Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette: Tai Trang

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.

Game changer!

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.

Footage not found
That merge confessional, tho

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.

Best-case scenario

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.

“Did you see that CP2 edit Michele got last episode? She’s a threat.”

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.

Worst-case scenario

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.

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John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He can get loud too, what the fuck!

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia
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114 thoughts on “Survivor Analyst Russian Roulette: Tai Trang

  1. I could see Tai coming 3rd with no votes again. He doesn’t articulate himself well at tribal and he was viewed by other players as weak despite being strong enough to get a few of them out. I don’t think he seems like a threat to other players at all.

    1. Yeah, even more than age or being forced to team with the villains of the season, Tai’s biggest handicap is English being his second language. Makes it tough to verbally spar with people, and thus they trapped him into corners pretty easily.

      I guess the hope for him would be that were a situation like that happen again, he could end up looking good and sympathetic if the attackers were the villains.

        1. on the one hand that would subject us to a lot of Troy which yuck. but on the other hand seeing him snubbed at the end would be great

        2. But there’s one thing your scenario is overlooking, and it’s the fact that Troyzan has already won.

          1. Man will you feel silly four months from now when I bring out the screen capture of this comment.

            Other people who will feel silly includes everyone who watches Survivor because it meant that fucking Troyzan just won.

          2. Troy winning is a good enough reason to burn the whole of Survivor to the fucking ground and drag Probst through the streets behind a horse and cart.

          3. This season was filmed when the world still made some degree of sense. I guess in our new world he could win.

      1. His attackers were the villains in his first season and the rest of the jury still voted for Michele over him and Aubry.

          1. Michele attacked him later and hers was much more about her personal survival than malice, it was at a point where Michele was at the bottom of the pole with Aubry’s alliance (and it was Aubry’s alliance) and she had to try and make someone else a target, I don’t love defending Michele but I can see why her attack was more gameplay. Julia’s was mean girl shit.
            I’m just saying he was attacked throughout and no one on the jury who wasn’t his attacker voted for him so he didn’t get an advantage out of it.
            He’s at a huge disadvantage because he can’t answer back as you say, as English is not his mother tongue, he just cannot get his point across clearly enough so anyone can back him into a corner.

          2. I also think a lot of Julia’s attack was inspired by Kyle and Scot. Just look at how similar her reasoning for voting for Michele was to them, even though her reasoning should be fairly different than their reasoning.

          3. Yep, she decided to try and be their Natalie White, not in a smart game play decision way like Natalie White did but in a young impressionable “Aubry crossed out my name that time” way. I actually think Julia has a shot at being good at Survivor just at 25 not 18.

      2. I think people would be open for voting for him because they like him. Keith is the man he needs to imitate.

  2. Question unrelated to Tai: Do any of you remember an interview that Troy gave where he suggested that he wasn’t cast for Cambodia because the show wanted more minorities instead? If so, can you provide me a link to it?

    Also, my apologies for not drawing Troy for this exercise. I know you all were hoping for it.

          1. Now, I don’t remember much of the controversy but apparently during their Worlds Apart preview, the main host made fun of Will’s wife’s name because it’s not a name, claimed that Mike was just a redneck, and supposedly made fun of Kelly’s sex life. Many believe that was the beginning of the end for Survivor Oz.

          1. Honestly, I kinda hate myself for it too. I just feel like I’m pot committed at this point.

            Is it too late to sarcastically root for Caleb again instead? Never before have I unironically longed for the days when I was cheering on someone called Beast Mode Cowboy. Those were simpler times.

          2. SWITCH. I feel like Caleb voted Trump because he’s a moron but Troyzan voted for Trump because he’s a reprehensible twatbag.

          3. Can we just root for neither. I’d be ok with pretty much anyone else since I otherwise have no idea whom voted for whom.

        1. It must be said, however, that his audition tape is incredible. Talk about false advertising.

          1. Ok, I was watching a weird audition tape for Troyzan – and then realized it was an ad for the movie Silence.

            The real one though sucks except the monkeys. If it was just scenes of him with the monkeys, well then he might be likable. But with the rest, I had to stop.

            EDIT: I could not remember how to spell monkeys and realized I may have spelled the band’s name initially.

          2. TBH, except for “This is my island!!!” I don’t remember Troyzan being exceptionally terrible (and not even worse than Tarzan). I must have been too busy hating Colton and Alecia to notice. I’ll have to watch One World again.

            Wait, what am I saying?!?!?!

          3. There’s no one Troyzan moment, it’s just his general petulant resentment at being boxed out of contention by a woman combined with every awful thing he’s said since once world.

            The difference between Colton and Troyzan is that while Colton is awful, he’s singularly awful (not quite singularly, I know a Colton in real life). Part of what makes Troyzan so terrible is that you know America is full of Troyzans.

      1. For me it’s one of those things where I forget how actively terrible he is until I actually listen to him speak. So now I have that to look forward to. Goody. Thanks, Survivor.

      1. I like that Rob pushed back against that suggestion. And unlike Troy, Shane actually acknowledges that he probably just didn’t get voted in.

  3. Tai seems like kind of a huge question mark as far as placement. I would be surprised to see him booted in, say, the first two or three episodes, but any point after that, he could be fair game. He could easily go very deep. Or, you know, not.
    I’m kind of torn on Tai coming back. Not that the magic will be gone exactly, but the magic might be less magical.

    1. Tai coming back is like seeing a magician perform the saw a person in half trick, again. yeah its still fun, but like you know how this will end

  4. Tai seems like such a genuinely warm person. I feel like people would just want to be around him, just because it’s nice to have pleasantness around in stressful environments. In Game Changers, this may hurt him and he gets booted for being too nice and having too many connections. A beacon of light surrounding by cutthroat darkness.

    Prediction: Pre Merge Boot

    Previous Predictions
    Varner: Post Merge Boot
    Andrea: Winner

    1. I also see Tai going *real* fast for similar reasons. His pleasantness forces the narrative in a totally different direction than “sneaky players doing sneaky things.” If you’re everyone else and trying to get the limelight, you want to snuff out any plot lines that are unrelated to what you offer the camera.

      He’ll also be totally defenseless for the first vote since he’s so innocent. He’s an easy “anyone but me” feeler vote for the first tribal when the alliances are still trying to figure each other out. And once he’s gone you seriously hamper Aubry, who frankly is also likely an early boot. He’s especially screwed if he’s not on the same tribe as Caleb or Aubry since no one will risk themselves to protect him. (Though if he is on the same tribe as Aubry, she 100% needs to let him go; he’s such an albatross for her.)

        1. I don’t know them and want to stay in the dark lest I over-analyze placement and make my terrible fantasy picks even worse. (Also, there’s the whole surprise factor.)

          But if you spoiler tag I’m sure others have thoughts.

          1. No prob. It’s not a big deal, but I’m assuming there’s some people who are waiting until Christmas to open their presents, so to speak.

            I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, but I haven’t looked yet either.

          2. I have no idea what the tribe divisions are, but I’ve already honed in on my picks, and I did so with slightly more deliberation than on my Outcasts picks last season, so there’s that.

    2. Poor Tai, I can easily see him going out early. He will need luck or more obvious targets to help him survive.

      1. He could be a physical asset for challenges. There are a lot of weaker players this season. Ciera, Varner, Sandra and Cirie are obvious examples.

          1. The thing is, they never have been before, both have outlasted stronger players. It really depends how each tribe feels about strength. If they target weakness then it won’t be Tai. If they target perceived strength or perceived strategic danger it won’t be Tai.

    3. Just curious. Did you get tickets this time to Know it Alls? The tickets went on sale this a.m. I was going to try to go if there were still tickets and I recalled you went last time.

      1. Yes, I got tickets for the upcoming Know it Alls. It was a lot of fun when I went for the first time this past season and I think it will be a great time again. Hopefully you get tickets, it would be cool to meet more PRP people.

          1. It would but I have an aversion to wearing purple. Maybe carrying a purple rock instead.

            Plus, I’ll probably be dressed from work if I am allowed to work in my firm’s NY off which would logistically probably be the only way I can pull this off.

            I still have to see if there are tickets or will I be wait-listed and I may have to get a room in the city.

          1. Dude, let me know. I obviously need a little ahead of time planning as I’d need to take at least 4 days of leave and fly to America but I’d be way more inclined if even more PRP folks are there. I also cannot make this season, my job gets very busy in March because of the end of the financial year (I imagine yours is similar).

          2. I can book a month ahead if I need to for leave and KIA tickets come out way earlier than that. I am aiming for the autumn season too.

  5. I am a big fan of Tai (not because he helped me win Pick 4 or anything), but I am a little torn on where he is going to fall. I could see people having seen Cambodia and wanting to get rid of anyone like Keith early. But, I could also see him going far.

      1. Oh, hey, have you listened to the latest TAZ?

        I know griff said he didn’t mean for this arc to take forever, and part of that has to do with the babies and the break, but my thought after the last episode is that the Animus Bell isn’t in Wonderland and Lucretia sent THB there to stall/distract them while she puts her real plans in motion. If Edward and Lydia are liches and they have no intention of ever fulfilling wishes, I have no idea how the Animus Bell would function in Wonderland without being completely redundant. The fact that Griffin keeps mentioning the end of this campaign has got to mean that the endgame is right around the corner if not already in motion (canonically). Also I said before that Davenport is the mastermind for plot reasons, but I heard this, which only reinforces the notion: Would Ditto name a character after Level 9000 Yadrew Druid Drew Davenport and make him a supporting comic relief role? So yeah, next campaign will probably be facing Ocean Master Morgan Davey, who’s keeping it suuuuuuuper wavey.

  6. Part of the problem is if challenges go lopsided. Mana has Malcolm, Caleb, and Michaela. Nuku has Ozzy, and … um, JT, and … are we counting Culpepper? I could maybe see a Cirie-Debbie-Tai alliance forming (maybe Zeke, but I feel like he’s just going to latch onto whatever majority forms following his MvGX gameplay). But regardless of alliance, the problem with these three is that they’re clearly the weakest on the tribe re: challenges. Cirie will probably get targeted off the bat a la HvV, and if Nuku puts up strings of losses, Deb and Tai seem like they’d follow shortly after. That being said, Culpepper and Ozzy seems like a match made in heaven. They could team up, in which case I’d predict the whole tribe turning on them, or they could be two alphas fighting for control, in which case, one’s got to give. So if Tai can make it to a tribe swap, I think he’ll get to the merge, and possibly go deep. Otherwise, he’s an early boot. The projection would therefore be a Just Before The Merge Boot, but I think that might be the least likely outcome.

    1. But you forget a tribe is only as strong as its weakest leak. And sadly Mana has Ciera, Sandra, and Varner way on the bottom. I think that the average amount of skill in challenges on Nuku is higher then the amount on Mana. I guessing by the time the merge hits original Nuku will be up in numbers from Mana by about 8 to 5. And by that logic Tai’s natural survival abilities should keep him from being one of the first two people going home from that tribe. With all that spoilers being said I will guess that Tai is mid jury boot.

      1. Say though that Mana wins one, they can then sit Varner say (Sandra can puzzle good) and then they win again and boom it’s Varner and Ciera sitting. The Heroes had Sandra, Randy and Courtney and still won the first 2 and were on a winning streak but decided to get rid of Tyson and then it fell apart.

          1. Absolutely…unless the first challenge does not include a puzzle. Typically the first challenge in all stars is more physical, right. The marooning/updated Quest for Fire in Cambodia, the sand brawl in HvV, and regular ole Quest for Fire in All Stars are all pretty demanding physically

          2. this is true but imagine the sandbag challenge: I’m not sure that Sandra and Michaela as one sandbag team would be that bad, if Sandra just holds one person down Michaela beasts. Or quest for fire, Sandra holds the flame. I think there are ways because Michaela is so strong physically coupled with the men on the team I think they could carry their weaker guys.

          3. That is a good point with that puzzle team. However, I think that one of those two is going to be the first boot. However that is discussion for when the bullet pops out of the roulette.

    2. I think having former winners and iconic contestants making their 3rd or even 4th appearance is going to make for very different tribe dynamics than on Cambodia. Specifically, I think both tribes have at least two people everybody wants gone yesterday (Tony and Sandra on Mana, Cirie and Ozzy on Nuku). And that’s partly because the lower profile contestants want to get rid of threats, partly because they want to get rid of camera hogs. I don’t necessarily expect them to throw challenges, but I bet neither tribe will be afraid to go to tribal.So I also don’t expect getting rid of Tai to be a priority at all. And don’t forget that there very well could be a split into three tribes at 18 so initial tribe composition might not matter that much anyway.

  7. Question for John: How much of a heads up will we get for when the first Fantasy post will go live? I know you said not to expect anything before the official cast announcement, but I’m curious all the same.

    1. The cast announcement has generally been mid week, so I typically set the post to go live on the Monday after. I generally tweet about when it’ll go up as far in advance as possible, but I also try to include some kind of announcement here.

      1. Sounds good. I’m realizing now that I should re-set up Survivor twitter, esp. since I’ll be able to watch live again.

  8. I think Tai’s best shot at winning is probably aping Keith’s Cambodia game and hoping he can get to the end with no blood on his hands. I’m not sure he can do this. I put him in my Unlikely, But Not Impossible Winner bracket.

        1. honestly it wouldn’t shock me if someone won all the votes sitting with Troy and one other person. Then again he’s like the worst version of coach, but he’s convinced he’s actually Kim Spradlin.

          1. So would Troy getting to the end and losing in a shutout be more or less satisfying than Troy as first boot?

  9. Purple Tally is currently watching Kaoh Rong (she’s finished with the Anna episode) and she’s enjoying it. However, she does know who won (stupid CBS All Access), so she is paying careful attention to the winner’s edit for Michele. Here are her thoughts so far:
    “Michele relatively invisible so far, btw”
    “Aubry is kind of reminding me of Hannah”
    “The unlikely friendship between Caleb and Tai is ❤”

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