Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Missed Opportunities


Top 10s are back for another Wednesday and this week Ozlet Nick runs through some of the bigger 'what could have been' in the game of Survivor as castaways who had the power to make game changing moves but for whatever reason, ultimately didn't act. Some of these missed opportunities may not have played out directly onscreen but ultimately hindered their chances to make it further in the game. Get ready for a trip down memory lane once again with your Wednesday discussion point!

Discussions about the biggest “dumb moves” in Survivor normally focus in on a few popular candidates. Erik giving up immunity in Micronesia, JT giving Russell his idol, Tyson voting himself out in Heroes vs Villains. Often forgotten are more subtle moments where the game could have gone in a completely different direction, but players made a decision that ended up being costly. Here are ten of the biggest missed opportunities in Survivor history, some of which you may not even remember.

10. Malcolm fails to keep Denise happy – Philippines


Malcolm played a pretty good game in Philippines, but he certainly made his fair share of mistakes along the way too. In his first game, his last mistake was arguably the biggest and was certainly fatal to his game. At the final four, Denise approached Malcolm to check their alliance was still tight. Malcolm, who had been planning to vote Denise out, gave a very noncommittal answer that didn’t exactly put her mind at ease. Unsurprisingly, Denise used this opportunity to go to Lisa and Skupin and offer to vote with them to get rid of Malcolm at the next vote. This put Malcolm in the difficult position of having to win the final immunity challenge to stay in the game, somewhere you ideally never want to be. When Malcolm did lose, he found himself out of the game, with his ally sitting pretty to win it all. We don’t know for sure that Denise would have gone with Malcolm if he had been more convincing to her, but assuming she had, this would have resulted in a 2-2 tie with Lisa (as Skupin had immunity). This would mean Malcolm just had to beat Lisa in a fire making contest to remain in the game, and probably win it the following night. In hindsight, this seems a very costly mistake.

9. Savaii didn’t calm Cochran’s nerves – South Pacific


The Cochran flip was endlessly debated at the time but has now pretty much been consigned to history as a massive blunder on Cochran’s part. It’s hard to argue against this, but this still doesn’t detract from the fact that his Savaii tribe mates didn’t exactly make him feel secure. After playing nearly 3 weeks of Survivor with him, one thing they should have known was that he was a very insecure person, and the prospect of going into a tied vote and drawing rocks was not appealing to him. And to add further context; just two days before, after costing them the challenge, they had all openly told him he would be voted out, before Ozzy’s decision to send himself to Redemption Island.

A bit more careful management of Cochran may have made him feel more secure. Dawn even knew he was planning to flip. Did Jim fully explain his plans to take Cochran to the end? Did Ozzy offer up either his immunity necklace or hidden idol? Not to mention that Savaii’s big plan to infiltrate Upolu was to send their most nervous player and one most likely to flip in to be their “double agent”. So yes, Cochran is to blame for flipping and effectively throwing his game away. But his tribe made this decision relatively easy for him as well, and cost themselves the million dollars in the process.

8. Brandon votes Kelly out – Africa


An older but no less interesting move, Brandon effectively threw his game away by not being prepared to temporarily align with someone he didn’t like. At the final nine, the ex-Samburu members of T-Bird, Frank and Kim are ready to join with Kelly to vote as a block to get rid of Lex. Brandon only had to join with them and they could have got the biggest strategic and physical threat out of the game. Brandon would have been sitting pretty in a majority of five, and had options of what to do next. Presuming he stuck with this group, it seems likely he, Kim and Kelly would have stuck together to the final 3, with him and Kelly most likely to take each other to the end. Sitting next to Kelly with an angry jury full of ex-Boran players would have been a good prospect to win.

Even if he didn’t choose to stick with this alliance long term, going into the final 8 with a majority and options would have allowed Brandon to take the game any way he wanted. Instead, he couldn’t stomach working with Frank and helped Lex get rid of Kelly. His reward? Lex’s alliance decided to gang up on Brandon and vote him out next. Perhaps he should have stuck with the devil he knew.

7. Penner doesn’t accept Lisa’s offer – Philippines


The second Philippines entrant on the list is one of the most painful for any Penner fan. After fighting tooth and nail to stay in the game, Penner finally found himself in a good position at the final 8. Lisa approached him and asked if he wanted to make a final three deal with her and Skupin, which he strangely turned down. Determined to not come off as playing too aggressively (a label aimed at him in previous games),

Penner wanted to let the larger alliance finish picking off those left outside before thinking of any end-game combinations. Unfortunately, others were not thinking this way and Lisa’s offer went unanswered, causing her to turn to Denise and Malcolm instead. Penner later said that he couldn’t simply pretend to accept and then think on it as he was really trying to play an honest game and not be seen as duplicitous. Unfortunately this honest gameplay cost him and he was destined for another final 7 exit.

6. Kathy helps to vote out the General – Marquesas


Another move that may easily be forgotten, but at the final 6 in the Marquesas, Kathy pondered the option of joining with the General, Sean and Vecepia and getting rid of Paschal and Neleh. There were clear risks with this plan which ultimately meant she didn’t pursue it. Had the General gone on an immunity run and made the final 2, he would have won. Voting her closes allies out would also have probably meant Paschal and Neleh didn’t vote for her in the end. And given Kathy’s third place finish, it may seem silly to quibble over her decision.

But the moment she voted out the General, Kathy effectively had no way to win the game. She was locked into being the swing vote at final 5, then probably needing to win immunity to get to the final 2. This proved to be an impossible task, but probably would have been regardless of her choices from there on out. If she had gone to the final 5 with say Sean, Vecepia, the General and Paschal, she could have taken out either Sean or Vee and left a bunch of single, non-attached players at the end which would give her more options.  Kathy is a great player and therefore anything that doesn’t lead to her winning should be considered a missed opportunity.

5. Ciera sides with the veterans – Blood vs Water


In a classic case of why new players shouldn’t be playing with veterans, Ciera, having just voted her mother out, found herself in a tribe with three veterans and three new players. The choice should have been obvious; team up with the newbies and ride that to a final four, where Ciera would have been a non-threat to win a challenge and almost certainly make it to the final three, with her mother on the jury to champion her cause.

Instead she chose to go with Tyson, Gervase and Monica in a move clearly against her best interest. Credit has to be given to Tyson for getting Ciera to make this move, but it’s still hard to watch her hand the game to him. To be fair, she realised her mistake at the next tribal council, taking the game to a rock draw, but it was all in vain and too late by that stage. The damage was done.

4. Caryn Declines a Woman’s Alliance – Palau


In a strikingly similar move, Caryn found herself in a final seven with Tom unprotected by individual immunity. Katie, Jenn and Steph put the offer out for an all-female alliance and get rid of Tom before it was too late. Caryn obviously believed her chances were better with the three men, as she turned down what seemed a great move for her. Not only were Tom, Ian and Gregg huge challenge threats, they were also likeable and more respected than her.

As Tom proved a few days later (after voting Karen out at the final five), going to the end with Katie should have been everyone’s move. She was an easy beat. Katie said the plan couldn’t work because “Caryn sucks” and although it’s a pretty blunt way of saying it; her point seems pretty valid in retrospect. Whatever Caryn’s rationale was, it’s hard to understand.

3. Lisa votes out Abi Maria – Philippines


Another forgotten move that isn’t really considered as a strategic mistake or missed opportunity, but one that quite possibly cost Lisa a million dollars. At the final 5, Lisa is in a 4 person alliance with Skupin and the very likeable Malcolm and Denise. It should be obvious that any chance she has to win the game has to be by eliminating both Denise and Malcolm before the final three. If either of them makes it to that point, they will win, against any combination of the three remaining ex-Tandang members. Lisa should have been convincing Skupin to vote with her and Abi Maria to take out Denise. Then the three of them could concentrate on getting rid of Malcolm at the final four. I can see reasons why she didn’t do this. The relationship between Abi Maria and Skupin was so fractured that the idea of them working together on a vote may have just been impossible. There is also a very good chance that Abi Maria may have picked up more votes than expected at the end (definitely Pete and Artis, and maybe others). However big a threat this actually was, it was still better than the alternative, which ended up as a final three with either Malcolm or Denise, who obviously ended up winning handily. A final three of Lisa, Skupin and Abi Maria would most likely see Lisa pick up 5-6 votes to win. Lisa is remembered as overly weepy and emotional, but she actually was prepared to make moves to advance her own game. It’s a shame she couldn’t make the one that would have ultimately enabled her to win it all.

2. Christy fails to keep Rob happy – Amazon


A Survivor classic, Christy’s indecision at the final 6 in the Amazon ultimately led her from being in “the driver seat” to being kicked to the curb in no time flat. Christy should have learned by day 33 that leaving Rob with an unclear response was not a good idea. When he came to her and asked if she was down with the plan to vote Heidi off, her nonchalant “I guess” was never going to be enough to appease someone of his level of Survivor skill, and paranoia. Rob quickly turned the game around on Christy and used her own enemies against her to send her home in an incredible blindside. As Rob said at the reunion, all Christie had to say was “Rob, I’m in” and he would have been with her. She didn’t even have to mean it. But the power seemingly went to her head and her lapse in judgment gave Rob all the ammunition he needed to send the game in another direction.

1. Woo takes Tony to the end and loses – Cagayan


The latest but most insane missed opportunity, Woo chose to throw away certain victory over Kass in the final 2 to take Tony to the end and lose in an 8-1 vote. Tony clearly did a great job convincing Woo not to flip, but it should have been obvious to Woo that there was no way he could lose sitting next to Kass. She was disrespected by most of the jury, but Woo let his loyalty and desire to go up against the best blind him. This wasn’t a coin flip – one way was a clear win, the other an uncertain one at best. It goes without saying that Survivor is not just a strategic game – it has personal and emotional elements too, and Woo let himself get sucked in to this element right when it was most important to resist them.

Having backstabbed a number of other people in the game, it made little sense to not finish the job, especially when the alternative was someone less likeable than him. All the jury cares about is voting for the person they feel most comfortable winning at the end. They don’t need to see the best two players up against each other, it makes no difference. Whilst Woo isn’t the first person to make a decidedly questionable move at the final 3, his is easily the most baffling in the context, and it directly cost him $900,000.

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!



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24 Comments on Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Missed Opportunities

  1. Great list. Just wondering why Woo is number one but no mention of Colby?

    • I think it’s because Colby had a chance against Tina but Woo had zero chance against Tony

    • My thoughts exactly

    • If Woo had no chance, then why can I read: “one way was a clear win, the other an uncertain one at best.”???

      I completely agree with Jimmy: If there is Woo, then there should be Colby.

    • My guess is that Colby knew he wasn’t going to beat Tina and was okay with that. Sure, in terms of trying to win it’s stupid, but Colby had no problem taking 2nd place and seeing his friend win a million while Woo seemed convinced he was going to take first regardless of who he went up against despite the answer being clear as day.

  2. What about in Gabon when the Onion Alliance split the vote between Dan and Suzie eventually causing her to flip changing the entire course of the game?

    • I don’t understand the Kathy entry?!? Is that really a missed oppotunity?!?

      On the opposite I’m happy that you included Lisa (and Skupin) voting out Abi, it’s easily forgotten when it completely ruined any chance for Lisa or Skupin to win it all.

      I think Ciera should be #1.

      One opportunity I just thought of is Ken and Crystal splitting the vote between Corinne and Matty rather than getting rid of Matty, which would have given them a perect position to get to the final 3 as all the bridges were burned between Corinne and Sugar/Susie.

  3. Great list, finally someone exposes Ciera for her mistake rather than worship her. I think Denise’s chance to flip in China could’ve fit on this list nicely.

  4. Dr. Sean and Pagong should be on here. Sean could have possibly won the game had he sided with them. Probably replacing Kathy.

    Tough to put these in order, but good job!

  5. SurvivorFan1295 // October 8, 2014 at 2:47 pm // Reply

    I mean Ciera offered Caleb/Hayden a chance to flip at f8 and vote out Tyson and then vote out her mom, but they declined so is she expected to flip when they decide the next vote? IMO they all made crucial mistakes there and Tyson was also far more comforting to Ciera after the Laura voteout. This was all gathered from interviews.

    Also, Cocharon was treated very well by his tribe and was in many f3 plans. The edit makes things seem far worse and not to mention, he could have even won.

    And Lisa was never winning the game, so I guess she thought why not reward the nicer people. I think this was more a fault with Skupin, since he’d have a shot. A Lisa/Skupin/Abi f3 still doesn’t see Abi winning IMO.

    • Personally I don’t see how Lisa won’t be a good winner compared to Skupin (returning player and seemed to be stupid by others) and Abi (who is socially inept and destroys plans). Probably it is the edit but Lisa had attempted things that could’ve really made the game interesting (particularly the Malcolm idol blindside) but better social players just trumped her. Voting out Denise and Malcolm would make her “lesser of the three evils” IMO, and could say that while being emotional is able to make decisions that could help her win it. Kind of unfair that some elder women who cry and are your typical “mother figure” are not given credit when they do moves just because it differs from their “character”.

      • I would say one flaw she didn’t admit I think in FTC is she wasn’t in the middle, because she WAS, but that was her edge! She was the swing vote almost every time, because people know that she’s a crucial member of whatever alliance wants her (may it Tandang, Kalabaw or Matsing) because she was approachable. She didn’t receive any votes but was the target supposedly at the start and has proven herself in challenges when Abi practically did less in the tribal challenges.

    • Skupin had no chance of winning whatsoever. It’s much more likely that Lisa would’ve won the final3 with her, Skupin and Abi-Maria. (Either her or Abi).

  6. Lex, Kathy, and Shii Ann voting Jerri off instead of Amber…. Those 4 could have easily gone to merge and they would have had a great chance of turning Tom or Alicia to their side….

  7. Yau-Man not saying yes to Dreamz offering him the necklace before TC should be here IMO. That was huge!!

  8. arav panday // October 8, 2014 at 9:38 pm // Reply

    I think that stephanie lagrossa should have gave a more arguable speech in her tribal councils. Her chances of winning would have been better if she just would have persuaded the jury as she would have been a more deserving winner.

  9. Final 6 in Survivor China, when Denise is at the bottom (4th place) among her old tribe, Fei Long, and has a chance to flip with Peih-Gee and Erik (Zhan Hu), possibly voting out Todd, and giving her a chance at final 3. Instead, she votes Erik, and even admits that she could be making the worst decision of her life — and sure enough, she was right, because she only made it to 4th place. Granted, it was still a risk, because a tie between Todd and Erik might have resulted in a fire-starting challenge to break the tie, and who knows how that might have ended. Either way, it could have changed the whole game!

  10. Peih-Gee not telling James to play an idol. Getting Todd out that night. Then Erik/PG/James stick together and idol one of the three. Those 3 then take out one of the minority before turning on James at F4. ALSO, Erik being a complete fuck-up in Micronesia and not sticking with Tracy or Chet for “quitting” He could have voted off Ozzy and THEN quit taking out Ozzy and leaving his best friend in a majority at the merge.

    • Completely agree with the Peih-Gee one!
      It was dumb from Amanda to let Peih-Gee understand that James would be blindsided, Peih-Gee should have used him to get further in the game

  11. I agree with pretty much everything on this list, but I think Brandon’s ridiculous move at the F9 in Africa should be much, much higher. I honestly think that was the worst move in Survivor history. Not only did he single-handedly ruin his own game, he single-handedly ruined the whole season. We could have had the Marquesas power-shift a whole season earlier with Kelly being the swing-vote at the F5 and choosing to side with Kim and Brandon. That move would have taken him all the way to F3.

  12. I think another big downfall move for Christa Hastie in Pearl Islands was voting Tijuana out over Burton.

  13. With all the entries revolving around players not keeping their alliance members happy, I’m shocked there’s no mention of Twila & Scout turning on Ami in Vanuatu. The Yassur Alliance had complete control of the game. But Ami’s inability to make sure the 2 older women in her alliance were content lead to fatal insurrection. Had she made sure Twila and Scout were comfortable, I doubt anyone would remember the name “Chris Daughtery”.

  14. In tribute to #4… “Because Carlyn sucks.” great line, Katie

  15. Let’s say Woo does take Kass. How many votes does he get?

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