Schmergen Brawl is a recurring challenge from Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. It was infamously known for being a very physically-punishing Survivor version of basketball, and leaving several injuries among players. It is also the first recurring challenge to be officially banned from reuse.


In a walled-surrounded arena, three members of each tribe would battle for control of three balls. Once a castaway gets control of a ball, they would pass the ball to three other tribe members standing on an elevated platform who would then attempt to throw the ball through the opposing tribe's basket, situated at the opposite end of the arena. One point would be scored when a ball is made in the basket. After every point, the tribes would change who was in the arena and on the platform. The first tribe to score the required number of points, would win the challenge. In Samoa, three points were needed, while in Heroes vs. Villains, two points were required.


In Survivor: Samoa, the challenge was infamously known (Jeff Probst himself declared the challenge as a "classic"), for its dramatic conclusion: one contestant, Ben Browning was disqualified due to unnecessarily tripping Russell Swan, and another, Mike Borassi was evacuated from the game shortly after due to a severely weakened condition. Both Ben and Mike were members of the Foa Foa tribe, who eventually lost the challenge over the Galu tribe.

The challenge was reused in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where it continued its long line of injuries. James Clement, one of the series' most physically strong competitors incurred a knee injury which continued to endure until the Heroes vs. Villains Reunion Show, where he was still seen limping. The Villains ended up winning the challenge.


Episode Challenge Type Winner
"Taking Candy from a Baby"
Tribal Reward/Immunity S19 brett tS19 dave tS19 erik t
S19 john tS19 kelly tS19 laura tS19 monica t
S19 russells tS19 shambo tS19 yasmin t
Heroes vs. Villains
"Knights of the Round Table"
Tribal Reward S20 coach tS20 courtney tS20 danielle t
S20 jerri tS20 parvati tS20 rob t
S20 russell tS20 sandra tS20 tyson t



  • Due to the very physical nature, and the long history of injuries it caused to contestants, CBS deemed the challenge too dangerous to reuse again.[1]
  • Schmergen Brawl is the second challenge in which a contestant was disqualified for violating the rules (following Pilfering Pirates in Thailand).
  • Russell Hantz is the only castaway to compete in this challenge twice. He lost the first time, and won the second time.
  • Both times this challenge was used, a player was removed giving a tribe one less player in the challenge.
    • The tribe that lost a player went on to lose the challenge.
    • One player was removed for breaking the rules of the challenge while the other was removed due to an injury received during the challenge.
      • Both players were men and would be voted out in the next episode after this challenge was used.
  • Both times the challenge was used, the tribe that scored the first point lost the challenge.


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