THE CHALLENGE: RIVALS 2 Weekly Power Rankings – Week 5

The weekly The Challenge: Rivals 2 power rankings are a way of comparing where each competitor stands relative to one another.  If you were to take someone like Frank (ranked second again this week) and Preston (ranked tenth and again last for the men this week), Frank has a higher standing than Preston in this point in the game.  He is in better physical shape, will perform better at challenges, has more support from the women teams, has a better relationship with his partner (poor Preston seems to be eternally linked to his New Orleans roommate), and is ultimately in a better position to reach and succeed in the finals.  Frank has more power than Preston and is therefore ranked above him in the standings.

What the rankings do not measure and the women vote debacle further highlighted last week, is an assessment of how powerful are the powerful?  Most seasons in the modern age of The Challenge, spearheaded by the J.E.K. Empire and its many soldiers for the cause, have been about the power alliance and its ability to effectively control the game.  Their have always been outliers (Landon and Carley on Fresh Meat II, Cuthroat’s format), but the process of reaching the finals have been carefully dictated by the ruling class.  Even in the J.E.K. Empire power vacuum that was Battle of the Seasons, Frank and Team San Diego’s playbook to success was based upon creating an aligned voting block that could dominate game decisions.

Rivals 2 does have clear power distinctions between different players and teams, but what is most striking at this point of the season heading into tonight’s sixth episode, is that no team is all that powerful and there isn’t one clear alliance controlling the game.  This reality means that votes may be arbitrary, decisions may be unexpected and misguided (production has certainly been a prime culprit of this), and the road to success is wide open.  It is really anyone’s game to win (almost anybody, Knight and Preston) where inevitability is a misnomer and possibility is a constant.

Before we hit the rankings, I wanted to briefly touch on the power relationships of a few other key pop culture touchstones of the moment…

Pop star new single battle: Lady Gaga’s “Applause” versus Katy Perry’s “Roar”:

In successive days this week, Katy Perry and then Lady Gaga released first singles from their upcoming (and much anticipated) fall album releases.  Katy Perry’s “Roar,” despite its too obvious musical similarities to Sara Bareilles’ recent single release, “Brave,” hits the uplifting anthemic sweet spot of “Firework.”  It is infectious, potent, and melodically memorable – it peers into your consciousness with each new listen.  On the other hand, Lady Gaga’s “Applause” is apparently titled for what I am never going to give it.

More Powerful: Katy Perry in a landslide

The Walter versus Hank showdown in the garage:

Breaking Bad SPOILER ALERT: Hank’s much anticipated confrontation with Heinsenberg (once the brother in law that is now dead to him) is easily one of the best scenes I have seen on television this year.  In the moment when it went there, earlier in the season than any viewer could have anticipated, 5.9 million hearts (finally some ratings justice) stopped.  Walter’s subsequent and brilliant (Bryan Cranston yet again teaching a master class) transformation to Heisenberg (“tread softly” indeed) climaxed five seasons of dramatic irony between these two characters.  Well played, Vince Gilligan.  Well played.

More powerful: Heisenberg who seems to hold all of the Hank’s devotion to familial ties cards

Broadchurch versus the field

I am only one episode in to the first of eight in this BBC series about the investigation of a heinous crime in a southern England coastal town, but already it has the makings of all that The Killing and The Following failed to be.  With all due respect to Top of the Lake (a scintillating and beautiful dramatic achievement) and The Bridge (currently gaining some momentum on FX Wednesday nights), Broadchurch may be the best of the bunch of this series of “built on a crime and subsequent investigation” dramas.

More powerful: Broadchurch

On to the rankings…Once again, as became tradition last year during Battle of the Seasons, the individual competitor power rankings and team power rankings will be released weekly sometime shortly after each new episode airing.  Here are the individual and team rankings after week 5…


 NOTE: the rankings will again be based on my un Zach Lowe-like analysis/sabermetrics method known as “My subjective experience and observations watching all 24 seasons of the show.”  Weight will be given to how well teams and individuals do on competitions, on strategy and in the social game, and whether he or she is a “good competitor.” 




1. Johnny Bananas (9th season, last week: 1)

2. Frank (2nd season, last week: 2)


VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Cooke/Cara Maria)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

One of the many takeaways of this week’s women vote sit-tu-at-tion was a reveal of the extent of interaction and integration of strategy between men and women teams.  The rogue voting results speak to, for the first time in many seasons, a lack of overwhelming power alliance.  Jasmine and Theresa and Nany and Jonna appear to be working on their own separate islands.  Cooke and Cara Maria are independently fighting for their life in this game and fully expect to spend some time in the Jungle next week.  Diem and Aneesa have separated themselves from the pack of loners with some co-ed strategy talk with CT and Wes (and a likely strong beneficial voting bond), but I am not sure how much further these two veteran teams go beyond their foursome.  Where does this leave Johnny and Frank?  They share an unbreakable alliance with Paula and Emily who made the one vote this week that made real sense (I am still unclear about why more teams did not vote for Knight and Preston.  Their ticket out of Phuket is long overdue).  Although an edit casualty so far, Camila’s Johnny connection seems to still have some weight in a “I won’t vote for Johnny” kind of way, but Johnny is certainly not influencing who Camila and Jemmye are voting for (their voting history seems to be as random as some of the other teams).  My twitter conversation with Kenny this week (“nobody running the house the right way”) spoke to the lack of strategic leadership, but I am beginning to question whether the personalities of these teams are even built for such a construct.  The combination of Trishelle and Sarah’s early departure and the relative inexperience in many of the other women teams has created a weekly strategic free-for-all calling upon each team to take care of their own business (as some of the power rankings frontrunners have done – Jordan and Marlon, two rookies, perhaps most notably) while hoping that the other teams won’t do anything crazy.  Last week, their was some unexpected arbitrary craziness in the women vote and for the sake of their ultimate success in the game, Johnny and Frank must reel in some additional teams to ensure that they remain out of an elimination.


3. CT (9th season, last week: 4)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

4. Jordan (Rookie season, last week: 5)

5. Marlon (Rookie season, last week: 6)


VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Cooke/Naomi/Cara Maria), 1 (Jasmine/Theresa), 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Jemmye/Camila)

VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

6. Wes (8th season, last week: 10)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria

Both of these teams had very important weeks.  CT and Wes somehow managed a free pass on the challenge that speaks to how well they are fitting into the guy power structure.  The perception that Leroy was a threat (both as a player and as a bunkmate) likely had more influence on the women teams eventual vote than any other factor.  Although they have carved out a small amount of women vote real estate (Diem and Aneesa and then it is unclear), they are at least closing strategic deals while helping to force the elimination of a physical threat (Zach and Trey, but Ty and Leroy would have worked too) and helping to prevent the elimination of a non-factor team like Knight and Preston.  Three men eliminations have now come and gone and Jordan and Marlon have yet to be even close to the inside of the Jungle.  They will break their Jungle virginity at some point this season, but as each successive challenge proves, no one is going to want to face them in an elimination.  With Leroy and Ty’s vote exposing a certain randomness in women strategic dealings, Jordan and Marlon could attempt to take advantage by parlaying some Thai flings with Jonna and Nany into a working alliance.

7. Leroy (3rd season, last week: 3)

8. Ty (4th season, last week: 9)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Theresa/Jasmine), 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Diem/Aneesa)

VOTES FOR: Theresa and Jasmine, Nany and Jonna

JUNGLE: Beat Zach and Trey (DQ) in Week 5

Leroy and Ty were a Zach adrenaline-infused mistake away from being eliminated this week and were only in that position to begin with because of some women vote silliness.  The good news is that something like this is not likely to happen again or at least to happen so unexpectedly, but it does not dispel just how close to going home they were.  Some strategic triage is in order.


9. Knight (2nd season, last week: 11)

10. Preston (2nd season, last week: 12)

VOTES AGAINST: 1 (Nany/Jonna), 1 (Paula/Emily)

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle, Cooke and Cara Maria


JUNGLE: Beat Derek and Robb Week 3

In a ranking of this week’s many “What the Phuket?” moments, how far Knight and Preston were from elimination has to be near the top (Zach’s extreme outbursts post challenge and post Jungle have to be considered near the bottom – it was only a matter of time…).


11. Trey (2nd season, last week: 8)

12. Zach (2nd season, last week: 7)



VOTES FOR: Cooke and Cara Maria, Cooke and Cara Maria

JUNGLE: DQ against Leroy and Ty

I could focus on the many aspects of Zach’s final week that are not good (helmet throwing, a few too many temper tantrums, cameraman attacks, rule violations), but instead, I would like to honor both Zach and Trey for building a connection and bond out of this experience that would have seemed unfathomable with the acute animosity that they had going in to Rivals 2.  Although the final moments were a tough way to go out, early challenge wins and the discovery of how to fuse their complementary physical strengths into an effective tandem will remain highlights of the first few weeks of this season.

13. Derek (3rd season, last week: 13)

14. Robb (2nd season, last week: 14)

VOTES AGAINST: 8 (Emily/Paula [2], Ana/Jess, Camila/Jemmye [2], Sarah/Trishelle, Diem/Aneesa [2])

VOTES FOR: Sarah and Trishelle

JUNGLE: Beat Tyrie and Dunbar Week 1, Lost to Knight and Preston Week 3

15. Dunbar (6 season, last week: 15)

16. Tyrie (6th season, last week: 16)


JUNGLE: Lost to Derek and Robb Week 1




1. Paula (10th season, last week: 1)

2. Emily (3rd season, last week: 2)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Knight and Preston


3. Aneesa (9 seasons, last week: 3)

4. Diem (7th season, last week: 4)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Leroy and Ty

Paula and Emily’s vote for Knight and Preston made sense (thank you!) and they would have won the challenge if Jasmine and Theresa were not given an inexplicable free pass to win.  As lack of a strong power alliance becomes more evident, Paula and Emily must broaden their male team support base beyond Johnny and Frank.  Right after last week’s episode, I openly questioned the logic of Diem’s vote for Leroy and Ty (as did Aneesa), but if she did believe that Leroy and Ty were a potential wildcard against them, I can better see the justification.  It seems like both of these teams are playing right now at a higher level than their fellow female competitors.


5. Jemmye (2nd season, last week: 5)

6. Camila (5th season, last week: 7)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb, Derek and Robb, Jordan and Marlon

We are still waiting (mortuusequusphobia aside) for a #teamsubtitles breakout moment.  I sense that it is coming soon.

7. Jasmine (4th season, last week: 9)

8. Theresa (4th season, last week: 10)

CHALLENGE WINS: 1 (although it was handed to them)


VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty, Leroy and Ty


9. Nany (2nd season, last week: 6)

10. Jonna (3rd season, last week: 8)

VOTED FOR: Knight and Preston, Marlon and Jordan, Leroy and Ty


Despite being at the center of last week’s voting debacle, Jasmine and Theresa may have come out better than Nany and Jonna on the other side and certainly seem to be more ready to fight to win back favor.


11. Cooke (Rookie season, last week: 11)

12. Cara Maria (6th season, last week: 12)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Zach/Trey), 2 (Johnny/Frank), 2 (Knight/Preston), 2 (Jordan/Marlon), 1 (CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Marlon and Jordan, Marlon and Jordan, Johnny and Frank

JUNGLE: Beat Jessica and Anastasia Week 2


13. Sarah (7th season, last week: 13)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Derek/Robb, CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb


14. Jessica (Rookie season, last week: 14)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb


JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2


15. Naomi (2nd season, last week: 15)


16. Anastasia (Rookie season, last week: 16)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb


JUNGLE: Lost to Cooke and Cara Maria Week 2


17. Trishelle (4th season, last week: 17)

VOTES AGAINST: 2 (Derek/Robb, CT/Wes)

VOTED FOR: Derek and Robb


Note: Team rankings are compiled by averaging the two individual rankings.  Teams with the lowest total average rankings are ranked better than the highest (i.e. you want as few points as possible).  First tiebreaker goes to number of total past wins.  Second tiebreaker goes to years of experience.


1. Paula and Emily – Team Average: 1.5, last week: 1.5

2. Johnny and Frank – Team Average: 1.5, last week: 1.5

3. Diem and Aneesa – Team Average: 3.5, last week: 3.5


4. CT and Wes – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 7

5. Marlon and Jordan – Team Average: 4.5, last week: 5.5

6. Camila and Jemmye – Team Average: 5.5, last week: 6

7. Ty and Leroy – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 6

8. Jasmine and Theresa – Team Average: 7.5, last week: 9.5

9. Nany and Jonna – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 7


11. Knight and Preston – Team Average: 9.5, last week: 11.5

12. Cooke and Cara Maria – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 11.5


13. ELIMINATED: Zach and Trey – Team Average: 11.5, last week: 7.5

14. ELIMINATED: Sarah and Trishelle – Team Average: 15, last week: 6.5

15. ELIMINATED: Derek and Robb – Team Average: 13.5, last week: 12.5

16. ELIMINATED: Anastasia and Jessica – Team Average: 15, last week: 14.5

17. ELIMINATED: Dunbar and Tyrie – Team Average: 15.5


Next week is a women’s elimination (the first in forever – the last female Jungle elimination was amazingly Jess and Ana) and the preview clip showed Camila starting to freakout, more Theresa fallout from the Diem betrayal, and some Portland-esque Jordan confrontation.  It is anyone’s game…

David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about MTV’s “The Challenge,” pop culture, and the NBA for Bishop and Company. His “The Challenge: Rivals 2″ power rankings will post weekly starting on July 10.

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