Making a Case for Chase: Why Chase Rice should have won Survivor Nicaragua


10 seasons ago Jud 'Fabio' Birza was crowned the winner of Survivor Nicaragua by a 5-4-0 vote over Chase Rice and Sash. With just one vote separating first and second place, it's clear that many of the jurors thought the season should have had a different final outcome. So did the right person win? In today's feature article New Zealand Ozlet Nick Chester argues why Chase Rice should have won Survivor Nicaragua. Read on to find out the case for Chase.


There will always be plenty of healthy debate on winners of Survivor and whether or not they deserved to win. Some people will argue that whoever wins deserves it and there is no such thing as an unworthy winner. It’s a hard argument to battle. If you make it to day 39 and then win the majority of jury votes, you certainly did more than a few things right along the way.

However, most of us have our favourite winners – ones we think stand out from the pack. Often we talk about “overrated” or “underrated” players and winners, and if we have winners we like more, we probably have winners we like less. Usually when people try to rank winners (always a tricky and generally a pretty futile job), a couple of names rise to the top. Sandra, Boston Rob and Parvati are usually near the very peak. Whereas players such as Bob, Amber and Jenna may sink to the bottom. One player very often sited amongst the “worst” winners is Fabio, and his win does seem something of an anomaly. For all intents and purposes, Fabio was a strong physical player with very little grasp on the game. Some will argue that once he got to the end, he made a very strong case for himself to win and showed he actually did have some strategic skills.

For me, the story of Fabio’s win is more a case of watching others lose. There are seasons like this, where the winner’s story is more about how other players managed to mess up and hand the win to someone previously in the shadows. I think this is definitely the case with Nicaragua. I have always been a fan of Sash, and seen him as someone who unfairly took a lot of heat for being “slimy” and untrustworthy, but I also understand quite clearly why he didn’t win in the end.

However, I think little attention has been paid to Chase Rice and his game. It’s pretty much been written off as him being “wishy washy” and making too many alliances that he ultimately doesn’t keep. I think this gives Chase no credit at all and for one very specific reason, Chase may well have had a million dollars stolen from under his nose.

Losing Finalists – Can They Deserve It?

ChaseChase had his chance to plead his case – so he had his chance and blew it – right?

One argument I have heard a lot over the years is that if you make it to day 39 and lose, you cannot be considered as someone who deserved to win or “should have won”. The argument is that whilst people who get taken out after losing the final immunity challenges (Rob C, Kathy, Terry Dietz) can be considered as those who could or should have won, if you make it to the end, plead your case and lose, you can never be considered as playing a game worthy of winning. I understand this concept, and think in many cases, it’s true. But there are exceptions and I think this idea has really been built up as a way of arguing with Russell Hantz fans more than anything else. There are of course mitigating factors, the most clear and obvious is that someone goes on an immunity run that takes them to the end. Jurors are always going to be more willing to give players like this a vote – after all, someone who wins immunity is often the person least at fault for blindsiding those left, and people feel less grudgingly towards them. There are so many examples of this – from Jenna, to JT, to Fabio, to Mike. There are also other players who went on an immunity run that ended on day 38, that had they won, would have gone on to be sole survivor in large part because of their challenge prowess above anything else (Ozzy in S23 and Terry). So it’s fair to say that the best player can make it to the end and lose when someone with less blood on their hands as the result of a long immunity run gets to the end. I have to stress that I still think it’s rare – almost always, the best player still around on day 39 wins the game – and this isn’t just about strategy. Players like Sandra understand that getting to the end with two less likeable people is all you have to do to win the game. In fact, jurors seem to value strategy far less than social skills and challenge ability. So does the best player in the finals always win? Almost always, but not entirely. Which leads us to Nicaragua

Was Chase’s Game Really That Bad?

Chase1Chase’s “Bad Game” may be a fiction of the Edit.

For a guy that came within one vote of winning the whole thing, Chase’s game has never really been analysed all that much and he’s not someone I hear a lot about, apart from the odd musical performance. The way his game was presented to the audience was that he was a flip-flopping, disloyal player who never really knew what he was doing. Quite frankly, I think this was a heavily distorted version of his game, presented to try and explain why he eventually loses to Fabio of all people. Chase made a lot of really good moves. He was open to aligning with many people earlier on, including Shannon but saw quickly that this was a mistake, so got rid of him. He was accused of being smitten with Brenda – but had the sense to vote her out when he did. He was happy to align with players that were disliked by others, such as NaOnka and saw the sense in keeping them close. Unlike a lot of people who play Survivor, Chase was able to keep a lot of options open, and for a physical and athletic guy, he was never targeted as a threat in challenges. For an “alpha male”, Chase was very soft spoken and this allowed people to gravitate towards him. In fact, I think Chase may have one of the most underrated social games of all time. This ability to be reserved allowed players like Brenda to falsely assume that Chase was dumb and would do whatever he was told. As she would later find out along with many others), this was a bad mistake. But Chase was also able to build bridges and keep people onside – lets not forget who NaOnka chose to give her hidden immunity idol to when she quit – yup, it was Chase. He was also great at making allies with the older people – Holly trusted him completely and he used his local connection with Jane to keep her close and then get rid of her when he had to. Whilst Sash was seen as a snake, Chase was able to recover from events where he betrayed people, and you can’t consider him a bad social player when he backstabs Jane and Brenda (and Holly to a degree), and still gets their votes. If Chase had managed to swing one more vote his way, we would have seen a completely different version of his game that would have justified a win. And I don’t think this would have been hard – the basis of Chase’s game was really good. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty damn solid. In fact, it was only sunk by a series of unfortunate events that nobody could have seen coming.

Invalid Votes

Chase2If you’re not voted out by your tribemates, how can you make an informed vote?

My big issue with the Nicaragua jury is it includes NaOnka and Purple Kelly. I have nothing against them quitting – I have never played Survivor and don’t know how tough it is, and they made it further than I ever will. They have every right to quit. I just don’t think they should have been on the jury. And not for any kind of moral reason, but purely from a game perspective. At the final tribal council, Jeff talks about how finalists are accountable for their actions and must answer to the people they had a hand in voting out. Well, this isn’t the case with these two women. Their view of the finalists is completely skewed by the fact that they didn’t go through the trauma of being voted out of the game, and their perspective is not formed by this at all. The whole idea is that finalists have to convince people they have betrayed to reward them. NaOnka and Purple Kelly were never betrayed, and so had no ability to vote through this perspective. Their votes should have been invalid – in fact they should have been sent home and not on the jury at all. And if this is the case, their two votes for Fabio disappear and Chase wins the vote 4-3. Chase has taken a lot of criticism for his game, but one area where he definitely excelled was in front of the jury where he was open and honest and justified why he played how he did. He seemingly convinced a couple of people he betrayed that he had to do what he did to advance in the game, and they rewarded him with their votes. The key perspective of being voted out was missing from the minds of NaOnka and Purple Kelly – they should never have been given a vote. The fact that this was almost a universal opinion and there simply wasn’t a clause in the player’s contract covering such an event confirms this. It seems that if a similar situation was ever to arise again, the player wouldn’t be on the jury. This is a good thing, but it’s of cold comfort to Chase who would have a million dollars if this had been considered earlier.

Kamikaze Quitters

Chase3Chase’s game was on track…until this happened.

The most frustrating thing about NaOnka and Purple Kelly’s quits is that they were probably both odd-on favourites to be taken to the end as goats when they left. NaOnka was disliked by most, and whereas Kelly was nice enough, I’m not sure her game would have gained much respect from the jury. Their quits completely changed the dynamic of the game. Its impossible to know what would have happened, other than to say that if Fabio was still to make it to the end he would need to have won two more challenges, because at the time of the quits, he was very close to the next target anyway. If the two girls don’t quit, it’s pretty likely that Fabio gets nowhere near the end and he is nothing but a slightly amusing footnote on an otherwise boring season. It’s pretty hard to know what would have happened after that, given Chase would now be the biggest physical threat in the game, but I suspect that Holly and Kelly are seen as social threats to get jury votes. I think Chase easily could have still made the final 4 – and even final 3 with Sash and NaOnka, which he wins handily. Its of course impossible to know for sure, but with Fabio much more likely to be gone, Chase would be the best shot to win challenges in a group of people who were not well liked by the jury. Those quits really did blow the game up for everyone by specifically giving Fabio a get out of jail free card for 2 weeks. This would end up being just as valuable as the immunity wins he would later get – 3 immunity challenge wins in a row is impressive – no one has ever done 5. Even Mike in Worlds Apart didn’t achieve that. So you have to think that had these two women not quit when they did, Fabio’s chances of making it all the way to the end are significantly reduced – and in turn, Chase’s chances of winning increase.

An Unlucky Loser


For my money, Chase is the most unlucky finalist in Survivor history. The guy played a pretty straight up game. No, not perfect by any measure but I think there is plenty there to like about his game. However, it ended up being sunk by three unlikely blows – a double quit of two of the game’s biggest goats, then production’s decision to allow them to be on the jury. The third event, Fabio’s immunity run was not just a fatal blow but one that was accelerated by the quits as well. Fabio essentially won three immunities and was given another two through the actions of NaOnka and Purple Kelly. Not only had that, but they then become the swing votes to give him the game, where the majority of the legitimate jury members wanted Chase to win. It must have been a bitter pill to swallow. and it just goes to show how unpredictable, and often unfair Survivor can be at times.

What do you think of Chase’s game in Nicaragua? Was he deserving of the win? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!


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15 Comments on Making a Case for Chase: Why Chase Rice should have won Survivor Nicaragua

  1. i 100% agree nice post

  2. The second half was hard to read after you dissed JT. I couldn’t really get over that

  3. Anyone should have won over Fabio he is the most clueless winner in history. He literally stumbled is way to the win. He was more clueless then the Borneo pegong tribe in how to play survivor.

    • *Pagong.
      Nah Bob was more clueless. Fabio wasn’t a great winner but at least he got himself to where he was by the impressions he made and alliances and winning immunity when he needed to but not being a massive threat by appearing clueless and being goofy.
      The idea that anyone should have won over Fabio is ludicrous as is your third sentence there.

  4. RB Liljestrom // October 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm // Reply

    You fucker Nick! You pretty much nailed it. I have always stated that if you win Survivor you ARE the best player. There’s no debate. This is the only case where that doesn’t apply. The quitters had the most power in the jury and that should never be the case. Quitters should be given the boot. I’ve always backed Fabio’s win but now that won’t be the case. I hate it when I’m wrong. Nice job Nick.

  5. Chase wasn’t going to win. It’s been said in post-game interviews that people were going to vote for Fabio and some knowing full-well that Fabio was going to win, gave their votes to Chase. If PK and Naonka weren’t on the jury, some of the votes for Chase would have went back to Fabio. Fabio had it locked with or without the two-quitters being on the jury. PS. quitters at jury stage were always on jury so their votes were just as valid as the rest of the jury’s

  6. This is quite possibly the worst article written on this site. NaOnka and PK had every right to be on the jury because a precedent was set with Janu (and if it’s based on voting them out, Bruce as well). Besides, Chase got an II out of their quit, so it can’t have hurt him too bad.

    • RB Liljestrom // October 13, 2015 at 5:17 am // Reply

      Getting pulled out for medical reasons shouldn’t be considered a quit. Being wet, hungry, dirty, tired,…….is not a medical reason. Bruce couldn’t continue. Oesten come to find out maybe would have died if he stayed in the game. You’re comparing apples to road apples. When you have people that just walk away they should be vilified not rewarded. If you think this article was so horrible maybe you should provide a better rebuttal refuting Nicks points. I think it’s one of the better articles posted on this site. Have a great day Wilburdes.

      • wilburdes // October 14, 2015 at 8:22 am //

        My point with the that is that Janu was on the jury in Palau, despite quitting. If that is allowed and rules hadn’t been changed, Fabio would have been massively screwed over by losing jurors that might have voted for him.

        Aside from that, this is just Nick buying into Fabio’s “clueless” edit and ignoring the fact that he managed to avoid being the target for weeks, despite being a large physical threat.

        Chase also made mistakes throughout the game and this just feels like the opportunity for Nick to play armchair survivor and take a dump on a strong winner.

      • RB Liljestrom // October 14, 2015 at 12:53 pm //

        Ok. That makes sense. I love the shit out of Survivor but I’m not fanatical about it. I don’t even remember Janu. Like you I really gained a lot of respect for Fabio on a rewatch. (One of the few seasons I have rewatched) I thought Chase was a wishy-washy player and was glad Fabio won and thought he deserved to win. I didn’t even take into consideration the effect the quitters had on the outcome until Nicks article. Like you I thought Chase was a horrible player and he made more mistakes than Fabio. At least Fabio did what he set out to do. Try to stay in the numbers by aligning with the right people, stay under the radar and keep everyone entertained. Another point we can agree on is Fabio would be considered a strong player if he plays again because his type of play would take him a long way on an all winner season.

    • Nick address how Fabio won directly- he addressed how Chase lost. No where on this article does Nick discuss the pros and cons of Fabio’s game. Yes, Chase made mistakes, but so did Fabio- he didn’t win with a perfect game (only two people have ever done it)- but the point of the article is to discuss whether or not Chase deserved to lose.

  7. thegaminggeek // October 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm // Reply

    The thing is, the quitters that voted for Fabio were both allied with Chase and ended up giving the votes to someone outside their alliance rather than to Chase. That has to signify something about Chase’s game, right? Also, if interviews are to be believed, this vote should not have been as close as it was without the pity votes that were sent his way.

  8. I’m sorry but I dunno if I can read all of this, bro. I reckon it was dodgy, unpredictable, and unfair that Chase got 4 votes and Sash got 0. I mean the jury was full of dodgy people, not talking about quitters here but Brenda was always gonna be bitter, and had made up her mind about Fabio from the beginning so obvs she votes for Chase because he was alright. And that’s not even something that the other two there could have predicted. He didn’t know what was going on and made so many blunders without actually fixing them himself, it’s just that it happened to work out with the moves other people were making. Chase did get a pretty crap edit and was honestly so annoying the entire time that he rivalled Lillian Morris and Lisa Whelchel, but he also didn’t play a great game, and although it seemed like he was sorta trying, there were soooo many times when he could have easily gone home and it wasn’t because of him doing anything to save himself.
    Also if someone can explain to me the whole thing about how Sash lost by breaking alliances, that would be great, cuz I don’t really understand that. Was it specific to that jury? Or is that kind of thing just generally considered a bad move? Cuz didn’t he sorta need to do that to get to the end? Maybe cuz he was fixing his mistakes so it was like he should have made the mistake? Idk.

  9. Really interesting post, Nick. I agree with a lot of what you wrote. Fabio came off as quite the underdog, but luck very much played in his favor with those two ‘immunities’ that were handed to him in the form of PK and Naonka’s quits.

    One could wonder however if them staying in the game really would have changed the outcome for Chase. Is it possible they could have eventually teamed up with Holly and Jane to take out the men still in the game, in which case Chase would maybe not have been around in the finals? Who knows…

    Ultimately, I don’t know if we can really identify the best player this season. Chase and Fabio both played very different games and they both played hard in their own way. Chase formed strategic bonds, which kept him safe, whereas Fabio just gave it his all without forming strategic bonds that needed to be broken, which also kept him safe since he was a lone wolf. You could argue that Fabio didn’t intentionally do that though, and that is something I’d believe. So with that in mind, Chase gets the edge in my book too.

    Sorry about all the rambling. Now that I’m done, I’m siding with you on the Chase thing. =)

  10. If Fabio lost then Holly would have made it to the end and she likely would have won. Chase was a decent player, but was way to wishy washy and didn’t have many connections with people. He and Sash burned a lot of people they didn’t need to. As far as invalid votes by your logic medical evacts shouldn’t be on the jury. Not saying I disagree, but thought I would point it out. Anyway the biggest victim of the quitters was Sash. If Sash sat next to those 2 which was his plan he checkmates everyone into voting for him. Based on the final immunity challenge where Sash is last to drop out before Fabio wins immunity I think it’s fair to say Chase wouldn’t have won his way there.

    To summarize this should be called the case for Sash.

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