Who should have won? (part two)

Oh, oh, the cast for Survivor 22: Redemption Island has been revealed sooner than I expected. So let’s finish that “who should have won” (brief) series so that we can get into full Redemption Island mode after that.

Where were we?

  • Guatemala: I must admit, I have very few memories of the Guatemala season. I guess it has to do with the fact that it was broadcast when I left the US, so I’m not even sure I saw all of it. I remember that my favorite was Rafe Judkins, but I can’t tell whether he or Stephenie Lagrossa or Danni Boatwright should have won. Sorry.


  • Panama, Exile Island: Mmm… Well, I don’t think Aras Baskauskas deserved to win that one. When people talk about unmemorable winners, they often mention Vecepia. Do you know why they don’t mention Aras? Because they all have forgotten about him. And not only he was the most unmemorable winner of all, but there were much better players in his season. And no, I don’t mean Terry Deitz (to this day, I’m sure he’s convinced that being a good Survivor player means being the most athletic and the most self-righteous (and having an idol that doesn’t need to be hidden, seeing the rules that were in effect at the time)). What I mean, is that the best player that season was Cirie Fields and anybody who disagree with that is a fool. Also, I’m sad that Bobby “Bobdawg” Mason didn’t do better. While he was not impressive on the show (but the editing may have a role to play with that), I’m sure that he would have been terrific had he had a chance to really play the game from what I’ve seen from him ever since (he may be one of the smartest and funniest people that ever played Survivor). If there ever is a “second chance” edition, he’d better be cast.
  • Cook Islands: That’s an easy one: Yul Kwon won and nobody else played better than him as he’s simply one of the best players ever (I really hope he comes back on a future All-Stars although I highly doubt it).
  • Fiji: Ah! The infamous Fiji season… Infamous? Yes. Unmemorable? Sort of. Terrible Twist? Yeah. Earl Cole a forgettable winner? I don’t think so. Actually, he played a very solid game, and a very strategic one, especially for somebody that had never really watched the show before (it is my understanding that he had never watched Survivor before being cast, but maybe I’m wrong). Of course, the best player that season was Yau-Man Chan, except for that one stupid move he made. Why on Earth made him think that he could even remotely trust a single word Dreamz says? It’s still a mystery to me. Also, I want to mention Michelle Yi. While I don’t think she would have won, her social game was awesome, and I definitely think she got screwed over by a lame twist (and I hate when people are screwed, not because they messed up but because of a ill-timed and/or lame twist).
  • China: I don’t think that Todd Herzog gets enough credit for his gameplay in China. It was tough season with lots of players that knew how to play and Todd dominated them from the beginning. In my mind he is one of the best players ever, up there with Richard Hatch, Yul Kwon, Parvati Shallow and a few more, but for some reason it seems that he never gets mentioned among those. I wonder why… Or maybe I am biased, because if I ever was going to play Survivor (which I won’t as I’m not an American citizen) I would have used Todd’s strategy from A to Z. I remember watching that season and being amazed to make the exact moves I thought I would make in his situation. It’s the first and last time it happened in 21 seasons.
  • Micronesia: It would be hard to argue against Parvati Shallow as the best player that season, although, Cirie Fields and Natalie Bolton both deserve a nod. Cirie for making it this far and controlling a big part of the game despite being a known threat and Natalie for being so dominant among such seasoned players. The Fans Vs. Favorites concept, while a great concept, didn’t leave much chance to win for the Fans. Despite of that, Natalie played an as solid game as the best of the Favorites and she deserves to be on a future All-Stars.
  • Gabon: Well, it’s an easy choice, there was only one person that knew how to play the game during that season, and this is Ken HoangRandy Bailey would come second, but let’s face it, as much as I love the guy, his social game was too poor to stand a chance to win.
  • Tocantins: this is one of my favorite seasons! While I almost disliked everybody in Gabon, I just loved almost everybody in the Tocantins. That doesn’t mean that they all deserve to win though, and while the most awesome contestant ever was Tyson Apostol (because Tyson is awesome, period) his game play could have been a little better (I won’t even mention his Heroes Vs. Villains run). A lot of people think J.T. was the best and deserved to win, but I disagree. The real mastermind was Stephen Fishbach (but he kinda blew his final tribal council while J.T. was sneaky enough to put all the blame of his betrayals on Stephen) and I think he deserves a spot, right next to Rob Cesternino as “best player to never win the game”.
  • Samoa: That’s a tough one. It’s not Natalie White for sure. Russell Hantz? Well, while I despise his approach of the game, I need to recognize that it works to go to the end. However, with such a strategy he will never ever win. I say it again: Russell Hantz will never ever win Survivor! Survivor is not about getting to the final tribal council. It’s about getting there and getting those jury votes! He seems oblivious of that fact. So who deserved to win? Jaison Robinson? Maybe, but no… No, I’m stuck here. I really don’t know…
  • Heroes Vs. Villains: Well, it’s clear that both Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine played flawless games and both deserved to win. Who deserved it the most? Hard to tell, their gameplays are so different, they’re hard to compare. Although I kinda want to lean towards Parvati’s side, because it’s simply amazing she made it to the end with such a huge target on her back since before the season even started, but if there ever was going to be a tie on Survivor, it should be between the two of them.
  • Nicaragua: It’s a tough one too. I’m not saying that Jud “Fabio” Birza didn’t deserve to win, but his game play was so unusual that it’s hard to gauge. Yes, he successfully managed to be underestimated for most of the game, but several times he was kept out of the loop, which will play against him in this ranking. Runner ups are obviously Marty Piombo who got screwed by the switch (I think that without a switch, he would have gone much further and possibly win) and Brenda Lowe, although the fact that didn’t do anything when she knew she was the next to go, just hoping that Sash gives her his idol will play against her. So, congrats to Fabio, he showed us that new efficient strategies can exist on this game that always renews itself.
Do you agree with this list? Do not hesitate to comment…

4 Responses

  1. Grant Mattos says:

    I think Brett deserved to win win Samoa more than anyone. It was such a shame he didnt win that FTC. I have met him in person too and trust me he is an incredible human being. One of the nicest people ever. There is a reason he was in everyones Final 3 plans that season (I didnt even watch that season until my time on Redemption Island, but that is what it seemed).

    Natalie White or Russell would be the next choice. There really isnt anyone else. Mick seems like a nice guy but his game play was a joke. He was like an even weaker version of myself from RI minus any real physical prowess or challenge prowess as well, and I will concede I would have been a weak winner in my original season even though I would have had I reached the end. Jaison really didnt show any game play that I saw, and wasnt even good socially from what it looked like. Shambo and Fincher made a dumb flip which did nothing for them. The rest of Galu allowed themselves to be overthrown with an 8-4 advantage so no comment on them.

    While Yul deserved to win Cook Islands, Ozzy also played a phenomenal game. Best 2 people together in a finals ever probably. I dont think he is very interested in playing again unfortunately, since he is amazing. He also isnt the kind of player Jeff and company seem interested in for whatever reason.

    • David Billa says:

      – The problem with Brett in Samoa is that he was so invisible in his edit that I have nothing to judge how he actually played, but yeah, he came off as a very likable guy. Yes, I was a bit harsh on Natalie, she deserved her win too – I wrote that at a time I used to really focus solely on strategy and leaving the social aspect of the game aside a bit too much. However, I think this is the reason Russell didn’t deserve to win, he completely overlooked the fact that there is a jury at the end, for me that’s an unforgivable mistake.

      – Yes, I really want to see Yul play again, but I don’t think it will ever happen (then again, a year ago I’m pretty much sure I said at some point that I really wanted to see Jeff Varner play again and I didn’t think that would ever happen, so who knows?) And yeah, I think he’s a too cerebral player for Jeff.
      My problem with Ozzy, is that he bases everything in winning challenges, I don’t think he has much of a social or strategical side and his performances in his two other seasons kinda prove that.

      (on a side note, I hadn’t reread this post since pretty when I wrote it, and it’s funny that I wrote things like “if they ever do a Second Chance season” and elsewhere “Stephen Fishbach deserves a spot right next to Rob Cesternino” 🙂 )

      • Grant Mattos says:

        The thing is the editing from Samoa was horribly biased. While I don’t doubt Russell was the most strategic one of that season, I suspect the others- Brett included, did far more strategically than was shown. It is like how on my season the edit made it look like Rob was the only strategic one which wasn’t true at all. Myself and Ashley imparticular had a lot of imput into strategy which is one reason he didn’t take us to the end since both of us would have conveyed that to the jury, which Natalie and Phillip couldn’t since they truly had no input at all. However you would never know that from the edit.

        I see what you are saying. You really cant tell by the edit how much input into strategy he had. However I do know he had hands down the best social game, including even Natalie, he had F3s with everyone in Galu despite that he was the biggest jury threat. That is so hard. When I was the biggest jury threat of my 5 or 6 person alliance, I couldn’t get a single person to have me in their F3 due to that (I know that now in hindsight) so just imagining someone in a similar spot managing to have practically everyone on their tribe having you in that spot even though none would have been able to win against you. Foa Foa also liked him alot, demonstrated that they targetted the other Galus before him, despite that it should have been obvious he was their biggest threat. His challenge game was also the best of anyone, that run at the end to nearly make the final against all odds. I imagine had he been more appropriately edited he would be a lot like J.T, so strategic enough even if not the most.

        I would have been fine with either Russell or Natalie winning Samoa. Wouldn’t have complained with either (would have laughed at Mick winning though). The thing about Russell is yes he is very strategic and that part of his game is impressive but part of strategy is also getting to the end with people less liked or respected than yourself. If you are a bit of an asshole and not particular likeable you have to use your strategic prowess to maneuver yourself to the end with people who also aren’t likeable like Rob did on my season. Russell failed to do that, so that was a strategic fail in addition to his social failings in the game.

        I think Natalie was strategic in her own way. Russell thought he was using Natalie as his goat, but she was really using him as hers all along. Essentialy she duped him. She also was the one mostly responsible for the Erik boot and without that Foa Foa never have the numbers are just Pagoned off. She basically played the game Natalie Tenerelli tried to do on my season but did it many times better.

        So Brett IMO is the person who would have most deserved to win that season but I would have been fine with either Natalie or Russell as the winner. Russell was stupid to bring Natalie to the end instead of say Jaison though. That is all.

        • David Billa says:

          This has been my main gripe with Survivor in recent seasons (since Probst took over as showrunner? Or did I never noticed it before?), the fact that edit will render some contestants more or less invisible because they don’t fit the main narrative they want this season to have, even if they played a great game. Case in point Brett, as you’re showing once again.

          Concerning Russell and Natalie, you’re totally right, Russell is a goat, and he will never realize it.

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