Survivor: Game Changers – The Case to Win
Survivor 34 has been turbulent to say the least, with some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but regardless of your opinions on the boot order or those cast as ‘game changers’, you cannot deny that Survivor has offered us some incredible television so far in 2017 and with the dust settling on a chaotic season, we head into the finale with six strong players remaining. Each has a decent chance at taking home the million and the title of sole survivor. The aim today is to establish how they need to pitch themselves to the Jury on day 39 What is the course that each player should take in these final few days, and what argument should they pitch to the jury. For the purpose of this piece, I am choosing to ignore the edited show, and place myself in the minds of each player following the chaotic Day 34 Tribal Council which saw Michaela blindsided.
Many say that Aubry should already be a Survivor winner based upon her impressive game in Kaoh Rong, but that is an argument for another day. The unfortunate reality for Aubry is that she has lacked control in this season. Her calling card in Survivor 32 was her ability to gain control in situations where she should have been a target, and that won’t work in a season where she has been on the wrong side of the vote almost every time. This could be advantageous to her, however, as she sits she remains an innocent figure in the eyes of the jury which could play to her advantage.
What she has
Friends on the jury: A close friendship with Andrea and strong working relationships with Zeke, Michaela and Hali already means that the jury is looking upon her favourably. She also has an Individual Immunity win to her name which should appeal to players like Ozzy who value the challenge and survival strength of an individual.
What she needs
Stability: A player like Aubry is already recognized as being a skillful strategist, so she doesn’t need to buy in to the ‘big moves’ hype. Instead, she just needs to be on the right side of the vote for these final three Tribal Councils. The jury’s biggest case against her is that she hasn’t been consistently in the majority, or really seemed to even know what’s going on a lot of the time. She still has time to correct this. Having said that, being the architect of the ousting of a player of Cirie’s calibre in these last few days would go a long way to showing that her game has still has strategic merit this season.
Hand picked final 3: Aubry needs to sit next to two people that can generate anger or resentment from certain members of the jury. This could primarily involve Brad, who has clearly not gotten along with Michaela all season, and Tai, who showed in Kaoh Rong that he can fumble the ball under the pressure of Final Tribal Council. If she remains her articulate self and emphasises her viable control over the end of the game, she could very easily take home the prize.
Coming into Game Changers, Brad was remembered predominantly due to his wife Monica and a certain four-word phrase coined by one Candice Cody at Redemption Island in Survivor: Blood vs Water. What was overlooked by much of the fan community, and clearly many of the players as well, was that Brad was able to establish a great deal of control within the Tadhana tribe in the pre-merge portion of the game, before he was usurped by the late Caleb Bankston. Brad has always been a strong physical player, but his unheralded leadership and a strong strategic acumen has taken him all the way to this seasons’ finale, and holds him in good stead as one of the frontrunners to win the game.
What he has
At the risk of sounding like my 19-year old counterpart Will Wahl, Brad has the resumé of a Survivor winner. Being the leader of a strong alliance pre-merge is impressive, and is made doubly so when you take into account the diverse range of personalities that Brad was able to hold together. He also has two Individual Immunity wins, including the Final 7, where his back was well and truly against the wall.
What he needs
Immunity, basically. Brad kind of needs to Mike Holloway these last few challenges, because he’s far too obvious a target to leave on the board if he’s an option. The most paramount of these necessary wins is at Final 6, where Sarah, Tai and Troyzan could all potentially be immune through the legacy Advantage and Hidden Immunity Idols. If he were to ensure his safety as well, it could ensure a huge strategic threat in Cirie or Aubry exits the game, and allows him to potentially “bro down” with Tai and Troyzan all the way to Final 3.
Metamorphosis: It was the buzzword of the pre-merge and Brad is the player who embodies this term the best. In the eyes of the other players, Brad has taken his game to another level this season, and if he can make it to the end with the right people, he should be able to mount a convincing case. He’s a lawyer by trade, so establishing a credible argument should come naturally to him, and would appear doubly impressive next to Tai, who has proven to choke under the pressure of final tribal council before.
Oh Cirie. Cirie, Cirie, Cirie. Ever since the merge, you’ve carried the collective weight of a great deal of the Survivor fandom upon your shoulders, and for the most part you’ve done them proud, but the Final 7 Tribal Council is a huge stumble in your claim to the throne. For a player like Cirie, her astute strategic mind is what she will rely on to impress the jury, but failing to read the fine print of Sarah’s vote steal advantage places a huge question mark over her head as to whether she’s as good as her legacy claims she is.
What she has
Status. In a season where a great deal of the big names were taken out early, Cirie is the lone survivor of the ‘legends’ category to make it to the finale. However, this game through the great fortune of being on the winning tribe at every immunity challenge pre-merge, and it is unlikely she can take much credit for this in the eyes of the jury, given how much she has struggled in Individual Challenges this season. However, certain jury members such as Zeke are likely to vote for her should she make the Final Tribal Council based on legacy alone, and Michaela is a guaranteed vote should she make it to the end.
What she needs
A Final 6 immunity challenge that is solely a bunch of puzzles. This next tribal is so dangerous for Cirie, with the Legacy Advantage and three idols still in the game, none of which are in her possession, but, let’s face it, she hasn’t looked like much of a threat in these Individual Immunities. If she could somehow be safe at Final 6, it would allow her to play more ambitiously strategically, and potentially win back the jury after her stumble at the Final 7.
Legacy: Cirie isn’t just any player. This would be Cirie pitching her case for the first time, after getting so close twice before. If she can get to the end, she’s got a great shot. It’s just getting there that’s the problem.
After being the winner pick for so many people in Cagayan (myself included) and bombing out quite spectacularly at the merge, expectations were low on Sarah heading into the game. However, she has surpassed these greatly, as she has been the driving force in the game since the merge, and as such is seen by many as the frontrunner coming into the finale.
What she has
Sarah’s fingerprints are all over this jury. Aside from the Hali vote, Sarah has voted with the majority at every tribal council she’s attended, and many of these votes have been of her strategic making. Her ability to read fine print is also in the forefront of the jury’s mind, as her ability to quash Cirie’s ambitious move at the Final 7, and the subsequent blindside of Cirie’s closest ally Michaela, proves that she is the strategic force she will claim to be. She also has the Legacy Advantage coming into the most dangerous tribal council of the season, so she’s guaranteed at least final 5.
What she needs
An immunity win in these last few days would really bolster her already impressive résumé. Aside from that, Sarah has two great goats to get to the end with in Tai and Troyzan, she just needs to make sure that one of these two don’t become collateral damage should advantages and idols become a factor.
Game Changer: Sarah has emphasised the seasons’ moniker at the last few Tribal Councils. If she can find her way to Final 3, she can easily make the case that she played the most aggressive strategic game and as such she should be rewarded.
Tai’s such a unique Survivor player, as for some reason, he never seems to be a target. Whether it’s through his relationship with other players or just his natural demeanour, Tai seems to illicit trust from everyone he speaks to, to the point where a betrayal by Tai seems to sting a bit more than a betrayal from anybody else. However, he has changed his game since Kaoh Rong, as evidenced by his willingness to cut Caleb back in the pre-merge.
What he has
Idols. Plural. Somehow Tai found Idols on Day 14 and 15 respectively, and still has them both in his possession on day 36. In a season filled with chaotic tribal councils, this is a testament to how well he has been able to read the actions of the players around him. Unless something goes seriously wrong, such as handing an Idol off to somebody else, Tai’s guaranteed Final 4.
What he needs
A Final 4 Endurance Immunity Challenge. If it’s an Endurance, nobody left in the game is beating Tai. If he can be immune all the way from Final 6 to 3, that’s a seriously impressive feat in the eyes of the jury, and while he may not have excelled in the strategic portion, he could argue that his relationships with everybody else leading into the Final 6 meant that he didn’t have to.
Resourcefulness: Coming into the season, Tai must have recognized that the strategic portion of the game wasn’t his strong suit because instead of biting off more than he could chew, he’s played to his strengths: finding idols and making relationships. His final hurdle will come in articulating this to the jury.
Troy ‘Troyzan’ Robertson
It’s been a big change in game styles for Troyzan this season. Whilst he was incredibly vocal during One World, he’s played a very under the radar game this season. That doesn’t mean that his gameplay has been bad by any means, he just needs to find a away to explain his apparent lack of action to the jurors.
What he has
The Green Monster and a Hidden Immunity Idol. If advantage-geddon goes down at the Final 6, like it seems it will, Troyzan should at least be safe until the Final 5. From there, he stands to be one of the biggest chances to win Individual Immunity in these last few days, potentially enabling him to win out if Brad doesn’t first.
What he needs
A move. I don’t like to buy in to the ‘big moves’ mindset of Survivor, but in Troyzan’s case, he needs to. If he can somehow become a strategic force in these last few days, and become instrumental in either blindsiding a player of Cirie’s stature, or taking out his ally in Brad, he suddenly can make the case that he was just biding his time.
Stability: In a season that’s been so chaotic, Troyzan has been a constant figure. He’s stayed true to his allies, but hasn’t burned any bridges. If he could capitalise on a feeling of resentment or betrayal from some members of the jury towards a Sarah or a Brad, he might be able to snag enough votes to stand a chance.
There’s three sleeps to go until we find ourselves the winner of Survivor: Game Changers. So who’s it gonna be?