We spoke with Squid Game: The Challenge finalists Samuel Wells, Phillip Cain and Mai Whelan ahead of the series finale this week about their success beating the odds and becoming the last three remaining players after hundreds of people were eliminated over the course of the games.
“It was 455 other people, so I’m pleasantly surprised yes, but still surprised,” Sam said of landing in the final three to compete for the $4.56 million cash prize.
“I’m surprised too,” Mai agreed.
“I’m pretty shocked!” Phill added. “Every single game that we went through really felt like it could have been my last and so the fact that we made it this far is an absolute miracle.”
During one of his confessional moments, Wells told cameras that the game was one of the most stressful experiences of his life, but it turns out some of the most difficult parts of the game came toward the end of the competition.
“The snake test was the hardest for me, because I knew I had friends, but I also knew that there were other things that needed to be done before just pulling your friends forward,” Sam recalled, speaking to the women’s strategy of choosing each other to ensure women weren’t completely eliminated from the shrinking ranks. “There was representation that was dwindling in the room and I knew that there was a fire to keep that going and I wanted to see that and I knew that I had enough friends, kind of in the back of my head, that I had a high chance of moving forward. But yeah that was hard.”
For Mai Whelan, the most difficult moment was watching someone she’d grown close to go home.
“The most stressful for me was when Chad got eliminated,” Mai told BOSSIP. “Because he and I were watching each other’s back, just like Mr. and Mrs. Smith… We do a round circle, just to keep everything, new information, new whatever information that’s going on the dormitory, to stay ahead of what we are thinking about. So when he was eliminated in the dice game it was a very emotional time for me, because now it’s like I didn’t know anybody. I hardly knew Sam you know until after the dice game… and then I just got to know Phil. Also, everything is new friendship for me now and so that was hard losing Chad.”
While the circle of trust exercise eliminated some of the game’s strongest players, Phill miraculously avoided being eliminated, despite being targeted multiple times in the game.
“Oh my God for me the most like stressful game easily was circle of trust,” Phill recalled. “Getting the box on my desk twice in a row and having to choose twice in a row. That was scary.”
The game brought out a ruthless side in so many players, but Sam, Phill and Mai all said they were proud of the game they played.
“I feel like it it really showed the human nature of people working together towards a common goal, I feel like,” Phill told BOSSIP. “Being a part of that was really special and I feel like you know all three of us played our best game by being ourselves not really trying to throw anybody under the bus too hard and I’m really proud of how we did that.”
We won’t spoil the finale for you just in case you haven’t watched yet but the full Season 1 of Squid Game: The Challenge is now streaming on Netflix.
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