

    Challenge Seasons: Eleven (11), starting with Challenge 2000 in, duh, 2000, up through Final Reckoning in 2018.

    Finals Appearances: Veronica is a three-time winner for Challenge 2000, The Gauntlet, and The Inferno, along with a runner-up for Inferno II.

    How She Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: After some early Challenges where she got snaked by better political maneuverers (specifically Emily), Veronica mastered the political game herself and kept herself safely ensconced in majority alliances. She doesn't have too many of those old allies around anymore, and there's maybe a reason that she hasn't wanted to come back for All-Stars in its first two seasons. We'll see how messily she's willing to play this time.

    Wes Bergmann

    Original Season: The Real World: Austin (2005)

    Challenge Seasons: Fourteen (14), starting with Fresh Meat in 2006 through Double Agents in 2020.

    Finals Appearances: Wes is a two-time winner, triumphing solo in The Duel and paired with CT in Rivals II. He's also finished as a finalist three other times: Fresh Meat, Rivals, and War of the Worlds.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Wes's last few Challenges saw him maybe fading a bit in the face of younger and hungrier (and more international) challengers, but now he's back in far more familiar environs, with old acquaintances he can manipulate and older competitors he can still bully in the competitions. As ever, Wes's Achilles heel is the fact that he plays the villain so unabashedly that people want to topple him.

    Yes Duffy

    Original Season: Road Rules: Semester at Sea (1999)

    Challenge Seasons: Four (4), starting with Challenge 2000 and most recently with All-Stars 2 last year.

    Finals Appearances: Yes has emerged as the winner in two of the four Challenges in which he's competed, most recently in the first All-Stars, where he showed up Dad Strong and bested the heavily favored Darrell in the finals.

    How He Stacks Up in All-Stars 3: Yes's All Stars 1 triumph was one of the more impressive feats ever shown on this series, and it makes him a strong contender here. Even given the fact that he won't be in the more recent-player alliances, Yes also feels like a surprisingly low-priority target for someone who just won recently. He might be able to fly under the radar just enough to make it to another final, at which point, who knows?

    The Challenge: All Stars returns to Paramount+ for its third season on Wednesday, May 11.

    People are talking about The Challenge: All Stars in our forums. Join the conversation.

    Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: The Challenge: All Stars, Paramount+, The Challenge