Survivor Oz Top Ten is back for another week, with today’s entry coming from Ozlet Alex Koch. In every season of Survivor, we see contestants who dominate the game strategically or socially, but what about those who dominate the game physically? Below, Alex has listed ten of the top individual challenge threats in Survivor history; those who have secured victory in individual challenges on a number of occasions, and sometimes over multiple seasons. This challenge dominance has helped many Survivors get further in the game, and is often used as an argument to earn Jury votes at the very end. Do you agree with today’s list? Is there anyone else you can think of that deserves recognition? Read on and let us know your thoughts!
Take a walk down memory lane with me for a bit if you will. We all remember Cook Islands. What a good season that was right? You had the ultimate battle of ‘Brain vs. Brawn’. Yul was about to front the impossible comeback: down four tribe members to eight to claim the million dollar prize. While Yul was about to talk his way to the finals, it was his counterpart, Ozzy, that managed to secure all of the victories for his tiny tribe to make it to the Final Four. Yul eventually got the better of Ozzy in the memorable Final Tribal Council, perhaps proving that brain is always better than brawn.
Today, we will be looking at the brawn portion of Survivor, specifically tailored to those challenge beasts that have always found a way to win individual challenges. Now keep in mind that I am only looking at those people who have won a number of individual challenges, not team challenges. James Clement might be considered one of the all time greats when it comes to challenge threats, yet he didn’t win a single individual challenge. You may be a star, but if you can’t take home the victory when it matters, it’s all for not.
So here you go, the Top Ten Biggest Individual Challenge Threats!
10. John Cochran – South Pacific & Caramoan
Okay I admit it, this first pick might be a tad bit gimmicky, but let’s take a look at the challenges he won and see if it really was worth the spot on this list. He won four individual challenges in Caramoan, three of which were Immunity. His first win came in the form of a heads up eating duel with Malcolm Freberg, who many consider a dominant challenge threat. He then went on to outlast Eddie Fox in a challenge of strength. Sure, Cochran might have had that one knot advantage, but even with all of his fireman muscles bulging out, Cochran still got the best of him. The last two challenges he won came at crucial moments, being the last two challenges. He won all types of challenges, and certainly deserves a spot on the list.
9. Fabio Birza – Nicaragua
Fabio has shown all aspects of his Survivor challenge dominance in all four of his Immunity Idol wins. The first challenge he won showed how strong he was in terms of upper body strength. He then displayed his focus and memorization skills in a blindfolded challenge. He also had a come from behind puzzle challenge to prove that he can solve puzzles as well. He then won the Final Immunity Challenge to earn a spot at the Final Tribal Council, as well as a spot on this list.
8. Bob Crowley – Gabon
In the seventeenth season of Survivor, there were only eight challenges after the Merge. Bob won five of those challenges in style. After not winning either of the first two challenges, Bob was sent to Exile Island, where presumably he would be weaker for challenges. This did not affect him at all, however, as he went on to win five challenges in a row, only to fall short to Susie in the Final Immunity Challenge in a card stacking competition. Granted, two of those five wins were based off throwing something, but hey, he still was able to show us endurance in a classic Survivor style maze!
7. Kim Spradlin – One World
Another all around challenge threat, Kim comes in as the highest and only female on this list. She is another player to win every type of Individual Immunity Challenge. From throwing rings, to concentrating on having a steady hand, and from holding on with upper body strength, to staying in tune with the rest of her tribe. She easily claimed victory in the challenges she won, and it was a surprise she didn’t win more. If she ever returns to play another season, she will most certainly be a target going into a Merge situation, as you don’t want this double threat winning Immunity countless times.
6. Erik Reichenbach – Micronesia & Caramoan
This scrawny ice cream scooper proved to everyone in Micronesia that it wasn’t Ozzy, it wasn’t James, and it wasn’t Jason that deserved the attention of the Black Widow Brigade, but rather Erik. While many remember him for his dumb move that might have cost him the game, he still won a good amount of challenges, taking home four individual wins in the first Fans Vs. Favorites, and one in the second Fans Vs. Favorites. His first Immunity was a clutch performance that caused the blindside of James. After that, he won three of the next four challenges, only to have it all for not when he gave up his Immunity necklace. If it weren’t for that, he very well could have been sitting in that Final Tribal Council.
5. Tom Westman – Palau & Heroes Vs. Villains
We now move on to the more obvious picks of this list. The top five listed here were pretty much auto picks. Who better to kick off this half of the list than Tom Westman. Paying respects to the sixth season, Tom’s first win came in one of those classic “see who can stand there longer” challenges, in which he outlasted all of Jeff’s temptations. He did the same in the very next Immunity Challenge. His battle with Ian was very real, and it came down to a class, eleven-hour marathon challenge that every Survivor fan remembers as one of the greats. Tom was an easy inclusion on this list for that reason alone.
4. Colby Donaldson – The Australian Outback, All-Stars & Heroes Vs. Villains
Colby was the original Survivor threat. He won five Immunity Challenges in a row to close out the game and earn himself a spot in the Final Tribal Council. If Ozzy was the brawn to Yul’s brain, then Colby was the brawn to Richard Hatch’s brain. We got to see both styles of play make it to the finals in the first two seasons, but once again with the brawn falling short. Colby didn’t make much of a challenge splash during his returning seasons, but he still will forever go down as one of the greats.
3. Ozzy Lusth – Cook Islands, Micronesia & South Pacific
Ah, at last, we finally get to a guy that I have mentioned multiple times in this article! Ozzy can beat you at any challenge period. He was a big reason why his little group of four made it so far in the Cook Islands. This massive threat gave his tribe the confidence to pull off a very unique move in South Pacific that probably could not have been done with any other player. While he failed to take home an individual challenge in Micronesia, he wore the necklace five times in Cook Islands, and twice in South Pacific. His main strong suit is easily swimming and agility challenges, in which nobody else in the Survivor world even comes close to challenging. It is odd to not think of him as the number one challenge threat, but when you look at the next two guys, you can see why the top three players are all people you don’t want to go up against.
2. Terry Deitz – Panama
What’s better than the One World girls vs. Troyzan? Tom vs. Ian? What’s better than Tom vs. Ian? Terry Deitz vs. Aras Baskauskas. This man took the idea of winning to get to the end and really put it to good use. Sure he didn’t win in the end, but think about it, this dude had a Hidden Immunity, but played like he didn’t have one. Aras is probably one of the most athletic winners ever, and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with when the Merge comes in this season of Blood Vs. Water. If only the final challenge in Panama was more suited to Terry, he might have walked away with the million. If this game ever decides to bring Terry back, there is no way anyone would take him to the Merge.
1. Rob Mariano – Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes Vs. Villains & Redemption Island
Was there really any question? Boston Rob is one of the fastest, strongest and most agile people to ever play Survivor. Add a mind for puzzles on top of that and enough strategy to make it to the finals twice, you really have someone that is a lock to get at least a handful of individual Immunities before the season is up. He has won all sorts of challenges as well, in multiple eras of Survivor, which only adds to his versatility as a challenge threat. This choice was an easy lock for number one, and part of the reason that I decided to write this list.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!