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Ranking The Past 28 Survivor Winners From Worst To First

May 22, 2014

Having just crowned our 28th (28th!) Champ mere hours ago, what better time to stroll down Survivor Memory Lane (N.B. Not a real place, although probably the working title for a majority of the seasons we’ve had this decade) and update our Epic countdown from last few years (see previously editions HERE and HERE).

Now, we’re the first to tell you that there is genuinely no one set way to win the game – besides getting to the end and receiving a majority of the votes (are you listening Russell?) – and that’s what makes coming up with an objective and definitive ranking a hard task indeed.  Every player comes from a different deck of cards, so we’re assessing them on how well they played with the hand they were dealt.  We’re grading them on their individual winning game so, while Parvati may overall be considered the greatest female player of all time, only her winning game in Micronesia is deemed relevant to this discussion.

Points will be awarded for various things, for example :-

  • CONTROL – How much control contestants had in getting themselves to the end and how much of that winning journey was actively planned.
  • GAME AWARENESS – How well the contestant read the game and tribal dynamics over 39 days and made deliberate and informed choices, versus stumbling ass backwards into a win.
  • DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY – How many obstacles were on their road to victory (whether it be game structure, fellow competitors or even their own personal limitations).
  • CHALLENGE WINS/IDOL PLAY – While Terry Deitz-ing your way to the Final 3 may look impressive on the surface, the elite players never need to rely on an Immunity Idol or Necklace in order to survive a vote unscathed.  Now, being able to work one or both into your overall strategy is a different story, but a truly great game isn’t defined by something as arbitrary as how good one is at glorified carnival games..
  • JURY MANAGEMENT – As stated above, the only single way to win Survivor is to convince a Jury of your previously eliminated peers to give you a majority of votes at the end.  How much of this factored into their gameplay and how many of these eventual votes were *for* them, versus just being the lucky recipient of BJS (Bitter Jury Syndrome).
  • SHEER LUCK – Whether good or bad, luck will always play a factor in the game of Survivor.  How a player maximises or minimises their own is the real testament to their overall skill.

So, without further ado, lets start from the bottom (and no, for once we DON’T mean Sash)..

 

28. NATALIE WHITE – SAMOA

survivor natalie white bikini

 

Hands down the most maligned Survivor winner OF ALL TIME, due to her shocking (SHOCKING) defeat of Russell Hantz a few years back.  Whilst her social game was approximately one million times more impressive than said bandy-legged troll (on account of her actually, ya know, HAVING ONE), she loses major points because going into the Final Tribal Council, not one single person from that jury was even planning on voting for White (they were split between Hantz and apparently feckless Dr Mick) – but she won them over with her thoughtful and honest answers.

Plus, she beat a rat to death with a stick.  I mean – what’s not to love? :-

BEST MOVE : Orchestrating the pivotal merge boot of (the incredibly sexy) Erik, that set the whole Galu post-merge crumble in motion.
SHOULD HAVE WON : *sigh* Russell.  Whilst his social game was just AWFUL, he did play an incredible strategic game and changed the way Survivor was played forever.

 

27. BOB CROWLEY – GABON

survivor bob shirtless

 

Who?  GaBob sauntered along most of season 17 half-asleep, crafting a few (admittedly impressive) fake immunity idols along the way.  Loses points for the fact that he was planning to take Matty to the end who would have kicked his ass ten ways to Sunday.  Also for the fact that Randy (who cast the pivotal vote for his eventual 4:3 victory) was planning to vote for Susie to win that night until she totally (and inexplicably) burned him on his jury question.  That’s right people – there’s an alternate timeline out there where SUSIE SMITH IS THE WINNER OF SURVIVOR : GABON.  It’s a very dark place indeed.

BEST MOVE : Playing the Granddaddy role to human waterworks Sugar, who forced the Final 4 tie that allowed him a spot in front of the Jury in the first place.
SHOULD HAVE WON : The aforementioned Tear Fountain herself.  Sugar basically controlled the entire game post-merge without once becoming a target.  If she had’ve actually decided to play for the title of Sole Survivor instead of just Fan Favourite, it all could have turned out so very, very different.

 

 26. SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE – PEARL ISLANDS

survivor sandra pearl islands pointing

 

Also known as the only two-time winner in Survivor’s 28 season history.  Less well known for winning through sheer virtue of not being Lil or Jonny Fairplay.  Gains points for pioneering and perfecting the “As Long As It Ain’t Me” voting strategy (Rob C in Survivor : Amazon played similarly, but not to the same blatantly mercenary effect Sandra did).  Loses points for having no real control over her own fate in the game.  While she deserves props for constantly keeping herself positioned one up from the bottom, her actual win came solely down to the fact that Final Immunity winner Lil knew she couldn’t beat either of her opponents and figured that at least if she took Sandra to the end and gave her the win, the million dollars wouldn’t be as likely to be blown on blowjobs and blow (or strippers and coke, as it was put).

DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT THOUGH – Here’s an amazing clip of Sandra’s Grade A Social Skills that won her her first cool mill.  “I CAN GET LOUD TOOOOO!” :-

BEST MOVE : Openly having her vote for sale at every Tribal Council.  Warring factions kept using her to vote each other out, ensuring she was a necessary vote and never the target.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Umm, no one?  Is ‘no one’ an option?  Pearl Islands was a rollickingly entertaining season with Tie-dyed Outcasts, ACTUAL Outcasts and Dead Grandparents Galore, but no real strong strategic players post-merge to speak of.  Or, for that matter, pre-merge.  Actually, quips aside, Jonny Fairplay 100% deserved the win that season and is actually an incredibly underrated and lethal player, as he immediately proved in Micronesia (at least until the prescription med withdrawal kicked in..)

 

25. JUDD ‘FABIO’ BIRZA – NICARAGUA

survivor fabio stare

Oh Fabio!  Basically spent the first 30 days of his Survivor experience loping around the Central American wilderness like some adorably overgrown lost Labrador puppy trying to less survive the element than to survive the inexplicable wrath of a sock-stealing Na Onka.  By the time everyone realised what he was a threat to win, it was too late and he cruised along a wave of four consecutive immunity wins to a million dollar check.  Allegedly blew through his winnings in less than a year, he now spends his time getting charmingly arrested and starring in amazing C-grade homoerotic thrillers.

Low placing or not though, there’s no way to deny that he might just be the most genuinely amusing person to ever play this game :-

BEST MOVE : Winning the final 3 immunity challenges in a row; Not being Chase or the VERY HETEROSEXUAL Sash (who, while only coming third in the game, is first when it comes to being the biggest Bachelor in New York).
SHOULD HAVE WON : Whilst Holly could have feasibly smoked him if she survived one more vote (although, given the extreme case of BJS that season, isn’t a sure thing), Jud can squarely claim a deserved win against anyone else in the ever so weak sausage fest of a Final 3.

 

24. ETHAN ZOHN – AFRICA

ethan survivor head shot

Officially one of the most likeable guys to ever play Survivor.  And, if there was a title for who has parlayed their post-game exposure the most impressively and selflessly, EZ wins EASY.  But, big heart aside, there’s no way to deny Ethan cruised on through to a win by virtue of being the most likeable member of a majority alliance.  Now, that’s not a strategy to be sneezed at by any means, but it’s one that relied on now-archaic game mechanics (the old ‘sticking with ones alliance no matter what’ school of play), idiotic decisions by others (Brandon Quinton shout out FTW) and the fact that Kim J had decency and self-awareness to realise that, no matter which way she went, she was losing that Final 2 hands down, so she knowingly played kingmaker with a selflessness not apparent in the other 38 days of her Kenyan vacation.

BEST MOVE : Being the proud owner of one of the sexiest Jew-Fro’s in recent TV history;  Consolidating his winnings by marrying Amazon winner Morasca making them millionaire-squared.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Lex.  As awful as he was, both he and his infamous gut managed to steer the Boran tribe all the way to the Final Four without any unintended casualties.  Also, if not for falling victim to one of the single most nonsensical votes in 28 seasons of Survivor History (THANKS A LOT BRANDON), there was a very strong chance Kelly Goldsmith would be getting a sterling write up right about now (albeit a little later one in the article because she’s THE BEST).

 

23. VECEPIA TOWEREY – MARQUESAS

survivor vecepia winning surprise

 

Another one for the ‘Who – HER?’ Files, Towerey was best known for, at the time, being the first person of colour (discounting Richard’s yellow belly and Tina’s Tanning Bed Brown hide) to win Survivor.  Was also the first to parlay a ridiculously bitter jury (Hi Tammy!  Hi John!  Hi Rob!) into a million dollar cheque.  Actually stands out a lot more upon rewatch as playing a much more subtle and deliberate game than often remembered, this writer included.

BEST MOVE : Winning the key Final 4 Immunity Challenge where she was otherwise going to be voted out; Switching alliances like the wind so flawlessly she was like a one-woman Patrick Swayze tribute band (OBSCURE DIRTY DANCING REFERENCE FTW!) while never once being considered a threat.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Pretty much anyone else in the Final 4.  Kathy, Neleh and Paschal all played stronger games yet illness, BJS and an accidental boob flash (because evidently peeing a man’s hand just wasn’t enough national exposure for our beloved Kathy), they all fell by the wayside, kinda like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but without the chocolate.  And 70% less singing midgets.

 

 

22. SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE – HEROES VS VILLAINS

survivor sandra attitude

Oh Sandra!  How can one woman win twice and still not even make it to the middle of the pack?  Major props for being the only two-time winner (most likely ever) but major luck and a bitter jury played as much part in her second mill as did any actual game play or skill.  Sassy, charming and hilarious as all hell (her burning Russell’s hat is still pretty much the most satisfying and unintentionally ironic Survivor moment EVER), Sandra made actively not-playing the game an art form.  While a stellar job by the SEG editors made her second victory waltz more than palatable for viewers, even a minor wade through the myriad of exit interviews and deleted scenes that season paint a very clear picture of a woman who’s win came down to chance and sheer good luck as it did her undeniable likability and occasionally strong social skills.  Everyone seems to forget that the Insider footage that year shows that it was actually Parvati who engineered her widely-lauded Coach boot, that ousting Courtney over Sandra basically came down to the equivalent of an emotional coin toss and, had been two seconds quicker in that nail-bitingly close final immunity challenge, Sandra would have done a Jordan Lloyd and been out at Final 4.

How to win $2,000,000.00 in 33 seconds or less :-

BEST MOVE : Managing to always be an essential vote to the Villains Tribe whilst constantly making the Heroes feel like she was trying to jump ship to them; Genuinely managing to fool Russell into believing that she’d get zero votes in the end (I rag on Sandra a lot but the fact she managed to snow him so completely on what was blatantly obvious to others is something that does deserve genuine credit – she did the same thing we all marvel at Parvati for, but she did it with an extra zero on her bank balance to show for it); Also, the fact that her name wasn’t Parvati or Russell.
SHOULD HAVE WON : PARVATI.  One million times Parvati. After playing one of the most impressively dominant strategic and physical games in Survivor history, she just couldn’t quite win over the bitter Heroes Tribe on the jury after pretty much single handedly annihilating them.  Sadface.

 

21. JENNA MORASCA – AMAZON

survivor jenna

Fellow winner Ethan Zohn’s even prettier (now former) other half, this ‘Professional Swimsuit Model’ was the youngest winner ever.  Her social game was always severely underrated by the public at large, who only seem to remember her now infamous ‘will strip for Peanut Butter’ challenge standown and that she was all prototype Regina George to poor deaf Christy and every other woman over the age of 25.  Loses points for the fact that she admittedly wasn’t really played ‘To Win’ until 2/3’s of the way through the game, but the fact that Jenna’s ‘Not Even Trying’ game is more socially dominant than most other players trying their darnedest, is something not to be sneezed at.  Plus, her push to vote Roger (and his blatantly anti-vagina agenda) out at Final 10 was the first real case of someone intentionally shaping the jury to their advantage at such a pivotal point.

BEST MOVE : Winning 4 individual immunities (especially at Final 4 when she needed it the most) and realising the need for strong social bonds with jury members (instead of being a borderline psychotic challange whore slash camp workhorse like Matthew); Over-playing being sick and ready to quit at the Final 5 when she knew it was either her or unofficial Mensa spokeswoman Heidi going that vote.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Rob Cesternino, who is the offical title holder of ‘Best Player To Have Never Won Survivor Who Is Not Named Cirie Fields’.  Plus, he’s basically our ideal man (as long as he doesn’t talk..)

 

20. JOHN COCHRAN – CARAMOAN

survivor cochran winner caramoan

The Original Red John, this Harvard Grad arguably made the most controversial allegiance switch the game had ever seen (at least until Chaos Kass hashtagged her way through this current season).  But while his South Pacific efforts earned him nothing more than insta-notoriety, a sweater vest collection and an eighth place paycheck,  he parlayed his affable edit and non-threatening physique into a million dollars when Fans Vs Favorites 2 rolled around a year later.  Using fellow tribe mate Dawn as a pint-sized human shield of sunshine, he kept his hands cleaner than almost any single other winner has managed before or since and escaped FTC unscathed, while Dawn got beat up like a human piñata in one of the most unsettlingly bitter jury displays the show has ever seen.  While he gets major points for being able to effectively utilize his close personal friendship with Dawn to game winning advantage, the bottom line is there is zero way he makes it to the end of Caramoan without her, whereas there was zero way she WASN’T getting to the end with or without his help.

BEST MOVE : Aligning so tightly with Dawn and still managing to hide that bond so well throughout the game (especially when it should have been obvious to any player who watched South Pacific or read any post-show interviews that the animosity between them was Nil).  Also – maximising his luck incredibly well at every stage in the game.  A majority of timelines have Cochran booted early to mid-jury, but dude gets props for correctly utilizing every single piece of good fortune that came his way (like Corinne’s Big Mouth, Erik’s late-game Medevac and Andrea’s predisposition to preferring the Immunity Idol as a fashion accessory).
SHOULD HAVE WON : DAWN.  Besides the fact that, in all seriousness, Dawn may just be the single most likeable, lovely and downright inspirational person ever to grace the game of Survivor, she also played one of the most incredible and artful social games we’ve ever seen – forging connections genuine and deep and then severing them with a level of emotional discipline only found in the strongest and shrewdest of players.

 

19. RICHARD HATCH – BORNEO

survivor richard hatch

The Grandaddy  of all Survivor winners.  Often regarded as the greatest of all time, his poor showing on Survivor : All Stars four years later indicated that his actual gameplay doesn’t quite hold up against people playing the game now (although, to be fair, the Nazi-like extermination of Winners that season made it virtually impossible).  Famous for being the first person to realize forming a organized and solid voting bloc of individuals was the key to game success.  Less famous for pioneering OTHER game winning strategies of being obnoxious (see also – Sandra and, well, Sandra) and basically being naked ALL THE TIME (OH HAI THERE JENNA!).

BEST MOVE : In addition to realizing the value of a voting alliance, he was the first to be a major food provider for the tribe and caught an impressive amount of fish and other sea creatures through his Survivor tenure.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Rudy would have smoked anyone in the Final 16 had he made it, even if he is the human incarnation of Sh*t My Day Says…

 

18. TYSON APOSTOL – BLOOD VS. WATER

survivor tyson leopard print underwear with rob

The third time was the charm for everyone’s favorite Man Tiara aficionado.  Blinded by mid-game complacency and arrogance his first go round and undone by a single strategic miscalculation (risky but nowhere near as unsound as the cat ladies who populate Survivor message boards like to incorrectly claim) the second, he finally pulled out a decisive win in Fams vs Favourites, blondominating his way through the game with a sling on his arm and a smirk on his face.  Combining challenge wins, incredibly strong social connections and an impressively chess-like calculation, he played a near elite game.   So why not higher?  Well, for every genius move Apostol executed (and there were many), there was an equal counter-blunder that he was lucky to survive.  Who could forget the idol at Final 7 that he not only burned, but whose very secrecy (and manner played) was the reason his bond with Ciera got incinerated in the first place?  Or that his very existence in the endgame came down to a highly fortuitous rock draw?  And his subsequent very public parting words to Katie were so inexcusable even Crystal Cox herself would’ve known better.  Thankfully, Tyson at his best is such a top tier player that it can help negate the fact that, at his worst, he’s like a taller, albino Hantz.

BEST MOVE : Forging strong social bonds that made almost every single player feel 100% confident in their alliance with him (particularly with Gervase, who had gone into the game with a Final 3 alliance with Tina & Aras); Hiding his alliance with Monica so well (and basically scheduling dawn and twilight rendezvous times to ensure it stayed hidden); Parlaying what could be an early game setback (losing his loved one the second week) and turning it into something that could unite an alliance.  Plus, playing up his shoulder injury is the kind of thing not enough strong male players think of doing, which never ceases to be baffling on account of it being SUCH AN OBVIOUS IDEA.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Credit where due, he head and shoulders (pretty much literally) above anyone else in the Final 4.  Both Hayden and Ciera had VERY strong cases for the win though had they been better at Magic Rock Divination.

 

17. ARAS BASKAUSKAS – EXILE ISLAND

survivor aras

Still one of the less memorable players to win, but certainly not undeserving.  Bonus points for managing to stay on top of Terry, Crazytown Shane, Courtney, Danielle DDiLorenzo and her ginormous mutant fake breasts for 39 days without killing himself (I guess yoga is good for something OTHER than keeping Reilly Sisters quiet then, eh?).  The way he shepherded his crazy Casaya family post-merge was truly impressive, even when he calming influence gave way to an often arrogant and hot head.  Would be higher if not for the fact that he was a few flames away (where’s Brice when you need him?) from going to the F2 with Cirie (who would have smoked him harder than Woo at a Californian Medical Facility) and also because a lot of his eventual win was due to ridiculously poor plays by others (like Terry’s comical inability to leverage his Tyler Perry Idol v1.0 & Danielle’s DiLusional belief that she could beat Ar and his Ass at the end).

BEST MOVE : Managing to keep the aforementioned ragtag group of misfits focused on eliminating immunity whore Terry instead of himself and Cirie; Forging incredibly strong social bonds with his pre-merge Casaya tribemates.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Oh Cirie!  Poor, poor Cirie.  The best player to have never won came up short in a fire-making tie breaker, done in by a needlessly super-powered Immunity Idol (see also Cook Islands).

 

16. AMBER BRKICH – ALL STARS

survivor amber bikini

When Survivor : All Stars first aired in 2004 at the height of the show’s popularity it was filled with 17 of the games most popular and infamous players.  And Amber.  The only thing harder than remembering who she was would have been to successfully pronounce her surname, which has less vowels than a Welsh street sign.  A last minute replacement for former America’s Sweetheart and current Right Wing Nutjob Elizabeth Hassleback, Brkich parlayed her status as a non-threat into both one million dollars, a marriage proposal and not one but TWO season competing on CBS sister show The Amazing Race.  Along with Natalie White, Brkich is probably the most maligned of all Survivor winners but, if you rewatch the season, there are a lot of subtle and deliberate layers to her gameplay than often get remembered.  An incredibly strong social player, Lamber was often the brains to Mariano’s brawn and they were an equally footed strategic team, which clearly is one of the foundations it takes to build a (now) million dollar marriage on.

BEST MOVE : Aligning with (and eventually marrying) runner up Boston Rob, letting him take the heat for double-crossing everyone and her taking home the million dollar cheque.
SHOULD HAVE WON : You can make a case for Boston Rob.  Although there’s no point in playing such a superior physical and strategic game if you’re not going to give any thought to your jury management.

 

15. YUL KWON – COOK ISLANDS

survivor yul shirtless

Yul led the racially-themed Cook Islands to an impressively diverse storybook finish, handily keeping the white man down thanks to great strategy, a solid minority alliance (like, literally) and a well-used Idol.  Loses major point for the fact that said Immunity Idol was basically a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free Til The Final 3′ Pass which twice directly prevented him being voted out.  Did Yul play the best game possible with the cards he was dealt?  Yes.  Were the cards he was dealt so uniquely super-powered that, without them, we’d be writing up a Why Candice/Parvati/Ozzy won column instead?  YES.

Still, let’s not forget he will always be one of the smartest guys to ever play Survivor, even if his blatantly discriminatory attitude towards Elephants is still alarming all these years on :-

BEST MOVE : Convincing Jonathon to flip at the Merge thus ensuring the heroically ethnic Aitu 4 sailed to victory instead of one of the likely winners above (people forget Parvati was the best positioned person all through the Cooks, but if you get past her putting the STI in Strategy that season, she was playing SOLID and easily in the best position, and we don’t mean in bed..)
FINAL SCORE : 5-4-0 (defeating part-time pornstar Ozzy and something called Becky?)

 

14. EARL COLE – FIJI

survivor earl fiji serious

 

Originally a casting alternate (see also – The Original White Tea-na herself), Earl became the first person in the history of the game to get every single jury vote, winning in a 9-0-0 landslide.  Less impressive when you consider that his competition was Cassandra and Dreamz.  But to undervalue his incredibly stealth social machinations would be to do his Earlship a disservice.  Elite Survivor players aren’t just the ones who formulate the greatest game plan, but those that can most effectively recalibrate when luck doesn’t go their way.  Earl not only started off strong on Day One, but managed to deal with every single obstacle – Sylvia’s deliberately unbalanced team distribution, the ridiculously unfair “Have/Have Not” twist, the EVEN MORE unfair post-merge unmerge that cost him his (and our) beloved MiYi, not to mention the attempted coup Dreamz & Cassandra staged at F6 – with a quick-thinking grace that was both astute and basically flawless.  If not for the fact that, going in to the F4 Tribal Council, he was planning to take Yau right up until the moment Dreamz admitted he was reneging on the infamous Truck Deal at which point Earl loses Survivor : Fiji somewhere in the vicinity of 6-3, we’d have him a LOT higher.

BEST MOVE : Allowing his beloved alliance partner Yau-Man to be voted out as the last member of the jury, thus ensuring a guarenteed win against the remaining two competitors; Forging such strong bonds with Yau, Cassandra and Michelle that kept him safe in spite of the 1100 swaps that took place that season; The fact that his name was neither Cassandra nor Dreamz.
SHOULD HAVE WON : Fan Favourite and, more importantly, Jury Favourite Yau Man.  Hands down.

 

13. DENISE STAPLEY – PHILIPPINES 

survivor denise crazy eyes

 

And here we have The Little Sex Therapist That Could.  Emphasis on ‘little’, since it basically took three episodes to confirm that she wasn’t just Leif in a hairpiece still stranded from the season previous.  While Malcolm and Lisa and Ave-Abi Maria got all the attention, there is no denying that Denies played one hell of a solid game.  A workhorse at camp and a warhorse in challenges, she showed that Survivor isn’t all about big moves and hidden immunity idols – sometimes it just comes down to bonding, listening to people, keeping your cool and being an all round decent human being.  Much is made of whether Malcolm would’ve won in the Finals, but it was HER social bonds with Skoopin & Lisa that got them through those last few rounds.  Heck, when it came down to the Matsing tribe of 3 early in the game – Denise was the swing vote, not Malcolm.  The way that Denise went from that vote to the dissolution of Matsing to joining a all female alliance on Kalabaw to swiftly being the pivotal vote necessary for Jeff Kent and his Merry Band of Men in a mere 24 HOURS is the kind of adaptable, fluid gameplay that is so easy to Monday Morning Quarterback but near impossible to implement.  Social game may be harder to sell on TV, but it’s the one that matters most when it comes to winning votes.

BEST MOVE : Remembering that, at it’s heart, Survivor is primarily a social game about people; Being indispensable and a total beast in challenges.  Plus – a top tier Jury Speech.
FINAL SCORE : 
6-1-1 (against Blair Warner and whatever uninjured  parts were left of Michael Skupkin-Magoo).

 

12. CHRIS DAUGHERTY – VANUATU

survivor chris

‘Survivor : Battle of the Sexes 2 – 2 Sexes 2 Furious’ saw the women whittle the Men down to a Stephemie-sized tribe of one – Chris Daugherty.  At this point, instead of rolling over, Chris kicked his game up another level and systematically turned the tribe of six women against each other – skating his way into the finals and earning their votes in the process due to his key challenge wins and wily way of playing them off against each other.  His Dom and Colin Winner’s Analysis Podcast (HERE) is thoroughly entertaining and enlightening as well and adds a new layer of respect to an already impressive game, as well as shedding new light on some of his signature moves.

BEST MOVE : Uniting sworn enemies Twila and Eliza for the key Final 7 vote, securing his safety and irrevocably fracturing the core alliance without ever getting any real blood on his hands.
FINAL SCORE : 5-2 (Against lovable redneck Twila).

 

11. ROB MARIANO – REDEMPTION ISLAND

survivor boston rob

Now this is a hard one (which, incidentally, is something that Amber Mariano is used to saying when she gets into bed most nights).  On one hand, Boston Rob played one of the most enjoyable masterful and physically dominant games in Survivor history.  On the other though, it took him four goes (don’t forget – this is the guy that two times out of three COULDN’T EVEN MAKE THE JURY).  So, when he FINALLY CeCe Peniston’d his way to the (admittedly well fought) win on one of the more uneven playing fields in Survivor History, it couldn’t help but feel a little anti-climatic.   Is that his fault?  No.  Say what you want about The Walking Ometepe Dead, but Rob pulled off many moves that would have been impressive no matter who he was up against – the Buddy System, voting Matt off at the merge because it was the only foolproof way to avoid a potential tie, the way he lied to Natalie so blatantly at the end game about F4 tie-breaker rules in order to guarantee Ashley went, the unquestioning loyalty he cultivated with Phillip that was more unshakeable than an unwashed pair of pink panties.  All of these are GOAT-worthy moves.   At the end of the day – a first tier game on a second tier playing field still pays the same amount of taxes, no matter how much Kool-Aid is consumed.  So KADOOS.

BEST MOVE : Running initial tribe Ometepe like a cult (the buddy system was a particular stroke of genius); Convincing basically 3/4’s of the merged tribe he was taking them to the Final 3 even when he was visibly stabbing every one of them in the front one by one by one.
FINAL SCORE : 
8-1-0 (against Former Federal Agent (?) Phillip and The Natalie Who Was Even Blander Than The Other Natalie).

 

10. DANNII BOATWRIGHT – GUATEMALA

survivor danni

The original Kim Spradlin, Danni perfected the art of the alternating leadership, plucky UTR social gameplay and winning key immunities to a million dollar prize.  After merging down in numbers, she seemlessly ingratiated herself into the key alliance and convinced them to basically self-destruct faster than a Mission Impossible message.  The sheer fact that ANYONE ever let her get within a hundred mile radius of the finals was as impressive as it was insane.  There are but a handful of players that you could count on to win any playing field, but this determined former Beauty Queen doesn’t need to be in Kansas to be The Girl Most Likely EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

BEST MOVE : Winning a key final six immunity and forcing the opposing alliance to start canibalizing themselves one round early; ironically using her womanly charms to cause Resident Gay Rafe to throw his game off a Guatemalan Pyramid.
FINAL SCORE : Sole Survivor 6-1 (defeating Stephenie LaGrossa’s evil twin Stephemie.

 

09. TINA WESSON – AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK

survivor tina

One of the most iconic winners ever of the history’s most watched season.  Tina used her down to earth and unassuming ‘aww-shucks’ Soccer Mom facade to steer her alliance of Colby and Keith into the Final 2 and eke out a victory over the audience favoured Colby.  While the Texan cowboy’s immunity wins got all the attention, it was really her ability to forge such unshakeably strong bonds with every single member of the post-merge tribe (well, besides Maneater Manthey anyway) that kept her core trio intact til the end.  Not the flashiest winner, but definitely the one that, to this day, is underrated the most.

BEST MOVE : Getting Colby to take her to the Final Traibal Council over the immeasurably more disliked Keith; Keeping Elisabeth and Rodger so close that not one single person in that Final 8 would consider ever crossing her.
FINAL SCORE : 4-3 (defeating former cowboy and current Top Shot ‘McProbst with Cheese’ Colby Donaldson).

 

08. BRIAN HEIDIK – THAILAND

survivor brian

Possibly the most unlikeable Survivor winner of all time.  Heidik played the game with all the smarm and charm of a used car salesman (which, ironically, was what he did for a job in real life.  At least, when he wasn’t doing soft core porn or shooting puppies that is).  Essentially, a human oil slick brought miraculously brought to life, his strategy of being in Final 2 alliances with all of the Final 5 and then systematically cutting their throats one by one is Cutthroat Survivor at it’s unapologetic best.

BEST MOVE : Taking the slightly more reviled (and slightly more racist) Clay to the end; blinding convincing four other people that he was really, totally going to the end with them.
FINAL SCORE : 4-3 (beating lazy old Clay in a vote that ended up being so perilously close that we can’t in good conscience rank him higher up.  Which, ironically, is probably the first time the phrases ‘Brian Heidik’ and ‘Good Conscience’ have ever been used together in a sentence in the history of mankind).

 

07. JT THOMAS – TOCANTINS

survivor jt winner bowling over the competition

 

While JT’s Survivor legacy will sadly be his infamous letter writing skills and the unfortunate (but not strategically unsound) passing of the Hidden Immunity Idol to Russell that single handedly decimated the Heroes Tribe, it doesn’t give enough dues to his superb game he played back in the Brazilian Highlands.  We’ve seen hot woman make people fall at their feet before in the game of Survivor, but never anything like how this tubby redneck hick for brains managed to make an opposing tribe of six fall completely gaga in love with him.  I know contestants get a remedial medical straight after they’re voted out, but this seasons evictees really needed to be tested for roofies.  Stephen may have been the superior strategist in their Odd Couple-aping alliance, but even The Wizard himself was so snowed by JT’s inexplicable charm that he couldn’t bring himself to properly throw him under the bus when it came down to the eventual Jury Questions.  What he may be missing in teeth is well and truly made up for in unique blend of charisma and barely disguised deviousness that enabled him to snake his way to the end with a landslide vote.

BEST MOVE : Setting himself up as a key swing vote between the two warring Timbara factions without ever getting targetted himself; Dominating the final few immunity challenges and ensuring his seat in front his adoring fan club of seven.
FINAL SCORE : 7-0 (Against Poor Stephen, who really deserved better).

 

06. PARVATI SHALLOW – MICRONESIA

survivor parvati crying winner micronesia

 

And here we have Queen P herself, the player who was most feared when twenty of the game’s best entered the wilds of Samoa a few years ago.  A lot of weight is given to challenge wins and Hidden Immunity Idols these days, partially because they make great television and partly because they’re easily quantifiable.  But Survivor is, at its essence, a purely social game.  If you need to fight for immunity to stay in the game, you’re already doing something wrong, no matter how many competitions you win.  Parvati went into the merge closely aligned with 7 of the remaining 9 competitors and always managed to keep herself squarely in the middle of every single vote without ever once becoming a target.  And at the Final Tribal Council she gave honest and open answers that won respect and solidified votes whilst Amanda just blubbered away uncontrollably, distracted by Ozzy and her hideous, hideous bangs.  If we were ranking players based on their overall gamesmanship, we could have her as high as #1.  But based on her individual winning game, she loses points for the fact that, had Micronesia’s intended Final 3 eventuated (it was changed less than a week before the finish when James’s medivac affected the production schedule), she very likely would have finished third.  None the less, her ability to switch seamlessly between unemotional snake-like cunning and sincerely genuine social interaction is as close to Survivor 101 as you’ll ever get.  In real life, you’re generally one or the other – in Survivor, you need to be both.

Here’s some P-Shallow awesomeness just because she’s, well, AWESOME :-

 

BEST MOVE : Providing a Masterclass in how to be tightly aligned with pretty much every other contestant while still getting their votes at the end – she never made a she promise she couldn’t keep (unless your name was Ozzy but, ya know..)  Amanda was promised Final 2, Cirie Final 3, Alexis & Natalie Final 5, etc.. ; Blindsiding Ozzy and his Hidden Immunity Idol at Final 9 and thus eliminating both her biggest competition and securing her place as the bridge uniting the remaining Fans and Favourites.
FINAL SCORE : 5-3 (Against Blandmanda – who, lets face it, just really isn’t cut out for sitting in front of a  jury).

 

05. TONY VLACHOS – CAGAYAN

survivor tony spyshack winner cagayan

And here we have it, TeamTV himself – the freshly minted newest member of the $636,000 Club.  It’s easy to slide into hyperbole when still in the immediate rush that comes with watching a Survivor Finale Telecast, but everyone’s favourite bald-headed camera whore steamrolled this game in a way it has never been played before.  Tyler Perry can tweet as many ideas to Jiffy Pop as he wants but, for sheer inventiveness and pure jaw-dropping ingenuity, there is not enough Madea movies in the world to top the way Tony tackled Brains vs Beauty vs Bores.  Like some unearthly mix of Good Cop, Bad Cop and Tasmanian Devil, he wore more hats than a Village People Tribute Band, and was never less than thrilling to watch – both for casuals and die hard fans alike.  While we reserve the right to move him a spot or two higher once the unfailingly revealing post-show interviews start dropping over the next few days, there is no denying we all just saw what is a certified Top Five game.  We’re still deducting a few point for now for some seemingly unnecessary risks that could have sent him packing, as well as the way his GOAT-worthy skillz at finding and leveraging idols was inexplicably at odds with the complete ineffectiveness he had when it came to playing them.  Also, his weak and somewhat tone deaf responses to the Jury’s Questions was disappointing at best.  Still, despite officially causes us to be COMPLETELY INCORRECT with our Finale Predictions for the first time since Marquesas, we literally could not be happier to be so wrong.  Congratulations Mr Vlachos – Well Deserved.

PLUS – let’s not forget the fact that, in addition to being a family man, a cop and a demented Survivor game-savant, dude is also completely fluent in the language of Llama.  I mean – can BOSTON ROB do that?

 

LLAMAGEDDON!  AMAZING.

BEST MOVE : Seamlessly pruning his own alliance while eliminating the competition – while it still kind of breaks our hearts he bounced Trish the way he did, it was 100% the correct move to be made if he wanted a chance in Hell of winning the game; Finding and leveraging the Hidden Immunity Idols that plagued the Cagayan Islands like some sort of noxious, cheaply-decorated weed; and most importantly, balancing his manically ruthless gamebot mode with a genuinely caring and compassionate Father-like role around camp – it may not have been shown on TV, but a majority of post-show press interviews back it up.
FINAL VOTE : 8-1 (TKO-ing the woozily dull martial art champion Woo, and saving us from having to crown a new Worst Winner Ever).

 

04. SOPHIE CLARKE – SOUTH PACIFIC

survivor sophie glasses

We talk a lot about valuing players that minimise ‘risk’ in this game and New York native Clarke is probably the single best example of that.  While the editors threw her under Diane’s Bus for most of the season in favour of the lukewarm tale of The Curdled Nerd vs The Dragon Slayer, the CBS Insider footage showed a clear portrait of a player that, week by week, was so clearly thinking about every move and was not only in total control of her alliance, but of her own emotions every step of the way.  We’ve already gone on at length about how she’s one of our favourites ever (CLICK HERE) but, as far as winners go, she’s hands down the games most underrated.  If you need further proof, her (frankly excellent) Dom and Colin Winners Analysis Podcast (HERE) should ably clear any remaining doubts up.

BESIDES, she’s still the only player to ever completely own Probst and live to tell the tale :-

BEST MOVE : Constantly keeping her alliance mates in check and sticking to the plan; Being a total asset in challenges and winning the key immunity that finally slayed Sir Ozzy of The Pleasure Dome; Cementing the fake Final 4 alliance that made Cochran so confident to flip in the first place; An EXCELLENT Final Tribal Council performance; “DROP YOUR DAMNED STACK”-gate; Generally just being amazingly honest, caustic and dryly hilarious.
FINAL SCORE : 
6-3-0 (SLAYING the aforementioned Dragon Slayer as well as hilariously emasculating hunky Dating Coach Albert).

 

03. TODD HERZOG – CHINA

survivor todd

Everyone’s favourite little Mormon Munchkin played an incredibly impressive game in China, leading his motley crew of misfits including (snarky waitess Courtney, Wahh-nah Montana the Nature Guide and Denise The Talking Mullet) all the way to the end without ever appearing to be a threat.  Using his slight frame and impish nature to his advantage, he cruised through to the finals with complete control of the game.  His zest and genuine joy for the game made him a true joy to watch, without succumbing to the mean-spiritedness that many so-called superfans often confuse for strategy.  Dragging a lonely goatherd to Finals is one thing, but managing to pull out a victory against truly worthy competitors is another level entirely.  The way he stood up for himself, stayed accountable and calmly demanded respect from a butthurt jury is truly the stuff REAL MEN are made of.

BEST MOVE : Taking unapologetic credit for every single one of his moves and betrayals at the Final Tribal Council – a total masterclass for future contestants; Constantly neutralizing his own alliance mates from getting too much control  (forcing Courtney to vote out Frosti, not letting Amanda vote out James initially at F9 so he could make sure he shared the eventual credit, etc..)
FINAL SCORE : 4-2-1 (Besting Human Sasspot Courtney and a not yet Livid-manda)

 

02. TOM WESTMAN – PALAU

survivor tom shirtless

Few contestants have ever played such a dominant physical and social game as Tom Westman.  So much so that he viewed as the second biggest threat going into Heroes vs Villains (more on who was number one above with Queen P).  Using a mix of likability, intimidation and challenge wins coupled with a knack for always staying one move ahead of his opponents, he played one of the most impressive and well rounded games to date.

BEST MOVE : Convincing Ian to step down from the Final 3 immunity challenge and allow himself to be voted out by nothing more than laying one amazing guilt trip on the poor boy.  Like what happened to poor Erik in Micronesia except using smarts instead of four sets of boobs.
FINAL SCORE : 6-1 (against Katie, who may have been simultaneously the funniest and yet most useless Final 2 opponent ever)

 

01. KIM SPRADLIN – ONE WORLD

survivor kim hot oil

And here we have it… The best of the best – Kimpossible Spradlin herself.  Now, as we mentioned with recent winners Tony and Denise, we like to take some time before heaping undue praise on a still fresh game.  But there’s pretty much no need with One Worlds runaway champion – her gameplay was just THAT good.  A lot of people complained that her steamroller-esque victory was due to having such easy competition to beat, but that’s doing her overall game a disservice.  While a lot of the competitors were written off by the internets at large as being a hoard of zombie-like muppets, it’s easy to forget that the post-merge was filled with potentially canny players like Jonas, Sabrina, Jay, Alicia and Troyzan that ALL could have been satisfying winners under different circumstances.  The key to Kim’s game was keeping every single one of these players close, all of the time and never hesitating to cut them two moves ahead of schedule.  Survivor is often talked about akin to a game of human chess and never has in been more evident in Spradlin’s seemingly effortless victory.  We could go on all night (it’s already 11:42pm), but you can listen for yourself HERE.

BEST MOVE : Where do we start?  Forging some of the strongest individual bonds the game has ever seen; Being smart enough to know the right people to bring to the end (and cannily defying the conventional logic of just dragging two goats) in order to guarantee a win; Annihilating the challenges; Never once losing her cool.
FINAL SCORE : 7-2-0 (against Jewellery Maker Sabrina and Clean Underwear Crusader Chelsea).

 

So, THAT’S IT from us.  What did you think?  How does recent champ TONY TONI TONE stack up?  Anyone else you think is undervalued (or, indeed, over)?  Let us know below!

And REMEMBER, Fat Tony Sez :-

SAVE YO' DRAMA FOR YO' LLAMA.

SAVE YO’ DRAMA FOR YO’ LLAMA.

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48 Comments leave one →
  1. Mick permalink
    July 28, 2014 4:24 am

    Overall this was a solid list. I think you overlooked/misinterpreted a few things, however:

    Tony should be nowhere near the top half of this list, much less in the top five. He played a ridiculously poor social game and only won because of Spencer’s jury speech. Natalie was the beneficiary of something similar from Erik, so I’m a bit confused as to why there is a 23 place discrepancy between them.

    I think you were off on the idea of a bitter jury. A jury is not inherently bitter; it is made that way by the gameplay of others (frequently those in the final 2/3). It’s a mistake to suggest that someone winning because of a bitter jury makes is a poor player, because the fact that they won despite such a circumstance proves they were a superior social player. Also, China’s jury was not “butthurt.” Peih Gee said in an interview on Survivor Oz that no one was overly upset (she may have overlooked Jean Robert, but still). Had the jury been bitter, there is no way Todd would have beaten Amanda.

    I think you underrate Sandra. Her social game was phenomenal in both games, and Lil wanting to give her the million is evidence of that.

    Aside from that, good list. I liked your write ups on Danni and Denise, even if I think both should have been closer to the top of the list!

    • mis permalink
      August 24, 2014 4:57 am

      lol you think that Tony won 8-1 because of one jury speech. That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If he had won 5-4, or 6-3, then maybe, but even Spencer said that he probably only swayed a couple of votes. The fact of the matter is is that Tony played one of the most dominant strategic games in the history of survivor, with a poor social game. Woo played an okay social game coupled with a non-existent strategic game, best exemplified when he Colby-ed Tony to the final 2. Woo was awful and didn’t even deserve Tasha’s vote, spencer’s speech or no spencer’s speech.

      • August 25, 2014 12:24 pm

        Ummm, I just re-read what I wrote and I can’t see where I attribute Tony’s win to Spencer’s speech? Mostly because – having listened to a vast majority of the post-show interviews both with Tony and the other Jury members (Spencer’s DOM & COLIN PODCAST alone is possibly the single most entertaining, informative and UNBIASED interview a castaway has ever done – listen HERE), Spencers speech didn’t sway people anywhere near as much as the TV edit made it seem. Kass in particular has stated she almost voted for Woo purely because of how patronising she claims to have found it. Tasha voted for Woo purely because she and Tony basically hated each other post-merge as they had quite a lot of disagreements.

        The main point you’re wrong on is Tony’s social game was actually quite strong. The TV edit may have portrayed it being subpar, but 100% of the (non-Kass) castaways have backed up post-show that he actually played a strong social game where he was a total camp workhorse, always looking after everyone, fetching water for them, cooking their food, overly generous, etc etc. While he didn’t play a perfect game and was little scattershot at times, he consistently course-corrected any mistakes he made and played the game from more angles than most threepeats could even dream to fathom.

  2. Kim permalink
    August 9, 2014 3:25 am

    I agree with most of the people on this list. However, the ranking order seems to be a bit off. For example, Yul, Amber and Boston Rob should be in the Top 10.

    • Jake permalink
      September 28, 2014 5:43 pm

      Is that you Spradlin?

  3. cam permalink
    August 11, 2014 2:34 am

    Though I agree with the begining of your list- the top ten were mixed up. the top 3 should have been 3, Tony 2, Parvati 1, Tom Westman- i would put kim in 10th or 11th and cochran in the top 15

  4. No Name permalink
    August 17, 2014 7:42 am

    Don’t mean to be mean or anything, but this list is awful! I disagreed a lot on this list, but here are just a few.
    Rob is too low. The best player ever, in my opinion. Some people try to play the “he took 4 tries to win” card but no one could deny that he should have won Survivor All- Stars. Also he could have done well on HvV had Tyson not voted himself out.
    Tom, Sophie and Danni are to high. Yul is too low. Parv is too low.
    And I get so angry when people put Kim at the top of lists like these. Kim, may be the best player to ever play survivor. Maybe. But all she had to do in One World is make her alliance and tell them who to vote off. And they did it. She didn’t have to do anything at all. True, she won some immunities, but she didn’t need them and tons of people dominate challenges and get no credit.

  5. Ian permalink
    September 27, 2014 6:23 pm

    You have a revisionist history that makes it impossible to take this list seriously. Parvati didn’t make herself a non-target: the plan everyone had was to bring her to the end as their goat; had anyone but Amanda done it, it would’ve worked. Even then, she still didn’t blow her out by any means. You readily admit Cirie would have won in a final three, which means you’re also admitting that Parvati was willingly playing for third place literally the entire game, with no intention or clue as to how to improve her chances. She made zero contributions to strategy, Cirie and Amanda did all the work. She just did whatever she was told, and for someone intent on playing smart and making big moves, she made people despise her and made zero big moves on her own, meaning her strategy effectively failed and she got so lucky with her win she should be near the bottom of the list. You REALLY need to re-watch Micronesia with an objective viewpoint.

    Kim’s challenge competition was lackluster, her castmates were mostly nitwits and poindexters, and a lot of her win is due to the antics of Colton and the men’s idiocy. She made a bonehead move in how she went after Michael. Had Jay and Troyzan had any sense at all, they would’ve brought in a couple of the women and blindsided Kim. Hooray for mindless recruits. I like Kim and she had a lot of game awareness, but she’s definitely not number one.

    Anyway, you rank Earl, who deserved a lot better, at 14 on the basis he was willing to bring someone who would beat him to the finals, but rank Parvati sixth while mentioning that same thing, yet ignoring all the holes in her game. What logic is that?

    You applaud Amber for her strategy, saying Rob’s strategic and physical games were undermined by his awful social game, but then place Natalie dead last for doing the exact same thing and say outright Russell, whose social game was worse than Rob’s, should have won? Again, what logic is this?

    Aside from that, you’re misguided about Ethan and Sandra… and Vecepia… and Jenna, but I’m glad you gave Danni a high ranking because most people don’t appreciate her. Also, props ranking Hatch so low. He made an alliance, half of which was either A.) willing to turn on him at any moment or B.) so wishy-washy she had zero loyalty to him at all. Not to mention, they never had the majority! I’m not big on the whole “bitter jury” thing because it’s overused and misguided. People don’t have that ingrained in them: it’s cooked up by being mistreated. That being said, I do believe it does rarely happen in blaring instances of hypocrisy without perspective or flagrance, and Sue was the first and best of them. She did everything Kelly did, she was just pissed that Kelly did her own thing in the end and didn’t cave to Sue’s threats and bullshit tactics. If Sue gets over herself, Wiglesworth takes it and Hatch is a footnote.

  6. Jake permalink
    September 28, 2014 5:42 pm

    This is one of the best lists I’ve seen. Love your attitude to Survivor. You are of few other people who doesn’t overpraise or under-praise Hantz. You give Tom, Tony and Todd the good spots they deserve, but don’t always get, rank Rob and Parvati well, but not too well and put overrated winners like Bob, Sandra and Ethan closer to the top of the list like they deserve.

    If I had to criticize, my only points would be Danni being rated too well (Recently watched Guatemala; she was incredibly passive) and Earl being underrated (His social game was one of the best I have ever seen and although taking Yau to the end would have been foolish, he deserves major credit for managing to get him out without taking too much heat for betrayal.)

  7. Jill Cox permalink
    October 12, 2014 4:18 pm

    I very much enjoyed your article and I agree with your rankings but when I look back at all my years of watching Survivor, 5 names stand out: Ozzie, Malcom, Russell, Rob, and Stephanie.

  8. November 12, 2014 6:48 pm

    I could rant about how bad this list is, but instead I’ll say this if you think someone deserved to win who didn’t you don’t understand Survivor. People like Parvati who lost deserved to because they couldn’t convince the jury. For whatever reason the jury chose not to vote for them is irrelevant. For you to not understand this completely destroys your credibility.

    • November 24, 2014 8:10 pm

      Actually, I fundamentally agree with you on that fact and always have. I’ve only recently realised that the “SHOULD’VE WON” feature (which I included as more or a way to give a shout out to the person on a given season that I personally think played a better on paper game, or a more deserving one) implies that I think that the winner is less deserving. When I do my next revision at the end of the year I’m going to clear that up and rejig my wording. I 100% think every single winner deserved to win the season that they won. Winner over a jury is the ONLY thing that matters in deserving a win in any given season.

      That being said, I definitely think that certainly players played better games overall to achieve said goal. Which is why player rankings in general are doomed to failure because every season has such dramatically different requirements and goal posts. But, it’s also why Winner Rankings are less fundamentally flawed, because everyone is on an even playing field outcome-wise, so there is more commonality to objectively compare.

      That being said, if you take that out of the equation (which I completely own is my own fault for not making clearer at the start of the article), I’d be curious to know which parts of the list you feel are the most objectionable in the actual winner ordering. Between having read pretty much every post-show interview and watching every single deleted scene ever, I have much more comprehensive grasp on the actual realities of any given season, so I’m always interested to see what similarly invested fans (which clearly you are because your response is spot on) object to.. The only winners placings on this current version that I strongly feel need real revision since I wrote it are Parvati (who needs to be lowered when basing it solely on her S16 game) and Earl (who should be higher). A few others placings can be adjusted +/-1 either way, but nothing that really affects it too much.

      • February 14, 2015 4:41 pm

        Okay good to know. I guess may main problem with this list is rating Sandra twice and then criticizing winners like Tyson or Boston Rob for playing multiple times to win instead of focusing on the game they won. I think you should either focus on the game they won or assess Sandra as an all around player.

        As for some placings I thought were way off Sophie I think is a little too high for someone Coach could have gotten rid of anytime and she played an awful social game. The fact that OZZY would have won against her proves how bad her social game was luckily people were more mad at Coach and Albert. As much as I loved Tony his game was very flawed and he should have been voted out numerous times, Thankfully he had Trish save him over and over. Tina and Danni are too high in my opinion for winners who only won because of crusial mistakes made by other players. I always look at their wins as Colby and Rafe’s losses.

        Rich is way too low. He only did bad in Allstars because the winners were being picked off, he knew he couldn’t win so he messed around. Also it is important to know Rich realized the importance of jury management which is why he dropped out of the final immunity challenge. Ethan is the other guy I think is too low. People remember him as only a nice guy, but he made strategic moves. He threw a challenge to get rid of Silas so he would have the numbers at the merge and he also voted out Brandon to ensure Lex couldn’t flip on the group. Plus he lasted longer than any other winner in All Stars and probaly should have lasted longer if Lex hadn’t been an idiot.

  9. sagel permalink
    November 13, 2014 7:28 pm

    Danni just slid through the game it was Stephanie’s win but there was a bitter jury. people voted against steph and not for Danni.

    • November 24, 2014 8:16 pm

      I actually really enjoy Stephenie as a character and think she played a better game in S11 than she gets credit for, but Dannii 100% deserved the win that season. If you just watched the tv broadcast, I don’t blame you for feeling differently, as the editors left a lot of Dannii’s game on the cutting room floor because it was very dry, but she played a heck of a game. Read any interview with anyone that season and you’ll realise how accomplished she was. Probably her biggest problem is she was playing SO hard that she mostly refused to even *discuss* any of her major strategy or opinions in one on one confessionals, because she was so paranoid of being overheard by other contestants or production subtly or unintentionally alerting others to her plans. It makes for terribly boring tv but it’s EXACTLY that second level kind of gameplay that is the sign of a true game savant. She’s one of the most adaptable and uncannily astute players I’ve ever seen and one of only about three contestants that I would bet good money to win the game 100% of the times they played.

  10. Daniel Fitzgerald permalink
    November 26, 2014 5:08 am

    I think by naming it the ranking of the winners of each season, you should combine sandra’s two seasons and make her number 1 on the list. While individually she may not have dominated her first or second game, overall she is objectively the best winner in the game. Regardless of whether she is viewed as the best player, she should be at least considered the best winner.
    Also, Ethan should not be as low as he is. He played arguably the best social game ever in a season when energy was low from start to finish, he kept everybody on his side throughout.

  11. Hunter permalink
    December 27, 2014 9:29 am

    I agree with most of this but I think Parvati should be top 3 atleast, and Sophie should be waaaaay farther down. Just my opinion though, but other than that, this list is pretty solid.

  12. Steve permalink
    January 25, 2015 5:16 pm

    You suck at ranking things. Sophie is an embarrassment to Survivor. So are you

    • January 25, 2015 8:01 pm

      It’s interesting, because Sophie Clarke is basically the Litmus Test when it comes to separating fans that genuinely understand the game vs those who don’t.

      I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s ass and pretend that she played an exciting game to watch – she didn’t. But that’s EXACTLY why she played the single most dominant winning game of any female contestant to date (besides Kim, who is another level entirely). She was boring to watch BECAUSE she was in control the whole time. She constantly positioned and repositioned herself so she was necessary for any move to be made and every single player regarded her as essential to their own game. It’s like watching a one-sided football game. It may be boring as fuck to watch, but you can’t deny the skill involved to stay on top for the whole duration.

  13. Kameron permalink
    February 4, 2015 3:39 am

    what happened here? kim is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo overrated. she deserves top 15, but not top 10. tony should be 1st. vecipia should be in last. parvati should be top 3 and cochran deserves better. denise should be in the 19 (about) spot. brian deserves top be in the top5 and yul should be far ahead from where he is. good luck with your brain operatin!

  14. dong permalink
    February 5, 2015 12:28 pm

    The list is good until you get to Cochran and Richard Hatch. Everything is haywire for the most part after that. Having Sophie as #3 is absolutely ridiculous…she didn’t make 1 single move the whole damn game and she is socially dysfunctional to the nth degree. She easily makes the 3 worst of all time.

  15. J L permalink
    February 11, 2015 10:29 am

    It’s funny/great that this is still getting updates and comments and replies. It’s a great list! I wouldn’t agree with a fair amount of the rankings, but as you’ve said, rankings are, to a degree at least, fundamentally flawed. But you’re clearly thinking about this stuff critically and are, for the most part, consistent. The only inconsistency that jumps out is the Earl placement, where, as a previous commenter pointed out, you’ve ranked him 8 spots lower than Parvati despite their sole mistake being exactly the same. I’m just a big Earl fan, though – for a guy to come in on 2 days notice, having never seen the game, and doing THAT? Incredible. I don’t remember if they had known beforehand there’d be a final 3 rather than 2 – if they didn’t, I wonder if Earl was betting on being able to get rid of Yau Man at 3. Regardless, were it me, I’d either put him higher or Parvati lower.

    Anyhow, fantastic stuff.

    • February 11, 2015 8:56 pm

      Thanks Man! So nice to get feedback like that from someone who actually *gets* it.. 😀 For what it’s worth, the Earl/Parvati thing is probably my own biggest gripe with this since I wrote it. I’ll update it by the end of season 30 again and definitely adjust Parvati down and Earl up accordingly. It’s such a hard one since they played such excellent games that it’s hard to work out how to critically weight that one (major) endgame flaw… Thoughts?

      • J L permalink
        February 26, 2015 7:37 am

        Going back and listening to some interviews again, it may be that Earl’s endgame flaw is bigger than I thought. I had forgotten that he was generally worse in competitions than Yau! Regardless, I’d put him a couple places higher than you did – taken as a whole, his game was just so impressive. Similarly, I’d put Parvati a couple spots lower than you. As amazing a Survivor player as she is (and to be certain, she’s AMAZING, probably the single most dangerous player ever), I just don’t think she ever put together the one truly unimpeachable season most people think – she got more lucky than most in her win (I will cry for Cirie forever). In HVV, as well, her jury management was less than ideal, and she let the strategic endgame get away from her just enough to lose those last couple votes.

        It’s all minor, though. Personally, I’m more interested in grouping the wins by type than trying to say that one is intrinsically better than any other – given the number of permutations, 30 seasons is still a small sample size. I do want to thank you, though, for linking to Dom and Colin’s podcast. Their strategic focus and (generally) open minds are refreshing, and I’m glad to have been pointed their direction.

  16. February 13, 2015 5:29 pm

    The only thing more ridiculous than this list (at face value) are the explanations that go with the list. In all fairness 28-21 is pretty accurate, from there it goes severely haywire. If you were to draw names out of a hat from #20 down to #1 it would be more accurate than this list… I’m totally serious. In one instance this person overrates the sole strategy of likability with JT at #7 (JT still get props in 1 aspect of the social game category for being so like-able that everyone wants you to come along for the ride, but you still have to factor decision making strategy, where JT gets negative points etc.), then goes on to put Sophie approx 20 spots further then she deserves, who was one of the most socially inept players in the history of survivor…not to mention Sophie falls into the, afraid to make any changes category because she’s content getting one spot further in the game, rather then taking a risk and trying to win the game and there were several realistic moments in the game for Sophie to make a strategic move and she was afraid to shake things up. But for some fluky reason Sophie ended up winning the game. Rewarding this bad behavior potentially ruins future seasons of survivor, because you’ll not only be awarded 1,000,000, but someone will put out a list and rank you #4 to further incentivize those who refuse to make moves. Fortunately for Survivor and Survivor fans, the following seasons/players didn’t seem to be influenced by Sophie’s win.
    Then for whatever reason, this list underrates, most of the game controllers/decision makers/shot callers, except for Kim. Kim was an excellent winner for sure, she would make my top 5, possibly my top 3.

    • February 15, 2015 8:56 am

      Instead of going through it all again, I’ll redirect to my reply the other week regarding a similar complaint against Sophie :-

      “It’s interesting, because Sophie Clarke is basically the Litmus Test when it comes to separating fans that genuinely understand the game vs those who don’t.
      I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s ass and pretend that she played an exciting game to watch – she didn’t. But that’s EXACTLY why she played the single most dominant winning game of any female contestant to date (besides Kim, who is another level entirely). She was boring to watch BECAUSE she was in control the whole time. She constantly positioned and repositioned herself so she was necessary for any move to be made and every single player regarded her as essential to their own game. It’s like watching a one-sided football game. It may be boring as fuck to watch, but you can’t deny the skill involved to stay on top for the whole duration.”

      • February 15, 2015 9:06 am

        One additional thing I *would* highlight though is the complaint that she didn’t make moves. The whole beauty of her game is that she never needed to – she got to the F3 with the exact people she knew she could beat. The person who SHOULD have made moves repeatedly but failed to was Coach. The whole post-merge was basically a montage of him consistently voting off people who wanted to go to the end with him that he would have actually been able to beat (Rick, Edna, Cochran for sure. And possibly Brandon, depending on how the endgame and jury speeches played out). Yet repeatedly he stuck to the plan and never wavered, even though it was obvious the only way he could win was doing so. Same goes for Albert (although he most likely couldn’t have won against anyone due to his inherent unlikeability and lack of awareness to said fact – unless he were in a F3 with EXACTLY Edna and Rick).

        So why did these two allegedly more deserving players consistently not make moves that would have benefitted them? One word – Sophie.

  17. MelvinPox permalink
    February 24, 2015 6:07 am

    Not a bad list here. Sophie would be middle of the pack for me. Ethan a little higher. Earl a little higher. Parvati a shade higher. Amber a little lower. Hatch a bit higher. But rankings are tough. You are at the mercy of the edit and post game interviews. Plus, you cannot ignore that luck is a factor. Yul had some lucky breaks, for example. As did Tony. Do you penalize them for that?

    • February 25, 2015 7:11 am

      Yeah, I try to be as objective as possible, which is a near impossible task. Although I’m better at it than most. I’d say the one thing I bring is that I’ve read and reread pretty much every single post-show interview and seen each deleted scene from every season ever. Which is why my ranking tends to differ from a lot from others.

      I’ve factored in luck to each of them, Yul in particular. I was actually MORE impressed with Tony’s game after reading interviews than before – he played a lot smarter than was shown on TV, or at least more balanced. Did you get a chance to read the explanations?

      I’d agree with the fact Earl should be higher, strongly disagree with Sophie being lower and actually would probably put Parvati lower next time since I’m ranking purely on the winning game, and the fact she was taking Cirie to the end was idiotic.

  18. Trent permalink
    March 10, 2015 4:29 pm

    Are you serious? Bob from Gabona played an awesome game. sugar gave up an idol to matty who in the end hd less votes than Crystal anywho. Bob not only tricked Kenny and crystal once but TWICE with a fake idol. Not too mention he won 5 individual immunity a in a row, tying the record and he fooled Susie into taking him after he hd just won 5 in a row! Then he practiced and practiced brooding a fire in case of a tie and won.

    Parvati didn’t even deserve to win her season, sure she played well, but Amanda was the one who final immunity, as well as others and it was her idea to have Erik give it up and she was the one who guilted him during tribal and befriended him. Her speech and answers were just terrible and she still nearly won. She also fooled the other two girls into believing she didn’t have an idol, which is pretty hard to do if you’ve seen any season with exile island. Once you go, people think you have it.

  19. Karl permalink
    April 5, 2015 3:43 am

    There are so many things in this list I disagree with.1 of them is the way you are judging the castaways. You mention that ‘Terrying’ your way to the end is fine,you shouldn’t need to rely on it. Immunity challenges are a massive art of the game and if winning challenges is what gets you to the end so you can take the win, tough luck to the other players who didn’t.

    I so strongly disagree with Kim as number 1. She played an amazing game, but she had zero competition. You often justify this by saying there were great players in the game, but she didn’t have any huge part in getting rid of them. The moves she made were so logical. Sure, she handed everyone well, but made no amazing moves, and at 9 it was so obvious to us what was happening and how the game needed to be flipped for her to lose. People like Christina who have been abused and bullied in the game but still are part of an alliance. Troyzan even pointed it out to these terrible players before he was voted out, and they still didn’t see it coming.

  20. May 5, 2015 5:41 am

    I have to say, I think your list is impressive. I like that you give major cred to Todd, Tony, and especially Sophie. Todd gave what is possibly the greatest Jury performance in the game’s history, Tony clearly played a top 5 game even though it’s still relatively fresh, and I thought your explanation of Sophie was perfect. Her game was very deliberate, and she didn’t need to play the scramble game because her alliance was so intent upon sticking to the plan. Just because a game is calm doesn’t mean it’s bad.

    If I had any complaints, I’d say a few people deserve a little more cred than they get. I’d personally put Aras, Hatch, Chris, and Denise up a few spots. Aras because I think he was in the best position throughout Exile Island (though I was still rooting for Cirie), Hatch because he essentially wrote the playbook on alliances, Chris because he overcame the far more dynamic women of that season (even if it came at the expense of Eliza, who will always be a favorite of mine from facial expressions alone) and Denise because she survived EVERY Tribal Council and gave a Top 5 Jury performance IMO.

    If you had to drop a few people, I’d go with Tom and JT. Tom played a very Kim-esque game, but I honestly thought the cast for Palau was one of the worst, if only because an entire tribe was completely decimated. It didn’t present much of a challenge. And JT because, likable though he was, I still thought Stephen was a better strategist and played a relatively underrated social game, and my sentimental choice was kooky but lovable stylist Erinn.

    All in all though, I applaud your list.

  21. bayzing permalink
    May 27, 2015 8:44 am

    A very good list… generally I agree with placement of most. A few comments:

    – The game has clearly evolved over the last 15 years. During the early years you could fly under the radar and win (i.e. Ethan, Vecepia, Sandra, Amber). The hidden immunity idol changed all of that… and final jury votes began to favor strategic game-play over bitterness “anti” vote casting. I tend to have more respect for the early winners who were strategic players back before the immunity idol and during the era where strategic blind-siding was less forgivable. Think of season #4 (Marquesas) – Today it seems unimaginable that fly-under-the-radar Vecepia would defeat the Neleh, who (though she rode some coat tails, made some highly strategic moves). The best winners were the strategic gameplayers, who won before strategy was deemed cool. BTW… Don’t get me wrong – I love the immunity idol, but it does introduce a bit of pure luck into the game. Before season 11, the only think that could save you was pure scheming.

    – With my preference for early strategic players, Richard Hatch (in my mind) would probably rank between 5 and 8 on my all-time list. Brian Heidik is rarely spoken about, but he played a masterful game (Top 3 on my list). He was the first unlikable guy to win, but did it in a cunning way where (at the end) there was no other alternative – I would love to see him return to play sometime – if he’s not too busy shooting porn! I didn’t care as much for the Vanuatu season, but Chris Daughtery is ranked higher in my book (probably top 8). Tom Westman played an impeccable game, maybe the best ever… in what was an end to the pre-idol era.

    – Kim Spradlin and Todd Herzog played masterful games (I rank them slightly lower because they were in the “hidden idol” era). Todd’s game was particularly noteworthy because he is a man with such a slight build, his dominance was purely strategic and psychological and not at all physical. In my mind, he’s the best winner since the hidden immunity idol era came about in season 11.

    – In your criteria, you mention “degree of difficulty”, I think this is a big factor in how I look at Survivor winners. Arguably the best single game was Rob Mariano’s win on Redemption Island, but most seasoned viewers recognize that the competition and “degree of difficulty” on Redemption Island was a bit soft – he got a little lucky being placed on the right tribe. I still think Rob’s win in Redemption Island is a Top-10 worthy performance . However, had Rob won All-Stars, I would have considered that a TOP 3 (maybe best ever) performance of all-time. Also noteworthy is Tyson Apostol’s victory, which (in my mind) came against a strong field – yes his victory relied on luck – but I loved his game and attitude.

  22. May 27, 2015 8:50 am

    A very good list… generally I agree with placement of most. A few comments:

    – The game has clearly evolved over the last 15 years. During the early years you could fly under the radar and win (i.e. Ethan, Vecepia, Sandra, Amber). The hidden immunity idol changed all of that… and final jury votes began to favor strategic game-play over bitterness “anti” vote casting. I tend to have more respect for the early winners who were strategic players back before the immunity idol and during the era where strategic blind-siding was less forgivable. Think of season #4 (Marquesas) – Today it seems unimaginable that fly-under-the-radar Vecepia would defeat the Neleh, who (though she rode some coat tails, made some highly strategic moves). The best winners (in my mind) were the strategic game players, who won before strategy was understood and respected. BTW… Don’t get me wrong – I love the immunity idol, but it does introduce a bit of pure luck into the game. Before season 11, the only think that could save you was pure scheming.

    – With my preference for early strategic players, Richard Hatch (in my mind) would probably rank between 5 and 8 on my all-time list. Brian Heidik is rarely spoken about, but he played a masterful game (Top 3 on my list). He was the first unlikable guy to win, but did it in a cunning way where (at the end) there was no other alternative – I would love to see him return to play sometime – if he’s not too busy shooting porn! I didn’t care as much for the Vanuatu season, but Chris Daughtery is ranked higher in my book (probably top 8). Tom Westman played an impeccable game, maybe the best ever… in what was an end to the pre-hidden-idol era.

    – Kim Spradlin and Todd Herzog played masterful games (I rank them slightly lower because they won after the introduction of the hidden idol). Todd’s game was particularly noteworthy because he is a man with such a slight build, his dominance was purely strategic and psychological and not at all physical. In my mind, he’s the best winner since the hidden immunity idol era came about in season 11.

    – In your criteria, you mention “degree of difficulty”, I think this is a big factor in how I look at Survivor winners. Arguably the best single game was Rob Mariano’s win on Redemption Island, but most seasoned viewers recognize that the competition and “degree of difficulty” on Redemption Island was a bit soft – he got a little lucky being placed on the right tribe (but to his credit, he did navigate the first Redemption Island twist pretty well. I still think Rob’s win in Redemption Island is a Top-10 worthy performance. However, had Rob won All-Stars, I would have considered that a TOP 3 (maybe best ever) performance of all-time. Also noteworthy is Tyson Apostol’s victory, which (in my mind) came against a strong field – yes his victory relied on luck – but I loved his game and attitude.

    Overall a great list… and a fun read!

  23. June 9, 2015 9:00 am

    YIKES

  24. June 20, 2015 8:12 am

    Another problem with Rob on Redemption Island was his jury management wasn’t even that good at all, and by the end he needed to take 2 huge goats (Natalie and Phillip) in order to win. He might have been able to beat Andrea or Ashley, but it would have been very close. He would have gotten killed by any of Grant, Mike, or Matt. Furthermore, despite this, he was always planning on taking Grant to the F4, and only didn’t after Ashley’s upset immunity win at F5. Grant then would have had to win only 1 challenge over Rob at F4 (and he was a challenge beast) and Rob loses the game for sure, whether Grant takes him to the final or not. I would say if Ashley doesn’t win F5 immunity which nobody expected, Grant is atleast 50% likely to win the game.

    I don’t agree with Natalie White last at all. Her social game was absolutely flawless, one of the best ever, and Survivor is atleast 50% a social game. How can she be the worst ever when Russell was almost always taking her to the end, and other than Brett putting together a large immunity run to the end (which he nearly did) she was never losing a jury vote to anyone else.

  25. feistyboy35 permalink
    June 20, 2015 8:16 am

    I also totally disagree at Sophie at 4th. There was nothing that great about her game at all, except she let dumber people lose the game, and her clueless tribemates believe she wasn’t a jury threat.

  26. feistyboy35 permalink
    June 20, 2015 8:23 am

    An addition problem with Rob on Redemption Island is that his jury management wasn’t that good. So much so he had to take 2 huge goats (Natalie and Phillip) to the end in order to win, and believe me dealing with Phillip that long couldn’t have been easy, so was obviously out of necessity by the latter part of the game. He might have been able to beat Ashley or Andrea, but it would have been very close, and no sure thing. He was always going to get crushed by Mike, Matt, or Grant. Furthermore he wanted Grant in the F4, and only voted Grant off after Ashley’s big upset immunity win at F5 (and probably still wouldn’t if Grant wasn’t dumb as a bag of rocks and had actually made a halfway decent argument to his closest ally of why he should stay over Natalie or Phillip, while Ashley, Natalie, and Phillip had already been campaigning hard against Grant to Rob the past few days at that point). Then all Grant would have had to do is win the F4 immunity and he wins the season for sure, whether he takes Rob to the end with him or not. Basically if Ashley didn’t win the F5 immunity in a big upset, atleast 50% chance Grant wins the season. Factor in the very weak cast, and I would barely have him top 20.

    I totally disagree with Natalie White last. She had one of the best social games of all time. Do you not realize the social game is atleast 50% part of Survivor? How can someone who Russell was almost always taking to the end (similar to the RI Natalie, except this Natalie was no goat), and who unless Brett went on a huge immunity run to make the end (which he nearly did) was always certainly winning a jury vote over anyone else. Not to mention she was part of overcoming Galu’s huge numbers advantage. That couldn’t have been all Russell. So wrong to rate her right last IMO.

  27. August 12, 2015 9:23 pm

    Love this list, and I’ve referenced it a lot when I try to figure out what actually happened and where I stand. I’ve been a huge fan for a long time, but have only recently started looking at online conversations, podcasts, and things like exit interviews, which I hadn’t known existed. As such, my opinions and evaluations are often only based on the TV edit, so I appreciate your insight. I have some differences of opinion in how people stack up, but that’s to be expected.

    I think you do a really great job of understanding, highlighting, and referencing a lot of the different nuances that allow Survivor winners to actually win, while steering clear of over-generalizing things and creating a cookie-cutter winning formula that leads into subjectivity and limited contextual perspective. At the heart of Survivor, which I think you truly understand in your insight here, is the concept that winning Survivor comes down to understanding how to make YOUR SPECIFIC final jury to keep you around and then vote for YOU. So I really appreciate the way your list highlights the specific attributes players used that allowed them to successfully navigate circumstance, players, and opposing strategies, to get them to the end and win over the jury.

    I love the way you highlight certain things that illuminate strategies and strengths that go beyond just “playing a good social game”: self-awareness, risk minimization, flying under the radar, charm, deep personal relationships, deflecting attention, social manipulation. staying in control, making yourself valuable, being easy to relate to, and allowing others to take the heat. But I also really appreciate how you always point to how these work in tandem with each other in complex, comprehensive ways, that in the best cases are a result of the adaptability of the player to their own strengths, and the biggest obstacles presented in their season.

    Just to echo some of the comments and your responses, I think it’s impossible to fault winners for winning and claim that other people should have won. I think you give this credit to players like Danni and Sophie, who didn’t play big, showy games, but played their opponents well using their strongest attributes. With that same perspective though, I think it actually improves the game play of people like Sandra, or even Natalie White, who simply did what they needed to do with what they had. Now, whether they saw this fully or not and could own it as a strategy is a point that needs to be really determined in making a list like this. And like I said, I haven’t watched or read nearly any of what went on beyond what they showed on TV.

    I wish I could really sit down and talk all of these out, these are great. I was looking at my list of favorite winners, and realized that most of them are REALLY good and played a lot of really great games, and it’s super difficult to figure out who played it better, because each situation is so specific and contextualized.

    Thanks for writing this so CLEARLY and INSIGHTFULLY, it’s a lot of fun to read.

  28. Sharpie permalink
    October 14, 2015 10:08 pm

    Oh come on this list is ridiculous …. Parvati …. Rob…..and kim should be top 4. ….. And i realy hate rob he pissed me off. Their social game were amazing……. Parvati even when on the bottom always flirted her way back to the top….. Rob made people basically fall over to get to him……. kim her social game was pretty much flawless noone ever seen her running it until kat got voted out ……. Rob owned the challenges in all stars….. Parvati in hVv and kim in one world……. Rob …. Kim…. And Parvati all flawless players……

  29. Steven Kennedy permalink
    October 25, 2015 10:49 am

    This list is absolutely terrible. Rich Hatch is low, Earl is low, Tony is low, Sophie is the worst winner, it is pathetic for her to be that high. ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE

  30. Matt permalink
    January 18, 2016 9:25 am

    What a joke of a list.

  31. Baron Von Onder Zemo permalink
    January 23, 2016 12:49 am

    I think your list is pretty average to be honest though these things are all subjective so good on you for giving it a go…
    For a start, the fact that you have a 2 time winner not even come in at the top 14 let alone the top 5 is a pretty good sign that you have well and truly missed the mark. Sandra has outlasted what, 35 contestants? You have to respect that. It doesn’t just happen.

    But moving down, you have Vecepia, Hatch, Cocoran and Tyson way too far down the list. Tyson in particular is a clear candidate for top 5 as his was a particularly masterful effort and as a player he is arguably the most well built player for this game. Medium to strong at challenges, very likeable, very strategic.
    I think you have failed to appreciate the subtleties of both Cocoran and Vecepia’s games, which will see them almost always go deep in most seasons that they play whereas Hatch I guess is more open to debate given how long ago he played.

    I think you waaaaaayyy overrate Amber’s game – 16th is laughable for a player that many consider as the worst winner of the lot, and personally I still think that even at 20, Jenna is a bit too high too. Like many, I fall into the camp that Amber’s win is really Rob’s victory. She doesn’t make it in that game without him.
    Jenna only gets the win because of her late immunity run, she was very much outplayed for most of her season but just put it together at the right time… Nothing wrong with that but she should be around the last few there.

    I haven’t watched Vanuatu or Guatemala for a while so I can’t be too harsh here but I reckon you really have put both Chris and Danielle up too high… I reckon all of Yule, Aras, and Earl should be above that pair.

    The one that really miffs me though is JT at 7 is way way overrated, and Parvati 6 is another shocker too. Parvati is all hype and when you really boil the moves and scenario down, she was lucky in Mircronesia, a joke in the Cook Islands… Her best season was HvsV and she didn’t even win that one. That being said, I can at least understand that you’re one of many that overrates her… JT on the other hand, I’ve never understood the love.
    He was the most boring, bland, non-move making player of the bunch… High teens at best.

    Credit where credit is due, I like your higher numbers. Spradlin is a respectable pick for number one, and a respectable top 6 or 7 should include Vlacos, Heidik, Sophie, Todd and Westman – though I think you have Tom a tad high at 2 (closer to 6 I reckon), props for the respect there. Very underrated player is big Tom.

  32. LUKE permalink
    August 23, 2016 12:03 pm

    In my opionion, Boston Ron should be first, Parvati second, Kim third, Tom fourth, and Amber fifth. Sophie should be last.

  33. September 9, 2016 5:06 pm

    Love that you gave Sophie credit, hate that you gave Tom so much credit. The only reason he won was intimidation, all the other contestants were too chicken to stand against him. He came off as entitled the moment he hit the beach. I think Tony was right where he should be on the list, he was made for this game. Overall I thought it was a solid list.

  34. April 29, 2017 6:55 am

    I really want an updated list, but here are some quick thoughts.
    I never can understand why people think Parvati is a better winner than Cochran. Cochran played a “perfect game”. Parvati wanted to go to the end against Cirie. Parvati had just as much as Cochran if not more so. I personally believe Russell is the reason Parvati made it to the end in HvV. She couldn’t do anything without his permission. Aside from the double idol play ( which is overrated in my book) she didn’t do anything except beat mediocre at best people in challenges..
    I can understand why someone would put Sophie in top 10, but top 5 is ridiculous to me. She had a terrible social game and would have lost to either Rick or Brandon Hantz, let that sink in.
    I assume Tony had recency biased when you made this. Tony dominated, but his game was very flawed. You criticize Cochran for relying on Dawn? How about Tony relying on Trish to clean up all of his messes?
    Amber was essentially the original Natalie W. so I can’t quite understand why she is so much higher. Then again she whooped all those All Stars so by Russell Hantz logic she is the best ever, that and the definition All Star means she’s the best of the best.
    Tyson gets too big of a bad rep for his stupid move in HvV. If you actually listen to his exit interviews you actually understand his logic. Tyson played a great game in Tocantians and would have won if not for the strategic mastermind Stephen, I think if he had made the merge he would have likely won HvV. His BvW performance was dominant especially for a new format for a season with new rules and strategy.
    Jenna came close to quitting, gave up immunity and had very little strategy and wasn’t especially well liked by people. She won the 2 challenges she needed to. Too high for my liking.
    The biggest sin on this list is Hatch. He had no shot in Allstars no matter what he did. Neither did Tina, Jenna, Ethan, Colby, or Rob Cesternino. Rich just had fun and didn’t try. He was the only one who didn’t take things to seriously and is the Hero of Allstars. IMO Rich belongs in his own category. No one he played with knew how to play and neither did he because there was no show to watch. Since then everyone has been able to base their games off previous players.

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  1. Ranking The Past 25 Survivor Winners From Worst To First | the from the block blog
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