Ranking the Survivor Winners

Another season of Survivor has come to an end. This one ended with Kim Spradlin coming out victorious, many people stating that Kim played the best game of all time, but where does she rank is my list of winners?

NOTE: I am more likely to rank people higher who take the game into their own hands rather than those who play a more subtle game. I think that every winner did what they had to in order to win, otherwise they wouldn’t have won, but there are some who just do it better than others. Those who make the decisions and control those around those rank higher than those who let others do the bidding for them.

24. Amber Brkich, All Stars: Amber didn’t deserve to be there in the first place and rode her anonymity to the finish. In Australia she paired up with Jerri, this time she picked Boston Rob. There was no difference in her strategy, this time she just was fortunate that she picked someone who would dominate so hard and would do so in such an embittering way.

23. Bob Crowley, Gabon: Bob had little idea what was happening for pretty much the whole game. He was on the very outside of the “onion alliance” only as a number. He was the least important so he stuck around, won a couple of immunities, and got lucky that Sugar just wanted to put on an interesting show. Bob did have some foresight, but as Randy said “there was nothing strategic” about his fake idols. He’s a nice guy, but didn’t actually do much to win.

22. Fabio Birza, Nicaragua: I like Fabio a lot, but there is little I can do to defend his game. This just shows that sometimes the best way to play is to not get your hands dirty at all. This is what Fabio did, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It is an interesting strategy to say ‘hey, I didn’t do anything’ but one that is very hard to replicate. He did have a solid alliance at one point (with Marty, Dan, and Benry) which is what puts him one ahead of Bob. His challenge run and final tribal speech were also impressive.

21. Natalie White, Samoa: I think Natalie may be better than people give her credit for. The Samoa jury still insists that she played Russell the entire time and there has got to be something to this. She may or may not have taken Russell knowing that she could beat him, I guess this is something we will never know. What we do know is that she certainly played a wonderful social game, making friends with them as Russell voted them out.

20. Vecepia Towery, Marquesas: At this point the winners left all really did a great job, and it is hard to rate Vecepia this low, because she was a great subtle player. She started off in the main alliance and when the tribes swapped she put her foot in both camps ready to go whichever way she had to (notice that she helped to vote Boston Rob out). When it got down to the final 4 she made deals with whomever she had to in order to ensure that she was in the finals. Her moves weren’t obvious and she never was at the top of the decision making and that is why she ranks here.

19. Danni Boatwright, Guatemala: Danni was the last person remaining in her alliance and rather than give up, she slowly formed bonds with those at the top. She helped to convince them that the others were more threatening than herself and then went on to win the final immunity taking Stephanie, who she knew she could beat. Her and Vecepia’s stories are very similar so really they could flip flop at any time.

18. Sandra, Heroes vs. Villains: Sandra started out in a majority alliance (with Rob, Tyson, Courtney, Coach, and Jerri) of which she probably would have done well if it hadn’t fallen apart. After Tyson and Rob had been voted out she manipulated Russell to get rid of Coach and then even helped vote out Courtney. When she got to the merge she remained in a place that was open to the Heroes to use her, but also loyal to the Villains which lead her to the finals with nobody hating her.

17. Sandra, Pearl Islands: Sandra essentially played the same way both times. She started in the majority, that alliance fell apart, she snuck through as the big threats got voted out and then made deals to get her to the finals. I thought her first season was a little better because she planted seeds in people’s heads to make them paranoid about everyone but her. She is an under the radar player, but one who really does understand the game and uses that to her advantage.

16. Jenna Morasca, The Amazon: I used to really dislike Jenna as a winner, but I’ve begun to come around on her. Her personality was annoying on the island, but her gameplay not too bad. She wasn’t a crazy strategist, but placed herself in great spots. She started off by forming an alliance with Deena, Shawna, and Heidi and later evolved that into adding Rob and Alex. Sure she wasn’t the one making it all happen, but she was a part of it all. Her most introspective move was giving up immunity to Heidi, knowing that Rob wanted to keep her until the final 2. She also won 4 immunities, especially when she had to.

15. Aras Baskauskas, Panama:Aras really is the perfect middle of the road winner. He became an integral part of his alliance and worked into the top of it. He made sure he did the right things, but never stood out as a master strategist. He was good at everything, but not really great. He was likable and did exactly what he had to, luckily for him there were no big obstacles for him to overcome.

14. Ethan Zohn, Africa: Ethan was the perfect nice guy winner. He was always #2 in his alliance and took the lead when Lex was gone. He made sure to be involved in all the decision making, but kept his relationships strong whilst Lex was busy telling people how to vote and squabbling over who voted for him. He is the kind of guy who anyone would never really have a good reason to vote off and he used this to his advantage.

13. Sophie Clarke, South Pacific: Sophie is an extremely intelligent player, but was forced to play under the radar due to the circumstances of her season. Her ability to adapt shows her strength as a player, but unfortunately she wasn’t able to show just how good she was (also due to the edit likely). I hope she plays again so we can see just how good of a player he actually is.

12. Parvati Shallow, Micronesia: It’s hard to rank her this low, but it is also hard to know how much of the work she actually did. She was working with 2 of the strongest female players to ever play (in Amanda and Cirie) and yes she beat the both of them, but she also worked alongside them. She certainly is a great player, but it’s hard for me to budge on anyone else.

11. Tina Wesson, Australia: I think Tina understood how to play the game just as well as anyone the first couple of seasons, but wasn’t given the edit that others were given. Perhaps they wanted to preserve her “motherly” image, but she was willing to cut people’s throats like no other. She was the one who decided who would go and if it had been Colby making the decisions I don’t even think he would have made the finals.

10. Christ Daugherty, Vanuatu: I really think that Chris played hard from the start. He lost the 1st immunity challenge for the guys, but played it off as no big deal while forming the “Fat five” alliance. The most impressive thing was the bonds he made with each player. He did so to the effect that he was able to later use these to overcome being the sole guy against 6 women to win. Some people (like Troyzan this season) see the game as a chess board with people to move around, but haven’t formed the relationships to carry out their plans. Chris understood that he needed solid relationships to make people do what he wanted. He used his social abilities to come back and win.

9. JT Thomas, Tocantins: I think that JT’s reputation has gone down since his stint on Heroes vs. Villains so I think a rewatch is in order for him. Whether it was he or Stephen making all the decisions, he still is probably the most likable Survivor of all time. His 9-0 win over a perfectly competent opponent proves this. He won challenges, played the likable Souther boy, and at least had Stephen to help him make moves.

8. Yul Kwon, Cook Islands: It feels so strange to have him this low as he really is one of the best to ever play. Really 6-12 are all interchangeable. Yul played like a diplomat. He took all the high flying personalities around him and stood in the middle of them in order to form compromises and order. He knew exactly what to do in each situation and was competent in every aspect of the game.

7. Richard Hatch, Borneo: Richard figured it all out. He decided to get a group to vote together and figured out which group would be the best to have to be successful. He worked hard to keep that group together and did other things like provide fish in order to make him a necessity around camp. His understanding of people and his willingness to throw that final challenge is what makes him an elite player 23 seasons later.

6. Earl Cole, Fiji: Earl ran the show from day 1 in Fiji. Bringing together the right people and making sure he was always in the know. He sent out other people to bring him back information so he was always being filled in. He teamed up with Yau Man to strategize and unlike so many others was willing to sacrifice his best friend in a way that allowed him to win at the end. Earl commanded the game without ever being obvious, he was physical enough without being a threat, and was likable without seeming like an obvious jury threat.

5. Todd Herzog, China: Todd played the game that any superfan strategist would want to play. He came in and got his pawns always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else. He was always thinking of how to get ahead maybe better than anyone else. He was known as the sneaky strategist to everyone yet still held enough clout to get to the end. He used the bitter jury effect to his advantage and then gave the best jury speech of all time. He lacked physically and kind of lucked out that he was on an extremely physical tribe in a season full of physical challenges.

4. Brian Heidik, Thailand: Brian played an emotionless game. He kept everyone where he had to and made friends with just enough people. He had a purpose with each person there and never let annoyances or conflict get in the way of playing the game. Some argue that he barely beat Clay, a scapegoat, as an argument against him, but I say that he cultivated as many relationships as he had to in order to win. When he needed Shi-Ann he buddied up with her. He was liked by everyone in his alliance (who all voted for him to win) and to seal the deal he made a friendship with Jake, one that was the determining vote for him.

3. Kim Spradlin, One World: Every move that Kim made was intentional. Every conversation she took part in was “to get her hooks” into people. She set herself up so well that no matter what happened she was in a good position. Not only was her strategic game great, but she dominated physically and formed such great bonds with people that she dominated the vote 7-2-0 against two very competitive and likable people.

2. Tom Westman, Palau: There were only 3 times this season where Tom could have been voted out. Other than this he was immune at every single tribal council. Nobody else (no not even Ozzy) has been able to match this. If you wanted to make a move against him, you couldn’t because he was immune. Plus he was at the head of the main alliance (with Ian, Katie, Gregg, and Jenn) and the sub-alliance within it (with Ian and Katie). The thing that he nailed though was his relationship with Caryn, which prevented him from going when the girls started plotting against him and Ian.

1. Boston Rob Mariano, Redemption Island: Rob played everything picture perfect. With each move he made he controlled how his group would think and react and this allowed him move around whichever way he had to. From getting rid of those who would threaten him or pair up at the start to creating a culture of fear within his group so that none would turn against him. His “buddy system” was ingenious and to top it off he won all the challenges he needed to. Perfect game.

Ranking the Survivor Seasons

The 24th season of Survivor has come to an end with Kim Spradlin taking home the win in a 7-2-0 vote. Kim absolutely dominated this game strategically, socially, and physically, something which I thought was extremely fun to watch. Going back to regular format (and not redemption island) made this season a breath of fresh air for me and each episode brought the excitement that Survivor is known to bring.

It was almost as if the editors gave us the strong woman winner we’ve been waiting for and decided to do it no holds barred. People complained that Sophie didn’t get enough air time last season, well Kim was the opposite. The final 5 were all women, so the editors were probably like ‘crap, we actually have to show at least one of them!’

I like Kim a lot and hope to hear and see a lot more from her in the future.

Instead of doing a big strategy recap (as Kim just destroyed everything) I am going to rank all 24 Survivor seasons from worst to best.

It should be known that some seasons I didn’t watch live (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 18) but went back and watched them after they aired where I already knew who the winner was. This gave me a different way of viewing the season (why …. won) so I may have a different perspective than some of you on them. Some I have watched both live and again afterward (6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) and some I have only seen live week-by-week (16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24).

SPOILERS ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!

24. Redemption Island-The worst season due to its complete lack of drama. Sure Boston Rob played a perfect game and it was fun to watch him do it, but thinking about players like Steve, Mike, Julie, Natalie, and Ashley just makes me want to fall asleep. Matt made the Redemption Island twist interesting at first and Phillip always stirred the pot, but really there is little to redeem it.

23. All Stars-Watching the greats go at it was cool when they were in it, but a final with Jenna Lewis, Rob Mariano, and Amber Brkich is not what anybody wanted to see. It started as great fun, but turned into an oppressively angry and bitter season of Survivor. Post merge was not only kind of boring, but each person was so angry to be voted out that it sucked all the fun out of it.

22. Thailand-I really liked Brian, thought he was fun to watch and an amazing player. I even liked Ted, Helen, and Clay, but the rest of the cast was boring and the season entirely too predictable.

21. Marquesas-I may be underrating this season a bit as there are some absolute game changing things that take place that changed Survivor. The final 9 vote where John gets taken down by Paschal and Neleh flipping was one of the greatest moments ever and the first time anybody had really flopped. This was Boston Rob’s debut and Sean was hilarious throughout, but the 3 weeks where Zoe, Tammy, and the General get voted out was just so boring. Vecepia is underrated as well, but just overall not that thrilling, just like this season.

20. Nicaragua-This is a season where everything that is supposed to happen happens. Anyone who complains about people at the bottom never taking out those at the top should not complain about this season, because that is exactly what happened. They got rid of big threats like Brenda and Marty early on, letting the underdogs make it to the end and eventually letting someone who did little win the million dollars. The underdogs were also not that exciting which is why this ranks so low.

19. Gabon-There are a lot of solid characters and big moments throughout this season. I loved watching Kenny sneak and maneuver and the “onion alliance” was pretty solid gameplay-wise. Despite how entertaining the beginning was, I cannot rank it higher because of how terrible the final 4 was. I don’t think that any of them would have been satisfying winners and it was such a disappointment to watch them make it that far.

18. South Pacific-Redemption Island was even more unbearable the 2nd time around, but the cast for this season was pretty solid. Coach, Sophie, and Albert all played great games, making for a very competitive final 3 and John Cochran deserves to be ranked among the great Survivor characters. His move is really what saved this season from being a complete disaster as it added excitement that we had not season since Heroes vs. Villains.

17. Palau-A lot of people really loved this season because of the awesome location, challenges, and likable winner, but looking back who can you remember in this season? Do you remember anyone besides Tom, Ian, and Stephanie? Anyone in the ill-fated Ulong tribe? Sure one tribe destroying the other is a kinda cool factoid, but leads to nothing dramatically post-merge. Overrated by the masses.

16. One World-I think I might be a bit biased on this one. For one, there was no redemption island which automatically made there be so much more drama within each episode than the past two seasons, causing much more excitement. The other reason I’m biased is that I cheered for Kim from the very first episode, hoping that she would win. When I saw that she was capable of this (which I started saying on episode 2), I jumped completely on her bandwagon, so it was very satisfying to watch her absolutely decimate the competition. Kim played the exact way I would want to play if I was out there (and certainly better). This one will probably sink a little when the Kimsanity dies due to lack of surprise, but I honestly did feel tension throughout each episode.

15. Panama-This might be the funniest season in Survivor history. The Casaya tribe is the most dysfunctional yet successful tribe in Survivor. Courtney, Shane, Bruce, Aras, and Danielle all fighting with each other with Cirie providing hilarious commentary makes for a great season. Casaya’s success has got to be one of the great storylines. Aras and Danielle were a kind of disappointing final 2 compared with all the other options, but the humor makes it great.

14. Guatemala-I really loved most of the cast on this one. Players like Brian, Gary, Amy, Judd, and Brandon were all really fun to watch. There were a couple of epic blindsides, one of which resulted in the best post-voteout reaction ever (“I hope you all get eaten by a frikkin’ crocodile”). Danni was a subtle winner, but rewatching it, you can certainly see that she is deserving.

13. Cook Islands-Yul the diplomat defeated Ozzy the challenge beast in one of the most deserving finals ever. Yul’s overpowered idol lead to a lack of drama late in the season, but it certainly caused some great moments with Jonathan’s flip at the merge. Cheering on the Aitutaki 4 after Candice and Jonathan’s mutiny was extremely fun and satisfying when they remained as the final 4.

12. Africa-Extremely likable cast, I think I would have been satisfied if any of the final 9 had won. Big Tom gave us some of the funniest moments ever, Lex was a control freak who was extremely successful, and Ethan was the laid back dude who made sure things went his way when they had to, leading him to victory. I would have to say this was the harshest location Survivor has ever had, probably leading to a more boring camp life than usual. The season is also pretty straight forward, which is why it isn’t higher.

11. Samoa-Russell Hantz helped bring me into Survivor superfandom. At this point I am tired of all the hoopla surrounding him, but his first season he was extremely fun to watch. He approached the game in an all-in fashion and in a way I had rarely seen before (sabotaging your tribe!? Brilliant!). 3 seasons and a nephew later it feels really old, but at the time it certainly felt like a new, unique, and viable way of playing. Those first few post-merge weeks were as exciting as they come as the Foa Foa magically worked their way from 4 down to taking 4 of the final 5 spots. I think that Natalie worked as a winner, though it definitely was a little disappointing.

10. Australia-The first half of this season is really fun and exciting. Mike is goin’ all crazy, Alicia is waving her finger around, and Jeff Varner is providing the best commentary we’d seen in Survivor. After the merge it gets pretty boring (I blame Jeff’s being voted out as part of this) and the editors chose to show the absolute minimum strategy talk possible. I understand that the show has shifted nowadays and that back then they wanted to show more of their life on the island than the game aspect, but they could show us a little as to why they’re voting the way they are! At the final 6 Amber looks to be somewhat in the majority alliance, only to be voted out with little mention as to why! Even Colby didn’t vote for her! What conversations took place to make this happen? It’s frustrating. I think Tina would be considered a far better winner if there was more strategy shown. She totally controlled and outplayed Colby, but it just wasn’t shown.

9. Heroes vs. Villains-This was a great season, with the most epic of returnees being brought back to compete against each other. The theme was perfect and added interesting dynamics to how the season played out. There were some moments that will go to live on forever in Survivor lore (Tyson flopping to vote himself out, JT giving up the idol, Parvati playing 2 idols) and that’s what makes it great. What doesn’t make it great is the huge number of Hidden Immunity Idols. Now I am a proponent of the hidden idol; I think that it adds tons of excitement and gives those at the bottom a chance to keep playing. But when they put 5 idols into one season, it is a little over the top.

8. Fiji-Oh the most hated of seasons is one that I really enjoy watching. I find the characters so entertaining and it endlessly dramatic. There were quite a few people out there truly playing the game, leading to moves and countermoves in each episode. Earl played such a wonderful game leading his group of people without any of them knowing it. Yau Man was one of the best characters the show has ever had, making fake idols before it was cool to do it. The Four Horsemen actually were all pretty competent if you go back and watch, but it is oh so fun to watch their downfall. Sure there are a couple of dumb twists (like Michelle’s boot), but I find it hugely entertaining in so many aspects.

7. Borneo-The very first one will always be a top 10 season. I think most of its merits are nostalgia-based and a lot of what happens is really not all that exciting or well edited, other than because it’s the first time its ever happened. All that said, it probably is the best cast they’ve ever had and that is not coming from rose-colored glasses. Each player out there is so unique and so special and there is not one that is boring. There are people from opposite walks of life forced to work together and figure it all out and that is what makes it a top 10 season. Plus Richard is wonderful to watch figuring it all out and move each piece that he needs to in order to win.

6. Vanuatu-I love Chris Daugherty and don’t really understand why he never became a popular Survivor player. I feel the same way about this entire season. From the start the votes are unpredictable (what you need from a good season) and it all pays off with the best (yes, the best) blindside in Survivor history at the final 7. Chris lied his way through the whole season and ended up winning it all despite this. He fought back as the only man, one who nobody considered a threat and took down the girl power alliance fronted by Ami and Leann. Players like Rory, Chad, and Sarge are all underrated and I also think that Twila is a great character, one I wish that they would’ve brought back (I’m looking at you Danielle Dilorenzo).

5. Pearl Islands-This season features the ultimate hero (Rupert) vs. the ultimate villain (Fairplay) in an epic battle, which at first makes it look like the hero has got it, but the villain emerges as victor (at least of the 2) in a way that I absolutely loved! When watching this season, my whole family cheered on lovable Rupert, but hated on sneaky Johnny Fairplay. But not I. No, I cheered for Fairplay as he made deals and broke them and jumped alliances and backstabbed people. I thought he was brilliant and to watch him blindside the season’s hero was the ultimate story for me. Not to mention, his lie about his grandma’s death is probably the most famous moment to ever happen in Survivor. We haven’t even talked about Sandra, who is the loudmouthed under the radar winner who perfected the “anyone but me” strategy in a great way.

4. Tocantins-This season has everything you could want from Survivor. It has crazy characters (Coach, Sierra), funny people (Tyson), likable players (JT, Brendan, Taj), strategy (Stephen), blindsides (Brendan followed by Tyson followed by Sierra followed by Debbie followed by Coach followed by Taj), drama, and in the end a great winner who made good alliances and dominated in challenges. If I were to create a season, this would be it.

3. China-If Borneo has the best cast, China has got to have the 2nd best one. Courtney, Denise, Todd, Amanda, Jean Robert, and James all were on the same tribe together, creating probably the best tribe in Survivor history (character wise). It was great watching Todd piece together his victory little by little making moves and manipulating whenever he had to, but it was also never obvious that he would win. Amanda was right there providing strategy along with him until she blew it on day 37 and screwed herself out of a million bucks. There are plenty of epic moments and great challenges and it really is so much fun to watch.

2. Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites-While both of the other all star seasons seemed to slow down after the first few episodes, this one only gained speed leading us to the most epic string of tribal councils to ever take place. From Eliza having a “f***ing stick”, to Ozzy getting blindsided with an idol to Jason being backstabbed to Amanda playing an idol to save herself, to Erik giving up immunity only to be got by the Black Widow Alliance there was no way you could watch and not love what was happening. Sure the fans were all kind of lame and some great favorites went early (Fairplay, Yau Man), but I wouldn’t change anything about what happens come merge time. Parvati proved herself as one of the best with her flirt to the top strategy and in doing so created the 2nd best Survivor season ever.

1. The Amazon-When I was a young boy, I had had a few experiences with Survivor but had never seen a full season. Come 7th grade my family decided to jump onto the bandwagon to watch Survivor: The Amazon. This is likely because it was men vs. women and I wanted to root for the guys to beat the girls (hey, I was a jr. higher). After watching the Amazon I was blown away! This season is for me what Borneo or Australia is to a lot of others. It was my first one and I am a nostalgic mess about it. I also think objectively, it still ranks as or among the best (check out other lists, it will almost always rank in the top 10). While Micronesia had the greatest string of episodes, I think Amazon had the 2nd best post merge episodes. It started with Rodger getting ousted in what is probably the funniest episode ever, then Deena got blindsided, then Alex got blindsided by his best pal, then Christy trying to make a power move also gets blindsided. The person behind all those blindsides? Rob Cesternino. Rob C. is my favorite Survivor player ever (and now he leads the reality tv related podcast Rob Has a Podcast which is great) and he changed the way that Survivor was played. Rather than sticking with his original alliance, he chose to flip and flop individually between several blocks of people in order to advance himself further. On top of his strategy prowess, he is also one of the funniest Survivors ever, feeding lines to the cameras whenever possible, but never in an insulting manner. The end result was disappointing (with Jenna defeating Matt), but as time goes on I am seeing Jenna as a better and better player (the only thing that holds her back was her desire to quit). The Amazon is and will probably always remain my favorite season.

Check back soon for my ranking of every Survivor winner.

Survivor: One World Episode 13

This week the editors let us on to a lot more than we had learned the previous few episodes.  While this ended up doing nothing to what we’ve been shown to be the power trio (Kim, Chelsea, Sabrina), it was still eye opening to the kind of game that both Kim and Alicia are playing. Tarzan tried his best to solidify himself as a final 3 contender, but in the end Kim had her way.

Alicia Does Have Some Skills

The girl’s alliance had been shown to be a solid group of 5 with Kim and Chelsea at the top and Christina at the bottom. This week Alicia was shown to be at the head of a different alliance, one featuring Christina, Tarzan, and the biggest surprise of all Kim. Strategically speaking Kim was not only at the head of 2 alliances, but 3. She truly has had her “hooks in everyone” (as she said during the tribe swap) and left her options open as much as possible.

While giving yourself several options to take is a great strategy, eventually it leads to a decision that will her whichever side you don’t pick. This week Kim was forced to pick between Chelsea/Sabrina and Alicia/Tarzan/Christina. On one side she chooses 2 girls who have been with her since day 1, knowing that if she breaks their trust it could lead to a bitter seed being spread throughout the jury. On the other, she goes along with 3 people who she will annihilate in the final jury vote. It’s kind of a lose-lose (or maybe win-win) for her.

Little does Kim know that both Tarzan and Alicia are starting to think of getting rid of her once they get rid of Chelsea. They will have 3 people in their alliance and either of them would have a good shot of beating the other and Christina in the final vote. With this prospect, the 3 do not look as dumb for not choosing to flop over with Troyzan who they would have no shot of beating at all if he were to make it to the finals. Alicia does have some savvy gameplay within her even if she is a bit delusional and overbearing at times.

Kim Always Gets Her Way

None of this is really too big of a problem for Kim however, as she devises a plan wherein everyone gets their way. She plays this absolutely brilliant and is not forced to make her toughest choice in the game (she said she would have voted Chelsea out if she had to). Instead, she convinces Alicia that Tarzan is playing the both of them and is actually trying to make it to the finals with Christina and Sabrina! She does this in a moment where she seems so full of genuine discovery, that she nearly convinced me she was telling the truth.

The edit made it seem like they might end up voting out Chelsea, but in the end, Kim was victorious and it was a 5-1 vote for Tarzan.

By revealing all this new information to us this week, the producers really did do a good job of keeping us on our toes. If we hadn’t seen such a strong edit all season for the Kim/Chelsea/Sabrina I might’ve 100% believed she was going to flop to the other side. I am sure that we will see this temptation appear again Sunday at the final 5, with Kim again being the swing vote (while simultaneously being at the head of each alliance. Amazing.).

Who’s Gonna Win?

I really believe it will come down to a Chelsea vs. Kim final in which the jury must decide between the girl who played with her heart (but at least showed her heart) against the girl who played all of them (but they might not really know).

My prediction for the finale is: Christina gets out 1st. Chelsea wins the final immunity and they choose to vote out Sabrina at 4. The final 3 is Kim, Chelsea, and Alicia. Kim wins in a 5-3-1 vote. The votes go this way: Jonas, Michael, Jay, Leif, Sabrina vote for Kim. Troyzan, Kat, Christina vote Chelsea. Tarzan votes for Alicia. I will be way off, but its worth a try.

If Kim wins, I think I would put her as the best female player in a season and maybe all time. If its Chelsea, she’s more middle of the pack. I don’t think it will be Sabrina or Alicia and it certainly won’t be Christina.

After the finale, I plan on doing a recap, as well as making lists ranking both the seasons of Survivor and the winners from worst to best.

Survivor: One World Episode 12

While watching Survivor this week, I didn’t feel very into it. To me, it didn’t matter who won the reward challenge or the immunity challenge or whether it would be Kat or Sabrina going home. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel connected to what was happening on screen. This is likely due to the lack of stakes for the one I’ve been cheering on all season: Kim. I felt no risk of her being voted out, thus I felt minimally involved with the action this week. (I try to watch it without too much of a bias, but at times it’s hard especially when one player is as strategy savvy as Kim)

This week strategically was out of the hands of our main strategy storyteller Kim, as for the first time she didn’t get exactly what she wanted. This also shows what a brilliant game Kim has been playing so that even when she doesn’t get what she wants, it still leaves her in a wonderful position. There is no way she goes, except for the off-chance she goes at the final 4. However even that is unlikely, as she is a huge threat to win immunity and no one seems wise enough to get rid of her then. Survivor is a numbers game and Kim couldn’t quite gain the numbers to get rid of who she wanted (Sabrina), but wisely adapted to the majority, rather than cause ruffles. Sure things would probably be better for her with Kat in the picture, they are not much worse for her now.

Christina and Tarzan are essentially playing the same game right now. One in which they try to survive anyway they can, vote by vote. They need to continue to paint others as more threatening than they, win a couple of challenges, and sneak their way into the finals. As we saw with Alicia tonight, people’s mindset can shift in an hour, causing them to make irrational decisions. Alicia started the episode paranoid about how good of a speaker Sabrina is and wanted to get her out. Later, after Kat placed 2nd in the challenge, she became paranoid about her and chose to get rid of her instead. If Christina or Tarzan goes on a 2 or 3 challenge run ( a la Fabio) this could stick in the jury’s mind and give them more credit (or votes) than they deserve.

Speaking of Alicia, she by far had the worst episode (except for Kat of course). Instead of voting out Sabrina, she chose to get rid of (what seemed like) one of her closest allies, someone who had just chosen to take her on the biggest reward of the season! Not only does she get rid of a close alliance mate whom she might have a chance of beating in the finals, but she almost guarantees that Kat won’t vote for her in a finals situation. Terrible gameplay on her behalf.

On the opposite end, Chelsea played the best of everyone this episode. Instead of Kim swaying her, she swayed Kim the way she wanted. She kept Sabrina around, someone who Kim doesn’t necessarily want around and will likely get rid of soon, instead of Kat, someone who had just taken Kim on a reward and who Kim was thinking of taking to the finals. In getting rid of Kat, Chelsea ensures that she remains Kim’s #1, and there is less temptation for Kim to not take her to the finals. Kat also seemed to be a better athlete than Sabrina, so really this is a bonus for Chelsea on any level. If anyone can beat Kim, I think Chelsea is the one to do it.

Also is it ever good to win an individual reward anymore? Especially the family visit? I don’t think that there is any good that can ever come from this and I would much rather roll the dice on if I get to go than be the one in charge.

There was very little made on the fact that the girls finally got rid of 1 of their original 5. Everyone just seemed to be okay with the fact that either Sabrina or Kat would go, something that is very surprising considering how much talk there has been about not flipping on the original 5. I guess they all figure it would happen eventually and why not at the final 7?

I still have this eery feeling that Kim will not be able to pull this off when it comes to the jury. If she doesn’t do it and for whatever reason loses to Chelsea or Sabrina, I really don’t know how I’ll take it. If she doesn’t win, then playing strategically and controlling the game in this manner becomes an inviable way to play. We will have to see how it plays out…

Next week’s episode I imagine will be pretty boring, but the finals should be exciting with everyone battling to see who will join Kim and Chelsea in the finals.

Survivor One World Episode 11

Dumbest Episode of the Season

This season has had a number of strategic errors made by various players. At the top of the list would be the men giving up an immunity in order to go to Tribal Council. Despite the impossibly ridiculous lack of common sense it took to make that move, I think that this week’s episode had the most strategic errors of the entire season.

The episode started off with Kim vowing to get rid of Troyzan no matter what it took, something that made me nervous from a editing perspective, especially with all the previews I had been seeing all week. Usually when someone states that their goal for that episode is to do …. it means that goal will probably get screwed around with and they will have to figure out something else to do. For Kim it did not work out this way, but good job by the editors to put this doubt in my mind (and really all season has been unpredictable despite the guys getting Pagonged).

The reward challenge this week was one that they have nearly every season in which players answer a series of questions, with each question that they get correct they can attempt to eliminate another player from the challenge. It takes 3 hits to eliminate someone from a challenge. This is one of the great Survivor challenges, because it often reveals the pecking order of those in the majority. Most notably in Survivor: Marquesas this challenge completely flipped the game as the bottom 5 realized that they were at the bottom and decided to work against those at the top.

It was obvious that the production team wanted to give Troyzan every opportunity to stay in this game by throwing out this challenge (one that I feel is usually played with 9 or 7 people left and not 8). They didn’t make it an immunity challenge either, likely because there is no way Troyzan would have won it.

Troyzan was the first one out, but the girls did a good job of mixing things up and didn’t show their hand hardly at all during the challenge. When Kim won she got to pick 2 people to come with her on the reward. She chooses Alicia and Chelsea leaving a heartbroken Kat behind (can she get a more Fabio-esque edit?) with a majority 4 others (production really wanted Troyzan around).

This is where Troyzan really picked up on his strategy this week. Although it was his boot episode he really played it nicely and better than anyone else did this week (which is refreshing when the season has been so dominated by Kim). He starts pecking away at Kat telling her that she is just a follower and that Kim doesn’t want her in the finals and this pecking really does seem to work. Sabrina tries to calm her, but Kat is really upset over what happened. Sabrina also uses this time to see who is with them and who is willing to work against them by asking Troyzan what his plan was. Christina takes the bait and says she likes the plan. This really was a good move on Sabrina’s part, probably the best we’ve seen her make all season. I was impressed with it.

Can Anyone Figure Out these Reward Challenges?

Why is it so hard to pick the right people on reward challenges? Yes I get that it would be hard to decide who to pick only portions of your alliance, but don’t promise people things that you don’t follow through on! If I was out there, I would almost choose to throw any reward challenge in hopes that I wouldn’t have to pick. Either that, or I would just make a point to take whoever got 2nd just to play the “fair” card. Seriously, Ian screwed it up in Palau and it basically cost him the game, Chase screwed it up in Nicaragua and it partially cost him the game, and now Kim makes a move off of emotions rather than strategy.

By Kim deciding she wants to take her friend she left an angry alliance member with the bottom 3 on the totem pole, with only Sabrina to try to keep things from going wild. She played things okay by coming back, but really it was a pig showing up at their camp that ended up helping her maintain control of her alliance. Survivor really is a lot of luck, because if that pig didn’t show up and take everyone’s mind off of the game, then anything could have happened (though I doubt it).

The immunity challenge was one of the ones where they oil themselves up and slide down it in order to throw rings around a baseboard. This was probably the most boring version of this challenge I’ve ever seen. It was elimination based and there was almost nothing to look at visually. Troyzan got eliminated in the first round by Tarzan, something that had almost no build up to it at all, a strange anti-climactic turn for something I assumed would seal Troyzan’s fate. Kim won her first immunity, showing that she really is a triple threat in this game (social, strategy, physical).

The threat of a hidden immunity idol has nearly become the most powerful tool in the entire game. Anyone who is ever close to the bottom and being voted out should always pretend like they have an idol. Doing this brought Troyzan 1 vote from saving himself, which is just unbelievable.

The girls are freaked out at the prospect of this idol and decide to split the votes, a risky but almost necessary move. They decide to let Christina receive the votes and Sabrina decides to join the dumb-strategy club by telling her that she is the one who will get the split vote. Normally this would be a HUGE mistake to make, but Christina seems pretty okay with it and even tells Troyzan that they are splitting the votes with her!!!! At the beginning of this season I almost picked this girl to be the winner, instead she joins the ranks of the worst players of all time. Not only does she do this, but she also decides to flip her vote to Chelsea (to try and work with Troyzan I guess) leaving Troyzan to find one more person to vote for Christina and save himself.

When it comes down to it, he cannot get Kat to flip and he gets voted out 4-3-1 something that was a lot closer than it ever should have been and leaving Tarzan as the last man standing.

The Rise of Kat

We got a strange edit for Kat this week that ended with Troyzan coming up to her after being voted out and telling her “DO IT”. Is this the rise of Kat? I have always thought that she was in a good spot alliance-wise and her desire to not be a follower certainly puts her ahead of past players like Natalie Tenerelli or Cowboy Rick. Is this what will empower her to make a big move? Will she make it to the end and get the sympathetic male vote? Next week’s preview seems to show Kat gaining even more momentum.

Kim made her first mistake of the game, but it was ultimately something that did not seem to cost her too much. It will be very interesting to see how the women go after each other and just how ugly it will get.

If I was Tarzan I would throw myself out there for anyone who wanted to use me, playing up the fact that I am not a threat in any aspect of the game whatsoever. The girls should not take him to the end though, for fear of the men wanting another man to win.

It was a really good episode and continues a really good season. Each remaining player has their own arc and that makes it really fun to follow, as well as unpredictable.

Survivor: One World Ep. 10

This week on Survivor was an interesting one, as we saw little of the actual bootee and instead had all the focus on one person taking on the rest of the entire tribe. It was Troyzan vs. everyone this week from start to finish. Troyzan definitely played up the victim’s role and complained the entire episode about being on the outside. Eventually, thanks to an advantage in the challenge, he went on to win an immunity, forcing the girls to vote out Leif, despite Troyzan’s effort to gather those at the bottom to against Kim.

Did Troyzan shoot himself in the foot?

Strategically there were many flaws and missed opportunities this week. The first being the aforementioned self-victimizing that Troyzan did the whole episode. Troyzan definitely did not benefit himself in any way by whining and subsequently gloating when he won the challenge. Doing this he definitely, as Survivor blogger Superjude stated in his blog, made himself a replica of Terry from Survivor: Panama. Like Troyzan, Terry was the final member of his alliance left to fight for immunity each week. Terry did end up winning every immunity except for that fateful last one, making him finish in 3rd place. Also like Troyzan, Terry carried this attitude with him the entire time so that when the other alliance (Bruce, Aras, Cirie, Shane, Courtney, Danielle) had to eat itself, they simply ignored him and worked around his plans.

Troyzan was right in his attempt to get the bottom 4 to flip. Most times in Survivor, being the one to flip is not the best move to make. Case in point, John Cochran from last season or the fact that the nobody who has ever won has ever really flipped against their alliance (think about it, it’s true). Where Troyzan went wrong is forgetting that Survivor is grounded in personal relationships, not merely chess pieces to move across a board. So when you act cocky and shove it in everyone’s face that you will win immunity every single time, you are not doing anything to gain anyone’s favor.

I think that if I was Tarzan or Christina or Alicia I would have tried to bond together, because it probably would have been a good move. But you can’t forget that those 3 have probably all been guaranteed a spot in the final 3 and have been guaranteed that spot for a long time (like Alicia who in staying with the girl’s alliance is sticking with a group she has been with since day 1!). It is not that crazy to think that Kim or Sabrina will want to take at least 1 of those 3 to the finals with them, so this new alliance really seems more like a shot in the dark for them, that mad scrambling angry Troyzan is doing to save himself more than them. This is why it is so important in Survivor to maintain relationships with people that are not in your alliance at the chance that you need to work some magic and get other people to work with you. All this being said, they still should have flipped (it would have been like Marquesas repeat).

Making everyone feel so confident in their group is one of the reasons why Kim is playing such a great game (something I will attribute to Kim, since Chelsea doesn’t really seem smart enough to pull this off). If she wins this season, she may have played the best winning season by a female ever. I mean, who is better than her? I could see arguments for Parvati, Sophie, or Tina, but every other female winner played under the radar. Sandra is definitely in everyone’s top 5, but that is more for overall accomplishments than individual season prowess. Kim is nailing it this season and I love watching her. While Chelsea and Sabrina argue and yell, Kim sits their with her mouth silent, before making a well thought out statement that keeps everyone under control. It reminds me of Yul playing the diplomat in Cook Islands or Brian just sitting back having everyone bring information to him to listen to.

Can Kim actually pull it off?

While her gameplay continues to improve, I see her shot of winning going down and down. One reason for this is her edit seems to be a little too perfect. She is all strategy all the time, something that is very similar to what we saw in Sash in Nicaragua who was then blanked in the final tribal vote. Is Kat going to be the Fabio winner, defeating Kim (Sash) and Chelsea (Chase)?

Another reason I am worried about her winning, is I am not convinced everyone knows that she is pulling all the strings. I have listened to and read several interviews of all the jury boots and none seemed to acknowledge that they knew she was the glue that kept everyone together. Not Jonas, Michael, Jay, or Leif. They all seemed somewhat hesitant when talking about it and reluctant to admit that she was doing it. I also remember a shot of Kim saying that she thought the jury would recognize that she was the one who played better, but maybe this was foreshadowing what would end up making her lose. I don’t know what to make of all of this, but it should be interesting to see whether things happen straight forward or they try to shake things up.

The Survivor auction returns

The auction was back this week for the first time since Tocantins (I think?). Troyzan partially played the auction brilliantly and partially idiotic. It is great to see someone thinking strategically during a part of the game that isn’t as obviously strategic. Knowing that he was at the bottom and that usually they offer some sort of advantage in the challenge, he was wise to save his money to buy that advantage. It really was a great play on his part, especially since so many people take their mind off of the game during parts like that. But his starting bid was only $300?! If Christina had any idea what she doing he would have totally screwed himself over by bidding $200 less than the maximum. Did he think that nobody else would want an advantage? So Troy, I give you credit, but also not.

How will the remaining players do?

Christina is destined to be the first woman out, there is really no doubt in my mind anymore. Alicia is an interesting one, because I really do think she has a mind for strategy , so she could go at any time. I think Kat is top 5 for sure, probably even top 4. Sabrina will get anywhere from 7th to 1st depending on how soon and if they make a move to get her out. Chelsea is also interesting, because she butts head with a lot of different people, but we have seen so much of her and she really does seem likeable. It is hard to get a read on what everyone thinks (Leif in a post-boot interview said he didn’t like her). Tarzan really could go at anytime as well. I think Troyzan’s time is limited. He has to win or he’s done and there is no way he will win every immunity and there is also no way he will convince anyone to join him.

I am really enjoying this season. There are some solid people playing the game and although it seems as if it is going to be predictable (the order being Troyzan, Christina, Alicia, Tarzan, Sabrina, Kat, Chelsea, Kim) it leaves a seed just big enough in your mind to make you wonder and that makes it a good season.

Survivor One World: Ranking the final 10

We are down to the final 10 in Survivor: One World, which until recently was often the time of the merge, where Survivor really began. This season has definitely been a solid one, with equal parts strategy and craziness, the perfect combination for any Survivor season, but we will have to wait to see how this season plays out before giving it a final ranking.

Today I will rank the final 10 players in their likeliness to win. This ranking will not be in the order of who is playing the smartest, but who has the best chance of winning.

10. Tarzan-We are at the point where I am pretty sure there is no way Tarzan can win this game. Sure, he will likely make it to the final 3, but if people think you are a joke, there is no way they will hand you a million bucks, admitting that you outplayed them. As much as everyone hated being played by Boston Rob in Redemption Island, they hated losing to Phillip even more and there is no way they would ever hand him a victory. Not only is Tarzan a joke, but he gets on everyone’s nerves and talks condescendingly toward others. That combination=jury goat.

9. Jay-Jay is actually a really smart player. Going in I did not expect to say those words, but I think that next to Kim, Jay has his head in this game. He flips when he needs to flip, keeps his mouth shut when he needs to, and leads when he has to, however, Jay is in a terrible position, which is mostly not his fault. He didn’t want to go to Tribal when the guys gave up immunity, which caused the guys to be down in numbers and now he is facing a 6-4 deficit. Plus he is a HUGE immunity threat, which could make him the next target to go. Unless he wins immunity every time or he can pull off something drastic, he is gone the next couple weeks.

8. Leif-Leif has absolutely no idea how to play Survivor, which might actually help him a couple more weeks. Plus, I could see the girls going after themselves before getting rid of Leif. I just don’t see him being allowed to make it to the finals. He will be voted out once all the bigger threats take each other down.

7. Alicia-Alicia thinks she’s in a better position than she actually is. Though all this could change if she continues to insult people and is seen as a potential jury goat. She seems a little too conniving to be allowed to make it that far though. I think people will be smart and not take her along for the ride.

6. Christina-The girl everyone hates is probably in the most unique position of anyone. Will she continue to be passed along in the voting queue, will she make a move, or will she be taken out 6th? All of these are possibilities considering everyone hates her for little to no reason. Is she so hated that she would lose any final 3? Or could she possibly sneak by as a come-from-behind winner? I could see the editors painting her as someone overcoming adversity and beating those who made fun of her all along, but it hasn’t started yet.

5. Kat-Could she be our Fabio? The “dumb” one who sneaks by, wins some immunities and wins for a lack of backstabbing. However, there are quite a few differences between the two. Fabio was always on the outside of the alliances being made, whereas Kat seems to be in the top 4 of the female alliance. She has been at the center of several important conversations and surprisingly never seems too far out of the loop. I don’t see her overcoming the Sabrina/Chelsea/Kim big 3, but if any of them go after each other she could sneak in.

4. Sabrina-She is in a great spot, but as the out-in-front leader of the girls tribe she is also  the out-in-front pick to either win over them or be backstabbed by them. Out of the three  I could see her being taken down first. If any of them are smart, they will not let their final 3 consist of the other 2.

3. Troyzan-Maybe Troyzan is a little too high for this list, but he is toward the top of the most capable men out there and is not as high of a target as Jay. Plus he could potentially use his idol to make his way to the finals.

2. Chelsea-Though Chelsea seems to be attempting to completely destroy the girls’ shot of winning this game, I still see her as a favorite to win. Eventually Kim and Sabrina could both be taken down by the others, leaving Chelsea standing as quite the likeable winner. She is a little too hotheaded and doesn’t quite think things through, but if she ends up in a final 3 without Kim and Sabrina she has a good shot at taking it.

1. Kim-Kim is tearing this game a part. There are others who are playing well, but Kim is a step ahead of everyone out there. Not only is she playing a multi-layered strategic game, but everyone seems to have her best interests at mind. During the immunity challenge both Kat and Sabrina were cheering her on. Everyone loves her and thus far she has made no mistakes. Her game and edit almost seem too perfect. Has anyone had this flawless of an edit this far into the game? Earl comes into mind, which is a great sign for her. The only way she goes in the next couple weeks is by an idol and the only way she doesn’t win, is if she takes Sabrina to the finals, or the others realize she is the power player. The only thing is, I can’t see a girls alliance successfully existing without her at the center pushing and pulling each of the chess pieces in her hand.