The Case Against Sandra Diaz-Twine


Amongst the Survivor community one of the most frequently debated questions revolves around who is the best player of all time. The one castaway that is most consistently topping rankings and winning awards is two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine. In today's feature article, New Zealand Ozlet Nick Chester puts forward his case against the claim that Sandra is the best player to have played the game of Survivor. Do the statistics lie? Are there better players than the supposed "Queen" of Survivor? Read on to find out!

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and Survivor. Most superfans of the show have been guilty of finding and using (usually fairly dodgy) statistics to back up our arguments and theories. I know I have. The difficulty of it all is that even after 30 seasons, Survivor still has a relatively small sample size. Given the complexity of human behaviour, running this experiment 30 times just isn’t enough to make too many meaningful claims. But if there is one “statistic” that gets pulled out far too often, is that Sandra has to be the best player ever, given she has played and won the game twice.

Survivor, in many ways is a sport, and as such, we evaluate it in the same ways. Ultimately, the aim of playing Survivor is to win, like any sport and therefore we tend to hold winners in higher esteem than other players. The recent ranking of Survivor players by my Survivor Oz colleagues was something I listened to with great interest, and unsurprisingly, it ended with Sandra coming out on top. Like many fans of the show, the Ozlets cited Sandra’s impressive records to back up the claim as the best ever; she has played twice, and won twice. You can’t get better than that. She barely has a vote cast against her in 2 seasons, and has lost only 4 jury votes of a possible 16.

But Survivor isn’t just a results orientated business, and looking at the end result, without evaluating the path to get there can give the result far more meaning than it deserves. I write this column knowing the hate it is likely to get, but for me, its the biggest bugbear I have with other fans. Sandra isn’t the best player in Survivor history, in fact, far from it. Can I back up my claims? Yes, I think I can. The results don’t exactly lie – she is a great player, but the best? I don’t think so, and its not even close.

The Case for the Defence

SandraDefenceDon’t get me wrong – Sandra is good.

Please don’t get me wrong. Sandra is a good player, and no matter what other points I raise, you don’t win this game twice by accident. She had to do some things right, and it would be fair to say that a lot of her better qualities as a player don’t always translate to great TV, so are left unseen and therefore not always acknowledged. I am not somebody who thinks Russell was robbed, and whilst I think there is a strong case that Parvarti should have won Heroes vs. Villains, I certainly acknowledge that Sandra won fair and square. There is no pro-Russell or Parvarti agenda here.

Sandra as a player knew her strengths, and how to get the most out of them, and how to minimise her weaknesses. The “anybody but me” strategy has major flaws, but what it does show is a high level of flexibility and Sandra has a great ability to keep every option on the table. She has the ability to lie with the best of them, and will throw her best friend under the bus, be it Christa or Courtney, if it gets her a day further. She has the great ability to portray herself as unthreatening, and her tendency to mouth off can hide her social strengths. She has a couple of crucial moments with Russell in Heroes vs. Villains, in terms of setting Coach up, and then later convincing Russell to take her to the end, and this is a big strength; her ability to hold her nose and deal with someone she hated is a huge plus that most players don’t have.

Ultimately Sandra plays well because she knows herself – her strengths and weaknesses and knows how to get the most out of them. For many, a great player has to make big, flashy moves, challenge wins and play idols. However, Sandra’s success shows that a strong social game and great awareness of yourself and other players can be a very successful strategy indeed.

Does Simply Winning Make You the Best?


This may seem an odd question, but its at the heart of the issue for me. If winning is the only criteria against which we judge players, then game over, case closed. Sandra has 2 wins and is automatically the best. But to bring this back to a sports analogy, what about poor players who happen to be a winning team? Or a horse in a steeplechase that wins because, on that day, all the others hit a fence?

The problem with results orientated thinking is that it gives no credence to the process that created them. For those that claim Sandra is the best because she has played twice and won twice, you then have to accept that winning is all that matters. You have to accept Fabio is a better player than Rob Cesternino, Bob is better than Cirie. Anyone who is a sports fan can probably think of a great player who never quite won a gold medal or championship, because a number of factors conspired against them. Survivor is no different. Winning is not the only measure of a great player, and in a lot of cases, it’s actually a really poor measure. The argument also holds no water until we have seen all players come back and lose in their second season. Is Sandra better than Kim, Yul, Earl, Tony, Natalie (both of them) or Todd? The answer is we don’t know, but it’s pretty unfair to rank them lower simply through the lack of opportunity to play again.

Of course, actually winning the game is a massive tick in the column for what makes a great player, and I don’t think we will ever get to the point of claiming a non-winner as the best of all time. But it isn’t the only contributor. Wins can come out of a large dollop of good luck, fortunate timing or simply being the least despised of a group of disliked people. Not being a Survivor winner can also come down to the most incredible bad luck (Cirie’s loss in Micronesia stands out as one of the biggest injustices in the history of the show, yet it spawned one of the most popular winners ever in Parvarti). Frequently, the season’s best player isn’t the winner, and the winner can simply be the one who has managed to doge bullets for the longest, quite often unintentionally. Simply equating winner to best player doesn’t hold water. Boston Rob is rightly considered one of the best players of all time, yet he has only a 25% winning record over 4 attempts. So let’s drop the pretence now and actually look at the details of a game, not just the end result.

A Great Way to Start

VillainsTribeStarting out in a strong tribe doesn’t hurt

Whilst I am not overly keen on giving too much credit to players for their ability to win challenges alone, it’s a part of the game and needs to be considered. We wouldn’t have winners like Fabio, Bob or Jenna if it weren’t for challenges. Sandra is probably the winner with the least challenge prowess – she claimed in the Heroes vs. Villains reunion that this was a strategy, but its one that could easily have ended her game before it began. Sandra is incredibly fortunate to have started both her games in winning tribes – her first tribal council in Pearl Islands was on night 12, and Heroes vs. Villains was night 9. This bought her time – her significant physical liabilities never became a factor, and allowed her to integrate into the tribe socially, so by the time she did have to go to tribal council, she wasn’t a threat. Many good social players have perished in the early stages of the game because their tribe has lost a challenge, and their physical weakness has been too significant to ignore. Sandra was not a major factor in the Drake or Villains early dominance, but gained significantly from it by not having her physical liabilities ever being an issue. Had Sandra been on Maraamu, Ulong or Matsing, would she have made it to the merge? It seems unlikely. Her game has sometimes been compared to Vecepia’s, but Vee doesn’t have that physical weakness, and is unlikely to ever be a threat early in the game. Depending on who you listen to, Sandra was a target to go home if Drake lost an early challenge. The Villains is a different story, but you have to think that losing the first 3 challenges would have been tough for her to overcome. Give players like Denise, Vee or Natalie W the same starting position twice that Sandra had, and there’s a pretty good chance they win twice as well. This is really just the start of a run of incredibly good luck for Sandra.

Luck is Key

LilLil acted erratically, and against her own best interest. Sandra was simply the benefactor.

No winner gets to the end without a good helping of luck, its just that simple. The best players can capitalise on good fortune and minimise the bad. Lots of players simply stumble onto good luck, and I feel Sandra is one of them.

Where is my evidence? Well, let’s start with her position as a winner on Heroes vs. Villains. Had Sandra returned for All Stars, this was a target she would have never overcome. Let’s say you switch her position with Tina – placing Tina on HvV instead of All Stars. Sandra probably goes first in All Stars – and Tina probably has a great shot of winning HvV. Timing is everything, and Sandra’s was great and not of her making. Being one of the most forgotten winners in a season full of egos was so fortunate its unbelievable. Sandra was so forgettable to these people that she could openly claim what a target Parvarti was as a winner, and nobody called her on it. My point is that there are several other winners that, given Sandra’s starting position in Heroes vs. Villains, could also have done really well, and the stigma attached with being a former winner would not have been noticeable. The comment that she is amazing for managing to win twice starts to ring hollow in that light.

Sandra also had the fortunate position of being the last of her alliance left. This may seem like a terrible position to be in, and in a regular “Pagonging” season, it would be. But in her two seasons, the game was so chaotic that being able to play as a non-threatening player with no loyalties, and therefore no promises to break or keep meant no backstabbling and no bitter jurors. It’s the greatest position in the world to be in, and apart from the aforementioned move to throw Courtney under the bus, it was pretty much a position not of her making. Sandra frequently (and sometimes even literally) stumbled into an incredibly fortuitous situations on both seasons. The chances of this happening are so remote, Sandra could probably play another 100 times and it would never happen again.

Speaking of stumbling, the luck Sandra had in not being discovered for throwing out Rupert’s fish after he was voted out is astonishing. This was a foolhardy and meaningless move that should only have landed her in massive trouble. She somehow not only got away with it but piled the blame on Christa. Some would say this was impressive – but throwing the fish in the first place was an absolutely insane thing to do. It speaks to Sandra’s inability to keep her emotions ion check and it was only the most incredible luck that she managed to avoid the blame entirely.

The final 5 vote in Pearl Islands is somewhere Sandra gets a lot of undue credit for bringing the women together. Let’s make no mistake – Sandra benefitted from Burton’s insane idea to not only bring Jon on a reward with him, but then fail to placate Lil just as they were leaving. He left a hurt and confused Lil to scheme with his enemies for 24 hours – and Sandra caught a lucky break. Had Burton taken Lil, or left Jon behind on the beach with her, its unlikely the girls pull this move off, and Sandra’s road to the end becomes so much harder.

Perhaps Sandra’s greatest piece of luck was in the final 3 of Pearl Islands, where Lil won immunity and then made a completely non-self interested move to vote Jon out, and keep Sandra. Its clear from Sandra’s reaction and from the interviews heard over the years that there was no love lost between Sandra and Lil – in other words, Sandra didn’t carefully cultivate a relationship with Sandra that would ensure she made a choice that wasn’t in her best interest, but rather Sandra got a huge stroke of luck that Lil made the wrong game move and effectively gave her a million dollars. If this wasn’t lucky enough, the fact Sandra got a free ride to the end with one of the most unlikeable people on the season made her win at the end very straightforward. Sandra often gets credit for being amazing with the jury – but its easy to forget that she want well liked by most of the Pearl Island jury. Only Rupert and Christa really had her back. Lil was just much more despised, leaving Sandra the easy win. She manages this a second time – although I think you have to give her more credit a second time around as she at least manipulates Russell into going against his own best interest.

Anybody but Me

FishChrista did it.

Sandra’s strategy has been distilled into this very famous catchphrase – basically pointing out that she will vote with anyone and for anyone, as long as she isn’t the target. It’s a very simple way to play the game and has been astoundingly successful for her. There is something to be said for having such a flexible strategy, and to be honest, I think most players think a little along these lines at some stage in the game. Yes, you want to be in control and eliminating liabilities or threats. But sometimes you just want to get through a vote, so if an option besides yourself is offered up, you take it, and worry about the ramifications tomorrow. For the odd vote, and especially in the early game, this is a pretty excusable and potentially even necessary strategy. However, let’s be clear, it’s also hugely risky. The fact it has worked 100% of the time for Sandra defies all logic. If Sandra played another 100 times, it’s unlikely this scenario would work again. To put it simply, the strategy knowingly gives away control in the game, and places your fate so much more in the hands of others. Sandra is great at convincing others to do what she wants, but surely operating with some level of control would have been better. I understand not everyone plays best from a position of power, but to knowingly give away control in the game seems very strange to me. The strategy paints her into a corner. In a season where there is a clear Pagonging, this strategy wouldn’t save her. Many others have tried and failed – yeah, Sandra did it better than most, but using it as a means to every end is generally a recipe for disaster.

Strategic Game (Or Lack Thereof)

SandraRusselSandra actually tried to get rid of her biggest goat in Russell.

Sandra made several potentially game ending mistakes during both games. Credit where it is due – she found ways to get out of these bad situations, but at times it did feel more than a little lucky how this happened. Perhaps her biggest strategic error came at the final 8 in Pearl Islands, when Rupert was voted out. Sandra threw a seemingly pointless vote at Jonny Fairplay. Given the majority going against Rupert, it seemed to have no impact. However, interviews since then make it pretty clear that Rupert, Sandra and Christa were well aware that Jon and Burton were making other plans, and they were relying on Lil to at least force a tie if the boys turned on them. Therefore, every vote counted that night, and Sandra’s throwaway vote may have given the whole game up. So a pretty bad move in hindsight, but one often forgotten due to her eventual win.

Sandra’s attempts to defect to the Heroes tribe at the final 9 also make little sense. Sandra knew the Villains had a majority, and even if she was at the bottom of that, the final 9 was no time to give away all her power. She seemingly wanted to turn against Russell just for the vindictive pleasure of getting rid of him. Had she gone far in the game with the Heroes, her chances of winning or even reaching the end seem remote. This seems pretty similar to a flip like John Fincher’s or Cochrans, yet again it is easily forgotten because of the end result. It is interesting to note how players such as Sash or Albert were punished by jurors for overpromising and then not coming through, yet Sandra went out of her way to make promises to the Heroes, then fail to deliver with seemingly no consequences.

Sandra didn’t spend a lot of time in control of the game, but when she did, she didn’t do too well. Although she has a reputation as a strong social player, the record isn’t quite so shining when she was in charge of who went. Forcing Jon and Shawn into an argument after the outcast challenge was the equivalent of making two convicted criminals dance for her pleasure, and shows really poor forward thinking. Regardless of her decision, she had to work with at least one of them going forward, and leaving Jon feeling so isolated was just a recipe for disaster. Luckily for her, she wasn’t the first or second target once he did eventually turn on their alliance. Its interesting that players like Russell and Jon are criticised for rubbing their competitors noses in their control of the game, yet when Sandra does it, its not even raised. Sandra is strangely given credit for her abrasive personality where she “gets loud too” and spits venom at people she dislikes in an open manner. Yeah, its great TV and it can be seen as setting her up where she is seen as so abrasive she isn’t a threat to win the game. But I certainly don’t think this side of her game is anything but unintentional. Sandra didn’t deliberately start fights in order to create drama and then step away from it, like Vee. Her moments of fighting were seemingly reactive, and served only to blow off steam and were in no way deliberate attempts to make herself seem unlikeable. How are many of Sandra’s explosive outbursts different to those of Kass?

Sandra’s eventual win also has to be placed into some kind of context. This idea of Sandra as some kind of social powerhouse doesn’t really wash, when you consider her final tribal council opposition. Compare this to Yul, having to go up against a well respected Ozzy, of Tina against Colby. In many ways, Sandra was the lesser of 2/3 evils, and people were not really voting for her to win, but against Lil, Russell and Parvarti.

So Where Does She Sit?

WinnersBetter Survivor Players? Here’s 3 options.

Player rankings are so difficult. Apart from obvious things such as varying competition, dealing with different physical environments and twists, each of us value different aspects in players. We all like different style of players, based on our own preferences and experiences. Quite frankly, there isn’t one player who could be considered the best. How I try to work this out is to think about the great players and how they may have dealt with being in difficult situations in the game. Could they still come out on top? Could Sandra have survived Ulong, or Matsing? How would she have dealt with players such as Ozzy who valued physical strength much more than other attributes? Could Sandra have stopped Fabio or Jenna from winning final challenges that would inevitably see them win a jury vote? For me, the problem with Sandra is that she is only able to be successful in a very narrow set of situations, and its is just incredibly good fortune that she happened to strike these twice. That’s why I personally value winners such as Kim, Vee and Denise more highly. Their chances of being successful in a variety of situations are much higher than Sandra’s are. Unfortunately we have not seen these players return and therefore most of us take the easy option of crowning Sandra the “queen”. Hopefully this closer examination of her strategy might change some minds. Unfortunately, statistics, regardless of how dodgy, are hard to overcome.

Do you agree with Nick? Which side of the argument do you fall on? Let us know your thoughts below!


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43 Comments on The Case Against Sandra Diaz-Twine

  1. Sandra quite frankly sucks. No strategic or physical game. Russell came back from minority 2 seasons in a row and dominated. Sandra was a loudmouth and got votes against people not for here.

    best blog ever. Sandra is the female fabio

    • It’s funny Fabio got to the end only because he did immunity run while Sandra had never riled on Immunity.
      You are the one of the good example how stupid anti sandra are.

    • “Russell came back from minority 2 seasons in a row and dominated.”

      Losing in a blowout vote and a shutout vote, respectively, in those two seasons is a very strange definition of domination.

      • HAHAHAHA! Brian nailed it!!!!! Russell = unlikable, stupid player with the greatest hubris of all time.

    • amnotacrybaby // April 20, 2015 at 9:26 am // Reply

      Without a hidden immunity idol or a diplomatic butterfly willing to stroke his ego, he would have been blown out of the water very early. Both happened in Redemption Island, when neither tribe had a Natalie White counterpart.

      I’m not surprised at sackeshi’s definition of domination. This isn’t the place to go into detail about it, though.

      But I would also argue that no case at all can be made against a contestant who racked up six jury votes after her entire original alliance was wiped out before the merge and she was forced into a sucky situation that she had absolutely no part in creating.

  2. I think calling Sandra the female Fabio just shows how you flat out don’t understand the game. Also lol at even implying Russell is good at Survivor.

    Sandra is definitely up there as one of the best and typically, yes the best player is the winner. The only seasons where this wasn’t the case was maybe Cook Islands and Micronesia, thanks to many twists.

    The luck factor doesn’t really count, as many winners get lucky. The only season where someone completely lucked out is probably Parvati in FvF with Fairplay quitting, never going to TC postswap, med evacs, surprise f2.

    I don’t rely understand how Sandra isn’t stragetic? Social game in itself is strategic and differences with HvV is Sandra tried to help the heroes so nuch, yet they never trusted her. She played them perfectly at ftc and gave her the win.

    She’s not my top 5, but definitely one of the best.

  3. smilingldsgirl // April 13, 2015 at 12:16 pm // Reply

    Does it really matter? She won twice. Good for her. She’s a good person and the game was fun to watch. Why we feel a need to rank everything I will never understand.

  4. “For me, the problem with Sandra is that she is only able to be successful in a very narrow set of situations, and its is just incredibly good fortune that she happened to strike these twice.”

    Wow how delusional Nick is.
    Sandra is absolutely a more flexible winner than most of other winners.
    It’s not only because she won twice.She proved twice she could survive even after her alliance wiped out.

  5. thegaminggeek // April 13, 2015 at 12:45 pm // Reply

    Great points. I agree that its tough to really measure how good someone is at Survivor given all the variables and being results oriented would mean that Fabio is a better Survivor player than Rob Cesternino.

  6. “Many others have tried and failed” then,Sandra worked twice.That’s why Sandra is highly praised. And her achievement is not only winning twice.HvV season has by far the strongest contestants in the history of survivor.So HvV winning must be praised way more than originally season or half returning player seasons(which is strongly rigged for returning players),whether you love or hate Sandra.

  7. The best players of survivor are the one’s who can control the game post-merge and still win, despite the large target on their back – players like Hatch, Tony, or Kim Spradin. It shows an ability to outwit, outplay and outlast, and although Sandra was able to outwit (some) players in her two seasons and she outlasted on both occasions, she certainly didn’t outplay anyone by any means. She sucks at challenges and her strategy I find a bit weak/cowardly. She was always a vote, she never controlled the vote. But that’s just my opinion. Pit Sandra in a season against first-time winners and see how she fairs.

    • I agree!! Tony will always be held in my highest regard and is a way better player than Sandra IMHO. Awesome comment, Shane!

    • amnotacrybaby // April 19, 2015 at 11:02 am // Reply

      “Pit Sandra in a season against first-time winners and see how she fairs.” Unless you’re talking about Natalie White, get ready for a three-time winner.

  8. I personally think that Sandra’s success in HvV comes in part from the fact, that yes, she came from a season that had much more remembered players, such as Rupert and Fairplay. People were much more concerned with Rupert than Sandra for obvious reasons, and it makes me wonder why people were more concerned about Parvati’s relations with the Heroes over Sandra’s (Sandra was MUCH closer to Rupert than Parvati was to Candace or James- and she’s screwed James over in the game before, so I doubt he’d be too inclined to game with her again). Also, to say Russell should have won either of his two seasons is wrong. Russell is fantastic at getting people out- when people don’t know him or his game, which worked to his advantage in Samoa and HvV. Russell, however, is terrible at Jury management and bringing people to the end that he can beat (which is evidenced in BOTH Samoa and HvV).
    I also wouldn’t say that handing people power isn’t a terrible strategy. It worked for Natalie W, Ethan, Todd (double idol), Sophie, Aras, and Danni (along with probably a few more that I can’t remember). It just matters who you’re handing it too and whether or not you can beat that person.
    Finally, the “as long as it ain’t me” strategy does take some sort of control, and, while yes, there is some luck involved, I wouldn’t say that it’s just flip-flopping between alliances and being with the numbers (because other players have tried to do so and it has not worked for them at all). There is a trick to it, and Sandra has mastered it: making sure you’re not the least hated person on the beach. Whether or not she did it on purpose or out of sheer entertainment, there was always someone more hated than Sandra on the beach (Jon, Russell, Parvati, Rupert, Burton, Shawn, Lil, Christa…the list goes on and on). Socially, this is a plus for her, especially after the merge, when nerves are raw and people just want to eat some solid food. Creating a little bit of drama is not difficult, and knowing when to just let things happen is also a good attribute (letting Jerri take the fall at the final 4 over Parvati was smart, despite not getting Jerri’s vote, for Jerri was WAY more favored by the jury).

  9. this is one of those topics where no matter what side you take, there will always be someone on the other side a) calling you an idiot and b) telling you how much you don’t know/understand about Survivor. I honestly don’t know whether Sandra is the greatest ever player or not, how do you even measure something like that? I think the True Dork Times people have come the closest but even they could be wrong.

  10. Sandra was on Pearl Islands and HvV, NOT Philippines or Palau, so stop placing her in that categories. She aligned with players who she knew she could beat, for example in HvV, she said in a confessional that Russell thinks he can beat her, and she knew Parvati was going to be seen as Russell’s pawn. Well done Sandra, Queen of Survivor.

    • Al Presser // April 14, 2015 at 8:12 am // Reply

      she aligned with people she could beat? Umm no she never aligned with lil fair play Russell or parv they just dragged her along

  11. Love the idea behind the article. Love the execution of the article. Love everything except for the ridiculous Fabio-bashing. He played a great game.

  12. Regarding the game, i hate Sandra. She is always being drugged to the finales, and the jury votes for her only because they dont like the others and would like to stick it in their face. and in the finales she like to play it like a “sasi”.
    Russel sould have won heroes vs villains. they way she treated him in the end was awful. what a bitter jury.

    • What a bitter post… Russel was a goat in HvsV, everyone want to go in final with him because they knew that was a easy win and he couldn’t receive any vote

      • I agree 100%. Russell has been overestimated by too many too often. If one is that unlikable, one cannot win the game.

      • Jack and Sutra: You guys sound like people who are trying to change history. Too bad. True survivor fans are not fools.

      • amnotacrybaby // April 20, 2015 at 8:58 am //

        Russell also enjoyed an unprecedented advantage over the other contestants. He was an absolute complete and total unknown; HvV was shooting while Samoa was in edit! Of course the returning players didn’t have a clue whom he was or how he did things. Had the other Villains seen fhe first 30 minutes of that very first Samoa episode, the Heroes wouldn’t have had the chance to think about getting anything going with him. He’d be gone so damn fast his head would spin and he wouldn’t have seen it coming! And no way in the cosmos would that same line-up of Villains let him anywhere near the starting line now. No way would Russell beat Boston Rob today. And no way in hell would he be able to snow Tyson ever again.

    • You are saying that you are a real survivor fan? So if you are a real survivor fan, you have to know that if you insult the jury you will not recive enough votes to win. Its Social Game, and as your fake king says “Its a Fact, a Proveen Fact”.
      Sandra did a better Social Game, and she get the jury’s vote because she tried to vote out Russell, but Candice is stupid and she flip angainst them.
      Also the problem is that if the producers like Russell a lot, at least 50% of the time Russell will appear, that is the problem of Samoa..

  13. ok when i said the female fabio I men’t lucked into a win by being completely clueless of what to do the whole agme then winning because everyone is mad at the other 1 or 2 he/she is with.

    sandra if your seeing this.
    you have no strategic skills you just sit there and let other people make moves and then act like the fact that you so IRRELIVANT that no one votes you out makes you good. Your physicall game is completely non existent I have not seen such a pathetic player in all the 15 years of survivor. Your social game is reactionary your a loud mouth loser that pretends its strategy when its you whinning over being to bad to ever get your way. Tony is the best winner ever he controlled a cast 10 times harder then you russell is the best player to never win they are the kings of survivor. If you play for the 3rd time you will get 16th or 18th or 20th. Your as long as it ain’t me sucks you feed off of bitter juries. you are not a role moddle to your kids. your passive agressive game is just survivor trash. retire from the sport and give up your crown pathetic loser

    • Her bank account cares so much about your opinion.

    • Tony won because of the combination of Kass’s stupidity and Trish’s amazing move.While Sandra didn’t rely on anyone in her both seasons.
      Tony is absolutely way luckier than Sandra.
      And you seem you are believing what Russell commented lol.
      Sandra’s social game were absolutely amazing.And her social game was really connected strategical aspect as well.

      • sackeshi // April 14, 2015 at 1:26 am //

        He was not lucky he was in control the whole game. He used the minority to his advantage he was a combination of robc and russell h

      • He didn’t control at all when Kass flipped. And Kass’s flip was the biggest highlight in the season.It happened only because Trish did so amazing smart move and Kass did so stupid move.There was no Tony element at all back then. He just wasted his idol.

  14. Whether or not you agree with the point or not, this is an extremely well written article with well backed opinions, and should at least be respected for that. Well done sir

  15. I’m a firm believer that the winner of each season played the best game. Each winner was able to do what was necessary to win the majority of votes from the jury. Some seasons, that involved an uphill battle (Denise Stapley comes to mind). Other seasons saw the winner quietly lurk in the shadows while another player destroyed their chances (Natalie White). No matter what their personality, though, they adapted and performed in a way necessary to win.

    Sandra won twice, where other winners self destructed on their second go arounds. Therefore, she’s easily the best player of all time.

  16. Al Presser // April 14, 2015 at 8:09 am // Reply

    I’ll give her props I don’t believe there a such thing as an undeserving winner. But of your ranking players No she’s not among the best literally in both her season her plans failed and it turned out that why she won both times she wanted to to Rupert. Plus in HvV she only won because the heroes wouldn’t admit parv outplayed them

    Also I don’t see where this writer is coming from with vecepia a solid winner but among the best? No

  17. Just to point something out – Sandra’s first Tribal Council in HvV was on Day 8, not Day 9.

  18. Ranking survivor players is a crapshoot, like choosing what colour is better – purely subjective. Love Sandra, not a fan of her gameplay – too passive.
    A few points where i disagree with the article:
    “the aforementioned move to throw Courtney under the bus” – she didn’t, the villains chose her against Sandra based on the positives and negatives for the merge. Sandra at the least knew Rupert, Courtney knew Amanda – what’s the greatest damage they can do if they flip? what’s more risky?
    “although I think you have to give her more credit a second time around as she at least manipulates Russell into going against his own best interest.” – she agreed (for good reasons) to his already made decision to boot Jerry at final 4 – no manipulation here. Russell expressed his opinion of how worthless Sandra is, somebody he would bring in front of the jury, a few tribal councils prior.
    “Sandra is great at convincing others to do what she wants” – there aren’t to many examples of that, and some obvious failures. People usually point to setting up Coach’s boot in HvV – a “trick” used by editors to make the winner of the season look better. Most likely Coach was booted to maintain and improve the appearance there was a women’s alliance.

  19. The most frequent argument made by Sandra supporters: “she’s 2 for 2, she’s clearly the best”. But in the case of a game very much affected by luck, results orientated thinking is quite obtuse. Unfortunately we can’t see her play an adequate number of times to draw an educated conclusion. If she was to play 10 times she could win 100%, but also she could very well win the first 2 and loose the rest of 8.

  20. Sandra is the most underrated strategic player. Interviews with fellow contestants like Tyson say that she was masterful at changing people’s perception of the game. Getting rid of Russell was smart at the time because he was everyone’s goat and the guy who was controlling the game and he didn’t want to take her to the end. Once he told her he was taking her to the end she was all on board.
    Anybody but me is a fantastic strategy and I would suspect she would win more times than she loses in the final tribal council than she loses given her likability. Sandra was not lucky when she was the final member of her alliance left. She was weak at challenges so they kept her. Is she the best ever? Maybe. I mean you can make a solid argument against anyone who is “the best”.

  21. “Could she have survived Ulong or Matsing?” Abso freaking lutely. Sandra would make Stephenie cry.

  22. I love the fish photo with the caption “Christa did it.” Funny!
    That said, the article is unconvincing. Sandra was a clever player. She is one of the greats.
    People talk about Hantz being such a great player but he could never get the social aspect of the game – over and over and over he failed at it. This is why he was demolished by Natalie 7-2 in Samoa and received ZERO votes by great ex-players in H VS V – he has no gameplay. If one is purely unlikable, there’s no chance of winning Survivor. Natalie deserved to win Samoa – she wasn’t a creep.
    Same about Rob Mariano. He could not win until his FOURTH attempt at the game – CBS was determined to get him to win – and then it was against the worst players in the game’s history. Dude went to the final Tribal Council against a teenager, for goodness sake.

  23. Sandra was entertaining to watch, but my vote is for Kim Spradlin from Survivor One World. Survivor is all about the battle of influence, and in this area, Kim absolutely crushed it in her strategic game. I don’t think anyone who watched this season had any doubt that she would carry the victory all the way through. She needs to come back to Survivor and win again so she can dethrone Sandra.

  24. Sandra is the best and you don’t give her enough credit. You can’t say she benefited from Lil’s erratic play and strange final vote, because Sandra is the one responsible for Lil acting against her best interest.

    All throughout the game, Sandra planted the idea in Lil’s head that she couldn’t lose. She told Lil she’d never want to go against her in the finals because everybody loves Lil. This made it impossible for Sandra to lose once it came down to final 3… look at the 3 possible scenarios…

    1. Sandra wins immunity – obviously she goes to the final 2
    2. Jon wins immunity – Jon thinks there’s no way he can beat Lil, and brings Sandra to the final 2
    3. Lil wins immunity (the case that happened) – Lil thinks she’ll beat either Sandra or Jon because of Sandra’s manipulations, but because she wanted Sandra to get the second place prize money more than Jon, she brings Sandra.

    Sandra is a masterful player, and minimizing her strategy to ‘as long as it aint me’ doesn’t give her nearly enough credit. She has been running the show through subtle manipulations in both of her seasons, and is smart enough to not expose herself as the true power player.

    Unlike a certain bald 3-time loser.

  25. Russell played and lost three times.
    Sandra played twice and won both times. The object of the game is to win and Sandra did that. She is certainly one of the best players. Her style is different. Russell’s style is different, Denise style is different and there is no clear cut rule that they should play using the same ingredients to win. If you say sandra won by luck and russell lost because of a bitter jury thats uncalled for. Russell did not seem to care about the social component. He thinks people will respect his gameplay. He wanted to prove to the people that he is the best he wanted to show them but remember the people he wants to show these big moves are his opponents and he made promises he shouldnt have made. Talking about scenarios of what ifs with respect to sandra. What if russell played in survivor pulau and a season where there is no HII. Russell did great in the strategy component but not on his third time. But his biggest flaw in the game is Overplay. Sandra is smart enough what to say to whom and.when and that got her two titles whereas Russell failed to tapped on this side of the game. Sandra being a physical weakling. Wouldnt it be boring to have all winners winning a challenge. So i understand that some say she is not a great player but we all have our bases to assess the standards we set on who is an Ideal Great Player of Survivor. It would be difficult for her to win a third time because of her two titles but until it is played out we may never know she might be 1st out or the winner. Till date Sandra’s Gameplay is unique and thats what Makes Sandra Sandra!. So she won both times she deserves it.

  26. Louis A Sarmiento // September 17, 2016 at 1:41 am // Reply

    Too funny all that writing and at the end is simple…she won two! Until someone beats or ties her that’s the bench mark…I’m a Mets fan and im always complaining about the Yankees,but how many championships do they have and how many do the Mets? Is that simple. In life we are given certain realities that we live with-in and in Sandra’s reality she has won out with those parameters. No one else has done it. All hail Queen Sandra..,

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