The Greatest Female Players in Challenge History: #1- Laurel Stucky

Michael Alvey
5 min readJul 12, 2019

7 Seasons: Fresh Meat II (2nd place), Cutthroat (2nd place), Rivals (2nd place), Free Agents (Win), Invasion of the Champions, War of the Worlds 2, Ride or Dies

Elimination Record: 10–3

20 Challenge Wins

Daily Challenges: 10/10

Eliminations: 10/10

Finals: 8.5/10

Politics: 6/10

There’s never been a more intimidating female competitor than Laurel. From her rookie season, she put herself squarely in the discussion of the female GOAT.

The second woman picked in the Fresh Meat II draft after Cara Maria, Laurel and Kenny quickly found themselves facing one of the biggest uphill battles in Challenge history. After they won the first mission and threw in Darrell/Cara, Wes and Evelyn got most of the house to turn on Kenny/Laurel. Wes/Ev convinced Landon to vote Kenny/Laurel into the second exile, where they took out one of their biggest allies in Sarah/Vinny.

The only way Laurel and Kenny were going to stay out of exile was to win. And that’s exactly what they did, over and over again. They reeled off the next three victories, slowly re-gaining the numbers as Wes and Evelyn’s alliance began to implode, culminating with the two facing each other in exile.

Laurel and Kenny turned in one of the greatest seasons in Challenge history, winning five missions plus an exile. But while they looked unstoppable going into the final, they were upset by Landon/Carley.

Laurel’s reputation earned her the honor of being the second woman selected on Cutthroat by Shauvon on the grey team. Laurel was clearly the best female on the team, helping grey win five missions, including Laurel and Abram basically single-handedly winning the High Ball mission, and destroying everyone in Riot Act after originally trying to throw it.

In an incredibly dumb move by the grey team (specifically Abe), Laurel was sent into the Gulag to face Camila in Die Hard. Laurel narrowly took out Camila, avoiding a catastrophe for the grey team.

The greys were the favorites going into the final, but Abe and Sarah couldn’t complete it and held their teammates back, resulting in Laurel finishing second once again.

When Laurel was partnered with her enemy (although they had made up and were friends) Cara Maria on Rivals, it was always going to be a two-horse race between them and Ev/Paula for first place. And frankly, Laurel/Cara didn’t live up to expectations, winning just one mission and coming in last twice.

They were able to beat one of the best teams, Camila/Theresa, in Door Jam, and they completely dominated Jasmine/Jonna in Blast Off. But Laurel came up short again in the end, as Ev/Paula won in the final.

Laurel was long overdue for a victory when she came on Free Agents, but she had arguably her toughest war to get the win. Everyone knew Laurel was the heavy favorite going into the season, and that planted a heavy target on her back. Still, she exceeded expectations, winning four missions (including an individual and a partner mission). She had to go into four eliminations to make the final, taking out Jasmine, Aneesa, Cara Maria and Theresa.

In the final, despite being held back by Zach on the mountain climb in stage three, Laurel won the other four stages and defeated Nany by eight minutes to capture her first victory.

Since Free Agents, Laurel hasn’t been able to find the same success as she had on her first four seasons.

The first real blemish on Laurel’s resume came on Invasion, as she shockingly lost the Knot So Fast elimination against Camila (it’s been alleged that Laurel threw it, but personally I don’t buy it). However it’s not like it was a terrible season for her, as she won the Roll With the Punches mission to earn safety from the first elimination, then took out Cara Maria in the Balls In elimination.

Laurel had her first real dud season on War of the Worlds 2. She made big moves too early, sending in Wes and throwing a mission, which backfired when she got thrown in the by the UK tribunal, resulting in her losing to Ninja in one of the wildest eliminations of all time.

On Ride or Dies, she was targeted by Jay/Michele for seemingly no reason. She and Jakk took out Kim/Colleen in Give Me Some Slack, but lost to Jordan/Aneesa in In Your Face.

There’s no denying how great of a competitor Laurel is. Her political game is less impressive, as she has averaged going into two eliminations per season.

But other than on War of the Worlds 2, it’s often been more a product of bad circumstances than poor gameplay.

Fresh Meat II she was targeted just for being partnered with Kenny, Cutthroat she was sent in basically just because Cara was having sex with Abe, Rivals she only went in twice for getting last place in missions, Free Agents she was only voted in once while drawing the kill card three times, Invasion she went in twice because she was the only option to go in both times, and Ride or Dies she got sent in twice based on a concocted rivalry by Michele.

She has successfully used intimidation in her political game, most notably turning Devyn against Theresa on Free Agents.

Laurel has a credible claim to being both the greatest female of all time in daily challenges and eliminations.

She has racked up nine individual/partner wins — behind only Paula with 11 and Cara with 10 (Paula is bolstered by 10 of her wins coming when she was partnered with Ev and Emily, while Cara is bolstered by doing a million seasons and having five of her wins come in troika/tribunal formats when there were three winners).

Laurel also has the highest winning percentage of any woman who has been in at least six eliminations.

To me there’s no definitive answer to who is the greatest female in Challenge history between Laurel and Evelyn, but by the slimmest of margins Laurel is my choice for female GOAT.

Rankings

25. KellyAnne Judd

24. Jenna Compono

23. Amber Borzotra

22. Nany Gonzalez

21. Diem Brown

20. Dee Nguyen

19. Jenn Grijalva

18. Tori Hall

17. Jonna Mannion

16. Ashley Mitchell

15. Veronica Portillo

14. Paula Meronek

13. Susie Meister

12. Coral Smith

11. Rachel Robinson

10. Kam Williams

9. Jodi Weatherton

8. Tori Deal

7. Emily Schromm

6. Kaycee Clark

5. Sarah Rice

4. Camila Nakagawa

3. Cara Maria Sorbello

2. Evelyn Smith

  1. Laurel Stucky

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