Welcome to Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette, where the authors of this site are randomly assigned contestants from the upcoming season of Survivor: Game Changers and must give an honest assessment of what to expect from them. Next up: Tai Trang.
You may remember Tai as the lovely 50-year old former refugee placed on a Beauty tribe of teens and twenty-somethings in Kaoh Rong. He apologized to trees after ripping them out of the ground, kept a delicious chicken as a pet for the entire 39 days, and immediately began obsessively searching for an idol- because he was the 50-year old in a camp with teens and twenty-somethings.
He did indeed find the idol, and his tribe managed to avoid going to tribal council until the tribe swap. After aligning with Jason and Scot, Tai’s idol had the potential to become a super idol- an idol so powerful that Tyler Perry could be heard clapping whenever it was mentioned.
But rather than try to coast to the end with Jason and Scot, Tai turned on them and sided with Aubry.
Thus, the guy we once assumed was way too much of a threat to take to final tribal council was indeed taken to final tribal council- and received no votes. The jury chose to reward Michele’s stellar social game instead.
At final tribal council, Tai seemed to receive the same treatment that mothers often get in this game- harsh rebukes for their “betrayal” rather than praise for calling shots or bringing an alliance together. He’ll have to hope these players view him differently if he stands a chance at winning.
Fortunately for Tai, the cast of Kaoh Rong will have four players competing in this season, the most returnees from any season. Heroes vs. Villains is second with three.
In Cambodia, we had a similar dynamic: Four players from Cagayan and three players from San Juan del Sur. Let’s review how that played out. (I should point out, if it’s not obvious, that I’m about to spoil some of the results of Cambodia. If you aren’t cool with that, maybe just skip ahead to the prediction portion).
The only player from that group of seven to not make the Cambodia merge was Woo, who fell one tribal council short. Yes, Kass was the merge boot, but she made it. Perhaps most importantly, the entire final five was made up of players from SJDS and Cagayan.
If history repeats itself here, Tai should be in an excellent position to go deep into the game. Of course, I feel like it’s my duty as an MBA-holder to remind you that past performance is not indicative of future results.
Tai will be playing with two other people he had aligned with in Kaoh Rong (he’s also playing with Debbie, but they were never seriously aligned). Aubry and Caleb both seemed to have solid relationships with Tai, and in a game where trust is hard to find that familiarity should help him. A solid three-person voting bloc could be powerful, assuming the three of them ever end up on the same tribe.
Tai has demonstrated that he can get along with alpha males, nerds, and Micheles, so it isn’t hard to imagine him forming bonds that could take him deep into the game even without Aubry or Caleb.
Tai could also benefit from having gotten zero votes at a final tribal council. The Game Changers cast has presumably seen Kaoh Rong, so Tai can always point to the fact that he got shut out last time as a reason for others to include him in their final three. After all, any decent player would want to have their own Amanda Kimmel to bring to the end. Tai just needs to hope he can win over a jury once he gets there.
The fact that there are four Kaoh Rong players could be used as a reason to target Tai early, in order to keep them from aligning later on. This isn’t to suggest that they actually would align later on- I’m not sure how confident I am in an Aubry/Caleb/Debbie alliance happening- but if you’re trying to find a justification for an early vote to steer it away from yourself and towards an easy target, that could be the way.
And as an added bonus, they’d get to eat that chicken he’ll probably be protecting for as long as he’s there.
Most likely scenario
In a returnee season, challenge prowess shouldn’t be a big factor in the early votes (and even if it were, Tai performed well in challenges). Players probably will (and should) be more concerned with two factors: trustworthiness and shine.
Tai, despite flipping on Jason and Scot, seems like the type of person you’d want to trust. He can always explain away his flip on Jason and Scot by saying they made him do things he wasn’t comfortable with. As for shine, Tai is definitely someone that will command some camera time, but not nearly as much as some of the heavy hitters in this cast- Tony, Cirie, Sandra, Malcolm, and Ozzy.
All of those factors make it pretty likely that Tai will make the merge, and I could see him going the Keith Nale route- being taken along just far enough before getting turned on at the end.
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia