The Challenge is officially back with the first episode of War of the Worlds on Feb. 6! This season starts out with 16 veteran players and 18 rookies (“prospects”), who hail from other reality shows around the world. Right away, the players are tasked with competing in the first challenge, which is run in two heats: First, the guys, and then, the girls. The players must fight each other to gather balls rolling down a sand dune, then run up the hill to grab a bag of puzzle pieces, and complete the puzzle.
Immediately, TJ Lavin drops a bomb on the competitors: Since there are two more prospects than veterans, the last place guy and girl prospect will automatically be eliminated. Josh Martinez, who comes from Big Brother, finishes last out of the guys, while Liz Nolan, whose twin sister, Julia Nolan, is also competing, loses for the girls. We’ll find out later what the placement for the rest of the contestants means, but first, it’s time for everyone to check out the house.
Right off the bat, it’s clear there’s going to be a bit of drama in the house — Paulie Calafiore and Cara Maria Sorbello are happily in a relationship, but Cara’s ex, Kyle Shore, is also on this season, and it’s no secret that he and Paulie have beef. Plus, Leroy Garrett and Kam Williams are in a bit of an awkward situation, as they ended their on/off fling a few months before filming, but he admittedly still has feelings for her. Oh, and of course, there’s the fact that last season’s winners, Hunter Barfield and Ashley Mitchell, are back on this season…and she opted to take all the money, rather than split it with him, after their victory.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t take long for new sparks to fly: Nany Gonzalez and The Bachelorette’s Chase McNary get are into each other right from the get-go. However, she also has a history with Johnny Bananas, and Chase is green with envy when he sees how flirty Nany acts around him.
Finally, it’s time to find out how these teams will be made. Everyone assumes the veterans will get to choose a ‘prospect’ to be their teammate, but it’s actually the other way around! The prospects are in control, and their picking order is based on how they placed during the first challenge. Unfortunately, Alan Valdez is sent home before the picking begins, as he broke his arm during the challenge and can no longer compete. Here’s how the teams came together:
Natalie Duran and Paulie Calafiore
Ashley Cain and Kam Williams
Morgan Willett and Johnny Bananas
Stephen Bear (“Bear”) and Da’Vonne Rogers
Georgia Harrison and Hunter Barfield
Theo Campbell and Cara Maria Sorbello
Julia Nolan and CT Tamburello
Turbo and Nany Gonzalez
Dee Nguyen and Wes Bergmann
JP Andrade and Natalie Negrotti
Mattie Breaux and Kyle Shore
Chase McNary and Ashley Mitchell
Shaleen Sutherland and Leroy Garrett
Zahida Allen and Zach Nichols
Gus Smyrnios and Jenna Compono
Josh Martinez and Amanda Garcia*
*Since Alan was sent home, Josh gets the opportunity to come back and take his place. After Gus picks Jenna, that leaves Amanda as Josh’s partner. We’ll get a chance to see how these pairs do in competition when the show continues next week!