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Ninja vs Ninja recap: Pace picks up as playoff spots slip away

We’re well within the qualifiers now, and the Ninjas know it.

Eddy Chen/USA Network

The sixth week of American Ninja Warrior: Ninja vs Ninja feels like we’ve stepped deeper into the competition. There are only a few more chances for the teams to secure a spot in the playoffs without having to fight through the wildcard rounds. Tonight’s teams had a wealth of experience to fall back on, but that never guarantees a win.

TL:DR: This was another fight to the finish! The Lab Rats went blow for blow against the Big Dog Ninjas, finally prevailing after five heats. The Ballers raced Team Alpha through four heats. The Lab Rats wanted things wrapped up quickly in the final round, sweeping The Ballers out of the competition.

The match-ups:

  • Lab Rats vs Big Dog Ninjas
  • The Ballers vs Team Alpha

The obstacles:

  • Sonic Swing
  • Tick Tock
  • Tilting Ladders
  • Floating Tiles
  • Flying Monkey Bars
  • Warped Wall
  • Salmon Ladder
  • Rumbling Dice
  • Zig Zag Climb

You can find more information on the rules of Ninja vs Ninja here. It follows a best-of-five, single elimination format. The last team standing moves on to the playoffs.

ROUND ONE

Lab Rats

  • Chris Wilczewski
  • Michelle Warnky
  • Brian Wilczewski

Big Dog Ninjas

  • Jody Avila
  • Brandi Monteverde
  • Josh Salinas

Heat one:

  • Chris Wilczewski vs Jody Avila

Chris had the lead going into the Tick Tock, but Jody used his impressive reach to gain an advantage on the Tilting Ladders. Jody dismounted first and moved down the course. Chris took a hard tumble on the Floating Steps. The time it took him to recover allowed Jody to complete the course uncontested.

Point = Big Dog Ninjas

Heat two:

  • Michelle Warnky vs Brandi Monteverde

Brandi was off to a tricky start when she barely made the net on Tick Tock, hitting the wall. Michelle went upside down on the Tilting Ladders to conserve her grip strength. Michelle was ahead as Brandi finished the Ladders. Brandi made a move to catch up on the Floating Monkey Bars, but Michelle moved quickly on to the Warped Wall, grabbing it on her first try.

Although the match was over, Brandi wanted to finish the course as well. Michelle stopped at the top of the Warped Wall and coached Brandi through her strategy. When Brandi hit her own buzzer, the supportive Ninjas shared a joyous hug.

Point = Lab Rats

Heat three:

  • Brian Wilczewski vs Josh Salinas

These two speedy Ninjas were close through the Tilting Ladders. Josh dismounted first with a huge leap. Brian tried to follow his lead, but he missed the landing pad and ended the race.

Point = Big Dog Ninjas

Heat four - RELAY:

Michelle and Brandi took the first obstacles. Brian and Josh waited in the middle. Chris and Jody planned to close out the race.

Michelle led quickly off the start, bringing in Brian first. Josh was behind but bolted to make up time. Brian fell while dismounting from the Ladders again. Since his feet didn’t touch the bottom of the pool, he was able to keep going. When Josh stumbled on the Floating Tiles, Brian was able to tag in Chris first. Chris blazed up the Warped Wall with Jody right behind him.

Point = Lab Rats

Heat five - Relay:

It was all on the line with this tiebreaker. Both teams kept their running order the same.

Michelle led again, giving Brian the advantage. Josh closed the gap by joining him on the Tilting Ladders. This time, Brian nailed the dismount and flew to Chris. Jody was only a moment behind again, but Chris had the lead.

Point = Lab Rats

  • Lab Rats WIN.
  • Big Dog Ninjas are OUT.

ROUND TWO

The Ballers

  • Lorin Ball
  • Meiling Huang
  • Paul Kasemir

Team Alpha

  • Brent Steffensen
  • Sydney Olson
  • David Yarter

Heat one:

  • Lorin Ball vs Brent Steffensen

The amount of experience these two Ninjas have is staggering. Lorin has nine seasons of Ninja Warrior experience to Brent’s eight years. They were tied through a good portion of the course. On the Tilting Ladders, Brent led with a big dismount. But one obstacle later he was out on the Floating Tiles.

Point = The Ballers

Heat two:

  • Meiling Huang vs Sydney Olsen

Meiling was ready to take down this course with her strong lead from the start. Sydney struggled on the rope of Sonic Swing. She recovered but then fell on the Tick Tock.

Point = The Ballers

Heat three:

  • Paul Kasemir vs David Yarter

David looked a little stressed as the pressure of saving his team fell to him. But the pressure worked for him. He pushed hard against Paul down the course. Paul was off the Tilting Ladders first but got very wet in the process. Both were on the Flying Monkey Bars when David really kicked it in to gear. Paul had a hard dismount from the Bars, ending the run and sealing David’s ability to finish the course first.

Point = Team Alpha

Heat four - RELAY:

It was still do-or-die time for Team Alpha. Meiling and Sydney positioned themselves at the start. Lorin and Brent were in the middle, with Paul and David on the last two obstacles.

When Sydney fell on the rope of Sonic Swing, Brent was given a five-second delay. But he used his speed to reach the Tilting Ladders while Lorin was still on them. Lorin leapt from the Ladders, getting a little wet. Paul was tagged in first with David not far behind. Paul hauled it to the end and secured the win.

Point = The Ballers

  • The Ballers WIN.
  • Team Alpha is OUT.

ROUND THREE

  • The Ballers vs Lab Rats

Round three takes place on the extended course of nine obstacles, adding in the Salmon Ladder, Rumbling Dice, and the Zig Zag Climb.

Heat one:

  • Lorin Ball vs Chris Wilczewski

Chris led through Tick Tock and the Tilting Ladders. Lorin had a bit of splash while leaving the Ladders. Chris had a strong lead all the way up and over the Warped Wall. He used that spare time to catch his breath before starting the Salmon Ladder. When Lorin was about to catch up, Chris started the Salmon Ladder and quickly finished it. He was on the Rumbling Dice as Lorin was on the Salmon Ladder. Lorin was just starting the Dice as Chris moved for the final climb. He completed it looking strong and with Lorin far behind him.

Point = Lab Rats

Heat two:

  • Michelle Warnky vs Meiling Huang

Meiling went for an early lead. On the Tilting Ladders, both Ninjas opted to use their legs. Michelle was able to navigate the obstacle more quickly and moved on. When Meiling tried to make up ground by bunny hopping the Floating Tiles, she slipped and ended the race.

Point = Lab Rats

Heat three:

  • Brian Wilczewski vs Paul Kasemir

The pressure was on Paul as The Ballers stared down a sweep. It was a close start, but when Paul used his legs on the Tilting Ladders, Brian pulled ahead. Paul then touched the water both leaving the Ladders and on the Tiles. Brian used his lead to dive into the back portion of the course. As Brian was on the Rumbling Dice, Paul was struggling on the Salmon Ladder. At one point, he was hanging by one hand, swaying around. He saved it, but a tired-looking Brian was already gritting his way up the Zig Zag Climb for the win.

Point = Lab Rats

  • The Ballers are OUT.
  • Lab Rats on to the playoffs!

The Mitsubishi Drive of the Night went to the fifth relay between the Big Dog Ninjas and the Lab Rats. Even though both teams had taken on exhausting heats, they pour themselves into the last race. Brian learned from his mistakes and nailed the Tilting Ladders. Chris showed incredible speed to bring the win home for his team.

Next Week:

There are only three more weeks left of the initial qualifiers! On April 9, four more teams dive into the melee.

  • The Expendabulls: Kevin Bull, Maggi Thorne, and Thaddeus Robeck
  • Lizard Kings: Hunter Guerard, Sarah Schoback, and Kyle Soderman
  • Iron Grip: Daniel Gil, Tiana Webberley, and Mathis Owhadi
  • The InvincAbels: Abel Gonzalez, Mary Beth Wang, and Victor Juarez

Update: This article has been updated to reflect the new Ninja vs Ninja airdate of Monday, April 9.