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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Caroline Darney

The Challenge’s new format for Battle for a New Champion is weird but intriguing

MTV’s long-running series, The Challenge, is back and with a brand new format. The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion debuted on Wednesday night, bringing 24 competitors together that all share one thing: They’ve never been named a challenge champ.

MORE: The Challenge: Battle for a New Champion: Meet the cast of champs and contenders competing on MTV

Not only does this Challenge season feature all non-champs, it also has the group competing as one team for the first time in 39 (!!) seasons (although, who knows, maybe that could change?). Competitors come from across The Challenge universe, including Australia and the UK.

This year’s format is broken into three distinct sections with Control, Chaos and Conquest. At some point, we will see the return of a collection of our favorite champs — to include CT, Devin, Tori and Kaycee among others — and things will evolve away from the group missions.

The first group mission was straight-forward and offered an opportunity to the group to add $50,000 to the base pot of $300,000 total prize money. Competitors had to run into a deep pit, collect heavy puzzle pieces, get everything and everyone out of the pit and then complete the puzzle … all in the 10 minute time limit (spoiler alert: it didn’t go great).

Let’s get to Contenders, Pretenders and who has work left to do from the first episode.


Horacio – He shone in his first season, he’s a strong competitor and he isn’t afraid to just vote how he feels. Could that come back and bite him later? Sure can! But for now, he’s a legit contender.

Olivia – Olivia made a final in her first season, suffering a brutal freak accident that sent a golf ball careening into her face and left her unable to finish. Well, she’s back, and anyone that can bounce back from that and get right back out there is a Contender.

Jay – As they tried to get out of the pit, Jay was a human ladder. It looked incredibly painful.

Work Left to Do

Ciarran – No matter what the ladies said after the fact, Ciarran had a pretty solid game plan for the competition. They just needed to be faster and more organized for the puzzle.

Big T – She is incredibly underrated as a competitor, as she showed in the elimination challenge where she dominated Jessica. I’d put her in the Contenders section, but I’m not sure the house trusts her game yet.

Colleen – I’m not sure how she is yet as a competitor this season, but as a therapist, we should root for her to stick around as long as possible. The house needs someone to talk through everything with them.


Jessica – You just told a room full of people willing to eat gross food that you don’t really want the money. Hope you had a nice, short vacation.

Berna She might have been able to contribute to the challenge prep with her acrobatics background, but when you come in with baggage (read: people think you may be abrasive and/or opinionated) you’re going to receive votes and attention early.

Callum – Dude, the one rule is don’t lie about being in a relationship. He had been in the house less than 48 hours before telling Michele that he was definitely single. Shocker, he isn’t single. He face-timed with his girlfriend shortly after spending most of the night talking to Michele. You know we can all watch this, right? Like, you’re on television. This will end badly for Callum.

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