Seventeen contestants remain in the running for Season 6 of “Ink Master,” and the competition is heating up. With $100,00 and a feature in “Inked” magazine on the line, the masters and apprentices are giving it all they got.

Episode 2 of Spike’s tattoo reality show introduced the cast to Richard Stell, judge Oliver Peck’s mentor. Stell introduced the second challenge of the season – American traditional.

Once again the masters are pitted against their apprentices and must tattoo the same theme using American traditional. However, the catch is that the winner from episode one gets the advantage in choosing their canvas.

Being judged on legibility, the artists have five hours to produce a tattoo. But of course there are issues along the way. For starters, MV, whose apprentice Brian was eliminated in episode 1, chooses to go up against Katie and Matt – two artists who specialize in American traditional. Almost every other contestant agrees that he’s playing the game very poorly. Then there is poor Craig, a former contestant from Season 3 who is just not grasping that the challenge requires American traditional – not new school.

After a rough critique, these are the winners:

  • Matt vs. Katie vs. MV = Matt (master)
  • Miami vs. Craig = Craig (apprentice)
  • Tyler vs. Chris = Chris (master)
  • Erik vs. Marisa = Erik (master)
  • Big Ceeze vs. Kito = Big Ceeze (master)
  • Dave vs. Earl = Dave (master)
  • St. Marq vs. Ryan = St. Marq (master)
  • Kruseman vs. Duffy = Kruseman (master)

The winners are safe from elimination, but haven to form a jury of peers to determine who will be eliminated in week 2. They must put two artists up for elimination, while the human canvas jury must put up one. Those three artists will have the opportunity to stay in the game by facing off with another American traditional design.

The human canvases are torn between Earl and his “ribbon,” toothless snake, and Ryan’s black blob of a skull. Ryan’s tattoo is so bad that his human canvas even cries about it. A majority of the jury of peers agree that Ryan has the worst tattoo – and it doesn’t hurt that he lacks a likable personality. However, they’re torn between Earl, Kito and MV.

Ultimately the human canvas jury determines that Kito has the worst tattoo of the day, complaining about the red background and that the tattoo is not legible. The jury of peers decides to put up Ryan and Earl.

Kito, Ryan and Early have a second chance to redeem themselves, and each contestant is up for the challenge. They not only have to do an American traditional tattoo, but an Eagle design created by Richard Stell. He warns the artists to keep it “nice and clean” and avoid getting “tricky.”

Kito’s tattoo is strong, but Richard Stell doesn’t like the shading he did on the feathers. Earl passes with flying colors, getting his approval from all of the judges. Ryan has some highlights, but Richard Stell doesn’t like the “dots” he included on the neck. Ryan doesn’t take the criticism. Instead he tries to pass it off on St. Marq helping him.

Ultimately it backfires for Ryan and he is eliminated. “Ink Master” host Dave Navarro tells him that he does not have what it takes to become the next Ink Master.