After American Ninja Warrior's season 7 finale aired two years ago, viewers did not get to see the global competition in 2015. However, fans of the hit NBC sports entertainment series are in for a treat as the show's "USA vs. The World" special is finally here.
NBC is set to present its third annual international competition titled "American Ninja Warrior: USA vs. the World" on Sunday. This time, "Ninja athletes" from all over the world will compete in teams of five.
Team USA will include winner Isaac Caldiero and runner-up Geoff Britten, joined by previously successful ninja competitors Drew Drechsel, Kevin Bull, Ian Dory and Joe Moravsky. Team Japan will feature stars from "Sasuke," the Japanese show from which American Ninja Warrior is derived, including Yusuke Morimoto and Ryo Matachi, both of whom competed in the 2014 special, along with Masashi Hioki, Kenji Takahashi and Tomohiro Kawaguchi.
The reigning champions, Team Europe, have three returning athletes; Italy's Stefano Ghisolfi, France's Sean McColl and England's Tim Shieff. Tim Champion and Alexander Mars who won in the show's Swedish edition will be Europe's new members.
The action-packed series follows a format where competitors tackle a series of physically demanding obstacle courses modeled after the famed Mt. Midoriyama course in Japan. Winning a stage will earn teams "heat" points. A Stage 1 heat is worth one point then winning Stage 2 heat will earn them two points, and so on. Should there be a tie, the teams involved will need to send one athlete each to play in a winner-take-all heat for Stage 4's 77-foot rope climb.
A tie did happen in 2014, when Team USA and Team Europe went into a deadlock during Stage 4. Travis Rosen of Team USA became the first American competitor to conquer Stage 4 in the final heat. However, Team Europe's Sean McColl ultimately bested his time to win the title for his team.
Team USA is looking to reclaim the world ninja warrior title after their loss to Europe in 2015. Those who do not want to miss American Ninja Warrior's three-hour USA vs. the World special, they should tune in on Sunday, January 31st at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. That TV slot will apparently take advantage of the NFL's off week prior to the much awaited Super Bowl on February 7.
NBC and Esquire TV will also team up to offer an online live stream of the show. The heart-racing competition series is hosted by Matt Iseman, former NFL player Akbar Gbaja Biamila, and co-host Kristine Leahy.