Survivor Cambodia Quarter-Season Awards and Polls

Due to rampant spoilers for this week’s elimination, we’ve decided to forgo predictions and instead issue some non-existent hardware after the first five episodes of Survivor Cambodia.


Before we get into this, I suppose I should defend the math on the “Quarter-Season” part of the title. As of this posting, there’s been five episodes. Given that Survivor seasons tend to last 14 episodes, the math doesn’t seem to check out. Even if you include the Reunion as a different episode, that puts us a third of the way through. So why quarter-season? Because there’s 20 castaways this season, and a quarter of them have been eliminated. And because quarter-season sounds better than third-of-the-season. And because we were forced into doing something different because people love going online and posting spoiler information where they shouldn’t.

Survivor Cambodia Quarter-Season MVP

After the first five episodes, who has been the stand out? Much like sports leagues, we left it up to each voter to decide their criteria for MVP: is it the person playing the best game? The one most influencing events? Most essential to their alliance? Creating the best TV? Dominating the edit? Some combination of factors? We picked our own criteria, and so can you.

Andy: For me, it’s still Jeff Varner. It’s closer because he missed one episode, but the sheer volume of entertainment he created through the first four overcomes that imbalance. He was the central figure in the edit from the moment they landed in Cambodia, giving passionate, funny, heart-felt confessionals on what Second Chances meant to him, and by proxy, all of us. Some of the efforts the show has made to push their narratives have been a little forced, but not with him. He was a natural in creating TV. In terms of the game, he was also the driving force behind the action of the first four episodes, be it him deciding to flip on Vytas, push out Shirin, blow up his own alliance by losing his mind at a challenge, and ultimately getting the boot. This won’t end up being the season of Jeff Varner, but it sure has been so far.

John: I assume Varner will be the unanimous choice here. And I don’t want to be the guy who voted for someone else, because it annoyed me when some idiot prevented LeBron James from winning a unanimous NBA MVP. His early-season run was so memorable- filled with overwhelming joy, legitimate emotion, and crazy pre-game alliances- that I won’t be surprised if he ends up as one of the six people that makes the cover image for this season (they generally had six people on the DVD covers; Varner would have to be one of them regardless of his early flame-out).

Emma: Varnerrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. He will likely not be the MVP for the whole season (at least hopefully not), but it’s too early to judge games and positions in my opinion. So for the delicious entertainment he provided, it goes to Varner.

Mark: Going purely off the first four episodes, Varner has to be the MVP. He set the tone of the season, controlled the first two votes, provided narration and entertainment, and best exemplified the Second Chance theme. (Sorry Spencer’s orchestra and Wigles-worthless).

Matt: If you ask me this question again in a few weeks this will change, but the MVP for the first quarter of the season is Jeff Varner from an entertainment point of view. The man gave us an entire season worth of wonderful TV in just 4 episodes. I’ll never forget the Jeff Varner experience. If I was judging from a gameplay perspective I’d probably say Jeremy… but I’m gonna save him for a different category.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
Varner  Varner  Varner  Varner  Varner  Varner 

Survivor Cambodia Quarter-Season MVP

  • Jeff Varner (58% Votes)
  • Kelley Wentworth (12% Votes)
  • Abi-Maria Gomes (9% Votes)
  • Tasha Fox (7% Votes)
  • Jeremy Collins (7% Votes)
  • Kass McQuillen (3% Votes)
  • Joe Anglim (2% Votes)
  • Stephen Fishbach (1% Votes)
  • Other (1% Votes)
  • Spencer Bledsoe (0% Votes)
  • Andrew Savage (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 91

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Most Improved Player

Who has made the most significant improvement, either from their previous season or from the beginning of this one, or both?

Andy: Kelley Wentworth was easily the least accomplished member of this cast coming in. At least Monica made the merge, and Kimmi was a memorable personality from the most popular season in the history of the show. Kelley, on the other hand, was the largely invisible other blonde from her season that went out sixth. She’s here because of a very savvy web presence developing a dedicated voting bloc, and because the show must’ve known her bad luck in San Juan del Sur was a missed opportunity. And she’s delivered in spades. She’s one of the most visible members of the cast, and has managed to play a strategic game while avoiding the pitfalls that doomed her equally aggressive alliance partners early on. She’s gone from “her?” to hero in the span of five episodes. Or, frankly, one episode.

John: It’s Kelley Wentworth. She’s found an idol, she’s been flexible in her alliances, and she’s already lined up a group to vote out Terry just in case Ta Keo ever loses immunity. She and Varner have shown that Survivor shouldn’t hesitate to bring back pre-merge boots that they think had untapped potential.

Emma: Woo! In that he has a little fight in him.

Mark: As far as between seasons, I’d have to say Kelley Wentworth (though improving from “shrug emoji” to anything, let alone “legit UtR threat to win”, is impressive). If I didn’t think Kompassion Kass was a giant front, I’d say her, since she should have been an early boot, but…yeah. Just in this game, though, the Cagayan Four have so far managed to avoid being booted and weaseled into positions of power. That will be deadly come merge time. And I have a feeling one of them (or more) will make the finale.

Matt: It kinda pains me to say this, since I don’t actually like Tasha Fox all that much. But I think the way she (and Savage) upended the Ta Keo advantage on Angkor was very deftly done, and then that she was able to control Abi enough to get her to vote out Varner next showed an ability to drive a vote and control her pawns. I don’t think she is going to do better than she did in Cagayan, but I think we saw some real strides by her to control the game socially that we didn’t see in Cagayan.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
S31_kelley_t Kelley S31_kelley_t Kelley Woo
S31_kelley_t Kelley Tasha
S31_kelley_t Kelley

Most Improved Player

  • Kelley Wentworth (48% Votes)
  • Kass McQuillen (17% Votes)
  • Tasha Fox (14% Votes)
  • Kimmi Kappenberg (6% Votes)
  • Jeremy Collins (6% Votes)
  • Woo Hwang (6% Votes)
  • Andrew Savage (1% Votes)
  • Spencer Bledsoe (1% Votes)
  • Terry Deitz (0% Votes)
  • Abi-Maria Gomes (0% Votes)
  • Other (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 83

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Most Disappointing Player

Andy: It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Kelly Wiglesworth‘s pre game material was laughable in how lifeless it was. So in that respect, it’s hard to call her disappointing. But it’s still her, largely because I thought her incongruent apathy to both the show and the modern game might lead to some interesting contrasts. Instead, she’s a complete waste of space.

John: Ciera and Keith have been invisible, which is disappointing. But I can’t blame that on them, since they’re winning so much that there’s no story to tell about them. So instead I’ll choose Kass, who has used what little airtime she’s had to be…nice? To other humans? Not cool, Kass. Not cool.

Emma: While I may have thought otherwise, most people expected Monica Padilla to pull a Parvati. But it’s still disappointing to see her flame out as soon as the game started for her.

Honorable mention: Ciera. Girl, where you at?

Mark: Tie between Andrew Savage and Abi-Maria. Same game, different year. Speaking of Abi, RIP Peih Gee, whose floating wasn’t enough to sustain Tropical Storm Abi. (Editor’s note: No ties! I pick Savage for his vote.)

Matt: Kass McQuillen is only the most disappointing player because I have such high hopes for ultimate troll Kass that seeing anything else reminds me of what I’m missing. That said, Kass is still the best character left in the cast. It’s just this nice Kass is disappointing when I was expecting a return of chaos Kass.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
S31_kelly_tKelly Kass  Monica
 Savage Kass

Most Disappointing Player

  • Kelly Wigglesworth (28% Votes)
  • Vytas Bauskaskas (19% Votes)
  • Shirin Oskooi (11% Votes)
  • Monica Padilla (9% Votes)
  • Ciera Eastin (7% Votes)
  • Andrew Savage (6% Votes)
  • Peih-Gee Law (5% Votes)
  • Stephen Fishbach (4% Votes)
  • Kass McQuillen (4% Votes)
  • Abi-Maria Gomes (2% Votes)
  • Other (2% Votes)
  • Joe Anglim (1% Votes)
  • Jeff Varner (1% Votes)
  • Terry Deitz (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 81

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Best Goat

Who has positioned themselves so far to be the most useful goat?

Andy: For someone barely on the season, Wiglesworth sure is cleaning up with the hardware! Kelly is not someone you need to worry about gaining power and out manoeuvring you. If she ever got power, I’m unconvinced she’d be interested in using it. From exit interviews, the impression I get is that people out there like her, but none of them respect her (as a game player, that is).  She’ll be a useful camp member/vote that shouldn’t disrupt the game of anyone out there. And I highly doubt she’s gotten better at delivering speeches to juries in the past 15 years.

John: Remember in Borneo, when Kelly Wiglesworth got three votes at the end? That’s three more than she’d get in a final tribal council in this season, regardless of how good she’s gotten at choosing random numbers.

Emma: Literally anyone but Abi. Probably Keith Nale though. If that alliance of five sticks (which I’m sure it won’t), he has the least game out of everyone. Since that group has no real pairs (except maybe Kass and Joe, to my delight), everyone will want to bring him to the end.

Mark: Not Abi. Kelly Wiglesworth is more dispensable than goat, so perhaps Keith. He hasn’t done much in a dominant alliance, and could get easily outclassed at a Final Tribal with any of the big players.

Matt: Follows orders, no attempts to play strategy, no chance to win… ladies and gentlemen your Survivor Borneo runner up Kelly Wiglesworth! There is just no chance this cast rewards Kelly’s head-down, work hard, no strategy approach unless she is sitting next to like Abi and … maybe just Abi. Only unlike Abi, Kelly is reliable. Abi is a terrible goat because she will screw you. Kelly won’t.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
S31_kelly_tKelly Kelly   Keith  Keith S31_kelly_tKelly S31_kelly_tKelly

Best Goat

  • Kelly Wigglesworth (44% Votes)
  • Abi-Maria Gomes (26% Votes)
  • Keith Nale (14% Votes)
  • Kimmi Kappenberg (7% Votes)
  • Woo Hwang (6% Votes)
  • Kass McQuillen (1% Votes)
  • Stephen Fishbach (1% Votes)
  • Joe Anglim (0% Votes)
  • Ciera Eastin (0% Votes)
  • Terry Deitz (0% Votes)
  • Other (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 81

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Updated Winner Pick

Four out of the five us are without a winner pick, so why not take another crack at it with some actual data to back it up. Emma is also given the opportunity to change her pick if she’d like.

Note: Winner’s pick will serve as tiebreakers in the prediction standings. The person who predicts the winner earliest without changing wins the tiebreaker.

Andy: When I made my pick of Monica, my reasoning for her applied more or less equally to her and Kelley Wentworth. Both were the least threatening members of the cast from a past reputation/potential fame threatening standpoint, making them of the same phylum of past returnee winners Amber, Parvati, and Sandra. I chose Monica simply because I didn’t want to be accused of being a Kelley fan-boy, since I had pushed her so hard pre, during, and post SJDS. The raving fanboy bit is the other guy on the podcast’s gimmick. So I psyched myself out. Not this time though.

John: I think there’s a pretty clear top tier forming here in terms of narratives. And I’d assume that since Survivor pushed the second chance narrative so hard for this season, the winner is going to get confessionals and story arcs that show growth in his/her second chance. With that in mind, the leaders of the pack right now are Tasha, Jeremy, Spencer, and Kelley. That gives us two players each from Cagayan and San Juan del Sur. So if you’re keeping track at home, “new school” is dominating the “old school vs. new school” contest. And within that lead pack, I’ll give the slight edge to the one I’m least interested in seeing win: Tasha Fox. (And yes, I’m choosing her because I don’t want to jinx the people I actually want to see win.)

Emma: It’s a little tempting to change it for the sake of it, but I’m still confident in my homegirl Kelley. Plus if I changed it and she won I would hate myself. The important thing is that I’ve already done better than all the boys. That is always the most important thing.

Mark: Monica. (Wait…) There are a couple big players to choose from. Kass, Spencer, Kelley, but I think I’m going to go for Jeremy Collins. I see a bit of a JT-meets-Courtney vibe from him, and he has an idol. I’ll let Emma have Wentworth.

Matt: There are a few people I think are getting possible winner edits. One of them is Kass. I am not picking Kass… but I really, really, really want to pick Kass. Because if Kass was going to win, this would be her edit. But I think the winner is Jeremy. Again, there is really nothing separating Jeremy’s edit thus far from Kelley or Tasha or Kass or Spencer, but I think Jeremy has the most bonds with the most people and he has an idol. So I think compared to every other contender he is in the best position. So prepare yourselves for Jeremy to most certainly not win.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
S31_kelley_t Kelley Tasha
S31_kelley_t Kelley Jeremy
Jeremy S31_kelley_t Kelley

Updated Winner Pick - Quarter-Season

  • Kelley Wentworth (34% Votes)
  • Jeremy Collins (27% Votes)
  • Tasha Fox (10% Votes)
  • Spencer Bledsoe (9% Votes)
  • Kass McQuillen (5% Votes)
  • Andrew Savage (4% Votes)
  • Stephen Fishbach (4% Votes)
  • Ciera Eastin (3% Votes)
  • Keith Nale (3% Votes)
  • Woo Hwang (1% Votes)
  • Joe Anglim (1% Votes)
  • Kimmi Kappenberg (0% Votes)
  • Kelly Wigglesworth (0% Votes)
  • Terry Deitz (0% Votes)
  • Abi-Maria Gomes (0% Votes)

Total Voters: 79

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Zero Percent Club

Who do we think has zero percent chance of winning based on the first five episodes? Note: Once you’ve declared someone at zero percent, there’s no going back.

Andy: It’s hard for me to imagine one person on this show deciding that Abi-Maria deserves to be declared the winner, much less four or more. If Kelly Wiglesworth were the winner of this season, the show would’ve given us something, anything to build on. Ain’t happening.

John: If Abi-Maria is getting a winner’s edit, it’s the most amazing winner’s edit of all time. Woo has made progress since Cagayan, but he merely started from the bottom and now he’s here- somewhere above the bottom. And remember in the premier of this season where Kelly Wiglesworth said she thought about her loss in Borneo every day? I think that might have been true for about a week after Borneo aired- and only then so people would stop asking her about snakes and rats.

Emma: Abi. Abi-Maria. Ms. Gomes. Also Purple Kelly Sr.

Mark: Fire sale time: Abi, Woo, Keith, Terry, Savage, Wigles, Stephen, and Joe.

Matt: Abi, Kelly. I want to add Ciera, but until her tribe have a vote I can’t. But, yeah, Abi and Kelly can’t win.

Andy John Emma Mark Matt

Note: No Zero Percent Club poll. For one, it’d be too hard to decide what percentage of votes qualified as the Reader choice for zero percent. For two, this could potentially provide a chance to spoil this week’s outcome. But feel free to leave your (unspoiled) choices in comments.


Andy John Emma Mark Matt Readers
S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  S31_kelly_tKelly S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria S31_spencer_tSpencer  S31_spencer_tSpencer Vytas
S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria   Terry Abi-Maria
Peih-Gee  1024px-Red_x.svg N/A
S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  Kimmi Joe
Jeremy  Monica S31_andrew_t Savage
Tasha S31_jeff_tVarner S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria  S31_abimaria_tAbi-Maria 
Kimmi Kimmi Monica Monica
S31_spencer_tSpencer  Monica
Score 0-red 0-red
S31_monica_tMonica  S31_jeff_tVarner S31_kelley_t Kelley S31_monica_tMonica   S31_jeff_tVarner  S31_kelley_t Kelley
S31_kelley_t Kelley Tasha S31_kelley_t Kelley
Jeremy  Jeremy  S31_kelley_t Kelley
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Co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast and the Canadian of the group, Andy has been watching Survivor continuously since the very beginning and likes to treat that as some kind of virtue to lord over others.

Favourite seasons: Heroes vs Villains, Cook Islands, Palau, The Amazon, Cagayan
Favourite players: Boston Rob, Kim Spradlin, Tony Vlachos, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Rob Cesternino
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38 thoughts on “Survivor Cambodia Quarter-Season Awards and Polls

  1. I’m going with Kimmi as most improved. She did absolutely nothing her first time and has now controlled at least 1 vote. It’s not hard to improve from zero.

    Also considered Abi.

    1. re: Abi, are we talking improved gameplay or improved entertainment value? Abi is playing hard, but much like Russell, she will in NO way be successful with her strategy of pissing off every. single. person on the tribe.

  2. Excuuuuse me, I had an honorable mention featuring a sad excuse for a joke for most disappointing player.

        1. I went to my first oratorio this weekend. I would say I was not too excited.

          (I’ll have none of your pointing out double entendres.)

      1. Think of it this way: If I put the winner in the Zero Percent Club too early, you can finally stop getting shit for Tony!

        1. Yeah, Matt put Mike in last year (and the whole blue collar tribe). It did nothing to hide my shame.

  3. I struggle with the Woo at zero percent argument. Bearing in mind that Woo gives mediocre confessional, his edit has been well within the bounds of what a Woo winners edit would be.

    And in terms of a practical pathway to victory…didn’t we see how Woo’s gameplay could lead to victory in Cagayan? He’s a marvelous goat (see Tasha’s celebration of his merits in confessional lase week), and that’s a great way to make it to the Final 3-4-5. And once he’s there, Woo is certainly capable of winning Immunity challenges Maybe Woo would make the same decision to take the “worthy” person to the finals who would trounce him…but maybe not.
    Or maybe the even bigger goat drags him to finals this time.

    And I don’t think it is impossible that Woo could beat Kelly/Abi/Terry/Keith/Ciera/Kimmi or someone else who takes a serious heel turn in the coming weeks at Final Tribal.

    I don’t think Woo is a favorite by any means. But he came very close to winning Cagayan, seems to have not regressed as a player since, is getting favorable camera treatment, and has a very repeatable gameplan insofar as it isn’t remotely scary.

    1. I don’t think Woo belongs in the 0% column either. His chances aren’t fantastic, but there are at least two people who I am absolutely certain he would beat in an FTC.

      Really the only two people who don’t have a shot are Abi and Kelly Wiglesworth. Unlike Woo, I can’t produce a scenario where either of those two ends up winning Survivor.

    2. Woo’s problem is that he would have to either bring someone more objectionable or someone with less utility to the end. Abi-Maria counts as more objectionable, but when it comes to less utility the list might end at Kelly Wiglesworth. Keith would be a tough one, because Keith and Woo are essentially the exact same player type.

      1. I assume by “utility” you mean resume to attract final tribal votes? Obviously as an ally, boring old Woo has IMMENSE utility. That’s why he’s a reasonable bet to survive until late.

        But sure, I agree that if the vote were held right now based on existing resumes, Woo would need a very particular (Abi) set of (Abi) rivals.

        But surely there’s a far greater than 0% chance that before the finals either Woo will make an independent move that boosts his resume above the other hangers-on (say, 10%) or that one or more other players will make themselves objectionable to the jury (say, 40%). I’d be shocked if the final 5 doesn’t include at least one player Woo could beat- be that player Abi (please don’t be Abi), a Kass who has once more embraced the dark god of chaos, Wigglesworth, a Keith who has blown up his alliance through sheer cluelessness, etc. There’s just too much randomness in the game to assert that a non-toxic player getting a relatively positive edit is drawing dead.

        1. The difference is that the Zero Percent Club is partly about reading the edit. And we know what a winner’s edit for a Woo type would be, because Fabio won that season we all would like to forget.

          Woo can have a positive edit (and I agree that he is getting that), but if Woo were going to win this season, I think they’d show him being lovably goofy. Woo arguing to save himself instead of Varner was a start, but I just think in general there isn’t enough there to craft a story arc where the audience feels comfortable with Woo winning. This doesn’t mean that Woo won’t make the final three, or even that he won’t get votes there. I just think it seems clear that he won’t win.

          Contrast that with Tasha, who is getting the exact type of confessionals that a winner gets: “I had to claw my way up from the bottom.” “The saints at my church told me it’s ok to be a sinner.” “Joe-ga! (forced laugh)”

          I’m not really a Tasha fan, but I can see those things as evidence that she might win.

          1. But- this is Second Chances. The winner is very likely to get a growth edit. That’s arguably what we’ve been seeing- hard-nosed Woo. The Woo who says no to Spencer flat out. The Woo who fights back at Tribal against Varner. This is a Woo edit that climaxes with him DOING something (even if that something has to be created out of editing magic), and winning.

            Though, of course, almost certainly not. I’m claiming that Woo has something like a 2% chance to take it. Tier Keith, not Tier Tasha.

          2. That’s a sound argument. I’m still not taking Woo out of Zero Percent (because I can’t anyway), but I can maybe see them stretching this into a growth arc for him.

          3. This was my argument on the pod as well. He doesn’t need to look like a winner yet. He just doesn’t look like a loser.

    3. Woo had the million dollar check in his hand. I don’t think his edit is terribly encouraging, but I have him in my 15% club.

  4. I voted Tasha for Most Improved, because she’s been doing the most difficult thing: managing Abi. That’s like managing a 100,000 square mile forest fire. Just when you think you’ve got it under control in one sector, she leaps across the road in three others. Everyone else who’s gone up against Abi has been burnt to a cinder.

    For the same reason I voted Abi as MVP, in a negative sense, like the way Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” doesn’t have to be a GOOD person, just impactful. Yes, I just obliquely compared Abi to Hitler there.

    I think Abi is awful in a new way. There have been plenty of awful Survivor characters — Brandon, Colton, Dan, et al. — but Abi isn’t just gobsmackingly nasty but she’s completely dangerous. Even having a simple conversation with her can blow up in your face and get you voted out as the awfulness spreads out and burns down the entire camp.

    1. I will concede that Tasha is currently doing a job of managing Abi. There are still too many failure points in that plan for us to call it a good job yet.

      1. That’s just it: you can’t manage an out-of-control fire. Everyone else who has even tried to handle Abi has been irreparably burned, voted off. She incinerates everything she comes within a mile of. Tasha just still being in the game is itself a victory. It’s a good job just to stay alive.

        1. Sure, she did it once. But there are 12 votes left (or 11 if someone quits) and most of those will be on territory unfavorable to keeping Abi around but, more importantly, will involve people who expect Tasha to behave like an ally and with no interest in letting her keep a pet goat around.

          There are just fundamentally soooo many ways that having Abi on your side can burn you that I’m not going to say getting Abi to vote with you twice in a row is an accomplishment. Pete-bro managed that, and nobody is going to claim Pete-bro is good at Survivor.

      1. Oh, I know. I love Varner too. He’s MWP, Most Wonderful Player. I almost want to get a purple shirt and tear the sleeves off in his honor.

    2. I’m wondering if Cagayan Tasha would have been just as capable as Cambodia Tasha of handling Abi. In both seasons, she was mostly pretty good at keeping her cool around crazy. She’s gotten pretty crappy pre-merge situations in both seasons and handled both of them pretty well…. (so far)

      1. She’s doing a good job. I can’t see it helping her beyond Abi, though; Abi’s got to run out of people to destroy soon, right? Right? (Please say yes!) After that, will Tasha have good enough ties to other people? I dunno. That’s how Abi works: she absorbs 100% of your game.

  5. The thing with a disappointing player is sometimes the player is still great, but had a disappointing turn of events and really bad luck. I had to pick Shirin, I think she DID improve, but essentially made the same core mistake.

    As for zero percent club, I’m with you guys on Abi & Kelly, but I have a lot of contenders for the 15% club, including Keith, and Woo…

  6. My zero percent would include Abi, Wiggles and Stephen. I think they have devoted way too much time to making Stephen look dumb for him to be the winner.

    Why did Mark induct Savage into the club? He seems to be in a solid position and has been edited well. I don’t think he will win, but I would put him in the top six players so far.

    1. I think Mark confused “zero percent chance of winning” with “players I don’t think will win”.

      The thing about the zero percent club is that it’s really easy to not be wrong, since only one player wins.

      The other thing is that two of us managed to even screw that up.

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