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American Ninja Warrior All-Star Special: Team Challenge recap

There’s a new team in town.

David Becker/NBC

American Ninja Warrior kicked off the All-Star Special with an incredibly exciting team challenge. This season, Kristine Leahy got to select a team of Ninja Warriors, alongside Matt Iseman and Akbar Gbajabiabila.

In the 2016 All-Star team challenge, Akbar’s team took home the championship. Kristine did not previously have a team, making her the rookie in this show.

These 2017 team line-ups were the stuff of legend.

Team Akbar:

  • Meagan Martin
  • Neil Craver
  • Grant McCartney

Can team Akbar do it again?!!! Don't miss the All Star episode of @nbcninjawarrior on Monday at 8/7C on NBC !!!

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Team Kristine:

  • Jessie Graff
  • Flip Rodriguez
  • Nicholas Coolridge

Team Matt:

  • Jesse Labreck
  • Chris Wilczewski
  • Najee Richardson

All Stars episode airs Feb 20th on #NBC !!!! . . . . #americanninjawarrior #flexlabreck #flex #allstar #team #anw

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Here’s how the competition broke down:

All the teams relay raced down Stage One of the National Finals. The team with the fastest time advanced to Stage Three automatically. The other two teams faced off on Stage Two to decide who moved on to the Stage Three competition.

Stage One:

Team Akbar went first, lining up Grant McCartney, Neil Craver and Meagan Martin.

The run went well, but Grant was a little hung up on the Giant Log Grip, costing precious seconds. Neil and Meagan both completed their legs of the course, bringing in a time of 1:25.42.

Team Matt went second. Chris Wilczewski started off strong, tagging in Jesse Labreck. She nailed the Jumping Spider, but took a spill at the Sonic Curve, ending their run.

Kristine’s team rounded out the first stage of competition and they brought nothing but fire to the course. Flip sped to Nicholas, who seemed like he was almost instantly tagging in Jessie. Jessie repeated her successful performance on the Flying Squirrel from the regular competition and brought in the team at 1:18.42.

Team Kristine headed straight to Stage Three while Matt and Akbar’s teams would look to keep themselves alive on Stage Two.

Stage Two:

Matt’s Ninja Warriors took the course first. Najee Richardson took a couple extra sways on the Giant Ring Swing, but was able to tag in Jesse.

Jesse had a great leg and was able to complete the Wave Runner, the obstacle that ended Jessie Graff’s bid for Mt. Midoriyama in season eight. After tagging in Chris, the team’s run came to an end when he fell on the Double Wedge.

Now, Akbar’s team had to make it to the Double Wedge and do it faster than Matt’s team.

Neil seemed to spend a lot of time on the Salmon Ladder but completed his leg. Meagan fell transitioning to the Butterfly Wall, taking Team Akbar out of the competition. But they still seemed to have a lot of fun together.

Stage Three:

Matt’s team took on Stage Three first. This stage is made to be beyond brutal, and it held up to its reputation. Chris Wilczewski completed his leg and tagged in Najee.

Najee impressed everyone with his huge, effortless transitions on the Ultimate Cliffhanger. However, in the end, he fell on the Hang Climb and was not able to tag in Jesse Labreck.

Kristine’s team went into Stage Three calm and collected.

Jessie was up first and completed the Hanging Doors, passing the baton to Nicholas. Nicholas casually waltzed up the Hang Climb using just his hands. This allowed Flip Rodriguez to be tagged in, which instantly gave them the win. But Flip was able to complete the Flying Bars and hit the buzzer, just for good measure.

Kristine Leahy unseated Akbar Gbajabiamila as the team challenge champion! Jessie, Nicholas and Flip took a little celebratory swim to cool down and we were off to the skills challenges.