Today’s Monday, which means there is a one hundred percent chance that we will be publishing a brand new feature article for your pleasure! Today is no different. Why mention percentages? Because today we are diving into statistics on Survivor! In this weeks feature, new Ozlet Alex Koch brings you his first article on Survivor Oz and it’s all about statistics! Alex introduces what he calls his ‘Survivor Stat Line’ to statistically look at the best five players in Survivor history! From Sonja Christopher to John Cochran, nobody is safe from statistical analysis. Read on as Alex explains discusses the role statistics play in Survivor and just whether you can solely rely on them to settle Survivor debates! Don’t forget to get involved by leaving your thoughts below.
We’ve all been there.
We have all been at the bar, or walking down the street, or sitting in class when we overhear two people argue about who the current best sports team is. These heated debates are often characterised by one person shouting meaningless statistics with the other person countering with even more meaningless statistics. Did you know there is a state in baseball called Range Factor that takes the total number of outfield assists and putouts, adding them together, and then dividing it by the number of innings? Sounds confusing right? Well this stat is presumably supposed to measure the amount of distance a player can travel in the field, and how effective he is at it.
What if the Survivor community had these kinds of arguments? Usually the number one debate amongst Survivor fans is that age old question of, “who is the best player to ever play the game?”
Usually the answer to this is met by a lot of opinion. Some people believe that the best players are the ones that win the game. Period. It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile; winning’s winning. Some people believe that the most brilliant strategists are the best to play the game. Another thought is that those who have the most brawn and survival skills are the best, because, let’s face it, the game is called Survivor.
But it all comes back to the same question, “who is the best player to ever play the game?” Well today I will be using what I call the ‘Survivor Stat Line’ to prove once and for all, who the best players in the game are.
First and foremost, I have to include a few disclaimers. Because of the nature of the game, some categories can be viewed differently in people’s mind. It’s easier to weight sports categories because of how important certain roles of the team are. For example, most forwards on a soccer team can be judged on how many goals they score, and most keepers can be judged by how many goals they save. Simple. But because Survivor is about many different things, one category cannot reign supreme like it does in sports. So with that being said, a bit of this is opinion based, but most of it is based off the stat lines.
The next disclaimer has to deal with the player pool. It is hard to compare players like Nate Gonzalez, who have only played once, to Ozzy Lusth, who have played multiple times. We just have more information on how Ozzy plays than to how Nate Plays. So for the pool of players, I will only be using winners, and those who have played more than one time, just so we have a better understanding of how these people play.
And finally, the last disclaimer is that I will be trying to find only the best player, not the worst. Reason being is because it is a lot easier to find a top five players, than a bottom five players. For example, who is a better player, Mary Sartain, or Francesca Hogi? They both played six days, have the same average finish, but Francesca, as we all know, got voted out first twice, where as Mary only got voted out once. Who is to say that Mary wouldn’t get the first boot the next time she played? You could also argue that Francesca would have done better if Phillip had not been on Caramoan. There is a lot to argue there, but very little statistical evidence to back up either point.
So without further ado, we shall dive into it!
Here is a breakdown of the fourteen categories that comprise my ‘Survivor Stat Line’.
Number of Seasons Played
The reason for having this category is mainly just to sort out returning players from non-returning players. Mind you I did all of these categories for all three hundred and ninety-five players, so that is why I found this useful.
The top castaway in this category is obviously Rob Mariano, as he is currently the only player to play four times. There are twelve other players who have played three times.
Number of Days Played
This number does not include the number of days spent on Redemption Island.
This category also belongs to Rob Mariano with 117 days spent on Survivor. The only other castaways to break 100 days are Parvati Shallow with 114, Amanda Kimmel with 108, and Rupert Boneham with an even 100 days played. All four of these castaways used three seasons to get to this amount. Sandra Diaz-Twine has the highest number of days played amongst two-time players, yet she sits twelfth on the total number of days played list.
This number includes the total number of starting players. For example, Aras Baskauskas’ placement is 1/16, where Sophie Clarke’s is 1/18
Obviously the best castaways in this category are all the winners. But who beat the most people to get to that point? John Cochran, Jud “Fabio” Birza, Natalie White, Parvati Shallow, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Tom Westman, and Yul Kwon are the players to win seasons with twenty players.
This number does not factor in the number of people started in a season, but is a very useful category to see how people compare. For example, who do you think has a higher average placement, Tom Buchanan or Amanda Kimmel? You would probably think Amanda, because of her second and third place finishes, however Tom has a higher average placement, because when you add Amanda’s ninth place finish in Heroes vs Villains, Tom’s fourth and fifth place finishes end up averaging out to be better than Amanda’s.
Again, the people who have the highest average finish are those who have won and only played one season. Fourteen winners have not played a second season. So with returning players, obviously the answer to highest average is Sandra Diaz-Twine, since she won both seasons she played. The next highest average finishes after Sandra are Parvati Shallow with an average of third, Amber Brkich with an average of third and a half and Danielle DiLorenzo, Tom Buchanan, and John Cochran all with an average placement of fourth and a half.
Total Votes Against
The “perfect season” has been achieved twice. This is where you do not receive a single vote in Tribal all season long, and then win by unanimous decision at the end. It would have happened a third time, had Rita Verreos not voted for Earl Cole in the third Tribal Council of Fiji.
Those two perfect seasons belong to John Cochran and J.T. Thomas. However, since both of those two played in another season where they received votes, they fail to sit amongst the top ten for least amount of votes ever received. In our player pool, that title belongs to Brian Heidik and Michael Skupin. The three people in our player pool to only receive one vote ever are Danni Boatwright, Earl Cole and Sandra Diaz-Twine.
These are votes cast by the person being eliminated. Example: The first ever person ever voted off of Survivor is Sonja Christopher. Since she voted for Rudy Boesch when her torch was snuffed, that vote is considered a throwaway vote.
This category really isn’t used to determine which player is the best, but it is still noteworthy when tallying up the number of times voted for. As stated before, Danni Boatwright, Earl Cole and Sandra Diaz-Twine are the only people in our pool of players to receive one vote. It is interesting to note that both Danni’s vote and Sandra’s vote were both throwaways. Lydia Morales voted for Danni in the Final Four vote before going home and Colby Donaldson voted for Sandra when he was sent home in fifth.
The leaders of this category are Phillip Sheppard with eight throwaway votes, followed by Jonathan Penner with seven and Jerri Manthey with six.
Number of Tribal Councils Visited
This stat can be viewed in one of two ways. One way is that it’s good to have a higher number of Tribal’s visited since it shows that you survived more votes. The other way of looking at it, is that it’s good to have a low number, to show that you and your team avoided going to get grilled by Jeff. Either way you look at it, you can still be impressed for those people that have been there a lot.
Note that sitting on a Jury does not count as being at a Tribal Council. This number does however include the Final Tribal Council.
The only three people to see more than thirty Tribal Councils are Parvati Shallow at thirty-two and both Rob Mariano and Amanda Kimmel with thirty-one each. Russell Hantz has sat at twenty-nine Tribal’s.
Number of Times Voted Out
Since being voted out is considered bad, it would only be fitting that having a low number of times have your torch snuffed is impressive.
The leaders of this category are obviously going to be the winners that have only played one season and you would be right. However, when you think about all the people who have played twice, how many of them do you think have never seen their torch snuffed? The answer is two. One is Sandra Diaz-Twine who won both seasons she played. The other is Michael Skupin. Since he was very famously medical evacuated in his first season, then came runner-up in his second season, he holds a very unique title, of never having won the game and also never have been voted out.
Fun Fact: Can you name the five people that have been voted out three or more times? One of those people has been voted out a Survivor record four times!
Answer: Cirie Fields, Jerri Manthey, Rupert Boneham and Andrea Boehlke. These are all people who have played two or three times, but have never been a part of a Final Two or Final Three, have never had to leave the game for medical reasons or quit the game. So then who has been voted out four times? Ozzy Lusth was voted out three whole times in South Pacific, and once in Micronesia.
Total Votes For
The only time in Survivor that you ever want to see your name written down is in the finale. This number will only apply to those who have sat in a Final Tribal Council, but it is still a noteworthy stat.
Sandra Diaz-Twine has seen her name twelve times and Rob Mariano has seen his eleven times for the million. Earl Cole falls just short of double digits with nine votes for.
Votes Canceled for Hidden Immunity Idols
I know that there are many ways to play an Idol. You can play one for yourself, you can play one for a buddy, or you can just wear it around your neck and hope nobody decides to flush it out. Not many people over the course of its existence have ever played an Idol, or had one played for them when looking at total number of votes against, this is a stat that does generate some thought.
Russell Hantz is known for how many Idols he has had in his back pocket. It is only fitting that he holds the record for this category with seven votes canceled.
This is the total number of times that the person a castaway has voted for has then gone home that Tribal Council.
Example: In Heroes vs. Villains, when Sugar was voted out first, everyone on the Heroes tribe got a correct vote, since everyone voted for Sugar.
So why then, is this stat necessary? It shows who controlled the game the most, or who was on the right side of the numbers the most.
Rob Mariano, Parvati Shallow, Amanda Kimmel and Russell Hantz all have voted correctly twenty-five times. The two others to break twenty are Cirie Fields and Stephanie LaGrossa with twenty each.
Now, if you think about it, a winner can never have all correct votes, since they cannot vote for themselves when they sit at the Final Tribal Council. If you have been voted out, you also miss a correct vote, since it was you who went home. In our pool, there are four players who have come close to a perfect correct vote’s record, only missing one. Those people are Susan Hawk and Russell Swan, both missing one when they got voted out and got removed due to illness or quit the other time they played. Todd Herzog and Brian Heidik went their entire seasons with perfect vote records, missing only their Final Tribal Council vote. So has there been anybody with a perfect correct vote’s record outside of our player pool? Yes! Five castaways have never had an incorrect vote. Those people are Kathy Sleckman, Colton Cumbie, Joe Dowdle, Osten Taylor and NaOnka Mixon. Notice what all of them have in common? They all have also never been voted out, hence why they all have perfect voting records.
This is where the athletic part of Survivor is factored in. Winning one individual challenge is impressive enough, let alone winning more than one. The reason I kept this category separate from my next category, is because some challenges are more of a popularity contest, rather than actual skill. The Reward Challenge in episode ten of Panama was such a challenge. Note that winning a group Reward Challenge during the individual portion of the game does not count toward this total.
The top three from this category are all castaways that many believe to be the best challenge beasts on Survivor. Rob Mariano has ten wins and Ozzy Lusth and Colby Donaldson have seven. In our pool of players, sixteen have never won an individual challenge. Most of those people are ones you wouldn’t think of challenge monsters. People like Natalie White, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper and Randy Bailey. But some notables from those sixteen to never have won a challenge are winners Earl Cole, Todd Herzog, Yul Kwon and Sandra Diaz-Twine. The biggest man to ever play Survivor, James Clement, has also never won an individual challenge.
Individual Immunity Idol Wins
This list is pretty similar to the previous list with Rob Mariano, Ozzy Lusth and Colby Donaldson at the top of the list with nine, seven and five Immunity wins respectively. Tom Westman has also won five Immunity Challenges to join in that company.
The last category is not really a statistical category, but rather a place for footnotes and important game play items. Stuff like if a player has quit or been removed due to injury or illness are listed in this category. Eight people in our pool have notes. Erik Reichenbach and Russell Swan have been eliminated due to illness. Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner and James Clement have been removed due to injury. Jenna Morasca and Susan Hawk have both quit. Bobby Jon Drinkard was never voted out in Palau, but rather lost a tie-breaker challenge to Stephenie LaGrossa when their tribe was down to two players.
So there you have it, the fourteen categories that comprise my ‘Survivor Stat Line!’ Hopefully I did a good enough job of showing how each category is important to determining who the best of all time is.
With that entire long, wordy article aside, there is still the final answer to the question to get to: Who is the best of all time? Now, like I said earlier, it is very difficult to weigh certain categories one way or another, so it is hard to create one formula the we can plug everyone into to come up with a final number; a ‘Survivor Stat Line Score’ if you will. The best I can offer you if my top five players based off all the information I have gathered in this whole Survivor Stat Line project. Agreeing and disagreeing is all part of debate, I merely offer to you the top five players using backed up, purely statistical evidence. I could write for hours on who I think the best player is, based off opinion. Richard Hatch is considered by many, (including me), one of the best players of all time, since he did it first. Yet, his stat line is not the best. Even when you take out his All-Star stats, he still wouldn’t crack the top five.
So here it is: The top five castaways of all time, based on my Survivor Stat Line:
5. Kim Spradlin
Let’s start this top five out with someone that is often under a lot of debate on whether or not she is a good player. Well let’s look at the stats! The first stat I would like to point out is her placement. She finished first in a season of eighteen players, meaning she beat seventeen other players. A feat that isn’t sometimes the most impressive, but when you look at the fact that ten seasons started with sixteen and another eight started with eighteen, she’s as good as or better than half of the winners, in that category. She has three votes ever cast against her, one being a throw away vote by Leif Manson and two being votes by Troyzan Robertson. While this number is actually on the high side for most winners, the majority of winners that have three or fewer votes cast against them, played in a second season, in which their number in this category went up. Another impressive stat is her votes for. Only seven winners have ever had seven or more votes cast for them on their winning season. In fact, only nine people ever have seven or more votes for when you include multiple seasons. Kim had more votes for in one season, than Sandra Diaz-Twine had in either of her winning seasons. While Kim had an Idol in her pocket, her stat for votes canceled doesn’t exist, since she never needed to play it. She also has five individual wins, which is tied for most of any winning season. The last stat I want to point out is her incorrect votes. The only two votes she missed were the vote where she sat at Final Tribal Council and the split vote in episode ten between Leif and Tarzan.
Kim was a hard person to put into my top five, with there being so many other great all around options. The top four were relatively easy to choose based off their line, but Kim took some self convincing. Perhaps when I finally develop a formula for all the castaways this number might change, but I can definitely still see her as being a top ten player no question.
4. Brian Heidik
Much like Kim, Brian is often a highly debated winner. The reason this might be is because he barely won his season with a final vote of four-three. Now, some people may view him as one of those villains that could have never won because they were too mean to people, but Brian still managed to pull it out. His stat line backs up a claim for why he is in the top five players of all time.
The biggest and most relevant stat that Brian boasts is his total votes against: zero. While Brian has only played once only one other player in our pool has never been voted for: Michael Skupin, who hasn’t ever won. In fact, if you look at every player to ever play this game, only thirteen people have never seen their name written down in a negative fashion. Want to know what the average placement of those other twelve players are? Just shy of twelfth place. Michael Skupin, Lisa Whelchel and Kelly Wiglesworth are the only players to ever reach a final and never been voted for. To play an entire career and never have been voted for is certainly an amazing feat. The other impressive stat that Brian has is his incorrect vote’s stat. Brian only ever missed one vote and that was the one where he sat at the Final Tribal Council. This shows that Brian was always in control of the game and always knew who was going home that night. With so many players always questioning the state of the game, this is a most impressive fact. The last thing to point out about Brian’s line is that he, like Kim, has won five individual challenges in one season.
3. Earl Cole
Most people bash Fiji for being a bad season. I don’t really see how you could considering the best male player to ever play the game was born from this season! Let’s take a look at how good Earl Cole actually is.
There are two things that make up a perfect season. The first is that you have to win by a unanimous decision. The second is that you never have your name written down to get voted out. Two people ever have done this: John Cochran, and J.T. Thomas. Both of these castaways have played a second season, in which their numbers diminish their stat line. Earl Cole came one vote shy of a perfect season. If Rita Verreos had not voted for Earl in episode three, then we would have had our first perfect season in Survivor history! Earl is also one of five winners to have never won a challenge. While this stat can actually be viewed as bad, it just goes to show that he never dodged a vote due to an Immunity Idol, since he also never played a hidden one. The only two votes that he missed were when he sat at the Final Tribal Council and when his alliance split the vote between Mookie and Alex. Earl also has the record for most votes to win the million in a single season. He is only beat in total votes for by Sandra and Boston Rob, who used multiple Final Tribal Council’s to get past Earl’s nine votes. There is not a single smudge on Earl’s win. He played a flawless game and his stat line shows it.
2. Parvati Shallow
We all knew she would be on here based off the fact that she won the Ozcar for best player of all time. However she falls just short of that same title on the stat line front. Even if you took out her Cook Island stats, she would still just be at number two. However, let’s look at all the records this lady holds.
First and foremost is her days played. She has spent a whopping one hundred and fourteen days on the island, which is second most of all time. Only Boston Rob has more days spent on our television screens, but he took four seasons to get to his number. Her average placement only gets beat out by those players in our pool to win the game and never play another season. She holds a Survivor record thirty-two times at Tribal Council, only to be voted out once. She has eight votes for, two votes canceled and five individual wins.
So why is she only in second with all these impressive stats? Well here are some of the negatives of Parvati. She has been voted for in the negative sense twelve times, which actually puts her in the top twenty-five most voted for players in our pool of seven. She’s been voted for more times than Russell Hantz has. Ouch. She is also the only player in our top five to have ever been voted out. While she has been to the most Tribal’s of all time, she also has the second most incorrect votes of any winner.
With all of this being said, both on the positive and negative end, how could she possibly be only second? I will admit, when I started this whole project I had no idea where Parvati was going to fit in, since she is such an interesting player. Based off of purely opinion, I can see how a lot of people would put her as the best player of all time.
1. Sandra Diaz-Twine
This was an easy choice for best player of all time. She won twice. There is literally no beating that. The sole fact that she has outlasted everyone in her two seasons is plenty enough for her to be crowned best player of all time. However, her stat line is just crazy good as well.
Want to know how many times Sandra has had her name written down in the negative way? Once. You know who that one person was? Colby. That one vote that Sandra has ever had came as a throwaway vote. Two seasons, two wins and in essence, no votes ever cast against her. The only time that she ever had votes thrown her way, she played an Idol to cancel those votes. And guess how many times she had an Immunity Necklace to save herself from a vote? Never. She’s among the top five for practically every stat category. Sandra Diaz-Twine is easily the best player of all time.
The one and only blemish on a near perfect stat line is her incorrect votes. Remember how I said that Parvati had the second most incorrect votes out of any winner? Well Sandra has the most. The way I can spin this into a good thing, is that even though she may not have always been in control of the game, she always found a way to come out of the game on top.
But going back to the positives, here is some more information that isn’t on the stat line that proves why she is the best player of all time. We have lived in two very distinct eras of Survivor; The Pre-Idol Era, and the Idol Era. She won a season that had Hidden Immunity Idols and one that did not. She won a season filled with nothing but new players and she won an All-Star season. “As long as it’s not me,” is now an official strategy to use, all thanks to Sandra.
So there you have it! We’re done! Well, hopefully not fully done with this topic, as if I ever find a working formula to put to good use, I’ll come back with another article and a list of everyone’s scores for all of you to enjoy! Feel free to ask questions or ask for specifics on stat lines and I’ll be sure to help you out!
Do you agree or disagree with Alex and his stat line? Leave your thoughts by commenting below!