Feature Monday is here again and today we bring you the third and final segment of Ozlet Ivan Ornelas’s Sole Survivor Biggest Obstacles. Today the obstacles faced by the winners from the most recent or ‘new school’ seasons are examined, with strong personalities, immunity threats and self-destructive gameplay making the road to the million that much more difficult. Click below to read what exactly each winner had to overcome!
I’ve covered the first twenty winners, and now it’s time to take a look at the latest ten players who have obtained the coveted title of Sole Survivor.
Jud “Fabio” Birza – Nicaragua
I’m probably one of the biggest Fabio fans and I stick by the way of thinking that every winner deserves to win, and you bet I will defend his game. However when going through the obstacles he had to ace it can be unclear what caused these obstacles or how much fault he had in putting himself in a bad position, because yes he picked some bad alliance members such as Shannon but at the same time he was forced into certain alliances out of necessity. As much as I am glad Sash did not receive any jury votes, it seems like Fabio’s problems especially late in the game relate back to Sash. Who prevented Marty’s guys alliance idea from working? Sash. Who was the swing vote at the final 7 when Fabio’s alliance was once again the outsiders? Sash. And who was the last person standing between Fabio and the immunity necklace on Day 38? Sash. However, Sash and many other contestants overlooked Fabio thinking they would be able to take him out at any point they wanted to but to Fabio’s credit and their mistake, he took control of his own destiny in the immunity challenges and managed to win the game
Rob Mariano – Redemption Island
Aside from possibly Kim, I do not think any build up to a win was more obvious, predictable, and boring than Rob’s victory in Redemption Island. I’m happy for Rob that he managed to win after 4 tries and I think it did Survivor more good than harm that one of their most iconic players (after other fan favorites such as Colby, Cirie, and Rupert couldn’t do it) found his way on to the list of winners, but it was not pretty to watch. Strangely enough, even though Russell was severely tranquilized and easily dispatched this season, I would say Russell was a big obstacle this season because Rob was almost reliving Russell Hantz’s Samoa season, only he was not nearly as much of a jerk as Russell was and he did not need to overcome a numbers disadvantage after the merge. He was receiving 85% of the edit, and everything was seemingly going his way and it looked like he made it to the Final Tribal Council with the two people he wanted to be with (one of them named Natalie). But Rob managed to do what Russell couldn’t do and won the jury over. If that’s not good enough, I think the obvious choice and likely the right choice for biggest obstacle was Ashley Underwood. She did nearly foil Rob’s plans with her immunity run and probably would’ve given Rob a scare at Final Tribal, but it was too little too late and should’ve voted him out sooner since she had earlier chances.
Sophie Clarke – South Pacific
The Redemption Island experiment did not necessarily go as bad as I thought it would last season although it did not help make it a good season. However South Pacific highlighted probably the biggest problem with this twist: giving a challenge beast an almost free ticket to the final 5 regardless of his or her social skills. That is what it did for Ozzy, who was definitely Sophie’s biggest obstacle. He competed in 9 individual challenges and won 7 of them this season, and he was a jury favorite. Sophie managed to win one challenge against Ozzy and it was the one that mattered most. One of Coach’s favorite Survivor rules: if you successfully slay the dragon, you deserve to win.
Kim Spradlin – One World
Jeff Probst’s opinions are not always ones that the fan base agrees with, but he did make a good point about Sabrina that in another season, her gameplay could have been enough to win, and that could also apply to Chelsea. Kim was dominant in this season but her tightest allies were actually her biggest obstacles in the sense that they had the biggest realistic chance of beating Kim. By biggest, however, that is proportional to everyone else’s, including Colton. At least Sabrina denied Kim a unanimous victory, one Kim probably could’ve had if she decided to bring Kat, Alicia, and/or Christina to the end instead of these two.
Denise Stapley – Philippines
Matsing and Malcolm were Denise’s biggest obstacles. Through little fault of her own (she was definitely good in challenges), Matsing were a trainwreck and that may be putting it lightly. In a numbers game, finding yourself 6 v 6 v 2 after 10 days is scary, especially when you’re then whisked away to a new tribe and you’re the only new one in that tribe. I shouldn’t even have to mention attending every Tribal Council and only having immunity once. Being able to overcome those odds is a credit to Denise, no doubt. Her ally Malcolm was by far her biggest jury threat but ultimately when it came down to her and him, she managed to succeed.
John Cochran – Caramoan
For one reason or another, Cochran almost always found himself in a good position this season despite being a physical liability premerge and a strategic but also untrustworthy player post merge based on his previous season. However, there were some tense Tribal Councils Cochran had to negotiate and if that one vote went wrong, it could have undermined his whole game. The biggest vote of them all was this one: Final 10. With Reynold immune and Eddie and Malcolm in possession of Hidden Immunity Idols, Cochran and his allies were helpless. All they could do was hope the Three Amigos were not writing his name down. In retrospect, it definitely seemed more wise to blindside a Cochran, Dawn, or Andrea this vote than Phillip, but regardless of the outcome of this vote there was little that could be done to prevent a Stealth R Us Operative from being crowned this season’s Sole Survivor, and it happened to be Cochran.
Tyson Apostol – Blood vs. Water
The gameplay following Laura’s second vote out was probably the closest newcomers came to overthrowing the veteran players in any of the three 10 newcomers vs 10 veterans seasons, and it started with Hayden and Caleb recognizing that Tyson was the biggest threat. Unfortunately it was only until the next vote Ciera realized that and that was only good enough for a rock drawing in which Tyson was vulnerable. Tyson managed to draw a safe rock and survive the scare, and remained on course to win this season.
Tony Vlachos – Cagayan
Tony did not win this season unchallenged, as many of his opponents considered voting him out and were worthy adversaries in this game, especially in immunity challenges where Tony was surprisingly unable to win a single one. However his biggest obstacle in this game was himself. Yes he had idols, including the special idol that could be used after the votes were read, but those idols probably got to his head a little bit and he was much more vocal than he had to be. He also drew a lot of attention to himself as his paranoia (somewhat warranted, however) led him to betray LJ and Jefra. However Tony played this game so fast he just about fixed everything he broke, including turning Woo from the sidekick of his early game enemy Cliff to his number one ally, which was infamously important in getting Tony to the end and allowing him to win.
Natalie Anderson – San Juan del Sur
Like Denise and Kim, Natalie’s biggest obstacles would be her allies, and don’t get me wrong, Missy and Jaclyn are no slouches, but dealing with Jeremy and Jon were probably the biggest turning points in allowing Natalie to go from an under-the-radar player to a favorite to win this game. I am not quite sure how good a chance Natalie would have had against Jeremy in a jury vote, and Jeremy’s blindside was likely a blessing in disguise for her. However, Natalie could have easily been the next one to go but she did what she had to do to stay in a good position. However, that meant letting Jon run things for a while, but Natalie was not going to let Jon set himself up for his victory. By switching her vote from Keith to Alec on Day 33, Natalie kept a potential ally in Keith in the game and discarded a potential ally for Jon. Also, being able to get away with that move by saying she made a mistake was good on her part, and then she managed to blindside him the next vote. Natalie did not play a textbook Survivor game but she never gave up and found a way to get things done, which ended up being good enough.
Mike Holloway – Worlds Apart
Mike’s alliance was a major obstacle but like Tony he himself was his biggest obstacle. Early on his work ethic and criticizing (kinda harsh for me to use that to describe it, but couldn’t think of a better word) other people’s work ethic rubbed some of his tribemates the wrong way and he did not have to call out Rodney, Will, Carolyn, and Tyler in front of the whole tribe right when they were about to read letters from home. Worst….timing….ever. However either way Mike was going to be targeted by his own alliance sooner or later because he was a threat. With his immunity wins and idol, Mike managed to overcome those steep odds and happy danced his way to victory.
Did I miss anything? Do you agree or disagree? I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you for reading.
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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