When it comes time for returning players to enter back into the Survivor arena, there are always heightened expectations - of the season, and the players. Who will stand out? Who will fulfil their potential from their first appearance? And who will get found out as not as great a player as everyone thought? Many returning players have considered this before. Tom Westman famously turned down the chance to appear on Micronesia, citing he had no chance of being as successful as he was in Palau. Survivor is clearly an addictive drug for players though, and he was enticed back for Heroes vs. Villains and his prediction ultimately proved correct. With Survivor Cambodia just days away, New Zealand Ozlet Nick Chester takes a look at who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose in the upcoming season.
Our twenty second chancers are all eager to return and try and grab the win that eluded them the first time round. Only one will be successful. But many are putting reputations as good players, or at least ones with great potential on the line. For some, their stock will rise, others will fall. Some will become Parvatis – proving their skill on a return appearance, but some will ultimately endure a frustrating early exit like Rob Cesternino. Ultimately I’m sure few care about legacy and reputation and only care about the title, but as fans it’s something to think about. So below is my ranking based on who has the most to lose in number 20 spot, and the most to gain from a return appearance – do you agree?
20. Stephen Fishbach – Tocantins
A return to Survivor is surprising for Stephen, who, short of winning, can only do worse on a second time around. Stephen is currently thought of as a great strategist, and a student of the game, thanks in part to his “Know it All ” podcasting status. A late run in the game could prove what we already knew. But an early exit for Stephen and his reputation as a great thinker of the game could take a battering.
19. Spencer Bledsoe – Cagayan
Spencer came out of Cagayan as a fan favourite despite never really being in control the whole time. His potential as a strategist is clear for all to see, and this makes him a target. Getting over this hurdle is going to be tough, and he could be off for a long trip to Ponderosa, and his potential as a great player gone with it.
18. Tasha Fox – Cagayan
Like Spencer, Tasha is thought of as a great player by many, and her physical ability and challenge prowess is not to be sneezed at. However, what is under reported is that her social game is probably not as strong as you think – and this could come again. It’s easy to play the underdog – but if Tasha gets in a good position in an alliance, will her social game put her in a winning spot? I have major doubts that she comes out of this with the same shine as she did in Cagayan.
17. Joe Anglim – Worlds Apart
The “Golden Boy” has a lot to lose. A clear fan favourite in Worlds Apart, Joe was great at challenges and actually an underrated social player. But the target on his is as large as anyone’s this season and he could be one of the first males to go. All Star seasons often see alpha males target each other and Joe’s golden shine could be tarnished early.
16. Ciera Eastin – Blood vs. Water
Going into Cambodia, Ciera is thought of as an unexpectedly solid strategist and social player, and you have to think her puzzle abilities will have improved to potentially make her a big all round threat. But if anyone sniffs her out early, or her tribe goes down in the numbers quickly, Ciera is in trouble. Her run in Blood vs. Water could be seen as a fluke and her potential could go unfulfilled.
15. Vytas Baskauskas – Blood vs. Water
Vytas is an interesting one to watch this season. He has the ability to get along with older and younger players and also can bridge the gap between old and new school players due to the links he gets via his brother being a winner on an older season. Generally, I think people see Vytas as someone with a lot of potential who got in a bad position in his first game. If this doesn’t work out, you will have to start to think that Vytas doesn’t have as much game as it appears – a good run could prove he’s the real deal. It’s very much in the balance.
14. Terry Deitz – Panama
I’m not sure what others think of Terry, but I think he’s seen as something of a one trick pony. Great at challenges but lacking strategic and social skills, Terry has to pick up his game. But in terms of finishing position, I think its going to be really difficult for Terry to do better on a second appearance so I have to say he has more to lose than gain, especially if the increased age and tougher competitions means he doesn’t dominate challenges like before.
13. Kelly Wiglesworth – Borneo
Kelly is such an unknown entity this time around. Her second chance interviews made it seem like she didn’t really care, yet she shows more resolve in the pre-game press. But I think Kelly has more to lose than gain. In order to win, she will have to make and break alliances, which tarnishes her self-built reputation of being above that sort of thing. She’s still seemingly fit enough to keep up in the challenges though. This will be one of the stories to watch this season.
12. Peih-Gee Law – China
I’m not sure there is a “common” view on Peih-Gee. She definitely has some good strategic skills, but also had a lot of social deficiencies last time around. Overall, this could go either way and a decent run is good, and early exit bad. Anything from late pre-merge to final 5 and her reputation probably stays how it is. Look to Peih Gee to be a surprise contender in individual challenges if she gets that far.
11. Jeff Varner – Australian Outback
As one of the players entering the game with the least experience, Jeff has less to do to improve on his past game than most from a purely statistical perspective. What makes Jeff a little different is that he is acknowledged as a pretty good player who was undone by a combination of unlikely events, so has never really got his due as a great player. Well now, 15 years later he has a chance to prove it. Times have changed but Jeff has big plans and this could go either way. In terms of legacy and reputation, Jeff sits squarely on the fence right now – this game will tip the balance one way or another.
10. Andrew Savage – Pearl Islands
Strangely enough, Savage is a polarising player. Some people think he was a terrible leader who put Morgan in a bad spot by making sub-par decisions. Others commend his ability to pull Morgan back from the brink and got screwed by a twist he could never anticipate. Either way, his legacy as a player is in the balance – much like Jeff, this could go either way. I can’t wait to see what happens.
9. Shirin Oskoii – Worlds Apart
Shirin is another difficult one to factor in, because I really think so little of the discussion about her consider her strategic skills. Worlds Apart was all about how she was treated (or mistreated) by others. The question for me is was Shirin just picked on, or was she actually irritating other people to the point where they lashed out? So one way or another, we should get to see what Shirin can do strategically this time around – she’s a massive fan, and we still don’t know if that translates into a good player – perhaps she will be the new Cochran – super fan with a bad first experience, which turns into a winning game. I could just as easily see this going badly again though.
8. Jeremy Collins – San Juan del Sur
I feel that the last year has not been kind to Jeremy in the court of public opinion. He is seen as a bit of a whiny player who actually talked a big game but overplayed and made himself a target. Jeremy seems to be much more focussed this time, and I don’t think his name will be high on the list of pre-game threats because of this reputation. Consequently, I think his stock can only rise. A bad performance will simply confirm what a lot of people already think – a good one and he is a very rare player – an alpha male who learns from his mistakes to play better on a second appearance.
7. Abi-Maria Gomes – Philippines
Abi’s game is not seen as great – and with good reason. She didn’t show much of a social skill and an early injury practically ruled out any shot of being a threat in challenges. This makes it easy for Abi to improve the perception of her. If she can play a little smarter and sweeter, she won’t be a target and is likely to be able to lay low and make the merge. Potentially she then has enough skills to do some damage. Abi finished in 5th last time, which will be a hard act to follow but I think she could be one of those players who technically finishes in a lower spot but is viewed in a better light on a second appearance.
6. Keith Nale – San Juan del Sur
Much like Abi-Maria, Keith’s high finishing position can hide that he really had no idea what was going on. He isn’t regarded as a good player so even a decent showing here could change some minds about that. Even showing a bit of strategic nous would indicate that Keith has got more going on that a likeable personality and ability to win challenges.
5. Woo Hwang – Cagayan
Following on from Keith, Woo had a high finishing position but isn’t considered a great player. This is a little unfair as he never did much wrong in Cagayan, up until day 38 when he voted Kass out instead of Tony. Quite frankly that was a million dollar mistake, but I can’t hold it against Woo that his decision gave us Tony as a Survivor winner. But if Woo actually shows a bit of proactive strategy, even a finish lower than 2nd could re-shape the view we have of him.
4. Monica Padilla – Samoa
As one of the more surprising people to make the cast. Monica doesn’t have to do a lot to surpass expectations. Her first game in Samoa is pretty forgettable, apart from her last gasp attempts to Rustle Russell’s feathers. But Monica has all the skills to do well in an All Stars season. A non-threatening female that is easy on the eye is likely to survive the carnage as Alpha males target each other, and can then piece together a plan to get to the end. Even if Monica goes early, it wont change what we think of her – currently she’s a player with good potential, but it didn’t work out. An early exit wont alter this, but a deep run and possible win would obviously change how we view Monica as a player. She has very little to lose.
3. Kass McQuillen – Cagayan
Given her third place finish, it might be odd to rank Kass this high, but with her reputation, I think most of us expect (or in my case fear) that she will be an early boot. The bar is set so low for Kass – not because she isn’t skilful at the game but because we all fully expect her Cagayan game will make her untrustworthy in the eyes of other players. She’s drawing dead and I’m sure she knows it. If Kass makes the merge, this will be a phenomenal achievement and will probably set her up for a very long run in the game. Even modest success in this game will be exceeding expectations for Kass.
2. Kelley Wentworth – San Juan del Sur
Even more so than Monica, we know so little about Kelley that this could go so many ways. But almost any scenario for Kelley is going to be better than her first appearance – where not only did she go out way too early, but she spent the first four episodes in the main alliance of a winning tribe, so we saw so little of her game. It’s hard to have any view of her at all, so the only way is up. A late run in the game and we can all think about how the San Juan del Sur season may have been different if the random swap played out in her favour.
1. Kimmi Kappenberg – Australian Outback
Most long term fans of Survivor will have fond memories of Kimmi – for a player who lasted only 5 episodes, she was such a huge character in season 2. What is fair to say is that none of those memories relate to a positive strategic game, and the bar for success in Cambodia is very low for Kimmi. Being voted out first won’t change what we think of her. But if Kimmi makes the merge, suddenly her stock shoots up. Because making the merge for Kimmi means she will be around for a while. And making even a few good strategic plays increases Kimmi’s skills by a country mile. There really is only one way for Kimmi – the worst case scenario changes nothing, but if she can make it far, we may even view her as someone with the ability to play Survivor well.
Whose reputation do you see taking the biggest hit? Who could come out of the season with increased Survivor stock? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
ALL IMAGES USED IN THIS ARTICLE ARE COPYRIGHT CBS. IF YOU WISH TO READ OUR DISCLAIMER IN REGARDS TO THE USE OF IMAGES PLEASE CLICK HERE