The Purple Rock Podcast’s Ultimate Survivor Bracket preview

A terrible Survivor player once famously said that there is a flaw in the game. The “flaw” he uncovered is that viewers don’t get to decide who wins Survivor. While that argument is laughably stupid, most of us watch the show rooting for- or against- certain players. So wouldn’t it be fun if we did get to vote for something? (Let’s all choose to forget that one time we voted to give Rupert a million dollars.)

Fortunately for you, your friends at the Purple Rock Survivor podcast put together this Ultimate Survivor Bracket. 64 Survivors, divided up into eras and pitted against each other:

Graphic by @sylvisual (Click for the full-size version. It's amazing.)
Graphic by @sylvisual (Click for the full-size version. It’s amazing.)

Starting this week, we’ll be doing rounds of voting for each division. The divisions are:

  • Old School- Seasons 1 through 6
  • Second generation- Seasons 7 through 12
  • Age of the Returnee- Seasons 14 through 19
  • New School- Seasons 20 through 29

Why these specific players, you ask? These are the criteria we used for automatic entry:

  • Winning a Survivor season (winning a season in a given division automatically slotted the player in that division, with one exception- and yes, we argued about it: Boston Rob)
  • Inclusion in the Survivor Hall of Fame
  • Playing Survivor at least three times

That got us to 42 players. For the remaining 22, a super-secretive committee started an email chain littered with expletives, death threats, and insults. In the end, we arrived at exactly 22 players that at least 75% of us could agree on.

As for the brackets, there will be a blog post for each division with polls for each match-up. You can use whatever criteria you want do determine how to cast your vote. The process is pretty self-explanatory, but I’m going to explain it anyway. Because hey, maybe you’re like Russell and don’t understand basic game rules. On each division’s post, you’ll see a match-up like this (but with a quick blurb between the matchup and the poll):

samplevote

Vote for your winner, click that beautiful round “vote” button, and move on to the next match-up. If a match-up angered you/pleased you/aroused you, feel free to comment on it at the bottom of the post. Then check back here regularly, as we’ll be posting results and moving on to later rounds of voting. And feel free to share the link with any Survivor fans you know, so we can get their votes too.

If you want to know when results are posted and new rounds of voting are open, of if you just want to talk to us in 140 characters or less, follow us on Twitter:  And while you’re at it, subscribe to our Podcast on iTunes: Subscribe to The Purple Rock Survivor Podcast

That’s all for now. A big thanks to everyone that helped Andy and I put this together: Matt, Emma, and Mark (@sylvisual).

John
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John

John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He is still not sure if it was just a f*%king stick.

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins
John
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  • Other Scott

    You guys really went on a roll with your Age of Returnees matchups. There’s about 4 or 5 matchups in a row there that are absolutely solid gold. If Natalie White doesn’t take out Russell this whole bracket will be for naught though.

    I’m sort of sad there’s no Lil though. There’s so many potential great matchups. Lil against Jon? Lil against Savage? Lil against Ryan Shoulders? (OK, I’m kidding about that last one).

    Putting poor Ian up against Tom again is just mean. Hasn’t the poor guy lost to him enough?

    • Hey, maybe this is Ian’s chance at redemption! Don’t count him out so soon. (Just kidding. Count him out.)

    • We just desperately wanted to see Ian finish what he started on that buoy. No quitting this time!

      • Other Scott

        I don’t think I ever posted my theory about Ian quitting:

        I don’t believe Ian actually quit the game. He could not stand on the buoy any longer, and he knew he wasn’t beating Tom in the final tribal even if Tom did take him. So he does what he can to try and recover his relationship with Tom that had been shattered in the few days previous.

        What’s more likely, Ian standing on the buoy for 11 hours and thinking, “Eh, I didn’t want to win this anyways,” or him actually not being able to stand on the buoy any longer? It sort of drives me nuts when people want to call Ian a quitter and group him in with the Na’Onka’s of the world. Or say he made one of the stupidest moves in Survivor history.

    • RE: Your theory about Ian’s “quitting”. I agree completely. At a certain point in endurance challenges, you realize you’re not going to win and thus try to negotiate some sort of victory. I just wish Ian hadn’t did it to ensure third place. Tom put second place on the table, and would’ve gotten over any hard feelings pretty quickly. But I get that Ian may not have been thinking very clearly at that point. (I mean fuck: 12 goddamned hours. Survivor is just not that hardcore anymore).

      • purplerockemma

        As our resident Ian apologist, I agree with this and Other Scott’s theory.

    • Gouis

      I too would have liked to see how Ian played out matched up against someone else. This result is a foregone conclusion. It would be interesting to see if people liked him more than say Terry.

      • That match-up would never happen, as both Ian and Terry are obviously low seeds. In order for it to work, you’d have to argue with a straight face that either deserve to be in the top 8 (and the lower in the top 8 you put one, the higher in the bottom 8 you’d need to put the other).

        Ian was always going to have a tough path into the second round. This one just happens to be more interesting.

      • Just realized that the graphic doesn’t have seedings on it, so you’re forgiven for not thinking that way.

        The seedings are just like the NCAAs:
        1 vs 16
        8 vs 9
        4 vs 13
        5 vs 12
        2 vs 15
        7 vs 10
        3 vs 14
        6 vs 11

        So Ian is a 13 seed.

      • Gouis

        Well there are no seeds!

  • Other Scott

    You guys really went on a roll with your Age of Returnees matchups. There’s about 4 or 5 matchups in a row there that are absolutely solid gold. If Natalie White doesn’t take out Russell this whole bracket will be for naught though.

    I’m sort of sad there’s no Lil though. There’s so many potential great matchups. Lil against Jon? Lil against Savage? Lil against Ryan Shoulders? (OK, I’m kidding about that last one).

    Putting poor Ian up against Tom again is just mean. Hasn’t the poor guy lost to him enough?

    • Hey, maybe this is Ian’s chance at redemption! Don’t count him out so soon. (Just kidding. Count him out.)

    • We just desperately wanted to see Ian finish what he started on that buoy. No quitting this time!

      • Other Scott

        I don’t think I ever posted my theory about Ian quitting:

        I don’t believe Ian actually quit the game. He could not stand on the buoy any longer, and he knew he wasn’t beating Tom in the final tribal even if Tom did take him. So he does what he can to try and recover his relationship with Tom that had been shattered in the few days previous.

        What’s more likely, Ian standing on the buoy for 11 hours and thinking, “Eh, I didn’t want to win this anyways,” or him actually not being able to stand on the buoy any longer? It sort of drives me nuts when people want to call Ian a quitter and group him in with the Na’Onka’s of the world. Or say he made one of the stupidest moves in Survivor history.

    • RE: Your theory about Ian’s “quitting”. I agree completely. At a certain point in endurance challenges, you realize you’re not going to win and thus try to negotiate some sort of victory. I just wish Ian hadn’t did it to ensure third place. Tom put second place on the table, and would’ve gotten over any hard feelings pretty quickly. But I get that Ian may not have been thinking very clearly at that point. (I mean fuck: 12 goddamned hours. Survivor is just not that hardcore anymore).

      • purplerockemma

        As our resident Ian apologist, I agree with this and Other Scott’s theory.

    • Gouis

      I too would have liked to see how Ian played out matched up against someone else. This result is a foregone conclusion. It would be interesting to see if people liked him more than say Terry.

      • That match-up would never happen, as both Ian and Terry are obviously low seeds. In order for it to work, you’d have to argue with a straight face that either deserve to be in the top 8 (and the lower in the top 8 you put one, the higher in the bottom 8 you’d need to put the other).

        Ian was always going to have a tough path into the second round. This one just happens to be more interesting.

      • Just realized that the graphic doesn’t have seedings on it, so you’re forgiven for not thinking that way.

        The seedings are just like the NCAAs:
        1 vs 16
        8 vs 9
        4 vs 13
        5 vs 12
        2 vs 15
        7 vs 10
        3 vs 14
        6 vs 11

        So Ian is a 13 seed.

      • Gouis

        Well there are no seeds!

  • tocantins

    Questions:
    1) Should we vote for someone based on some (subset of) seasons he played, or all together? Should we use then the mean of how good he was in each, the maximum? If a guy is on the old school bracket, should that mean only old school seasons count for that person?
    2) If I haven’t seen the season a player plays on, should I refrain from voting on that match, or should the fact I didn’t see that player (or worse, don’t remember him) mean that he is not worthy of my vote?

    (Yes. I take things very seriously.)

    • Believe me, we took it seriously too and debated all these questions.

      The answer, at least according to Andy, was “The voters can use whatever the hell criteria they want.” So set your own rules for how you’ll choose to vote.

    • To answer the other part of your first question: you should take the contestant’s entire history into consideration, not just their bracket. Because one of them will emerge from that era. The eras were just a means of organization, not a way of boxing them in.

      In fact, there are some players that never would’ve made the tournament at all were it not for their return appearances. For example, would Mike Skupin or Gervase gotten picked had they both not made strong second showings over a decade later? Maybe, but probably not.

      Other than that, you decide what “Ultimate” means to you. Best player? Best character? Most influential? The person you like better? It’s all relative anyway, and we can’t control how people vote, so it’d be pointless for us to try and enforce a defined way to express opinions (even if we may want to).

  • tocantins

    Questions:
    1) Should we vote for someone based on some (subset of) seasons he played, or all together? Should we use then the mean of how good he was in each, the maximum? If a guy is on the old school bracket, should that mean only old school seasons count for that person?
    2) If I haven’t seen the season a player plays on, should I refrain from voting on that match, or should the fact I didn’t see that player (or worse, don’t remember him) mean that he is not worthy of my vote?

    (Yes. I take things very seriously.)

    • Believe me, we took it seriously too and debated all these questions.

      The answer, at least according to Andy, was “The voters can use whatever the hell criteria they want.” So set your own rules for how you’ll choose to vote.

    • To answer the other part of your first question: you should take the contestant’s entire history into consideration, not just their bracket. Because one of them will emerge from that era. The eras were just a means of organization, not a way of boxing them in.

      In fact, there are some players that never would’ve made the tournament at all were it not for their return appearances. For example, would Mike Skupin or Gervase gotten picked had they both not made strong second showings over a decade later? Maybe, but probably not.

      Other than that, you decide what “Ultimate” means to you. Best player? Best character? Most influential? The person you like better? It’s all relative anyway, and we can’t control how people vote, so it’d be pointless for us to try and enforce a defined way to express opinions (even if we may want to).

  • Gouis

    Poor Stephen, he just can’t catch a break.

    • I’ll go on record right here: I think JT is the highest seed in danger of being eliminated. Unless you think the Russell Hantz hate is that high.

  • Gouis

    Poor Stephen, he just can’t catch a break.

    • I’ll go on record right here: I think JT is the highest seed in danger of being eliminated. Unless you think the Russell Hantz hate is that high.

  • Gouis

    Also not sure about this ‘Earl vs. James’ thing. Only one black guy allowed eh? It’s like when the NCAA matches up two mid majors in the first round just to make sure some of the UCLA’s make it to the second.

    • There’s still Gervase!

      Honestly, I was so focused on setting up Amanda vs Ozzy and Todd vs Courtney that the Earl vs James thing was unintentional. They just both felt like top 10 seeds, so I didn’t want to push James below Coach (you’ll see the seedings in the actual polls). I guess I should’ve flipped Earl and Yau-Man to avoid this, but, c’mon, does anyone truly believe that Earl should be ranked higher than Yau? (I’m guessing the answer to that is “yes, someone. But not most people).

      • Other Scott

        Just wait until we get the Yul vs. Yau Man second round!

      • Gouis

        I will vote Courtney as long as she’s on there, and try to find a way to vote for her even after that.

      • Other Scott: I just came to that realization after re-examining the Earl/James situation. COMPLETELY UNINTENTIONAL! Either that, or I’m a closeted racist.

    • purplerockemma

      Because I can’t reply to your comment about Courtney I just wanted to state that I support your decision.

      • Gouis

        COURTNEY FOREVER.

  • Gouis

    Also not sure about this ‘Earl vs. James’ thing. Only one black guy allowed eh? It’s like when the NCAA matches up two mid majors in the first round just to make sure some of the UCLA’s make it to the second.

    • There’s still Gervase!

      Honestly, I was so focused on setting up Amanda vs Ozzy and Todd vs Courtney that the Earl vs James thing was unintentional. They just both felt like top 10 seeds, so I didn’t want to push James below Coach (you’ll see the seedings in the actual polls). I guess I should’ve flipped Earl and Yau-Man to avoid this, but, c’mon, does anyone truly believe that Earl should be ranked higher than Yau? (I’m guessing the answer to that is “yes, someone. But not most people).

      • Other Scott

        Just wait until we get the Yul vs. Yau Man second round!

      • Gouis

        I will vote Courtney as long as she’s on there, and try to find a way to vote for her even after that.

      • Other Scott: I just came to that realization after re-examining the Earl/James situation. COMPLETELY UNINTENTIONAL! Either that, or I’m a closeted racist.

    • purplerockemma

      Because I can’t reply to your comment about Courtney I just wanted to state that I support your decision.

      • Gouis

        COURTNEY FOREVER.