The Greatest Male Players in Challenge History: #1- CT Tamburello

Michael Alvey
7 min readFeb 8, 2019

22 Seasons: The Inferno (Final), Inferno II (Final), The Duel, Inferno 3, Gauntlet III (Final), Duel II, Rivals, Battle of the Exes (2nd place), Rivals II (Win), Free Agents, Battle of the Exes II, Invasion of the Champions (Win), Champs vs. Pros, Dirty XXX (3rd place), Champs vs. Stars (Win), Champs vs. Stars 2 (Win), Final Reckoning, War of the Worlds, War of the Worlds 2 (Win), Total Madness, Double Agents (Win), Spies, Lies & Allies (Win)

Final Efficiency: 12/19 (Excludes Inferno 3, Duel 2 and Exes II) (63.2%)

Win Efficiency: 7/19 (36.8%)

67 Mission Wins, 8–5 Elimination Record

Individual Missions: 10.25/42.25 (1 Quad) (24.3%)

Partner Missions: 16/64 (25%)

Combined: 26.25/106.25 (1 Quad) (24.7%)

Average Times Voted In Per Season: .21

Seasons Making Final Going Into Minimum Amount of Elims: 11

There’s no one in Challenge history who has been as successful for as long as Christopher Tamburello.

With seven total victories and 12 finals appearances, CT’s resume speaks for itself.

Not counting his exits on Inferno 3 and Duel II for fighting and having to leave due to Diem’s illness on Exes II (and to be clear I’m not factoring any of those early exits into these rankings) CT reached at least the final elimination in 10 straight seasons on the flagship franchise to start his career, an absolutely staggering accomplishment.

CT was an excellent competitor from the beginning. On The Inferno he won four life shields and beat Shane in elimination to make the finals, then on Inferno II he earned a ridiculous six life shields, even with studs like Abe and Derrick on his team.

It looked like he was more interested in wooing Diem on The Duel than actually winning, but he still won three dailies and beat Evan in Ascender before losing on a technicality to Brad in the final elimination, Push Me.

On Gauntlet III, CT beat Derek in the first daily and breezed into the final with the dominant vets. But his posturing to get Bananas thrown into elimination against Evan instead of Big Easy came back to bite the Vets, as Eric’s collapse robbed CT of his first win.

CT was put into exile for his ugly fight with Adam on Duel II, and it was questionable whether he’d return to the show again. But after a brief cameo on Cutthroat where he turned Johnny Bananas into a human backpack, he became a mainstay again.

He made his official return on Rivals with the entire house against him, and he still dominated. CT and Adam won two dailies and took out Evan/Nehemiah before losing the final elimination to Johnny/Tyler.

On Exes, CT and Diem started slow but won the final two dailies to reach the final. They led for almost the entire final, until CT broke down in the mountain climb and Johnny/Camila passed them at the last minute.

CT finally captured his first victory on Rivals II, as he and Wes won three dailies, stayed out of elimination the entire season, and led from wire-to-wire to defeat Johnny/Frank and Jordan/Marlon in the final.

He had a low-key run on Free Agents, but still took out Leroy in Wrecking Wall and won four daily challenges.

After Diem’s death, CT returned on Invasion with a dad bod. But even in his worst shape, he still proved to be a freak of nature, having one of the most impressive elimination wins in Challenge history by destroying Darrell in Knot So Fast, then defeating Nelson and Cory in the final to earn his second victory.

Dad Bod CT again dominated Dirty 30, winning all but one daily challenge and earning his way back from the Redemption House. The only reason he was in the Redemption House was a twist that allowed the winning team of the Blackout mission to send someone straight there, and CT was picked because he was the biggest threat.

CT’s cardio held him back from beating the more in shape Jordan and Derrick in the final, as he placed third.

Some people wrote off CT after a couple of early exits late in his career, as Veronica caused him to get purged on Final Reckoning, and on War of the Worlds he was called out by JP and lost the three-man Ring Tossed elimination round to Kyle.

But he came back on War of the Worlds 2 and was the only stabilizing force guiding Team UK, ultimately helping them win the final without ever having to see an elimination.

After a shocking early loss to Jay on Total Madness, CT came back on Double Agents in his best shape in years. He overcame a huge target on his back from day one and being saddled with a less-than-stellar partner in Big T for most of the season, winning a pair of daily challenges, beating Josh The Goof in elimination and winning the final with Amber B.

Despite being the reigning champion and clearly the best player on the show, he was still somehow able to skate through Spies, Lies & Allies, winning five daily challenges (two in the partner format) and single-handedly winning the Dead Drop mission for Sapphire.

He teamed up with Kaycee at the end of the final and was able to secure his fifth championship on the flagship franchise.

CT was also clearly the GOAT of the short-lived Champs vs. series. He won the spinoff twice, including a ridiculous comeback win on Champs vs. Stars season two where he overcame back pain to defeat two tough teams in Casper/Louise and Wes/Boobie. Fittingly, he never went into elimination in any of the three seasons.

CT’s 8–5 elimination record isn’t overly impressive, although the people he’s beat are impressive (Shane, Evan, Evan/Nehemiah, Leroy and Darrell, not to mention the Banana Backpack on Cutthroat, beating guys like Jordan and Bananas in the redemption challenge on Dirty 30, and winning his mercenary elimination against Asaf on season 39).

His losses are mostly understandable.

He dominated Brad in Push Me on The Duel, but lost for ripping the flag. It’s on CT for making the mental mistake, but for all intents and purposes CT absolutely destroyed Brad in that elimination.

His other losses were because of Adam’s mistakes in the final elimination on Rivals, a puzzle loss to Bananas on Free Agents, the three-way elimination loss on War of the Worlds, and when he sent himself into elimination on Total Madness and lost to Jay. The Bananas and Jay losses are really the only times where he was beat straight up.

The Free Agents loss, his collapse in the Exes final, his bad cardio in the Dirty 30 final and the loss to Jay on Total Madness are really the only times where you can totally blame him for not winning (you can throw The Duel loss in there too but that was more of a fluke loss, even though I don’t know if he beats Wes in the final because of the soccer advantage).

I have CT as the best male competitor on seven seasons — Inferno II, Rivals, Rivals II, Invasion, Double Agents, Spies Lies & Allies and Champs vs. Stars 2 (tied with Tony). And he’s squarely in the discussion for many other seasons, like The Inferno, Gauntlet III, Battle of the Exes, Dirty 30, Champs vs. Pros and Champs vs. Stars.

CT was initially seen as a hothead and far from a political mastermind, but he later became one of the best political players the game has ever seen.

After having the whole house against him on Rivals, he was able to get himself in with the other vets on Exes (having Diem as his partner helped). CT and Diem made horrible mistakes in throwing in Paula/Dunbar against Ty/Emily and Mark/Robin in against Johnny/Camila, but those were portrayed to be Diem’s decisions rather than CT’s.

On Rivals II, he employed the best polidicking strategy in Challenge history, hooking up with girls on four different teams (Diem, Anastasia, Nany and Cooke), which helped keep himself and Wes out of elimination the entire season.

On War of the Worlds 2, he was the puppet master pulling the strings on Rogan, staying out of elimination as his alliance maintained control the entire game.

He was able to make it to the end on Double Agents with only one easy elimination to get his skull, and he made the SLA final without even coming close to seeing an elimination .

Of the 12 finals he’s been to, he’s made a ridiculous nine of them without seeing an elimination, and two other times he went in only because it was a necessity on the season.

Although CT usually never has a true number one ally (other than Cara Maria), he almost always works with the top dogs like Bananas, Leroy, Zach, Wes, Derrick, etc. After having more enemies than almost anyone in the history of the show early in his career, he really doesn’t have a legitimate vendetta anymore.

Even with as big of a target as he has, he is able to downplay his threat level better than anyone.

Whether he’s in shape or has a dad bod, CT is a massive threat to make it to the end and win. He’s one of the best ever in dailies and can destroy someone in an elimination, if he even has to see one at all.

And that’s what makes CT Tamburello the greatest player Challenge history.

Rankings

25. Paulie Calafiore

24. Cory Wharton

23. Tyler Duckworth

22. Devin Walker

21. Frank Sweeney

20. Timmy Beggy

19. Dan Setzler

18. Hunter Barfield

17. Leroy Garrett

16. Mike Mizanin

15. Alton Williams

14. Zach Nichols

13. Abram Boise

12. Theo Vonkurnatowski

11. Derrick Kosinski

10. Brad Fiorenza

9. Darrell Taylor

8. Kenny Santucci

7. Mark Long

6. Wes Bergmann

5. Evan Starkman

4. Landon Lueck

3. Jordan Wiseley

2. Johnny Devenanzio

1. CT Tamburello

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