Survivor alternate history: Adding the firemaking twist to past seasons

Since the super special awesome twist was implemented at final 4 of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, I’m sure the burning question you’ve all been asking yourself is: how would this twist have played out it other seasons? Well, good news! I have a complete and infallible assessment of what would have happened in each and every season since Cook Islands if this twist had been in place. This started as back-of-the-napkin analysis in the liveblog comments, but I’ve expanded it out here and included feedback I got on my first post.

In this article I look back at all the seasons since the Final 3 came into play and try and figure out what would have happened if the Final 4 fire-making challenge existed. After some debate with myself, I included the three Final 2s since Cook Islands because I think we have enough evidence as to how it would have gone and because Cagayan proved the point I set out to make when I first started this project. A point I’ve since rejected. But I’ve done the work so you’re going to read it. I briefly considered watching part of old finales to check some of my work on allies and friendships, but that proved to be too much effort. So other that immunity winners, which I did check, this is going totally off memory.

There were a surprising amount of challenges in assessing this. For many people, the calculus probably changes if there is a final 4 tie challenge versus a vote. I’m ignoring the idea that they would have known about it sooner and assuming it happened like it did this season. Even then though, there are people who I think would act differently at the Final 4 vote. What consideration goes into protecting someone? Firemaking ability? Would the concept that winning the fire challenge could increase your winnability to the jury? Would there be concern that not protecting your closest ally be seen as disloyal? Do you try and make sure a certain person goes out, like happened this season?

The two particular pieces I was interested in when I started this in the comments was a) does the winner change and b) how often would the fire challenge decide the winner? (and c) does the potential new winner make the season better or worse, but I dropped that from this post given how subjective it is). The first question is often too ambiguous to answer but I will try my best. (To be clear: when I say decide the winner, I mean, are the two people doing the fire challenge the two winner candidates. Not that if a different person won fire, they would win) The reason its ambiguous is how the hell do you assess who wins a firemaking challenge? There is a small element of randomness to it that how can I say who would win between two competent people like Malcolm and Denise (spoiler alert)? I’d bet if those two went to fire 100 times, they would come out close to 50/50. Other times it is easier, because we have evidence of people’s lack of competence (looking at you Becky).

Game Changers

FIC Winner: Brad

The first one is fairly straightforward. Brad will protect Troy, leaving Sarah and Tai for fire. There is little ambiguity as to what would happen here if Tai beat Sarah, since Probst kindly told us how a FTC with Tai-Brad-Troy would go and spoiling us on the tie in HvHvH. Brad wins on a tiebreaking vote from Troy and Game Changers somehow gets even worse. (I know show of hands at a reunion isn’t the most reliable thing but it’s the best evidence I have)

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Potentially

Millennials vs Gen X

FIC Winner: Beautiful Ken

This gif gets so much mileage here

This one is also straightforward. Ken will protect Hannah. He has no loyalty to Adam and clearly showed a willingness to cut David. David goes against Adam at fire and the winner unanimously wins FTC.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Yes

Kaoh Rong

FIC Winner: Michele

This season poses the first real question. In the real world, Michele votes with Cydney, but that was more in an effort to vote out Aubry than to save Cydney. However, with this twist, I expect she would recognize who her biggest threats are and protect Tai and leave Cydney and Aubry for fire and we know how that plays out. If she protects Cydney, its possible Cydney wins. Or Aubry win with a plurality in a Michele-Cydney-Aubry F3.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


This site turned into pornography so gradually I didn’t even notice.

FIC Winner: Jeremy

Another easy one. Jeremy saves obvious goat Tasha and Spencer and Wentworth go to fire. If Wentworth wins, we get a much closer FTC. Wentworth presumably has 3 locked votes from the Witches Coven, and could play for Keith’s, Joe’s, Kimmi’s, and maybe Spencer’s. If Spencer wins, little changes. Winning the fire challenge may earn him a vote or two at best.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No

Worlds Apart

FIC Winner: Mike

Mike would likely protect Will, the goat, leaving Carolyn and Rodney to fire which is exactly what happened anyways. An outside shot he protects Carolyn out of loyalty, but they weren’t that tight. He only saved her at Final 4 because he didn’t want Rodney at FTC.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No

San Juan Del Sur

Footage not found

FIC Winner: Jaclyn

This is actually a tough one. I think Jaclyn protects Natalie because she saved her at the previous vote and it would look bad to the jury not to. I also don’t think the players saw Natalie as the clear frontrunner she was. This leaves Keith beating Missy at fire and he maybe wins – taking votes from Wes, Reed, Alec, and maybe Josh (which is the plurality he needs). If Jaclyn protects the goat in Missy, as she probably should, Keith and Natalie do fire for the season.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Potentially


F4 Immunity Challenge Winner: Kass

In a F3 world, Kass saves Woo, we get a Tony-Spencer fire showdown for who wins the season.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Yes

Blood Versus Water

FIC Winner: Tyson

Tyson saves Gervase, leaving Tina and Monica to go to fire. If Tina wins at fire, she probably collects her second win through both this twist AND Redemption Island and her second win is forever astericked so the Queen stays Queen. This leads to endless reddit threads about whether Sandra or Tina was luckier in their second win.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: Cochran

I’m not sure who Cochran saves because it likely matters very little. He just needs Eddie not to win. He may consider likelihood of beating Eddie, and protect Sherri, or he might pick loyalty and save Dawn. Either way, rumour has said that if Eddie made FTC he would have won, but I’m not sure I buy that narrative. It may be closer, but I think Cochran still pulls it out with Andrea, Brenda, Philip, the loser of fire, and I think Malcolm has said he would have voted Cochran.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: [Redacted]

This one is very open and shut. [Redacted] saves Lisa, leaving Malcolm versus Denise to do fire and the winner of that would be the winner of the season.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Yes

One World

FIC Winner: Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin

This one is open and shut for a different reason. It doesn’t matter what Kim does, she still wins. I suspect she protects Chelsea, since I think she was a bit closer to her than Sabrina but I’ve done no research to back this up. Kim voted out the goat at 4 because it didn’t matter and she knew it, so the goat making FTC changes nothing.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No. Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin is unbeatable.

South Pacific

FIC Winner: Sophie

Sophie probably protects Albert since he was a huge goat. She likely persuades Coach to take on Ozzy at fire using his warrior bullshit at him. If Ozzy beats Coach at fire he probably wins the season, taking all the Savaii votes. This would cause Probst to call this the best twist ever and it would probably start happening at other votes.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No

Redemption Island

Now this site is specifically porn for Andy.

FIC Winner: Boston Rob

Rob needs Ashley out, which makes this tough. He’s herded Phillip the goat this far, but he’s probably more likely to beat Ashley at fire, so I think he saves Natalie and convinces Phillip to prove himself or channel his Native grandfather or whatever to make fire and beat Ashley. If Ashley wins, she wins the season, so post-game interviews have told us. As Blurry Denzel pointed out when I posted this in the comments, that probably causes this twist to go right into the hopper.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: Fabio

Fabio protects Sash, since he hates Chase and Holly is a jury threat (and everybody hates Sash). Does Holly win if she beats Chase at fire? Don’t know, don’t care

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No

Heroes vs Villains

FIC Winner: Russell

This one was the source of debate between Max Jets, Barbara Anderson and I when I posted this list in the comments. My position is that it’s Parv vs Jerri at fire because Russell was soooo sure he beats Sandra.

“But I don’t know about tha-at”.

Max Jets contends that he takes Parvati, which I think is also possible but less likely. He did seem to have a bit of a crush on her so he may save her because of that. If Jerri beats Parvati, I think Colby’s vote switches to her from Sandra, but we still get a 5-4 Sandra win. If Jerri goes against Sandra at fire and wins, Jerri likely wins the season.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Potentially


FIC Winner: Mick

I suspect Mick protects Natalie, viewing Russell as a FTC threat (lol), but if Brett beats either Russell or Natalie at fire, he wins, hands down, with all the Galu votes besides Shambo.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


Final 4 Immunity Winner: JT

Again wandering into fan fiction land, but given available evidence, JT protects Stephen and leaves Erinn and Taj to go to fire. I suspect that whichever of them wins, JT would still win in this totally hypothetical Final 3. Nobody from Coach’s tribe liked Erinn and while I think Taj was popular, I think they’d be reluctant to hand her the money given her husband and the fact that JT still played a better game. And these people worshipped the ground JT walked on and probably would give JT their firstborn son if he asked.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: Susie

Does Susie do the right thing and protect the goatiest goat to ever goat in Sugar or go by personal loyalty to Matty and protect him? If she protects Sugar, the winner of Bob and Matty wins the season. If she protects Matty, I don’t think it matters who of Sugar and Bob wins fire. Matty takes every vote besides Corinne’s and maybe Bob’s. Since its Gabon, she probably protects Matty.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Possibly


I don’t really know why we have this image, but it came up when I searched “Amanda”, so…

Final 4 Immunity Winner: Amanda

This season was the main reason I nearly didn’t include Final 2 seasons in this, because I didn’t want to wander down the “maybe Cirie wouldn’t actually have won a Final 3” debate that certain other places seem to engage in. But in the hypothetical Final 3 here, Amanda protects Parvati and leaves Cirie and Natalie Bolton to go to fire. If Cirie wins, she wins, if Natalie does, I kind of think she doesn’t get any votes. Maybe Alexis’. But Parvati still wins.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: Amanda

This one is a mess. Amanda could protect either Todd or Courtney. I think she sees Courtney as a goat and Todd as a threat (and also more likely to win fire). There’s a good chance whichever one doesn’t get protected loses to Denise at fire. Could Courtney win a plurality in an Amanda-Courtney-Denise FTC? I think so. This is maybe the only season where I like the idea of fire because it could give us Sole Survivor Courtney Yates. On the other hand, Amanda’s late game decision making isn’t always strong, and she may make the emotional decision and bring her friend Todd, who probably wins even with Denise there. The only vote that likely moves is James’.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No


FIC Winner: Dreamz

Dreamz protects Cassandra and Yau-Man and Earl go to fire to decide the season.

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? Yes

Cook Islands

FIC Winner: Ozzy

This is a weird one, because if the fire challenge was done here one assumes Yul’s idol would expire at Final 5. If it does, Ozzy protects Sundra and Yul goes against Becky at fire. Given the available evidence of Becky’s fire-making abilities, Yul still makes FTC and wins. If the idol is still good at four, we all know what happens

Does the fire challenge decide the winner? No

Surprisingly we only end up with 4-6 times since the final 3 came into play in which a fire challenge at Final 4 would be to decide the season winner, as happened this season. This means that the Final 4 fire challenge is often offering someone who could win at FTC a second chance to save themselves. If this is Survivor’s goal, the math looks good for them. It also appears to increase the chances of three competitive people making Final Tribal and leaving the winner with a plurality. Of course, perception on this doesn’t always end up being reality, as Survivor has a tendency to give 4th placers positive edits, and we’ve seen people we thought would be jury threats turn out not to be so when they got there (i.e. Spencer and Tai) so they may not be as competitive as they would appear to be.