Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles – Part 2


Feature Monday is here again and today we bring you the second segment of Ozlet Ivan Ornelas’s Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles. Today the obstacles faced by the winners from the intermediate or 'middle school' seasons are identified, with twists, minority positions and strong opponents making the road to the million that much more difficult. Click below to read what exactly each winner had to overcome!

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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12 Comments on Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles – Part 2

  1. Yul won cause he had the over powered idol point blank. Natalie sucked she was a coattail rider and Russell should have won 9-0-0. Sandra same thing she floated the whole game and was lucky to even make merge.

    Russell was victom of 2 bitter juries. He played the best srategic game ever and rivaled by tony in cagayan.

    Coattail riders and floaters should never win.


    • While Russell was a fantastic strategic player, his social game was simply nonexistent. It takes more than excellent strategy to win Survivor, as the people you vote out decide who wins. Russell forgot that twice, making both of his losses justified. Had he been aware of his social game and not turned everyone against him in both of his seasons, it’s probable that he’d have two wins. However, because he ended up being despised by the jury, he lost twice. His games go to show how necessary it is to play all of the angles in the game of Survivor.

    • playing idols does not equal good strategy. Getting people on the jury who will vote for you is good strategy.

    • Russell Feathers // May 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm // Reply

      lol are you stupid. please don’t comment again. you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • At Least Yul used his idol to his advantage and people did respected him. That’s why Yul is better is Russell, He won albeit barely over Ozzy where Russell Lost very badly at FTC TWICE

  2. Natalie if your reading this you are the worst winner ever you did nothing but ride russells coattails to the end.

    sandra you are the 2nd worst you floated and failed at your 1 goal witch was to vote out russell.

    you guys owe him 2millon and 2 titles

    • I guess if I try hard, I can see what you are saying about Natalie. I think you are failing to see the strong social game Nat played, and lack of a social game with Russell. She formed bonds with each person and played an under the radar game. Under the radar does not mean nonstrategic. She states early on in the game that she is looking to work alongside of a loud player like Russell who will take the heat when it all goes down.
      In terms of Heroes VS Villains, I can see if you argued that Sandra never should have been brought back etc etc but she did anything but float through. She made her game plan to get Russell out very clear. She was very vocal and had that spitfire personality that has since made her so famous.
      You should rewatch the seasons and look at how the winners treat the jury members before they go out. More often than not, it sways them and rightfully so. As much as you would want someone like Dave to sway a jury and convince the rest of the jury to vote for a strong player like Rob to win, it is up to each individual. They have feelings and if the contestants scorn them before they leave the game, it will be reflected at the final tribal but more importantly, the final vote.

      Overall, excellent article!

    • You are honestly being very ignorant right now…. Everyone has different opinions and you need to learn to respect others instead of being so incredibly aggresive. But to me, Natalie is an amazing player. She knew that going into the game, being a strategic backstabber would not work for her. She played to her strengths. She is so underrated to me. Besides, when it comes to me personally the end should be about 50% social and 50% strategic. Russell may earn 50/50 points for strategy, but was a bully so at most 5/50 for social. Natalie was well liked by everyone so for social i will give 40-45/50, then for strategy she did have some game, like being able to convince Galu to blindside Eric. Plus she was able to stay in the majority for every single vote as well so i will give her 30/50. Natalie wins easily. And when it comes to Sandra, it was her social game as well. She was able to bond with the Heroes so much and despite not being able to accomplish what she wanted to do with them, she still had those great bonds with them. That is something Russell and Parvati did not have. For me personally, I do not always think that the winner was the best player of the season, but they are always the best player of the finalists. Because regardless, they were able to convince the jury to give them a million dollars.

    • Natalie is 10 times better of a player then Russell, and Sandra is 100 times better of a player then Russell. COATTAIL RIDING IS A VALID STRATEGY!!!! Especially when your playing with Russell. Just because Russell did crazy moves doesn’t make him a good player. In my opinion he isn’t in the top 100 players to ever play, but Natalie should get loads more credit by being able to be the only person in Survivor: Samoa that the craziest player to ever play the game never even contamplated voting out. For this, I don’t think she should even be in the bottom 5 winners, so Natalie if you are reading this, you are light years better then any other player from Survivor: Samoa. And as for Sandra, she crossed Russell. AND SURVIVED!!!!!!!!!!! She has also won twice so look at the facts. Russell<Natalie Sandra<Russell.

  3. mary valliere // June 1, 2015 at 8:57 am // Reply

    I would like to see L.J. back on survivor!!!

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