Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Returning Player Game Improvements Revisited


On the 8th of May 2013 founding Ozlet Noah Groves published his first ever top 10 counting down the top 10 returning player game improvements. Since that time almost two years ago, 20 different players have returned to play again (article was written before Caramoan aired, published after) in the favourites of Caramoan and the returnees of Blood vs Water. It only seems appropriate to revisit the top 10 to look at some of the new returnees and their improvements. Some of the omitted people like Stephenie Lagrossa are still worthy of being in the top 10 but were taken out in order to talk about some newer players. There is a strong rumour that season 31 or 32 will be all returnees and by the time you read this it may have already been announced so expect perhaps a third article in a year’s time.

10. Monica Culpepper – Blood vs Water


New Entry

Monica didn’t play a brilliant game in Blood vs Water but it was a huge step up from One World. In One World she was completely out of the loop from her original all women’s tribe being on the outs, something that didn’t change even after a tribal swap. She was quickly voted out without a fuss racking up just 6 confessionals as she left. It was because of these reasons that it was perhaps a surprise to see Monica return to the game but when she did she was almost the complete opposite. A huge turn around that saw her not only be one of the major characters in the season but also being a part of the alliances and strategy, later dominating in the individual immunity challenges and showing her worth. Monica still has a lot to do to make her a brilliant player but compared to other pre merge returnees like Francesca and Russell Swan, Monica had a huge improvement on her second time.

9. Phillip Shepherd – Caramoan


New Entry

Like Monica, Phillip’s return didn’t turn him into a brilliant player but it was a massive improvement. Right from the get go Phillip went from plain kooky to kooky and playing the game. Implementing his new Boston Rob inspired strategy “The BR Rules.” Phillip gathered a majority alliance and had a serious say in who stayed and left the game. Phillip for a long time looked as if he would make the final three albeit probably with very few jury votes in his hand. But who knows, if he was up against Sherri who the jury for some reason despised then maybe Phillip had a shot. Phillip will probably never win the game of Survivor but there is certainly a mass level of improvement and player growth between his first try in Redemption Island. Maybe he will join Coach in a further game improvement on his inevitable third time playing the game…stay tuned for ‘Top Ten Returning Player Game Improvements Revisited…again’ in two years’ time!

8. Cirie Fields- Micronesia


Previous Entry – 5th

Cirie played a fantastic game in Panama and when she returned in Micronesia, she showed an improvement, displaying to us that she deserves the respect she gets as a great player. Cirie came in to the game with the target of being an extremely good social and strategic player but managed to avoid all of this as she became a part of the majority alliance. For many of the votes, Cirie had control over who went home and went on to join the infamous ‘Black Widow Brigade’ alliance and continued to have control of the game. Cirie was never really on the chopping block and made it to the Final Three with ease; however, she went onto lose the Final Immunity Challenge and was voted out. Many agree that if Micronesia had been a Final Three then Cirie would have been a winner. Cirie is a great example of how she managed to look back on an already great game and improve on it when she returned.

7. Jenna Lewis – All Stars


Previous Entry – 4th

When Jenna Lewis returned for All-Stars she had a new outlook on playing Survivor and proved to be a worthy all star. Originally in Borneo, Jenna was a part of the group who were against creating alliances, this saw her to be eventually ‘Pagonged’ out of the game. When she returned, she took charge of her Saboga tribe and made it her mission to eliminate the winners from the game. Jenna aligned closely with Rupert and eventually Boston Rob’s alliance in the absorbed Mogo Mogo tribe. From then on in, Jenna was never really on the chopping block throughout the game and voted out Rupert to insure her spot in the Final Three. She was unable to win the Final Immunity Challenge and became the last member of the Jury. It is generally considered that Jenna would have won the season had she made it to the Final Tribal Council. Jenna proved that she could adapt to a more modern style of playing at the time and made a huge improvement from her original game play.

6. Amber Bkrich – All Stars


Previous Entry – 7th

Many Survivor fans will say that Amber was an undeserving winner and that Boston Rob should have won All-Stars; but there is no denying the facts that Amber came in first place in All-Stars compared to sixth place in The Australian Outback. In All-Stars, Amber made all the right moves by aligning with her future husband, Boston Rob Mariano; with the pair managed to control the entire game together. She managed to survive the Tribe Switch that saw her at the bottom of the tribe and win an Individual Challenge after the Merge. Boston Rob would then go on to take her to the Final Two where she won the game in a four-three vote. Amber makes it to seventh place on this list due to the fact that it appeared much of her success in making it to the end comes down to the work of Rob; however, there is an absolute clear improvement from her first time nonetheless.

5. Tyson Apostle – Blood vs Water


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Before Blood vs Water Tyson was seen as a bit of a joke. In Tocantins he was the kooky character who had some strategy but was mainly shown for the entertainment factor and in Heroes vs Villains, well…we all know how that turned out…it wasn’t long before he returned for a third time and followed in the footsteps of his former ally and friend Coach. Tyson played a much stronger and calculated game, playing hard from day one and making all the right moves to get to the end. While pre game alliances certainly did help, Tyson made constant improvements on pretty much every aspect of his game. He dominated and was rarely a threat to be voted out and it is no surprise that he earned all but one of the final jury votes making him the winner of the 27th season. This was a huge, but somewhat unsurprising turn around and goes to show that the third time can be lucky for some.

4. Rob Mariano – All Stars and Redemption Island


Previous Entry – 3rd

Boston Rob makes an entry for two of his seasons. When Rob returned for All-Stars he had made a huge improvement from Marquesas where even he admits his head wasn’t fully in the game. He controlled the game throughout All-Stars and made the final with ease; with of course angering the Jury along the way. While Boston Rob did lose out to Amber, his game play in All-Stars was magnificent compared to Marquesas. Rob returned for Heroes vs. Villains where he failed to make it deep into the game and was voted out before the Merge. He returned for a fourth time where he improved on all his past games in both game play and placing. He managed to take control of almost everyone on his Ometepe tribe, initiated the buddy system strategy, found the Hidden Immunity Idol and won several Individual Immunities. Despite being a returning player, Rob was never really under a threat to go home and although some may argue that he was playing with players who did not know what they were doing, there is no denying that he won the game fair and square; showing that even though it may have taken him four times, he was able to improve his game to finally win.

3. Coach Wade – South Pacific


Previous Entry – 2nd

The first time Coach Wade appeared on Tocantins he was all about taking the strongest players to the end and told absurd, (possibly untrue), stories. The second time he appeared on Heroes vs. Villains he was all about showmance’s, flip flopping and praying for the Merge. It wasn’t until his third time that Coach really put his head into gear and started to play the game. Coach started off on a rocky start but was able to solidify a five person alliance on the first night of the game; with Edna being his backup vote by his side. Coach controlled the game along the way and was a key figure in persuading Cochran to flip. He seemed to make it to the Final Three with ease, alongside his allies Albert and Sophie, where he received three votes from the Jury. It was here that Coach crumbled and was unable to own up to his actions and lost respect from the Jury. However, if there was one person who showed a huge development in game play and showed that he had learnt from his past mistakes, it would be Coach.

2. John Cochran – Caramoan


New Entry

Cochran played a god awful game in South Pacific and had zero chance of ever winning the game. He was viewed as a novelty and rarely taken seriously in any aspect of Survivor gameplay. In Caramoan it couldn’t be any different; he was the complete opposite to his abysmal first game. Cochran went from the bottom of the totem pole and dominated his way to the top and winning a full blown jury sweep at the end of the game. He dictated most of the decisions in the game, won an array of challenges and played a cool, calm collected game. In ways it was hard to watch the constant love fest for Cochran and it got completely old completely quickly but we can’t use that to hide the fact that he had a complete 180 (hello Coach!) in the game and a massive improvement, even if he isn’t one of the greatest winners of the show.

1. Parvati Shallow – Micronesia 


Previous Entry – 1st

When thinking way back to ‘Survivor: Micronesia – Fans vs. Favourites’, Parvati is certainly not one person everyone was expecting to see return. In Cook Islands, Parvati didn’t show her strong strategic side and despite coming in sixth place, she arguing rode coat tails and used her flirtatious personality to get her further in the game. When she first returned to the game, Parvati was almost voted out first but was able to become a part of a strong majority alliance. Even after a Tribe Switch, Parvati wasn’t in any danger and after the Merge became a key figure in the infamous ‘Black Widow Brigade’ alliance, where she and the four other women controlled the game. Parvati was both a strong physical player, an ultimate social player and dominated at the Final Tribal Council. Parvati showed a huge improvement in game play from her initial Cook Islands game and therefore has the best transformation of all returning players. She would later go on to play a similar game in Heroes vs. Villains where she came in second place.

Honourable Mentions: Stephenie Lagrossa – Guatemala, Michael Skupin -Philippines, Andrea Boehlke – Caramoan, Dawn Meehan – Caramoan, Gervase Peterson – Blood vs Water

What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there non-winning finalists 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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17 Comments on Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Returning Player Game Improvements Revisited

  1. This list reads biased all over.

    • Yeah I disagreed with a lot of Noah’s rankings when he ranked all the players and I disagree with them here

  2. Didn’t Jeff asked the jury if Jenna was in the Final Two, who they would vote? I’m pretty sure they said Rob would’ve won.

  3. Here’s my mom and my list:

    1st) Cochran
    2nd) Tyson
    3rd) Parvati
    4th) Boston Rob
    5th) Ozzy (This might be debatable, but he was completely non-strategic in C.I. and Micronesia, and then became strategic and played a superb game that nearly won him South Pacific)
    6th) Coach
    7th) Erik R. (He played a dumb move in Micronesia and then redeemed himself in Caramoan with a game that could have won him the game, but it is a sad fact that that is often overlooked because he was med-a-vaced)
    8th) Monica
    9th) Laura M. (she was hardly shown in Samoa but truly shined in BvW)
    10th) Michael Skupin

    • This reacting:

      1. Cochran had a lot of friends from before.
      2. I argee with Tyson
      3. Parvati did improve a lot.
      4. Argeed
      5. Ozzy improved ever?
      6. Argeed
      7. Reichenbach basically played the same game twice, expect in Caramoan, he was invisible.
      8. Argeed.
      9. Argeed.
      10. He improved?

  4. I disagree with a lot of these. In my opinion, Tyson should be higher. After his first two seasons, no one considered him to be strategic player (especially after the HvV debacle). He survived votes because he was athletic and entertaining. In BvW, he gameplay changed completely. He didn’t dominate athletically, but instead, he did so strategically. I don’t agree that Cochran “had a complete 180.” His style of gameplay remained the same: he was always regarded to be a very strategic player. He just handled himself much better in Caramoan.

  5. As you said, as think you should have done this top 10 after season 31 has aired to be able to include all the returnees from season 31 (YES, it is an all-returnees season)

  6. Rb Liljestrom // April 30, 2015 at 3:47 am // Reply

    Parvati was great on fans vs favorites and really good on H vs V. But not as good so she regressed. Granted her second time playing would qualify as the best comeback player but you should have taken points away for that regression. Conspicuously left off is the queen of Survivor Sandra. No credit for her win on PI, then she backed it up with the best win on IMO the best season with the Greatest players ever assembled. It’s a good list that I could live with. Better than that POS rankings list of yours.
    J/K ;)~

    • Parvati did not regress in Heros v Villains. The circumstances were much different. In Micronesia she had basically just had Penner after her, so she was able to maneuver pretty easily and had many more choices regarding alliances. In H v. V she had 7 villains and 10 heroes who wanted her gone based solely on her reputation and past relationships. Her double idol play exceeded any move in Micronesia. She had 3 individual immunity wins in Hero’s v Villains as opposed to 1 in Micronesia. Parvati was unjustly punished for aligning with Russell when she didn’t have any other option, and Sandra was rewarded for trying (and failing by the way) to get rid of Russell. Parvati had to dodge a lot more bullets and fight a lot harder to get to the end of Heroes vs Villains than she did in Micronesia.

    • I was also surprised not to see Sandra. Yes, it is hard to improve from the win, but yet she managed to win in a very competitive season.

      It continues to amaze me that someone can win twice (second time over people listed here as more improved – Parvati, Tyson, Boston Rob, Coach and Ciri) and yet is considered neither one of most improved or, quite often, best players. (Although, come to think about it, this was her strategy all along)

  7. I may be a little biased but what about Jerry in heroes vs villains. She was awesome as usual but this time she made it farther and didn’t make a lot of enemies

    • Completely agree about Jerri. She went from the woman that America hated to someone who played a very respectable game. Had she made it to the final tribal council in HvV, she very likely would have won.

    • Agree as well. Even Russell recognized how much of the threat would she have been during the last tribal council.

  8. I may be a little biased but what about Jerry in heroes vs villains. She was awesome as usual but this time she made it farther and didn’t make a lot of enemies!!

  9. 1. Parvati – went from useless coattail rider to a pretty good strategist and physical competitor that won the game.
    2. Tyson- zero to hero. The joke that played a top 10 game.
    3. Cochran- went from being a player that made bad decisions and lucked out to a mastermind.
    4. Coach- An absolute joke of a player to a dominant player that should have won if not for a bitter jury. (Many people have said they should have voted for him to win.)
    5. Andrea- A coattail rider to a real player that made moves. She could have won if she hadn’t got too cocky.
    6. Boston Rob – Kid who was having fun on TV to possibly the greatest player to ever play.
    7. Jerri- A woman who was only concerned about rivalries to a woman who may have won if Russell hadn’t been an idiot and took Sandra who slaughtered him.
    8. Jenna L. – Didn’t do anything condemned alliances and then became a savvy player who controlled a lot of All stars. If she had had a slightly better social game she would be higher on this list.
    9. Monica- Went from crazy lady to a strong player who could have won if she got rid of Tyson and wasn’t so emotional.
    10. Brenda- She was pretty good her first season but she improved her social game and would have easily won if she landed in the finals. Her only mistake was failing to realize Dawn would always stay loyal to Cochran.

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