It’s Wednesday, which means another Survivor Oz Top Ten is coming your way! This week, Ozlet Rileigh Marshall counts down ten of the biggest triple threats to have ever played Survivor. We all know that there are three core aspects to the game of Survivor: strategy, social game and physical ability. A triple threat is that rare player who excels in not one, not two, but all three of these aspects. We have seen a number of triple threats emerge over the years, but which of them has played the best game overall? You’ll have to read on to find out, and make sure you leave your comments in the space below!
Outwit, outplay, outlast. These are the three words that represent Survivor. They also represent the three pillars that make up basic Survivor game play: strategic game, social game and physical game. Strength in all three aspects is not necessary to win Survivor. Take, for example, two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine. Her physical game may be considered to be one of the worst in Survivor history, having sat out of countless challenges and never winning a single individual Immunity over her two seasons; however, she is still considered by many to be the greatest player of all time. Nonetheless, there are those rare few Survivors who have demonstrated strength across the board. These players are known as “triple threats”. But who has played the best all-round game over all twenty-seven seasons of Survivor? Although there are a number of constants who didn’t go on to win that could still be described as triple threats (e.g. Malcolm, Amanda, Lex), I consider those that have won the game to be the most deserving of a spot on this list. Here are ten of the best all-round winners, whose Survivor games epitomise the meaning of outwit, outplay and outlast.
10. Aras Baskauskas – Panama & Blood Vs. Water
Aras may not be considered to be one of the greatest ever Survivor winners, but there is no arguing that he played a solid all-round game in Panama and is demonstrating similar potential as a triple threat in this season of Blood Vs. Water. His physical and social ability is obvious, as he has proven to be a dominant force in challenges and a well-liked tribe member and leader around camp. Although his strategic game may have been overshadowed by Cirie’s in Panama, he always seemed to be in a position of control, staying cool, calm and collected amidst the constant dysfunction of the Casaya tribe. Until recently, this strategy appeared to be working well in his current season of Blood Vs. Water, in which he once again found himself at the forefront of making decisions within a strong majority alliance. However, he was soon targeted as a threat and unfortunately voted out. Only time will tell whether he will be able to get himself back into the game and potentially make it all the way to the end for a second time.
9. Danni Boatwright – Guatemala
Again, like Aras, Danni often goes unrecognised as a deserving winner of Survivor, but she is one of the most underrated winners in terms of playing a really well-rounded game. Danni was the underdog of the season, using an under-the-radar strategy to move herself further in the game. Though her moves were subtle, they were effective. She formed connections and gained the trust of people in positions of power, and she was not afraid to cut them loose when the time was right, as was the case with Gary and Rafe. She was a strong physical competitor, but managed to remain a non-threat until the later stages of the game when winning Immunity was crucial. She was also great social player, reflected in her 6-1 win against Stephenie. With her subtle strategic mind, physical prowess and excellent social ability, Danni can definitely be regarded as a triple threat and would be someone to look out for if she was brought back for a second season.
8. John Cochran – South Pacific & Caramoan
Although his first game in the South Pacific left much to be desired, Cochran turned it up a notch in Caramoan to show just how much a student of the game he really is. He dominated the game strategically, socially and physically – okay, the word physically is a bit of a stretch, but winning a total of four individual challenges whilst up against the likes of the three strong Amigos is an impressive feat in itself, and certainly qualifies him as a triple threat in my eyes. Sure, he had advantages for two of these challenges, but an advantage does not always guarantee a win (take Malcolm in Survivor: Philippines for example). Where Cochran really excelled, however, was in his social and strategic game. Socially, Cochran considered himself to be awkward and anxious, but he ultimately found himself in the role of “therapist” on the emotional islands of Caramoan, particularly to his closest ally Dawn. His self-depreciating humour also worked a charm on his fellow tribe mates, and his story-telling ability and absolute love for the game helped him secure a unanimous victory at the Final Tribal Council. Finally, Cochran’s strategic game was masterful, playing second-in-command to the outspoken leader, Phillip, whilst letting Dawn build and subsequently burn relationships, allowing them to take the heat while he sat comfortably in the control position. Cochran accredited his success to timing, knowing when to take out the threats before the threats took out him. With these accomplishments, and no votes cast against him during the season, Cochran truly played a perfect game.
7. J.T. Thomas – Tocantins & Heroes Vs. Villains
Another winner who played a perfect game, but on their first try rather than their second, was J.T. Not only did he dominate in challenges, but he also played a brilliant social and strategic game. Despite being a huge threat from the beginning, he managed to get away with it due to his Southern charm and natural charisma. He was well-liked and trusted by his tribe mates, and he formed a strong bond with Stephen, whom he would strategize with constantly throughout the game. Although he came into the Merge without the numbers, he managed to form the “Warrior Alliance” as a guise to unify the strong contestants and avoid being picked off by the majority Timbera members. He eventually turned on this alliance but stayed true to his partnership with Stephen, and he ultimately took control of the end-game after winning consecutive Immunities and securing his place in the finals. It was an easy vote for the Jury at the end. Even though J.T.’s game was already highly respected, his stellar Final Tribal Council performance, including purposefully playing up his emotions to make Stephen look like the bad guy, almost guaranteed him a unanimous win. This, and the fact that he never received a vote against him during the season, is a testament to J.T.’s status as a triple threat and his extraordinarily well-rounded game in Tocantins.
6. Rob Mariano – Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes Vs. Villains & Redemption Island
Boston Rob has always had the triple threat potential. In All-Stars, he had the physical ability and strategy, but let himself down socially. In Heroes Vs. Villains, he had the social and physical game, but his strategy fell short at the hand of Russell. He finally got it right in Redemption Island, and although it took him four tries, Boston Rob truly showed us the meaning of outwit, outplay and outlast in one of the most dominant all-round games ever seen. Despite coming into the game as a returning player with an immediate target on his back, Rob made himself an asset to his tribe by working hard around camp, performing well in challenges, and making strong alliances with his tribe mates. He asserted himself as a leader and took control of the game from day one, developing an almost cult-like following from his alliance, who looked up to him as an experienced veteran of the game. They all believed he could take them to the end, and, of course, he used this to his full advantage. His strategic game was incredible to watch, from organising “beach days” so that he could look for the Hidden Immunity Idol, to implementing the “buddy system” to avoid unwanted conversations from happening in his absence. He mastered all aspects of the game and made it seem easy, and although his win could be predicted a mile away, there is no denying how deserving he was of finally earning the title of Sole Survivor and the recognition as a triple threat.
5. Brian Heidik – Thailand
It is unfortunate that Brian’s win in Thailand is often overlooked due to the season being poorly received, because he happened to have played one of the best all-round games in Survivor history. When it comes to triple threats, Brian was one of the first. Although his social game could have been stronger – bonding with the remaining members of Sook Jai may have secured him more votes at the Final Tribal Council – the total control he had over the Chuay Gahn members, all of whom believed they had a Final Two alliance with him, speaks for itself. Post-game interviews reveal just how different the Brian they had come to know on the island was from the Brian in real life, demonstrating his extraordinary manipulative ability and determination to “fake it to make it”, as they say. The fact that he was able to gain the utmost trust of his fellow tribe members, despite them knowing his occupation as a used car salesman, also highlights his superlative social ability in the game. He was a strong competitor in challenges, winning the last three Immunities in a row, and was a solid worker around camp, which helped his case at the Final Tribal Council opposite the notoriously lazy Clay. Strategically, Brian’s multiple alliances allowed him to keep his options open and ultimately left him in control of the end-game as he saw fit; though to further his credit, he never made this outright control apparent to his fellow tribe mates. His decision to take Clay to the end as a “goat” was unprecedented and has been adopted as a commonplace strategy in subsequent seasons, as a way of tilting the odds at the Final Tribal Council. For these reasons, Brian can definitely be regarded as not only a triple threat, but as one of the top players ever to win Survivor.
4. Yul Kwon – Cook Islands
Yul is another triple threat whose game is often underappreciated. He was a physical force from the start in the Cook Islands, though competing next to Ozzy may have made this less apparent. Socially, he was able to form genuine bonds and remain loyal to the members of his alliance, but he was also extremely articulate and persuasive, which helped him to pull off key moves in the game, such as convincing Jonathon to vote with the Aitu Four against his original tribe members. Yul is also considered by many to be one of the smartest strategic minds to have played Survivor. He was viewed as the puppet master, as he was essentially in control throughout the entire game. The Hidden Immunity Idol was certainly instrumental to his success, but principally because of the manner in which he used it; that is, by making it known to his fellow competitors and thus using it as a tool to intimidate them and deter votes away from himself. It ultimately secured his place in the finals alongside his long-term allies, Becky and Ozzy. He played one of the cleanest games ever, as all of his decisions were made based on logic and calculated risk, allowing him to avoid bitterness from the Jury. These factors combined explain why Yul was able to claim victory over an extremely tough competitor, Ozzy, and highlights why his all-round game was one of the best the show has ever seen.
3. Tom Westman – Palau & Heroes Vs. Villains
When you think of the term triple threat, how can you not think of Tom Westman? Not only did he play one of the best physical games ever in his first season in Palau, but he also played an excellent social and strategic game and is still regarded as one of the most likeable winners in Survivor history. Abandoning his initial strategy of hiding his physical strength from his tribe mates, he was forced to compete to his full potential after finding himself on an altogether weaker tribe. As a result, he became the inadvertent leader of what is arguably the most successful tribe ever to be seen in Survivor. Although this exposed him as a huge threat, he solidified a strong majority alliance, as well as a sub-alliance with Ian and Katie, and this secured him in a position of power within the tribe. After the Merge, knowing he could be a target if he didn’t win Immunity, he decided to turn on his biggest competition, Gregg, before Gregg turned on him. He went on to win five out of seven Individual Immunities, including the Final Immunity Challenge, which lasted for nearly twelve hours. Not only did Tom play a fantastic all-round game, he managed to play it with a sense of honesty and integrity, an extremely difficult feat in Survivor, and this earned him immense respect from the Jury who ultimately decided that he was most deserving of the title and million dollar prize that goes with it.
2. Parvati Shallow – Cook Islands, Micronesia & Heroes Vs. Villains
After showing minimal strategy in the Cook Islands, Parvati surprised everyone when she played two of the best all-rounded games in Micronesia and Heroes Vs. Villains, proving that she was so much more than just a “flirt”. One thing that separates Parvati from others on this list is the fact that she was a target from day one in her second and third seasons, yet she still managed to make it all the way to the end both times; a testament to her incredible aptitude for the game. Socially, Parvati is a force to be reckoned with, using her undeniable charm and looks to win over allies and advance herself further in the game. Her strategic play definitely improved after the Cook Islands and she wasn’t afraid to make big moves in order to gain control, from blindsiding Ozzy and leading an all-female alliance in Micronesia, to handing out two Hidden Immunity Idols to her “villainesses” in Heroes Vs. Villains and blindsiding one of the biggest threats in the game, J.T. She is also one of the physically strongest female contestants to have played Survivor, competing well in challenges and winning a handful of Immunities over her Survivor run. Just a few votes away from being a two-time winner, Parvati is indisputably a triple threat and it comes as no surprise that she was voted the greatest player of all time in this year’s Survivor Oz ‘Ozcars’.
1. Kim Spradlin – One World
Personally, I don’t believe any Survivor contestant has encompassed the qualities of a triple threat to the extent that Kim Spradlin did in One World. Though everyone on this list displayed strength in the three main aspects of the game – physical, social and strategic – I think Kim is the only one who seemed to be equally strong in all three. She played her season like she was a veteran of the game, even though it was only her first try. Her social game was impeccable. She was able to gain the trust of not only her tribe of women, but also the men after the Tribe Switch. This allowed her to exploit her fellow castaways and control the game as she saw fit; for example, manipulating Troyzan into voting for Michael and enabling the women to take the majority after the Merge. She was careful to never assert her dominance and avoided any involvement in conflict (an impressive feat considering the amount seen this season), which facilitated her coming across as the voice of reason and a source of guidance to her tribe mates. In terms of her physical game, she owned the Immunity challenges, winning four in total, which is the record for most Immunity wins in a single season by a female competitor (this record is also held by Kelly Wigglesworth and Jenna Morasca). Last but not least, Kim was a master strategist, who constantly planned several steps ahead and ensured that she had back-up plans in place; for example, forming a second alliance with Jay, Troyzan and Michael in case her original women’s alliance fell through. She was calculating and logical, weighing up her options and choosing the best one for her game, even if it meant blindsiding a friend, such as with Jay and Kat. She took responsibility for her actions at the end of the game and was respected for it by the majority of the Jury. Her game play was so flawless that she didn’t even have to rely on taking “goats” to the end, and took instead the people who she had been most loyal to since the start of the game. So there you have it, the best of the best, the top triple threat in Survivor history.
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!