You can read the previous Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles segment here: Part 1.
Every Survivor winner deserves credit for finishing their season on top. Survivor is a difficult game to play. Not only are you in a tough environment with limited food and resources, you have to manage the people you’re playing with and find a way past them to get to the end and convince them to vote for you to become the Sole Survivor. Here we’ll take a look at the biggest obstacles the winners of seasons 11-20 faced on their way to victory.
Danni Boatwright – Guatemala
Her biggest obstacle was Stephenie and Rafe, the power players of the Nakum alliance. They had a tight grip on the game and pagonged the rest of Danni’s allies but Danni’s social and physical game earned her some important challenge wins and allowed her to infiltrate the alliance. She was able to manipulate Stephenie and Rafe subtly and appear less threatening than Cindy and Lydia. Cindy and Lydia. I have no idea how Danni pulled that off but she did.
Aras Baskauskas – Panama
Aras is an interesting winner and while he is a good player there were certain flaws in his game. His biggest obstacles were Terry Deitz and Cirie Fields and this is where it gets interesting. Aras needed Terry to win all those immunity challenges because otherwise Aras’s alliance would vote Terry out, Terry would play his hidden immunity idol, and Aras would be voted out. Also, Cirie likely could’ve beaten anyone from the Casaya alliance if she made it to the end yet Aras seemed set on going to the end with her. If it wasn’t for Danielle (Danielle beating Cirie in the tiebreaker and also taking Aras to the end), Aras would not likely be the winner of this season. Aras had some big obstacles and overcame them in the weirdest of ways.
Yul Kwon – Cook Islands
We’ve talked a lot about the Aitu 4 and what they had to go through to become the final 4, and we also talked about Yul’s idol and it would be too easy to rely on those for this explanation. I think Yul’s biggest obstacle was Ozzy. I’m sure Yul’s plan after the merge was his alliance of 5 with Ozzy Penner Sundra and Becky and then have the alliance mapped out for a Yul and Becky final 2 but Ozzy definitely made things difficult with his immunity challenge victories and an impressive game as well. Yul’s decision to vote Penner out before Adam and Parvati ultimately gave Yul a narrow victory at Final Tribal Council. Probably one of the closest finishes to a season.
Earl Cole – Fiji
Being a member of Ravu until the swap, Earl certainly had a number of obstacles this season. That tribe offered little solace as they had miserable camp life and they visited Tribal Council 4 of 5 times while Earl was on the tribe. He had to deal with a lot of vocal and difficult players to deal with such as Rocky, and it was hard for him to find numbers. Even when he did have numbers, he would be separated from Anthony in the swap and Michelle would be voted out by the twist. From dealing with Mookie’s idol and finding the right opportunity to let go of jury threat Yau-Man, it was touch and go at times for Earl but he seized each moment.
Todd Herzog – China
With all due respect to Courtney and Peih-Gee, James and Amanda were the two players Todd had to be worried about in China the most. I don’t think Todd was counting on James entering the merge with two idols (which happened since Zhan Hu actually won the food eating challenge despite throwing the previous one) and when it came time to blindside James, he was possibly in danger if James did play an idol. And while Todd and Amanda were allies the whole game, they also knew they both played a good game and it was tempting to vote the other off. Since Amanda won some late immunity challenges, Amanda had more opportunities to vote out Todd than the other way around but Todd managed to stick around and was able to beat Amanda at the end.
Parvati Shallow – Micronesia
This one is a bit more obvious. Cirie was definitely Parvati’s biggest challenger for the win in this season. Cirie, Amanda, and Parvati are all great players and when all 3 of them align it’s no surprise to see them do well. Cirie and Parvati were able to separate their emotions and make tough decisions more effectively than Amanda, and either Cirie or Parvati could’ve beaten Amanda at a final 2. But in a final 3 scenario in which they were all likely expecting, Cirie was likely the favorite to win. Luckily for Parvati, it was a final 2 and Cirie was voted out. I never said luck wasn’t important in Survivor. It really is, but still credit to Parvati for her game.
Bob Crowley – Gabon
I think the double elimination and tribe swap hindered Bob’s game where Dan and Susie realized they were on the outside looking into the Onion alliance. Had Bob been able to make the 9 person merge with Corinne, Randy, Marcus, and Charlie he likely could’ve made the top 5 (barring any idol plays targeted towards him) he would’ve been two immunity wins away from winning if he sat next to Corinne and Randy (possibly Marcus and Charlie since they did have some conflicts with Crystal and Ken). However, despite the numbers being against him he did manage to get far through his social and physical game. Matty definitely was his biggest competition from the majority alliance and fittingly the two strong players had a showdown in the Day 38 Tribal Council in the firemaking challenge, which Bob won. Judging by the jury composition, as much as Randy claims to hate Bob, Bob was always the favorite to beat Susie in that vote.
J.T. Thomas – Tocantins
Coming into the merge with a numbers disadvantage and being the biggest physical threat from that minority, JT did have a lot of work to do to win this game. But Timbira was such a hot mess they immediately invited JT, Stephen, and Taj into alliances with them. JT’s end game would be his biggest obstacle because unlike the Timbira majority, Stephen, Erinn, and Taj were smart enough to know that JT needed to go. Despite having few victories of note in the premerge or the early merge, JT got the immunity challenge wins he needed to ensure he made it to the final 2 and once he did it was a knockout blow 7-0 to Stephen Fishbach to win this game.
Natalie White – Samoa
In retrospect, it seems weird to think of a reality where a player like Natalie could lose to a player like Russell in a Final Tribal Council. But Natalie’s victory in the first of eventually 4 seasons in Samoa was anything but predestined. Russell did have a lot of control in that season and anyone he identified as a threat was bound to be voted out, so Natalie had to watch out and to prevent Russell’s radar from going off on her. In a bigger picture Natalie had to deal with more than just Russell. In a pre merge tribe that visited 5 Tribal Councils, Natalie had to find herself in a good position, have good allies, and be vital to her tribe, which can be difficult when you’re seen as the sweet southern blonde girl. She also did have a role in overturning the 8-4 deficit Foa Foa entered the merge with by helping convince Galu to turn on Erik. Natalie did a good job rolling with the punches from all angles and slowly but surely making her way to the top.
Sandra Diaz-Twine: Heroes vs. Villains
Like Natalie, Sandra’s main obstacle would be playing with Russell and other influential strategic players, especially after Tyson’s dumb move crippled her alliance. She managed to survive a close call on Day 24 when Courtney was voted out but in the merge she did what she had to do to survive and get herself further, taking the opportunities that came her way to get to the end. It’s tempting to take a winner to the end because the jury may not want to vote for someone who has already won. However, that means you’re taking someone to the end who knows how to address a jury in one of the most tense situations you can find yourself in. And when you have Sandra up against another former winner and someone who burns much more bridges than he fixes, you’ve set up Sandra for a historic 2nd Survivor victory.
Did you agree or disagree with what I had to say? Once Worlds Apart finishes, I look forward to sharing my thoughts on the 10 most recent winners of the series.
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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