WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from the season finale of MTV’s The Challenge: War of the Worlds.
Consider it a lesson learned: Never underestimate a rookie.
In a rare feat after 33 seasons of MTV’s The Challenge, War of the Worlds concluded with first-timers landing in first and second place (and fourth, too, if you want to rub it in for some of the show’s beloved vets).
After a brutal, 50-mile final challenge, Turabi “Turbo” Camkiran, a two-time Survivor Turkey winner, walked away with the $750,000 grand prize, Love Island alum Theo Campbell nabbed the $200,000 second prize, and longtime Challenger Wes Bergmann took home $50,000.
Challenge host T.J. Lavin, for one, never could have predicted such an outcome, especially after first meeting the new crop of players.
“[Turbo] was a really, really friendly dude, so I was like, ‘Yeah, he’s not going to last long, because he’s way too nice,” Lavin tells PEOPLE.
The BMX rider, 42, soon changed his tune after seeing the 30-year-old Turkish powerhouse interact with the other players.
“His reputation definitely preceded him. He came in with so much mystique that everyone was a little bit nervous of him,” Lavin says. “They didn’t call him out, they didn’t bring him into the eliminations, they just were like, ‘We’re just going to keep this guy on our good side and not make any waves.’ “
But the rookie who surprised Lavin the most was undoubtedly Love Island‘s Georgia Harrison, 24, who also made the final but gassed out early. “Who the hell knew that she was going to be such a force?!” he says. “At first, she was so flighty and just didn’t care and super loud mouth and yelling. It was funny. Usually, those people aren’t going to be as athletic as she was — and she was awesome.”
He also expects she’ll come back to the show soon, and even more ready to compete. “She’s not only training, but she knows what to expect now, so she knows what to train for,” he warns.
When it came down to that massive final, it wasn’t the winners who impressed the host the most.
“The trek across the dunes was heavy. There was some very, very heavy lifting on everyone’s part, especially the camera guys. One thing that you forget about is that the cameramen have to be there, as well, filming this stuff,” says Lavin. “Some of the guys that we had were crazy fit!”
The Challenge: War of the Worlds reunion begins Wednesday, May 29 at 9 p.m. ET on MTV.