Ultimate Survivor Winners Bracket – Modern Division

Time to decide the Ultimate Winner of Survivor. For the next month or so, we’ll have weekly polls pitting former winners in head-to-head match-ups until we get from 32 down to 1. While we cannot tell you how to vote, the intention of this tournament is to judge winners by the season in which they won, not their collected body of work. You decide what that means to you and what the Ultimate Survivor Win looks like.

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We continue with the 16 most recent winners in Survivor history. (Heroes vs Villains Sandra has eliminated Pearl Islands Sandra).


18. J.T. Thomas (Tocantins) vs 33. Adam Klein (Millennials vs. Gen X)

Imagine these two facing a jury together in a final two. JT is the easy-going, well-liked bundle of Southern Charm. Adam the earnest, brainy kid who can get a bit flustered when his motivations are questioned, but should still get credit for being the “strategist” type. Hmmmm…. pretty hard to guess how that would end up going. If only there was some sort of precedent….

-Andy

18. J.T. Thomas (Tocantins) vs 33. Adam Klein (Millennials vs. Gen X)

  • 18. J.T. Thomas (Tocantins) (82% Votes)
  • 33. Adam Klein (Millennials vs. Gen X) (18% Votes)

Total Voters: 179

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25. Denise Stapley (Philippines) vs 26. John Cochran (Caramoan)

One of the toughest match-ups of this round, both played quieter games predicated on letting bigger threats pop up in front of them while they worked social connections to overcome their vulnerabilities. Both overcame the bloated egos of dubious returnees. Both of them beat Malcolm! Cochran got to coast a bit while the rookies were taken out, but then had to survive the accelerated level of play among returnees (he also won 3 challenges to her 1, if that’s worth anything). Denise has the impressive feat of surviving every single tribal council.

About that though… it is really impressive. But… isn’t that also a sign of failure on some level (whether or not it was her failure or just a collective one). Like, isn’t it better to AVOID going to Tribal Council? I’m not saying it was her fault, necessarily, but to use it as a sign of her greatness over other winners feels a little specious to me. You know why no other winner has survived every tribal council? Because they didn’t lose as much as she did. It’s the same reason why I’m less impressed by QBs who rack up a lot of come from behind victories — gimme the guy whose team doesn’t fall behind so often.

Luckily, there’s plenty of other reasons to admire Denise’s win, and vote for her in this match-up. We don’t need the impressive-stat-that-might-not-be-so-impressive.

-Andy

25. Denise Stapley (Philippines) vs 26. John Cochran (Caramoan)

  • 25. Denise Stapley (Philippines) (78% Votes)
  • 26. John Cochran (Caramoan) (22% Votes)

Total Voters: 181

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21. Fabio Birza (Nicaragua) vs 30. Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart)

One won a bunch of challenges to win a season with awful people; the other did it more.

-Emma and Andy (yep, took two people to write this one)

21. Fabio Birza (Nicaragua) vs 30. Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart)

  • 30. Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart) (73% Votes)
  • 21. Fabio Birza (Nicaragua) (27% Votes)

Total Voters: 175

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24. Kim Spradlin (One World) vs 27. Tyson Apostol (Blood vs Water)

Tough match-up. Two great winners, head-to-head, in the first round. Brutal.

But… is it really a tough match-up? Or is it more a tough draw. For Tyson, I mean. Because, sure, he feels like someone who should be making it out of the first round. But I also don’t need to hesitate for a second over who I’m voting for here. So it isn’t that tough after all.

-Andy

24. Kim Spradlin (One World) vs 27. Tyson Apostol (Blood vs Water)

  • 24. Kim Spradlin (One World) (84% Votes)
  • 27. Tyson Apostol (Blood vs Water) (16% Votes)

Total Voters: 178

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19. Natalie White (Samoa) vs 32. Michele Fitzgerald (Kaôh Rōng)

Let us compare: one of these winners was underestimated by a male ally, who promised to carry her to the end, voted correctly at every vote and won at the end through a strong social game where she formed bonds with nearly the entire jury. The other was Michele. Remember how Michele survived all those tribal councils? All six of them? Michele’s closest winner comp is Fabio, only Fabio was a target earlier in the game and had to win more immunities to get to the end. This is what Michele’s victory boiled down to: 1) she had to win one immunity (she did win another for good measure, but didn’t need to) and 2) she was nice to people. Run a game 32 times and unlikely events will happen and yield a complete nothing of a winner like Michele.

But Natalie White is not a nothing. Natalie played the same game a lot of winners have, only she did this by being on the right side of every single vote — something very few winners have done. She pacified a highly unpredictable ally and kept him from turning his sights on her. She was also responsible for the Erik Cardona merge vote due to her friendships with several members of the opposing tribe. That vote opened the door for her foursome to next idol out Kelly and then force a tie. You wonder how they overcame 8-4 odds at the merge? Natalie swayed the first vote, which opened the door. Michele didn’t engineer any votes (not even when she won immunity at final four).

Natalie White is sometimes considered a joke winner, but her game was light years ahead of Michele’s.

-Matt

19. Natalie White (Samoa) vs 32. Michele Fitzgerald (Kaoh Rong)

  • 19. Natalie White (Samoa) (66% Votes)
  • 32. Michele Fitzgerald (Kaoh Rong) (34% Votes)

Total Voters: 183

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23. Sophie Clark (South Pacific) vs 28. Tony Vlachos (Cagayan)

Sophie did everything she needed to do. It wasn’t flashy (frankly, it was the exact opposite of it) because it didn’t have to be. She set herself up in a winning position on day one, and simply had to play prevent defense for the final 38. Which she actively did. No, Cochran doesn’t get to join our inner circle. No, we’re not keeping Edna as a goat. No, Albert, we’re not gonna flip to the other side because you’re bored. GRAB MY FUCKING STACK TO GET RID OF OZZY. She even showed her human side at just the right time in front of the jury. Solid, solid winner.

But let’s not pretend that this is a choice. Frankly, I’m not sure that Sophie would even vote for herself here (given that she was a HUGE Tony fan during Cagayan). An actual Game Changer, Tony Vlachos made winning Survivor as thrilling as watching a man dance on a high wire, with no harness, blindfolded. Each of these winners played the hands best suited to their games and their seasons. But Survivor is also a television show. That we watch for entertainment. If you can honestly say you prefer to watch Sophie’s bloodless managing of an alliance to Tony’s manic full court press, I gotta ask: why do you hate fun?

-Andy

23. Sophie Clark (South Pacific) vs 28. Tony Vlachos (Cagayan)

  • 28. Tony Vlachos (Cagayan) (81% Votes)
  • 23. Sophie Clark (South Pacific) (19% Votes)

Total Voters: 180

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20. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Heroes vs Villains) vs 31. Jeremy Collins (Cambodia – Second Chance)

Note: We ask you to judge Sandra based on her Heroes vs Villains win, not both her wins.

Maaaaan, I don’t know how you decide here. Both are the winners of the two most recent all returnee seasons, but played two fairly different games. Also, of late, I’ve grown tired of discussing Sandra’s wins in mixed company. It’s almost like bringing up politics: it’s not that I’m afraid to say my piece. It’s that I don’t really value the opinion of the other side. Luckily, PRP isn’t really mixed company on this issue, so we can safely say that she is the Queen and her wins are both amazing.

But just one win? Stacked up against another All-Star winner who had to shield himself from the obvious target he carried coming in, and did so in a way that no one really came after him even though they kind’ve realized they should’ve been coming after him? Tough, tough call. They both really balled out.

-Andy

20. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Heroes vs Villains) vs 31. Jeremy Collins (Cambodia - Second Chance)

  • 31. Jeremy Collins (Cambodia - Second Chance) (51% Votes)
  • 20. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Heroes vs Villains) (49% Votes)

Total Voters: 181

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22. Rob Mariano (Redemption Island) vs 29. Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur)

One of these winners was reality show vet who dominated a bunch of idiots after the best competition was eliminated early. The other… wait… yep, I just described both of them. I’m sure there are reasons to vote for Natalie over Rob, but you’re fucking kidding yourself if “strength of competition” is one of them. Now, I guess you could say that Rob had the good fortune to not be put on the tribe with a higher concentration of people who were looking to target the threat they previously saw on TV… except that so did Natalie (sup Nadiya!)

Rob, on the other hand, had to first navigate people on his tribe immediately calling out his threat level, one of whom had an idol. He had to blindside the same threat twice. He created a new social engineering trick to protect himself against people moving against him in the post-merge (the buddy system). He managed one of the most erratic goats in the history of the game (and if you think that’s easy, tell me how that went for the folks on Caramoan. Especially Francesca).

Meanwhile, Natalie got to coast through half the game until being forced to play when she and her ally were completely blindsided by a collection of the dumbest players to ever play. Then she could’ve coasted some more based on a completely-unique-to-her-season final three deal predicated on sending family members to the jury. But Natalie did have that idol blindside at the final five. I mean, sure, it basically wound up eliminating a disliked teenager in favour of the person who wound up beating her for the final immunity, but it was still pretty awesome.

And so is Natalie Anderson. I think she’s great. But I do like showing how specious arguments can sound when they’re applied to people you like rather than people you hate. Because winning Survivor is HARD. No matter who you’re playing against.

-Andy

22. Rob Mariano (Redemption Island) vs 29. Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur)

  • 22. Rob Mariano (Redemption Island) (50% Votes)
  • 29. Natalie Anderson (San Juan del Sur) (50% Votes)

Total Voters: 179

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Don’t forget to vote in the other division:
Classic Division

Andy
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Andy

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
Andy
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  • purplerockandy

    So…. I just clinched the win for Natalie Anderson, didn’t I?

    • purplerockandy

      Worth it.

    • HBO CEO of Tits

      I liked watching her win a whole lot more.

      • purplerockandy

        As good a criteria as any.

    • Max_Jets

      Don’t worry, Matt’s write up almost got me to vote for Michele.

      • Purplerockmatt

        HOW DARE YOU

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    The easiest decision for me was Sandra v. Jeremy. That one’s a no-brainer. Like voting for Kim. For me, the hard one was voting against Sophie. I didn’t like doing it. But I did.

    Also, this might not be a popular opinion here because I know he’s beloved, but Cochran doesn’t deserve to beat Denise here. She survived every. gddamn. tribal. counsel. She survived ABI.

  • PurpleTally

    Jeremy deserves props, but you can’t say he had a bigger target on his back than Sandra. It’s hard not to judge Sandra on both wins, because the fact that she’d won before is why winning again is so impressive.

  • Mike Hirsch

    Rob worked his ass off to keep himself as the leader AND keep the target off of his back the whole game. I have no problem sending a vote his way.

    • purplerockandy

      I like how this season everyone’s analysis is “Sandra/Tony/Cirie/Malcolm can’t win because they’ll be targeted right away”. Yet, Rob overcoming that was symbolic of an easy win.

      • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

        But there’s a difference between having that label in a returnee season v. in a newbie season. Rob, Hatch, Cirie, and Yauman are kind of indicative of the trend where returnees vote out big threats, possibly because they’re willing to move and shake alliances easier. Newbies latch onto alliances and will Pagong their opponents if they can, so if someone like Rob, Ozzy, Coach or Stephanie advertise themselves as founts of Survivor wisdom rather than threats, they can use that to move forward easier. The same pitch doesn’t work on returnees as they’re (roughly) on the same level of experience.

        • purplerockandy

          I think you’re on to something here. But I’m not sure we can discount the fact that Rob literally had people talking about voting him out on the welcome mat, while his fellow returnee had his tribe throw a challenge to get rid of him.

          I mean, the producers invented a new game mechanic to protect Rob and Russell because they were so afraid that the newbs would just immediately target them. Threats existed. He overcame them.

          • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

            To clarify, the producers invented a new game mechanic to protect Rob because the season was rigged because Russell isn’t exactly a challenge beast. But Exile Island returned in BvW seasons instead of Redemption Island, even though RI would have (arguably) been a better twist in that season. This is indicative, at least to me, that RI’s purpose was strictly for protecting returning players. So then if production is so bold as to include a game mechanic that is returnee-protecting on its face, is it that much of a leap to think that Rob had an advantage over his competition aside from his experience?

            Also, I will concede that RI probably didn’t return because people didn’t like it as a concept, but I would still contend that it serves EI’s function better in BvW seasons.

          • Alkanarra

            But if you need to implement a mechanic to protect a player, doesn’t that also admit the player is working from a disadvantage?

            If RI exists as a net-positive for a returnee then yes, it’s unfair. But if RI exists as a safe guard for the obvious “this person is a huge threat get rid of them now” mentality then it’s simply a counter-balance.

            I can see both arguments, frankly, though it’s also worth pointing out that whatever the intention, RI actually hurt Rob by putting two people he blindsided back into the game. Andrea returning at F5 and forming a women’s alliance (as was shown) could have easily doomed him if he hadn’t managed his idol well enough to not have to use it for the entire season.

          • purplerockandy

            In the end, I do think RI really ended up helping Rob, but as you point out, it also created his biggest threats.
            1) The fact that people from the other tribe might come back and become huge jury threats disincentivized flipping on Rob (as much as we may say his alliance were stupid for not doing it anyway, the final member of an alliance has a HUGE advantage in front of a jury).
            2) Combined with his idol (which he didn’t even get until one was played by someone who was against him, for all you conspiracy theorists out there), RI meant that his tribemates would have potentially had to vote against him three times. Better to just wait until the idol/RI is out of the way.

          • Alkanarra

            That’s fair, though I feel that if you’ve convinced everyone to get rid of him once, it should be an easy argument the second time around, especially since they’d *know* he could come back and would want to get rid of his allies in preparation. I suppose I’d consider RI a net neutral for him then: it put a possible flipper back in the game at a tied merge and put Andrea there at the F5, but it did also add an extra “but what if?” in everyone’s minds.

          • purplerockandy

            Sure, everyone would vote for him again. But he’s also a challenge threat is the issue.

            Which, you know, is why he’s such a great all-around playe.r

          • Alkanarra

            He is ridiculously good at puzzle. Except for almost losing that very last one and giving us surprise challenge beast Ashley Underwood as the season’s winner, which, while terrible, would at least have made this vote much easier.

          • sharculese

            Ashley swears if she had won she and Natalie were voting for Phillip. I believe her because its such a dumb idea that nobody would claim it unless it was true.

          • Alkanarra

            God I hope that’s true. Poor Ralph would be sitting in the jury stewing ’cause he couldn’t cast his lone Phillip vote.

          • purplerockandy

            I think Redemption Island was the advantage created for Rob and Russell. Anything past that is bullshit fan fiction. You wanna know why Rob faced weaker competition in RI? BECAUSE SURVIVOR SUCKED AT CASTING THEN. Look at Samoa, Nicaragua, South Pacific, and One World, then get back to me.

            They were thiiiiiis close to using redemption island in San Juan del Sur until they caved at the last minute due to all the complaints (it literally may have been due to Mike White complaining to Probst about it). That’s why they had those silly loved one’s duels. Because the arena was already built.

          • Alycia Swift

            That was part of the era of a lot of Mactors.

            They seemed to have stopped that – though not fully. Now its Wactors (writer-actors) like Hannah and Zeke.

      • the sky is falling

        Regarding being a target…. Not sure if this is considered spoiler or not, since its based on a published article with cast interviews in Parade magazine Nearly every cast member has mentioned that Tony has a target on his back and that he is the player they most fear and or worry about. UGH!

        • purplerockandy

          Not a spoiler.

    • Hornacek

      It’s easy to be the leader and keep the target off of your back the whole game when you’re playing with a bunch of people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing and seemingly want to do everything they can to make you win.

      • purplerockandy

        That is, of course, why Russell did so well.

        • Hornacek

          Ok, you also have to be likable.

      • Quick reminder: Andrea thought they would go back to a tribe game at a certain point after the merge.

        • Hornacek

          Well, that’s Andrea’s fault for assuming something that she had no reason to. Redemption Island was a new idea that season so she shouldn’t have made assumptions about how it would work beyond what the producers told them.

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          Well, that’s basically what happened in Fiji. Poor Michelle.

          • I think she meant it further down the line, which makes sense seeing how the Ometepes treat the Zapateras in the post-merge.

      • purplerockandy

        Winning as a returnee against newbs is so easy that Danni/Sophie/Denise never happened.

        • Max_Jets

          Getting to the FTC as a returnee against newbs is so hard that…wait

          • purplerockandy

            So… we’re giving people points just for getting the FTC now? Cool. About time people respect Rob’s All-Stars game.

        • Purple Rock Emma

          Can’t believe they would discount female winners like that smh

        • Hornacek

          I find it hard to compare the non-Rob players from RI (not counting Russell, whoc was always doomed on that season) with the casts of these women’s seasons and say they’re of equal strategic caliber.

          • purplerockandy

            They certainly were no Keith, Missy, Baylor, Wes, Alec, Drew, John Rocker, Julie, Jaclyn, or Jon Misch, I’ll grant you that.

          • Hornacek

            Who were the returning players on SJdS again?

          • purplerockandy

            *Sigh* Fine. How do you feel about Brandon Hantz, Cowboy Rick, Edna, Albert, Coach, Keith, and Whitney?

          • Other Scott

            I am here because Jon Misch was mentioned in a post.

      • Mike Hirsch

        I will grant you that it’s easy to keep a target off your back if people don’t want to target you for a myriad of reasons, however, having played poker against people who have no idea how to play poker, I find playing games against people who don’t know what they are doing incredibly frustrating. Because usually those people are Abi or Phillip and manage to stick around long after they should be gone and totally blow up your game. That Rob managed to not let that happen, that’s a solid adaptation of his game to cater to those he was playing with.

        • Hornacek

          Don’t get me wrong, Rob had a lot of control and it took skill, finesse and likability. But a lot of it was because those players were content to just do everything Rob said and believe that Rob would take them to the end, and that (a) they thought they could beat Rob at the end (?!?), or (b) they wanted Rob to win and didn’t care about winning.

          Andrea was the only one of Rob’s Zombies that finally woke up and realized she had to try something, but it was too late at that point. She couldn’t convince anyone to turn against Rob.

          • Mike Hirsch

            I don’t disagree with this, although I hold Rob in high esteem for managing to somehow convince many players to be content with being a part of his flock in a game with a million dollars on the line.

          • Alkanarra

            But that’s because he made them think that way. He gets out Francesca to show loyalty to Philip because he saw no one else would align with him. He bumps off Matt (twice) so there won’t be a flipper. He focuses on completely wiping out the other tribe before turning on his own to take away any possible underdog votes that his tribe could use against him (or that would sit next to him at the end). And because of his idol they need to blindside him, but he keeps them too scared of having that conversation with the buddy system so they never have a chance to even flush it. There was enough footage to show that Ashley and Andrea (and possibly even Natalie) would have turned on him, but he kept enough control over the flow of conversation that they were too scared.

        • purplerockandy

          A good comp for how playing with idiots can be harder than playing with non-idiots is Jeremy in San Juan del Sur, who couldn’t handle dealing with the stupid-ass decision-making of his competition, and was quickly singled out as the threat.

  • Maritimer

    Jud and Mike is just such a bad draw. Nearly anyone else on this list beats either one of them no contest I would think, except maybe Michele

  • Hornacek

    Mike vs. Fabio – yes, both won a lot of immunities when they needed to that helped get them to the FTC, but Fabio didn’t really make any terrible game decisions (not great ones either). On the other hand, Mike made a couple of real bone-headed decisions that turned almost everyone in the game against him. And from the recent rewatch, it looked like Fabio was doing some mind-games on the rest of the final 4 after he won immunity. I think … do I have to give this one to Fabio???

    • HBO CEO of Tits

      I also voted for Fabio. He won his crucial immunities against genuine competition. After he nuked his own game at the auction, Mike beat the murderers row of famed challenge competitors Mama C, Dead Fish Will, Glamour Muscle Rodney, Mailman Dan, FFSDT, Quittin’ ass Jenn, uh, Shirin, and his toughest competition, Captain Wet Blanket Tyler.

      Fabio seemed aware of how his affable dumb guy game was playing, and with some challenge wins put himself in the position to win. It was a pretty easy call to pull the lever for Fabio here.

      • Hornacek

        Yeah, in the rewatch, near the end everyone was saying that Holly was so well liked, but really it was Fabio – no one hated him (except NaOnka early in the game, but even at the FTC she said that she liked him now) and he had never been in an alliance that voted anyone out, he just went from vote to vote, being told who to vote for.

        • Kemper Boyd

          Agree with both of you

      • Alycia Swift

        Carolyn and Sierra were quite good at challenges. So was Tyler until he was voted out. The rest, not so much.

        Fabio’s competition was about equal to Mike’s. Chase and Jane (surprisingly) were good at a challenges. Sash was ok. Dan was equal to Dead Fish Will.

        • Max_Jets

          I wouldn’t be surprised if Sierra wins a couple individual challenges this season.

        • purplerockandy

          Sierra actually wasn’t that great at individual challenges. I think Shirin even outlasted her at one.

          • HBO CEO of Tits

            After Tyler goes, they were all terrible.

    • Maritimer

      Fabio was a really easy call for me. At least partially because I can’t stand Mike. I don’t really know why, just can’t.

      • Roswulf

        Proximity to awfulness perhaps?

        I voted for Mike. Because, even in Survivor I’m just not comfortable saying that failing to maintain a positive relationship with Dan Foley and Will Simms is a flaw. Even if it should have led to his downfall.

        • Maritimer

          Having said positive relationship in the first place on the other hand….

          You’re right about why I probably can’t stand him though

        • Alycia Swift

          I voted for Mike because even if he had not botched his own game socially, people were gunning for him the whole way even before the botch. He kept the target focused on Joe for a while. He was in charge of an alliance. He found idols (and actually got someone to give up information on it pretty easily so he could find one). He was not flipping. Rodney was the one who flipped on him. He treated the other alliance well (Shirin, Joe, Hali and Jenn. Rodney did not. Carolyn did not).

          Until it got close to the end, no one was gunning or strategizing with Fabio.

          • purplerockandy

            Mike botched his alliance BECAUSE they were gunning for him anyway.

            The auction thing was a bad look and a bad idea, but I think it’s net effect was negligible.

      • HBO CEO of Tits

        He was a camp life Nazi early on, and that soured me a bit on him.

      • gouis

        It’s his obnoxious Texasness

    • purplerockandy

      I think it hilarious that Fabio is somehow getting recency bias around here.

  • This side of the tournament is just filled with hard choices. I still haven’t voted on a couple of them, because I am still weighing them out.

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    HOW ARE JEREMY AND SANDRA TIED?!?! I CAN GET LOUD TOO WTF?!

    • I still haven’t voted on it.

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        COME FIGHT ME! OH GIRL WE ARE GONNA HAVE WORDS. JEREMY? JEREMY?!?! JEREMY WOULD HAVE LOST TO KEITH.

        • HBO CEO of Tits

          AND THAT’S WHY YOU VOTE KEITH OUT HES TOO AWESOME TO LET WALTZ INTO FTC

        • Purple Rock Emma

          Not in Cambodia.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            That’s not the impression I got – I thought the jury was ready to vote for Kimmy or Wentworth or Keith – anyone who snuck in who wasn’t part of the dominant alliance.

          • purplerockandy

            I’m guessing they were ready to vote for them over Spencer or Tasha. Not sure it goes the same way against Jeremy.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            Wentworth might beat him, or at least make it close. Maybe even Kimmi. But they did not respect Keith.

          • Alycia Swift

            I got the impression that some would have voted for Kimmy b/c of her sick kid situation but not Keith. Wentworth would have been close.

        • purplerockandy

          Sandra would’ve lost to Colby.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            Colby isn’t Keith. And Keith is fun! But I digress.

            Jeremy had a dominant alliance. He wins because nobody turns against him soon enough. Basically.

            What Sandra does is different to me. It’s knowing how to adapt to situations when you have no alliance. Jeremy was not in that position. I’m not saying he’s a bad player – I’m saying he wasn’t tested the same way.

          • purplerockandy

            They are very different. Tough to compare. Because the flip side is that Jeremy deserves credit for forming and maintaining a dominant alliance instead of finding himself on the bottom.

            It’s almost like comparing winners is arbitrary and requires us to value one style of play over another based on our own preferences.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            If only we could compare the performances of the players on their prior seasons, for example, to see how they react when they’re not in a dominant alliance. I’M JUST SAYIN.

          • purplerockandy

            But we already did that tournament. Alas.

          • purplerockandy

            The argument against using other seasons to judge performance: if Sandra is taken out first this season, does that diminish her other performances?

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            No, it doesn’t, I was just making a joke, I promise

          • purplerockandy

            I’m just play fighting here anyway. I voted for Sandra.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            I had a feeling you were a fan of Queen Sandra

          • purplerockandy

            It wasn’t an easy vote. Jeremy was awesome too.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            He’s not a bad winner by any means. I’m not AS high on him as everyone else, but I respect that he played such a dominant game, and I enjoyed the season.

          • Alycia Swift

            If Sandra was taken out (depending on where she was taken out), she probably would never have gotten a second shot.

          • purplerockandy

            Sorry, the “this season” I was referring to is the upcoming one. That was unclear.

          • Also, Jeremy in Cambodia got some good swap luck where he basically had his closest strategic ally and a goat at his disposal during both swaps. Obviously, we can’t compare swap luck, but it is in my head..

        • Sylvisual

          I almost went with Jeremy, but decided that winning without idols or immunity is always impressive, and notched her slightly above. Plus her jury management and Russell management was excellent, even if the rest of her game was not.

        • Kemper Boyd

          EMANDSCOUTING GETS IT. SHE GETS IT.

    • Max_Jets

      Yeah it’s weird. Jeremy dominated Cambodia, while Sandra played possibly the worst tactical Survivor game that has ever been won!

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        Oh give me a fucking break. Really? The worst tactical game? You think Bob Crowley, Fabio, Michele, etc. played better games than Sandra, who probably plays one of the best social games of all time and told the jury to their faces that they could have worked with her and that’s why they didn’t win? Sandra, who probably gives one of the better FTCs? (I won’t say best, because I’m not there and there’s always Todd). Sandra, who somehow managed to convince Russell to vote out Coach, which was completely to his disadvantage, playing on his paranoia, which is how someone like her gets to the merge and wins? Okay.

        • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

          Unless “worst tactical Survivor game” refers to the gameplay of others and the constant blundering of the Heroes. Even then, still no.

        • Max_Jets

          I think she is a better winner than Bob and Fabio, but I do have Michele above her. The reason I have Sandra so low is because she is constantly trying to achieve things that are against her best interest. She spends most of the postmerge trying to flip on the villains, even though it probably would have lost her the game. It ends up working out for her perfectly – the heroes vote for Sandra, partly because she unsuccessfully tried to work with them – but it’s not at all what she was intending. I agree that Sandra has an amazing social game, but the same goes for Michele, who is at least trying to accomplish things in her best interest. Sandra 2.0 does do a great job at keeping her options open though (so does Michele by the way…), and it’s a wonder her plans didn’t blow up in her face. As for the Coach thing, weren’t they already planning on voting him out to keep up the illusion of an all girls alliance? I always thought of her as just adding more fuel to the fire there, without being the driving force.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            As for the Coach thing, no, they weren’t. Sandra did that.

            You think Michele is a better winner than Sandra? Sandra has won twice. It shocks me every time that people think that she’s bad at this game, that someone can luck into winning twice without any strategy. First of all, yes, it did work out perfectly, but she also had connections at the Heroes tribe. She and Rupert were buddies – and he would’ve wanted to protect her. The other factor in there is that she would’ve been somebody that people would’ve wanted to take to the end as someone that that the villains wouldn’t want to vote for – hypothetically. This is the mistake that people always make about her. The other issue is that with big majorities at the merge, they are, at some point, going to fracture – after they pick off the villains, it will be tempting to work with her to form a new majority.

            My point is – I’m not saying this would have happened. It’s very possible she would have been voted off right away after the villains were out. But she was also the last woman standing in her alliance in her first season – she should’ve been voted off there too, and that didn’t happen either. With her, you just don’t know. She still would’ve had ways to win, and she had very good reason to want to get away from Russell – he was incredibly unpredictable. And, Parvati and Jerri were lobbying to vote her off – it made sense to want to get away. She wasn’t *really* in their alliance.

          • Purple Rock Emma

            “You think Michele is a better winner than Sandra? Sandra has won twice.”

            Without commenting on who is better or worse in this instance, we’re supposed to be looking at the HvV win in a vacuum.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            Sorry, sorry – I will edit that out.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            I got heated. That got me heated.

          • Max_Jets

            My HvV Sandra opinion was always going to sound obnoxious so I went full troll with my phrasing. Sorry about that!

          • purplerockandy

            This is some good PRP fighting. We go hard, then mutually apologize.

          • corndogshuffle

            How very Canadian of us.

          • Max_Jets

            Sandra 1.0>Michele>Sandra 2.0. I’m separating her games. (I know you just edited this out while I took forever to type this, but I wanted to make it clear that I’m not a Sandra hater) I think she’s good at the game, I just think she has one of the show’s least impressive wins. & I just did some homework (Survivor debates always stop me from being productive, apparently) and JT mouths to Russell to “hang in there” the episode of Coach’s boot, while Russell gets all excited that they think there’s a women’s alliance. Perhaps it’s an Inglourious Basterds situation where both plans would take down the Nazis? I think it’s a good move on Sandra’s part either way. I don’t think her flip to the Heroes would necessarily end her game, but I think it makes her win much less likely. I guess we’ll never know though.

        • Alycia Swift

          Agreed 1000 times.

  • Purple Rock Emma

    I can’t believe I have to decide between Denise and Cochran wtf.

  • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

    While BR’s and Natalie’s games seem similar on paper, I feel like BR went in feeling like he was going to be the winner and just played defense to maintain that. Natalie couldn’t have actually known she would win for the island week following Jeremy’s boot, so she was playing from behind the entire time and, imo, worked harder to come out on top.

    And speaking of playing from behind, I do give Denise credit for surviving every tribal because I think appearing at every tribal is a streak of bad luck, not of weakness or inability. IIRC, Denise was halfway decent at challenges, plus, you win and lose as a tribe.

    • purplerockandy

      I’m okay with giving Denise credit for that. But the flip side is penalizing Cochran for, you know, being on tribes that actually won a few times. Which seems silly.

      I voted Denise, btw.

      • HBO CEO of Tits

        Yeah, “number of tribal councils attended” is frankly irrelevant to me. I don’t ding Michele for not going to any, or pump up Denise for facing a lot. Or vice versa either. It’s equally valid to roll with the punches as it is to not step into the ring. You don’t typically win The Genius by being in the Death Match every week. Tribal Council is bad, don’t go there, but if you’re there, work it. Both are valid to me.

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        I think it’s note-able that a person is in danger that many times and survives it. You can give credit without penalizing the other.

        However, Denise’s biggest strength was her social game, which is no surprise given her profession. I know she made some reference to her and Russell Swan not having a great relationship after the game (which I’m pretty sure is not on her), but I always remembered that scene of her listening to him before the vote where he’s really opening up to her. She doesn’t tip him off, and she makes him feel comfortable. It seems like she knew what people needed from her, which was evident at FTC (not that Skupin or, probably Lisa, stood a chance of beating her).

        • Purplerockmatt

          i just realized something: Denise’s social game was so on point that she could be the person people cried to and then vote them out and they held zero grudges

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            I do consider her one of the best winners of all time, and I vote for her every year for the Hall of Fame.

          • EmAndScoutInBK

            Your description just made me think of and start analyzing a comparison that I NEVER would have drawn – she was able to do what Dawn couldn’t.

          • Alycia Swift

            She also did it without being thought of as the “mom” even though she had a kid.

          • Purplerockmatt

            That was what I was thinking

        • Alycia Swift

          Denise had to deal with Abi. Enough said. 🙂

  • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

    I might regret this, but I voted for Michele. I feel like spite played as much a role in Natalie’s jury margin as her social game, if not more. While she did help her alliance move past the merge, I wouldn’t necessarily credit her with keeping Russell’s crosshairs off her back. Russell is loyal to the people he feels are loyal to him, so I wouldn’t equate his targeting style to say, Tony. Michele’s win was purely based on her social game (I don’t think any of the KR jury was bitter towards Aubry, just ambivalent). A purely social win is a rare thing, and I think on some level that should be rewarded. Though it probably won’t matter seeing how that matchup is currently tilted.

    • Sylvisual

      Spite is the DEFINITION of Michele’s win, though. The jury liked her, yeah, but they hated the other two and looked for any reason to not vote for Aubry and Tai.

      • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

        The fact that most of the KR jury said they would change their votes had they seen Aubry’s gameplay (instead of guessing at it) would suggest that they didn’t *hate* Aubry.

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          Even taking them at their word, spite is still a factor, since a big reason they didn’t know about Aubry’s gameplay was that they froze out Cydney at Ponderosa.

    • Alycia Swift

      Four out of the five jurors in KR were spiteful. Julia promised her vote to Michele (or Anna) if either made the final and vice versa (not taking into account if both made the final). Debbie wasn’t voting for Aubry b/c she was nurturing to Aubry when she had issues. Cydney claims she was closer to Michele but technically voted against pretty close to the same game Cydney was playing. Scott and Jason – bitter they were bested by a brain. The fact that Aubry was able to get Tai to flip, changing the entire season, was masterful. The fact that if Tai did not flip, he could be the winner or we could be seeing Jason as the winner due to that dang superidol. Would people have voted for someone who presumably already had a lot of $$ Scot?

      • SpicyMayoJaySimpson

        I forgot about Debbie, so I’ll give you that she was spiteful (and also, Debbie is the only person whose pre-34 press I’m actively avoiding. Oy). Cyd has claimed she was closer with Michele, and I’d take her at her word since the opposing evidence is edited to tell a story. Judging by Jason and Julia’s votes, I’d say that they were more bitter about Tai betraying them than about Aubry’s maneuvering. To say that Aubry stole Tai from them gives Tai no agency, and while he was a bit susceptible to suggestion, it was still his choice to vote out Scot and not play the idol. So if you’re just avoiding voting for Tai, then Michele’s social game is what distinguishes her from Aubry.

  • Sylvisual

    Tyson will always win over Kim. Because reasons.

  • Kemper Boyd

    Wait…
    You want me to vote for Tony over Sophie because of the fun of his win but Rob over Natalie because of his managing of his alliance? MAKE YOUR MIND UP.

    • Max_Jets

      I’m the opposite. I voted for Sophie because I hate fun, but I voted for Natalie because I liked how she didn’t manage her alliance as well.

      • Max_Jets

        Seriously though – Coach was to Sophie what Trish was to Tony and they are close to tied for me. Natalie Anderson “balled out” and experience is important for managing dumb players too.

      • Kemper Boyd

        Vote twins! Natalie managed her alliance superbly. They never doubted her despite voting it her closest ally without telling her.

    • purplerockandy

      I found Rob’s win fun too.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      Ugh. I hated voting against Sophie. It was a struggle, and I almost wish I could change my vote because there are valid arguments for her win being just as good. Tony’s is flashier. But, what’s interesting, is this isn’t a case of dominant v. flashy. They were both dominant. I feel like there’s an argument that Tony took unnecessary risks, whereas Sophie knew she was dominating this game and kept everyone else from taking said unnecessary risks. But then again, Tony convincing Woo to take him to the final two over Kass? Masterful. I don’t know. I hate that they were against each other.

      • Alycia Swift

        I wish I could change mine too after thinking about it. We forget – Tony had Trish who cleaned up his messes. Sophie had …. Sophie. And she cleaned up Albert and Coach’s messes.

      • purplerockandy

        I’m not sure we can call any of Tony’s risks unnecessary because I think his constant risk taking was the key to his victory. It put everyone else ill at ease while simultaneously thinking he’d burn himself out at some point. I think the only way Tony can win is overpowering people with a full court press. Anything less than maximum effort gives them a chance to catch up and beat him.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I voted for Sophie. It was tight but I’m not as enamoured by Tony as the rest of the fans.
        Sophie is a winner who really spoke to me, she is a similar age and for me seeing a 21 year old girl on Survivor be not just something other than the bikini babe but the main brain of the season whilst still bring a challenge difference maker was so cool. Sure it wasn’t showy but it is one of the most solid winning games we’ve ever seen. On a show where men often get more credit than women she sat next to two men she had made every move with and got credit.

        • gouis

          YOU DONT LIKE TONY GET OUT

          • Kemper Boyd

            I like Tony fine. I don’t love him. Maybe after a rewatch.

  • So, I ended up voting for Sandra over Jeremy and Natalie over Rob, but they were both nailbiters. What won Sandra over Jeremy for me is that Sandra was willing to turn on allies to save herself (see Courtney). Jeremy didn’t have to worry about voting out Stephen and he was basically pushed into voting for Kimmi after the plan to vote out Jeremy failed.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      Samesies (obvs on the first decision, but I also did the same for the second).

      I’m thrilled that you came to the correct decision. Sorry I all-capsed yelled, boo.

    • Roswulf

      To misquote Sandra, “Rupert, I’ll vote for you again, and you’ll STILL vote for me at Tribal”.

      My favorite part of Sandra’s HvV game is how her two apologetically fawning jury advocates…are both people she voted out without a moment’s hesitation. She’s a cutthroat with a godly social game.

      But I voted for Jeremy.

    • purplerockandy

      I basically voted for Sandra because her going out in the first round would make people happy that I don’t want to be happy. #priorities

    • Alycia Swift

      Yes. I agree regarding Natalie. I did not vote for Rob. It took him 4 tries. Plus from what I saw Natalie was playing the first half … it just went into high gear the second half after Jeremy was voted out.

      • Yeah, I think Natalie’s game is a bit more intense and she actually had to work to get herself out of a pretty bad situation. Remember, she had a fairly swap draw where Jeremy/Julie/her were outnumbered by Josh/Reed/Wes/Alec. Josh and Reed could have easily threw a challenge to get rid of Jeremy or Natalie but they didn’t…which I don’t understand why.

        • purplerockandy

          Because they’re stupid. It certainly wasn’t because of anything Natalie did. It just… happened.

          • I don’t know if they could be called stupid, but yeah, it wasn’t their best move.

          • purplerockandy

            It wasn’t necessarily stupid. They were.

          • I think it was the cockiness that they could have the majority because they would get all 5 members of new Coyopa on their side. I don’t think Reed and Josh are dumb, but they were definitely overconfident.

  • purplerockandy

    I should note: if Rob somehow manages to beat Natalie, I will not be doing his next write-up. So you won’t have to put up with me twice in a row.

    • gouis

      Side convo:

      Do you think he’ll ever play again?

      • purplerockandy

        Only under specific circumstances. Like a winner’s season or an ACTUAL legends season (rather than a season they call Legends, but most assuredly isn’t).

        Related: these are the only circumstances I’d like to see him play again too.

        • gouis

          So those are qualifiers. I want a prediction.

          Yes or no

          • purplerockandy

            No. Because neither of those seasons will ever happen.

          • gouis

            I say it will. Season 40

          • purplerockandy

            I hesitate for one reason: BRob has been hanging out at a lot more Survivor functions lately.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Hasn’t his star fallen outside the fan community? so he needs it to keep up not having a real job?

          • Some of that is going to depend on how sustainable the show is. It’s holding remarkably steady in the ratings. And even if CBS decided to give up on it I could see another network (or even a streaming service) snatching it up. So a season 40 isn’t necessarily a given, but it almost feels like it is at this point.

        • Kemper Boyd

          I don’t think going for a legends or all winner’s season would be good for him, after All STars and RI there is almost no way he can get beyond the merge, he is too much of an all round threat.

          • purplerockandy

            They might not be good for him, but his ego might dictate it.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I imagine it will plus that sort of a season will also allow for everyone to ask for appearance fees and that will be a good reason to go.

  • Kemper Boyd

    What I love about this community is how many of us are willing to vote against our own opinions just to annoy whoever did the write up.

    • HBO CEO of Tits

      Not me. The fact that they defy the writer is just a bonus. Also, I found out that deep down, I am a fan of Fabio and feel he is a bit unfairly maligned.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I fully agree with Fabio being better because Mike screwed up massively

        • sharculese

          Also, Fabio was totally aware that being seen as a fun doofus was his greatest strength. He may have exaggerated how much it was an act, but he showed self-awaremess.

    • Alkanarra

      I came *this* close to voting for Bob. I would’ve been banned of course, but it would’ve been worth it.

      • Purplerockmatt

        i would have come through the computer and hurt you

        • Kemper Boyd

          There is no argument even how boring Michele was that anyone can make that says there is a worse winner than Bob. I’m still convinced if Susie had won it would have been a more satisfying ending, she made a few big swing moves. (she obviously sucked as a person but everyone did in Gabon except Bob).

      • Just throwing this out here: if you don’t know who you are voting for, then they can ban you.

  • gouis

    That Michelle hate is real.

    • Maritimer

      I have always wondered if some of the Michele hate (not necessarily Matt’s, but generally) comes from the mix of a) not showing us her social game and b) misdirected hate at the obnoxious Edgic people from that season

      • Roswulf

        B is absolutely a factor, on A I feel like it’s less that her social game wasn’t shown, more that it was a REALLY BORING social game. She wasn’t using her ability to read people to structure the season, or turning her charm on the audience in confessionals in a way that made us love her.

        She was being pleasant to Jason, Scott and Debbie. Which works! But is not good TV, whether it is shown or not.

        • HBO CEO of Tits

          And God was she boring.

          • Purplerockmatt

            so fucking boring

          • corndogshuffle

            Only because it was so obvious she was winning. Kim Spradlin-esque, one might say.

          • purplerockandy

            No, everything she says and does is boring. She is blandly pleasant and won because of it. Yawn.

          • corndogshuffle

            But look at that edgic chart – Michele was so good she didn’t even need to be relevant of coherent to dominate the season!

            (please don’t mistake me for being serious there is literally no player I will ever vote for over Kim in terms of winners or players)

          • Maritimer

            Honestly, I’m not sure I even knew who she was until after the swap, at least

          • Roswulf

            Sounds like someone’s forgetting how she announced the merge in a way that evokes the more sophisticated poetry of the early romantic era.

            It captured the ethereal inevitability of the passage of time, while also revealing the sensitive soul of an authentic human being guaranteed to receive at least five votes at final tribal counsel.

          • corndogshuffle

            I mean, she did say “I don’t need to be carried bro”. Has a winner ever offered such insight? It really was poetry.

          • purplerockandy

            It was pretty epic. It was demonstrably false. But epic.

      • Kemper Boyd

        B) is 100% a factor. Edgic ruined the season in a lot of ways.
        I do wish we’d been given slightly more of Michele bonding with people. Or someone mentioning her bonding with people

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          Or conversely, more of people saying to each other “hey, that Aubry’s kind of scheme-y, don’t you think?”. (not that I want that, per se, but it would have helped justify the outcome).

          • Kemper Boyd

            Agreed.

      • Max_Jets

        I don’t know, but I feel like I can’t discuss Michele’s game anywhere (not that I want to anymore) because people either give her a ridiculous amount of credit or don’t give her any at all.

        • Maritimer

          This is true. If we were ranking “Most polarizing winners” I think she’d be an easy #1

          • Kemper Boyd

            most hated sure, most polarizing probably not. Sandra is the most polarizing because there are rabid Sandra haters and those who adore every grain of sand she walked on. There is no one who loves Michele’s win to the level people like Mark hate it.

        • Kemper Boyd

          I work on the every winner deserved to win mentality. They won so they deserved it as the only thing that measures “deserves” is a plurality of jurors voting for you.
          I honestly think that Bob is the only winner you can’t look at their game and map solid arguments for what they did to get them to the end and convince the jury. and this is why my only solid ranking place is 33. Bob.

    • Other Scott

      Matt completely echoed my thoughts on both Natalie White and Michele Fitzgerald. One utilized social game perfectly to establish themselves in a good position. The other one just got lucky.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        Kaoh Rong was 100% a “how XX lost” story rather than an “how XX won” story, except the show botched its own chosen narrative. I really wish I had watched the Ponderosa videos in real time because the way Jason, Scot, and Julia childishly froze out Cydney should have been a big clue that Aubry was in trouble (although Cydney herself voted for Michele, which is the biggest head-scratcher of all).

        • purplerockandy

          You couldn’t watch the Cydney one in real time. Since it happened at the finale, it was released after the final result. So don’t beat yourself up!

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Oh yeah, that’s right. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

        • I think Cydney has said that she was always closer to Michele (as they were on the swap tribe together), so that is another lovely editing trick.

          • Max_Jets

            I do wish they had shown a bit of Cydney and Michele on the swap tribe, but I don’t think the show was edited in a way that favored the Cydney/Aubry friendship. The problem was that they were closer strategically in the biggest episodes of the season and went on more rewards together – both of which they had to show. But it did make things a bit confusing.

        • Kemper Boyd

          Serious question, does Michele win vs Cydney? Are Cydney and Aubry interchangeable or would Debbie vote for Cydney and we’d have had a tie?

          • Black Dynamite

            I don’t have an answer though it’s an interesting question. Instead I’ll add a question. If Cydney is in the final and Michele still wins that last challenge, who does Michele kick off the jury?

          • Kemper Boyd

            Interesting, Joe or Aubry I think. Instead of Neil. I just realised when swapping in Cydney I forgot that adds a vote for Cydney and takes one off Michele.
            Cydney: Aubry, Joe, Neil (?), Nick (I get the feeling he thinks Michele is dumb and nothing would change his mind). (Minus one of these as Michele wouldn’t kick off any of her 3 votes below).
            Michele: Scot, Jason, Julia
            Up in the air is Debbie and that is the swing.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I thought the answer was easy (Aubry votes Cydney, Debbie switches her vote, Cydney wins 4-3) until @disqus_3Sm0bOf1sj:disqus brought up the juror eliminator advantage. If Cydney is in the F3 I think it’s extremely likely that she wins the advantage. The question then is what she does with it. Does she realize that Jason, Scot, and Julia are such crybabies? Does she eliminate Aubry in case she’s bitter? Does she think she’s going to win a huge majority of votes and doesn’t bother to eliminate anybody? I think it’s the latter, in which case I think Nick votes for Michele for the lulz of forcing a tie.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I don’t think Cydney is dumb. She’d vote out Julia. Julia is the obvious move.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            On balance you’re probably right, but I don’t think it’s that obvious. Maybe Julia is more mad at Michele for abandoning her. Maybe Jason and Scot will vote for an original brawn tribe member if the alternatives are Aubry and Tai.

            Of course the real “what if” scenario for Cydney is what if she slows Joe down at the reward feast.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Honestly I think it’s obvious Julia is the lock for Michele. Michele didn’t abandon her, she managed to turn without turning.

          • Max_Jets

            Julia said in a hypothetical Aubry/Cydney/Tai final 3 that Debbie might have voted for Aubry, so Michele would probably still have Debbie’s vote. I think there’s also a possibility that Cydney wins Jason back with a really good FTC, as they were really close before Cydney flipped.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            But it’s still not clear what Debbie’s order of preference is in a Cydney/Michele/Tai final 3. And again, the Ponderosa strongly suggests that Cydney had no shot at Jason’s vote (I think maybe she could have swayed Julia with a great FTC).

      • And to be fair, luck is important to nearly every winner. But she did have some fantastic breaks along the way.

    • Purplerockmatt

      never underestimate how much I hate Michele. When Andy came up with this idea I was like hey i don’t want write first round because I have been doing the Nicaragua stuff and then he asked “but what about Michele.” He gets my need to make sure everyone knows how much she sucks

      • Other Scott

        I just get annoyed at people who are like “Michele won because her social game was soooooo good”, Were they not paying attention to the parts where everyone was making fun of Michele when she went off on her own and the fact Michele would have been voted out at multiple tribal councils if her tribe had lost?

      • gouis

        That’s fair. Still feel like she was more self-aware than Natalie.

  • Other Scott

    Places I voted in the minority:
    Sophie over Tony – I don’t know what to say about this one. Tony’s win was more exciting for sure, but the way Sophie put herself in a winning position from the start and never strayed from it is really impressive and a gamestyle that never quite gets it’s due. It’s one of those places that becomes unfair to compare winners because neither really did anything wrong or got particularly lucky at any point, it just comes down to which style of game you think is going to be successful more often and I just remain unconvinced that Tony would get away with playing the style he played if you redo the season 10 times.

    Jeremy over Sandra – I think Jeremy’s win might be the most underrated ever. Between the meatshield strategy and always making everyone in the opposing alliances feel like they could work with him and not target him, plus getting a loyal ally in Tasha who was willing to lose to him, there’s nothing bad to say about Jeremy’s win. Sandra played well in Heroes vs Villains, but I think there’s things you can point to as stuff that could have come back and bit her in slightly different circumstances.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      NO.

    • purplerockandy

      I agree with you about Sophie, except for the replicable point. Largely because very few seasons (especially now in reaction to South Pacific) allow you to continue through the game with the same group of people the whole way.

      Not that playing with the same group of people the whole way is easy, as many an imploded tribe will tell us. But I don’t think it can be done again.

      • Other Scott

        I mean replicable in the same set of circumstances. Obviously with swaps and new alliances forming and stuff you have to change your game up a little bit and I don’t think modern survivor really allows for that type of play, but in no swap seasons I think Sophie style is the style you aim for.

        • Max_Jets

          I wonder if Tony would sink himself without tribe swaps. He’d get too bored.

  • Ms. Sweaterfan

    Wow these match-ups were harder than the first round! I had genuine trouble deciding a few and I also find myself regretting a few decisions. JT vs Adam was super difficult because I think that Adam played a very sloppy game on his own, while JT’s was much smoother but he relied heavily on Fishbach to handle the strategic decisions. Ultimately I went with JT, though I think if you matched them up 100 times (without Stephen) you might find that Adam wins more often than not…

    • HBO CEO of Tits

      These posts made me do a personal ranking of winners and I have Adam’s failure parade of a win in the bottom five. Love the guy, deserving winner, but no one took a more sustained series of self inflicted Ls in survivor history and won than that dude.

      • Maritimer

        Yeah, this. I love Adam, thought he was a great winner. Alternated with Jay as my favourite throughout the season.
        That said, when you start to compare his win to other people’s, he falls down the list fast. Possibly because they showed his mistakes/flaws more than they showed others’ or because he had more

        • HBO CEO of Tits

          I think the reason his game was so far down the list but he’s still considered a wholly deserving winner had a lot to do with the quality of competition on his season. With ten people left there were still like 6 potentially satisfying winners in the game, which feels high.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I think that’s extremely fair. I’ve never done a comprehensive ranking because like @purplerockandy:disqus I think it’s a little two subjective and comparing games is hard as every single season’s situation and atmosphere is different but just in this bracket like almost every win more than Adam’s.

    • I am going to counter with the fact that JT’s charisma is what helped him more than Stephen’s strategy (spoken by someone who has not seen Tocantins except the finale).

      • gouis

        This is 100% true

      • purplerockandy

        I think there’s a good chance that if Adam and JT played together, Adam would be a key factor in helping JT win.

        Although, maybe Adam, the super fan, would know not to let him have the chance.

        • Maybe Adam, in a sequel to his fail parade, accidentally knocks JT out of the game. Who knows?

        • Alycia Swift

          It would be the latter. Adam’s a super duper fan. They did not exist in Tocantins yet. 😛

          • purplerockandy

            How soon we forget… what’s his name? The young kid superfan on Tocantins? Ol’ what’s his name.

          • Other Scott

            Spencer Duhm?

          • purplerockandy

            Yeah! Good ol’ whositwhatsit.

    • Alycia Swift

      I went with JT for the same reasons. Plus JT was good in challenges. Plus, this was an era where a unanimous vote is unheard of. Trying to take “goats” was not the main objective. People still either stuck with alliances for the most part even if they took someone who would get some votes. JT was also fantastic at FTC. Stephen was not. As far as FTC for Adam, I thought all three were pretty equal in their presentation of what we saw but the jury was not going to award Ken or Hannah anything no matter what.

      • Ms. Sweaterfan

        Stephen was so epically bad at that FTC D:

    • Kemper Boyd

      For me Adam is very much a mid to low level winner. His game wasn’t spectacular or interesting, I’d have only voted for him if he came up against Fabio, Mike or Michele. I think even Natalie White was a better winner (her strategy to ride Russell like a pony to the end and bitter jury was perfection and her social game is tip top).

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    I’m going straight up Rupert “WHO THE HELL VOTED FOR ME” (I guess against instead of for) for the people who are voting for Tyson over Kim. I just don’t get it.

    • I love Tyson, but no way I could vote for him to win over Kim. Particularly after forcing myself to watch some One World stuff for that Troy post.

      • EmAndScoutInBK

        Ugh. Troy. (“the worrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrst”)

      • Kemper Boyd

        The fact that Kim v Rob will be an Elite 8 matchup is the biggest flaw in the lack of seeding. Kim v Rob should really be the final. (I didn’t even vote for Rob cos I love Natalie and I knew he’d get through so I can start voting for him later on).

        • purplerockandy

          I’m not confident Rob gets out of either of the next two rounds.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Seeing the vote still tied is triggering. I don’t think I’ve shared on this site the story of my visit (planned months in advance) to West Palm Beach in November 2000.

          • purplerockandy

            You have not.

          • Dear lord, why would you go to WPB?

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Brother’s wedding at IIRC the Colony Hotel (the girl was from Miami). It was mid-November and momentum was swinging towards W. I remember getting gas at a gas station across from the County Courthouse and before driving away me and my dad just sat in silence looking at the bajillion TV vans and reporters for a solid five minutes. Finally I turned to him and said “who knows, maybe nothing bad will happen for the next four years and he won’t screw things up too much.”

          • Kemper Boyd

            Oh is it two sides not 4? Am I being disnumerate again?

          • purplerockandy

            Left side is one part of the final four, right side the other.

  • corndogshuffle

    Poor, poor Tyson. He never had a chance. I noticed that Natalie White was given a bye in the first round, too bad that couldn’t have gone to Tyson.

    Anyway, this set of winners was much more difficult to vote off than the other set. Hope Natalie can come back to beat Rob but if she doesn’t I get it. I took Jeremy over Sandra as well.

  • Max_Jets

    I don’t have a set schedule right now, but I was going to go into work over two hours ago.

  • Yark Narf

    Ometepe should have been a clueless, uncontrollable tribe voting in all directions willy-nilly.
    Replace Rob with Cochran and what happens? Chaos.
    How about replace Rob with Denise? Chaos. Adam? Chaos. Either Natalie? Chaos
    Sophie and Jeremy would have lost their friggin minds on that tribe.
    Rob did what he had to do exactly. Ometepe was a clueless tribe, yes, but clueless tribes are still dangerous and have taken down many good players.
    Everything changes with a different returnee. Phillips is first out. Franny and Kristina become a thing. Ashley (or Grant) controls Nat10. Andrea and Wyatt Earp fall in love and get married. Whole different ballgame.
    Redemption Island sucked as a season; this is a scientific fact. But Rob had a very good and legit win IMO that few other returnees could have pulled off.
    (Now replace Rob Mariano with Rob Cesternino and not only does Rob C. win but he becomes the best player of all time)

    • purplerockandy

      Rob C loses one of the final challenges and is voted off.

      • Yark Narf

        Ummmm… recalculating….
        Yes. You are correct.

  • Black Dynamite

    Just voted!! My picks for this side of the bracket was JT, Denise, Mike, Kim, Natalie W, Tony, Sandra and Natalie Anderson, who is fucking amazing and needs to beat Rob.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      We voted the same way on every question. BOOM!

    • Alycia Swift

      I think I reluctantly voted the same way (only b/c I had to eliminate Sophie).

      • Black Dynamite

        Sophie, who is a badass, was the toughest to vote against. I do love her game though.

    • Kemper Boyd

      JT, Denise, Fabio, Kim, Natalie W, Sophie, Sandra, Natalie A.

  • Alycia Swift

    This was difficult because I had to eliminate Sophie who was better than many others in other brackets (Mike, Fabio, Michele, Natalie W.)

    Also, Mike v. Fabio was weird when you think of it the way you guys described it. They were also both likeable although Mike was more “heroic” after the Shirin/Will incident. The big difference though is Mike was trying to control the game and blew up his own game – he was one of the top dogs until he did that. Fabio was not trying to control things.

  • Side Character

    Okay, when I checked the results of Sandra vs. Jeremy, it was deadlocked. I didn’t vote on that one because I didn’t want to choose between them (though I might still pick Sandra), but mainly because I want to see what happens if/when one of these comes to a tie. So, basically, if you haven’t voted for one of them yet, check the results first and if it’s 50-50, don’t vote. Do it for a random stranger you haven’t met.

    • purplerockandy

      I’m not sure we’ve ever come up with a tiebreaker for these, tbh.

      So far, it’s been “wait until the tie is broken before shutting down the polls”.

      • Kemper Boyd

        How about a two day long argument on the threads and then a 3 way match up in the next round?

        • Assistant Dragon Slayer

          Or a fire making challenge between Andy and the PRP staffer who likes Natalie the most?

          • purplerockandy

            “We’re going to matches”

      • Kemper Boyd

        can I throw a new suggestion in as it looks like Jeremy v Sandra is also going to be 50/50? Put a special new match up draw from a hat for example we could get Natale v Jeremy and Rob v Sandra or obviously an all woman, all man mach up.

        • purplerockandy

          Right now, neither is actually tied. It’s just close enough that the percentages make it look like it is, since we the poll doesn’t show decimals.

          • Kemper Boyd

            well, if it end up with two ties you have your solution. One tie, I can’t help you.

  • Diego Armando

    Natalie should not beat Rob. Rob’s Redemption Island game was arguably the greatest game of all time.

  • Kemper Boyd

    Natalie saving Jacq and getting rid of Baylor was smart. That Final Immunity was close between all three and having Jacq there who was better in challenges gave more chance of being Keith and beating Keith was what mattered not winning it herself.

    • purplerockandy

      The issue with seeding is that I’m too damn good at it. Every bracket we’ve done has ended up with a final four of at least three 1 seeds. I wanted more drama this time.

      (And also, it would basically force us to rank winners, which is something we’ve stated that we don’t want to do).

      • Kemper Boyd

        I know. It’s too tough to seed this unless you just accept someone else’s rankings as the base (so there are seeding mistakes)

  • Other Scott

    That dead heat between Jeremy and Sandra though

  • Max_Jets

    Since we will no longer be discussing Michele’s game after this round, I’ll list a few other things she did that have been glossed over (some of which I don’t even see mentioned by over the top Michele fans) 1. She pulled in Julia on the Debbie vote. Without Michele’s help, Cydney goes home here and Scot/Jason likely run the rest of the game. 2. She got back into the majority after the Scot vote (the only one she was on the outs for) by cutting ties with her closest ally. 3. She kept her options open. While not in the center of any alliance, she was set up to last long regardless of how the game shook out. If the Jason/Scot alliance does take over, Michele still goes to the final five with room to shift the votes onto someone else (Tai) or have a decent chance of winning out to the end. 4. She was well connected enough to stay in the game at final six, despite being identified by Aubry and Tai as the biggest jury threat in the game. 5. She knowingly performed for the jury at tribal council when arguing with Tai at final six.

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      All of this is completely fair, and when you enumerate Michele’s moves like this, it makes me think she essentially played Sandra’s game without any of Sandra’s style points.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I think there is an argument that she is the only other winner to play something akin to Sandra’s anyone but me game. She just does it in a way less showy fun way. Also she got so so so much luck. She got enough medivacs she didn’t go to a tribal until someone was already on the jury, that is insane.

  • Jim

    Fabios a better winner than Mike, because while we don’t know, Mike was going to get voted out 100% if he didnt win those challenges, due to some social blunders, while Fabio was never really a lock, just a possibility, and he didn’t make those same blunders socially.

    Michele and Natalie are pretty close, so it was a coin toss really, both are around the middle. Same with Sophie and Tony, but with very opposite games. And for the two close votes, I think Sandra had harder competition, so give her the edge, and Natalie won first time, so give her the edge too.

    • Kemper Boyd

      Natalie White had a set strategy that she could articulate, she is better than Michele.

  • giorgos

    Kim might be a Survivor godess but her match-up with Tyson should not be such a landslide. Tyson pretty much owned his season almost as much as Kim did. And he had better competition than Kim. I’m not saying he’s better and the 1st timer vs 3d timer should always hold some weight even when we judging single season performance, but this match up should be at 60-40.

    • Kemper Boyd

      It should 100% be a landslide. Tyson was good, but not Kim levels of great anything below 80% Kim would not be right. Also I weight times taken to do it and Tyson took 3 goes.