- 1Cook Islands - Winner
Yul had it all. He was likeable from beginning to end. He was in amazing shape (hello, nurse!) and he was sharp as a tack. This was a guy who had never watched Survivor. He was able to read the group, make alliances and ultimately control the game. He did this in a way that made it look easy. I will admit, yes... the alliance he played against was pretty much what I liked to call the Mouth Breather Brigade... and that helped. But he took his underdog alliance to victory with the help of the Superhuman Ozzy and he played an awesome game.
- 2Marquesas and 2 All Stars - Made it to the end of the first All-Stars w/Amber
I love this guy. He is my secret boyfriend. Watching him play on the first All-Stars was pure awesome television and displayed all the reason why I love the game. I watched him rule his alliance... hell, he ruled the whole bunch of them. He dominated physically, and I watched - AMAZED - as week after week the people he was supposedly playing against protected him. That's some serious social playing, right there. He read the room, and he sat back and did whatever it was that needed to be done. On his second AllStar outing, he could have gone to the end if it hadn't been for making an alliance with Tyson, whose stupidity ruined Rob's Alliance and gave Russell the foothold he needed. Should Russell be above Rob for that rather brilliant outmaneouver? No. Russell, as you will see when you get to his score, may have been one of the best strategists, but his gameplay would never have allowed a win.
Watching Rob play Survivor is one of my favorite things. He is a leader, he can think multiple steps ahead, and he's hilarious.
- 3Cook Islands, Micronesia, Heroes vs Villains - Winner of Micronesia
I never liked her. Probably because I'm a girl... but still. I loathed her the first time. Started to warm up a little the second time... and then. Watching her rule Russell in Heroes vs. Villains was ... however... one of the greatest things ever. The fact that she didn't win that season is one of the tragedies of Survivor. She can manipulate men... even women... in ways that astound. Her gameplay was smart, if not genius... what she lacked in strategy, she made up for in her abilities to read people. To know which way they were swinging. And best of all, she could talk her way into and out of any number of holes.
- 4Palau - Winner
Oh, Tom. Watching him play his season was like eating warm pot-roast on a cold day with the fire burning in the fireplace. Pure satisfaction watching him lead his alliance with the most shocking ease... truly, a guy who arguably could be said that he won his season based entirely off leadership and being a decent person. He was easy to admire for his physicality and it was a real joy to watch him lead his tribe to beat the arrogant "younger" gym-muscle alliance over and over again. I choose to omit from my brain some of that holier-than-thou bulls**t he spouted to Ian at the end - BUT, it did get him to the end. And once there, there was no one who would NOT vote for him. He may not have been much of a strategist, but he got to the end with enough of the other two aspects... and he did it in such a way that, for me, makes him one of the best players of the game.
- 5Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains -- Winner of BOTH
Say what you will about Sandra... and you have... she won both her seasons. I'm not interested in all the blah blah blah about coattail riding. Coattail riding is a perfectly valid strategy, and she used it masterfully. Twice. Should she be higher up because of that? Probably. But her scores in the other areas mean no on this particular list. She was definitely smart, definitely. She was careful to not make her alliances seem as hardcore as so many do - to their detriment. She played the game with a light touch. Never speaking out of turn, never making big moves, never seeming like a threat. She was quiet for the most part and she did her own thing. Not an exciting player, but exciting is not a requirement to win.
Just ask Sandra.
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