While certain winners have at times made the game of Survivor look easy, it's no secret that every single winner has had to overcome multiple obstacles along the way. In today’s feature article, Ozlet Ivan Ornelas looks at the Sole Survivors from the first ten seasons and pinpoints the biggest obstacle they had to overcome during their time on the show. Continue reading to find out just what exactly stood in their way of the title and million dollar prize.
Every Survivor fan probably can immediately point out most, if not all, winners of Survivor. But which contestant, contestants, or twist was the biggest obstacle for each winner in their path to victory? For this edition of Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles, we will take a look at the first five winners of the series and see what was their biggest roadblock in their eventual paths to becoming Sole Survivor.
Richard Hatch – Borneo
It didn’t seem like Richard had many obstacles in the first ever season. Probably the stigma of alliances was his biggest obstacle because of the number of players who were seemingly against alliances and his attempt to create one could have backfired and gotten him voted out.
Tina Wesson – Australian Outback
Her biggest obstacle was probably figuring out how to solve the 5-5 situation Ogakor and Kucha found themselves in after the merge. By allowing Keith to have immunity and from knowing Jeff received a vote from Debb, Jeff was successfully voted out and from there, Tina was in power for the rest of the game.
Ethan Zohn – Africa
His involvement in the first tribe swap would be a test as to whether he would make it much further, and he handled it well. Lex van den Berghe would be his biggest obstacle not just because he was a strategic threat but because his paranoia caused Kelly to flip to the original Samburu and if it wasn’t for Brandon’s decision to vote out Kelly instead of voting with his original tribe, Ethan wouldn’t have won.
Vecepia Towery – Marquesas
First she had to survive being on a awful tribe. then she was seemingly at the mercy of John Carroll who appeared to be running the show but then “the outsiders alliance” overthrew the Rotu 4. However then she had to find a way past Kathy Vavrick O’Brien, and she did so with a risky move that got Vecepia to the end but only won her the game in a close 4-3 vote over Neleh Dennis.
Brian Heidik – Thailand
Brian played a very strong game and through his alliances with Clay Jordan, Helen Glover, and ted Rogers, and Jan Gentry not being an issue, he would work his way into the final 2. His biggest obstacle would have to be convincing Helen and ted, the two allies he betrayed, to vote for him. Also, Brian did not spend enough time getting to know jurors from the opposite tribe such as Penny. However, Clay was also fairly unlikeable himself which helped Brian get 4 votes to win his season and be a reason Ben wakes up in the morning.
Jenna Morasca – Amazon
Looking back now at Amazon, someone like Jenna winning the first men vs women season isn’t quite a shock. The guys would either be attracted to or underestimate her and she would be one of the more physically able women as well as be able to gravitate enough women to her to give her some degree of control. The biggest obstacle for her would probably be dealing with the men post merge. Girls were in a numbers disadvantage but it was more so that they were all over the place. Dave and Rodger were one dimensional in their gameplay, Rob and Alex were smarter players, and Butch and Matthew were so far out there they were both nonthreatening but confusing at the same time. Jenna dodged a huge bullet the night Heidi was voted out and ultimately she did need a late immunity run to get to the end otherwise she was probably getting voted out both at final 4 and final 3, but props to Jenna for finding a way there and winning.
Sandra Diaz-Twine – Pearl Islands
Initially I was tempted to say Rupert was her biggest obstacle because if she rode that alliance she had with him for as long as she would’ve liked, her path to win the game would be a bit complicated. But it turned out to be complicated anyway based on how the game actually played out. That was in part due to the Outcasts twist which made Burton and Lillian key players late in the game but I’d say her biggest obstacle was Jonny Fairplay. Sandra and Fairplay were like Tom and Jerry where their rivalry was almost comical in a sense, but also they did help each other get very far in the game. Sandra could’ve easily been 6th place after Fairplay knocked out one of her main allies in Rupert but Sandra worked with the remaining players in a way to shift the target off of herself and instead pretty much everyone else’s name came up except her own in the last 12 days of the season. She may be weak physically but she was one jury vote short of accomplishing a perfect game.
Amber Brkich (Mariano) – All-Stars
Rob gets most of the credit but they were definitely a power couple and made a lot of decisions together and certainly voted together every step of the way. Amber’s biggest obstacle was the 2nd swap. She was the only one from her previous tribe on the new Mogo Mogo tribe with Lex, Jerri, Shii Ann, and Kathy and it looked like she would be voted out if Mogo Mogo lost an immunity challenge. Then in came Boston Rob’s “you take care of her, I take care of you” message he sent to Lex and unfortunately for Lex and fortunately for Amber he bought it and Jerri was voted out.
Chris Daugherty – Vanuatu
Chris had a rough start to both the pre-merge and post merge, but I’d say his post merge game was more impressive. The woman alliance was tough to crack and arguably the biggest reason why is because of the amount of control Ami Cusack had, but she made one key mistake: letting down her guard at the final 7. She felt Chris deserved to stay in the game more than Eliza did at that point, which provided Chris the opening he needed to find himself in a better position after making a bold move in voting out LeAnn. From there through his immunity wins and bonds with the remaining women, Chris found his way into the final 2 and won the game despite seemingly being the last member to go down in a sinking ship.
Tom Westman – Palau
It’s not like Palau was devoid of any good players besides Tom. That’s definitely not true, but it’s hard to figure out Tom’s biggest obstacle in this game. He was only not immune for three Tribal Councils, and in those tribal councils Willard and Stephanie were much bigger targets than him. The exception was when Gregg was voted out, you’d think Gregg and Jenn would’ve tried to pull in Katie and Caryn to blindside Tom when they had the chance but Gregg and Jenn kept their word and targeted Caryn. I think Tom was his own biggest obstacle. He made himself a big threat and especially near the end if he didn’t have all those immunity victories he might not have made it. He still might’ve, it would just be a lot less likely. Also it was fortunate of him that Ian threw in the towel at the final immunity challenge.
So that is all for now! I’ll be analyzing obstacles for more winners soon. Did I leave anything out or do you have a favorite Survivor memory about one of these winners? Post your thoughts in the comments.
Do you agree with Ivan’s Assessment? What do you believe to be the greatest obstacle each winner faced? Let us know your thoughts below!
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