The Ultimate Survivor Bracket: New School Division – Round Three

In case you’ve missed it, we’ve been pitting Survivors head-to-head in match-ups to determine the Ultimate Survivor. How will we decide the winner? The same way Survivor does it: with a vote. This is our Tribal Council, and you’ve all made the jury. It is…time to vote.

Polls close on Sunday, April 5.

Graphics by @sylvisual (click for larger version)
Graphics by @sylvisual (click for larger version)

In the New School semi-finals we have 3 winners and a Malcolm. And not just any three winners, but (in my opinion) the three best winners we’ve seen over the past ten seasons and the most popular new Survivor in a long time. But let’s look at the matchups:

1. Kim Spradlin vs 5. Denise Stapley


I know this is a blog that worships at the feet of Survivor Goddess Kim Spradlin, but let me make the case for Denise: Denise fucking rocks. Case over! Vote for Denise.

Ok, fine, obviously I need to go into more detail. Kim is a true triple threat, she is a fantastic competitor, whip-smart and possessing a masterful social game. She was able to manipulate and control her game to an extent that is rarely seen and did so while still being loved. She follows Machiavelli’s advice to leaders to a T (most people mis-quote this advice- he didn’t just say it is better to be feared than loved, but that it is best to be both loved and feared, which applies perfectly to Kim. And that is why you come to this blog, for lessons about long-dead Italian political philosophers). But here is my question: could she do it again? Did One World just feature such an astounding collection of brainless sheep that it allowed her to seem so dominant? If Kim ever came back (please come back, Kim!) could she make it far despite being such a huge threat? And why do I even bring up this hypothetical? Because out of all the winners who haven’t returned, I think this matchup features the one most likely to pull a Sandra- and it isn’t Kim, it’s Denise.

Denise was by far the most athletic woman on her tribe, so she won’t be in danger of an early boot, and she also has a fantastic social game. Remember she went to every single tribal council and she kept integrating into new groups of people. There was only one person who didn’t like Denise and that was Abi-Maria, who is a terrible person (yet still somehow a better person than R.C.) But Denise’s biggest asset is that she doesn’t seem as dangerous as Kim, while if anything she is more dangerous. Remember, Denise makes her living talking to people (she’s a sex therapist), she forms bonds, and in front of a jury made her case simply and plainly without falling into any common traps of walking back her game. Kim is an obvious threat, but Denise sneaks up on you if you aren’t paying attention, and even if you are paying attention you sometimes forget how dangerous she is.

That said, Kim is amazing. I just wanted to remind everyone about why Denise is great too.

2. Tony Vlachos vs 6. Malcolm Freberg


I think these two guys embody what we at the Purple Rock want to see out of Survivors (Editor’s note: Actually, this also applies to the last two ladies). We want to see people who come to play and aren’t afraid to make moves. And neither of these guys are afraid to make big moves. Here’s the thing: a game like the one Kim played in One World may be a better game, but games like Tony and Malcolm play  make the season they are on more interesting. Say what you will about his moves in Caramoan, but Malcolm making those moves gave us the best episodes of that season. He also inspired a Lego parody video that I may have watched like 50 times.

But no one makes Survivor more interesting than Tony Vlachos. Tony is a hyperactive ball of Survivor moves, a perpetual motion machine of scheming, scrambling and gaming that makes the game into a tight-wire act. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed watching the winner of a season more than I enjoyed watching Tony because you knew that at any moment he could fail. You watch Tony and you think, “there is no way this game could ever win.” And you keep thinking that right up until the moment Woo takes him to the end. Neither of these guys may do as well again as they have in the past, but any time they appear in the future is guaranteed to be a blast to watch.

Don’t forget to vote in the other divisions:

Old School
Second Generation
The Age of the Returnee

Matt is the founder and president of the Andrew Savage fan club, and remains amazed that Savage was never invited back on the show. You can’t follow Matt on Twitter, because he doesn’t want you to.