MVP - pretty straightforward; this doesn’t necessarily mean the person that won the season. Most Valuable Player will go to the player that dominated from all aspects, including challenges, social game, overall elimination scope (meaning, if you go into 3 eliminations and win them all, that certainly helps. But if you’re also savvy enough to avoid going into elimination entirely, that could be helpful as well; this is a case by case basis).
Challenge Talk Poll:
Cara Maria (46%)
Final Cut Pick: Zach
It’s pretty apparent based on the Challenge Talk Facebook Poll that Cara Maria holds the hearts of viewers, and she pulled in more than double the votes of second-place Tony. And in that I chose the fans 4th favorite option, I have some ‘splainin to do.
First, my goal is not to discredit anyone. Cara Maria won Vendettas. Point blank. Period. I’m not a Cara fan myself, but had I believed her to be the MVP of this season, she would have received it. Sometimes the way to explain a pick is to also explain why someone else wasn’t worthy.
For more on Cara, catch up with:
Cara believers will point out she received multiple grenades from Kam and a lot of hate from fellow players. While it’s true, Cara did get the brunt of grenades this season, they were mostly ineffective. In fact, most of the grenades this season seemed to be poorly conceived/timed, and ended up playing such an insignificant role when they really, with proper game design, could have made this season a blast. For one, Cara was forced to apply lube to her body in a challenge in which players jumped from car to car 30 feet above the water. This grenade seemed to be custom-made for this, and the recipient truly doomed. Yet, flaw number one, Cara was allowed to apply the lube herself, to which she gingerly dumped it down her back. Now, I’m not saying this would have ZERO effect - she likely would not have the chance to sit on her butt at any point. However, this challenge required the player typically to lunge from one car and land on their belly to the next - something a little lube on your back would have no effect on. Secondly, we find out after dishing out the lube grenade that it would be “raining” via overhead sprinklers on all of cars - effectively giving all competitors the same slippery disadvantage. And third, this challenge proved to be so hard that only two competitors (both males) finished.
Other grenades tossed her way ended up blowing up in Kam’s face just as badly if not worse, such as after dealing the grenade in which time was added to Cara’s finish time, Kam was somehow eligible to be added to that very team, incurring the same time penalty. I get it’s called Vendettas and it’s about dirty play, but that’s just stupid, illogical game design. The time penalty on the final water challenge proved to be completely useless anyways, as Cara’s team ended up securing 0% of the balls in underwater nets, leaving them looking at elimination either way.
Cara, in my opinion, was also underwhelming in challenges for Vendettas. She won only two times during the season, both of those wins came in large group wins (one time on a team of four, once on a team of ten). Beyond that, she never won an individual competition and was never thrown into an elimination, nor did she form a third of any Troika until the final one (timing is everything, I can’t hate on her for that). Call it veteran respect, but the fact of the matter is she didn’t have to fight to stay alive this season - even her visits to the Inquisition were fronts or led by one voter that had no power (Nelson).
I will touch briefly on Tony. The guy was great this season, and he pulled some big boy moves and manned up and dominated challenges to find himself deep in this game. His shining moment will likely always be saying Bananas name that fateful night, but Tony also had some memorable performances this season. Starting with the eating challenge where he carried his team, we could all tell Tony Time was becoming more and more real. And anyone who watched him grow over the years on Real World and several Challenge seasons knows that drunk Tony is gone Tony. He changed that, manned up and seemed to have his shit together this season, and for that I say fuck yes Tony. I liked this Tony. The world liked this Tony. Stay clear-headed and we will see more of you.
Now, my MVP vote came down to Tony and Zach. They played the game seemingly as a duo at times, winning challenges and absolutely commandeering the Troika at other times. As I said several write-ups ago, it’s Zach and Tony’s world, we are all just living in it. They both had win after win, made decision after decision. Tony actually finished with 7 challenge wins to Zach’s 6; but Zach made his strongest moves by making decisions and breaking promises and letting Tony take all of the heat. Just as guilty as Tony for lying to the girls he promised to keep around, Zach did so with a weird sort of grace - he let Tony play the role of mob boss with the target on his back while Zach reaped all of the benefits.
This isn’t an isolated performance, either. MVP of Vendettas, to be clear, has to do with Zach’s performance on this season alone. However, I’ve heard the criticisms of those remembering Zach’s last final, where he quite literally cried like a baby. I can’t seem to shake the fact, however, that Zach absolutely dominated Champs v Stars last season, earning MVP of nearly every challenge by his team. He missed the finals based simply on Bananas and Emily deciding to bring CT along instead of the more deserving Zach, which would have made two-straight finals (although I don’t count the spin-offs as an entire show - I give them about 50% weight).
If Zach appears on the Final Reckoning, I will likely have him right atop the very first betting odds list. He’s become a more well-rounded monster, trimming some unnecessary “glamour” muscle for a leaner, faster machine. Nobody wants to face a young, hungry and talented Zach - he could very well become the next dynasty player on the Challenge.