Season 35 just finished last week, and I’m still quite salty with how the finale turned out. To air out my bad thoughts, let me rank the last six winners from worst to best, based solely on my personal opinion of who played the best game. Well, we all know who the worst is.
6. Ben Driebergen
On a normal season of Survivor, Ben wouldn’t have even been in the Final Tribal Council – he would be out at four. Luckily for Ben, production had a thing for him and came up with a twist that only Ben would benefit from. I don’t hate Ben. In fact, I rooted for him during premerge. My main issue with his win is that he relied completely on hidden immunity idols (of which he found three) and an incredibly unfair fire-making twist at F4. If ‘Scavenger Hunting’ and ‘Fire Making’ were to replace ‘Outwit,’ ‘Outplay’ or ‘Outlast,’ Ben should clearly be on top.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: I would have wanted Lauren to win, up until her boot episode wherein she made an incredibly stupid decision to give Dr. Mike half of her immunity idol. I’d give the win to Chrissy if it were up to me. She dominated the physical aspect of the game and strategically made her way from the bottom to the top. However, she was drawing dead at final four since Devon would have beaten her at the final vote if he had won the fire-making challenge against Ben.
5. Mike Holloway
Mike and Ben are very, very similar players. Both come from a Southern origin and both had really big targets on their back til the end of the game. In Mike’s case, however, his path to victory was paved by immunity wins, versus Ben’s hidden immunity idols. I could therefore make a case that he outplayed the other contestants in the physical sense. However, Mike made a lot of stupid decisions along the way (Survivor Auction – whaaat), so he didn’t outplay them strategically. Personally, I don’t really respect Mike’s game since he relied too much on physical prowess to win the game.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: I could make a case for Carolyn, but it wouldn’t be too convincing. Mike was the best player of the season, but that’s not really saying much given how weak the Worlds Apart cast was.
4. Adam Klein
Adam played a strategic game, but he was clumsy and sometimes too paranoid. I didn’t really root for him when his season aired – I was more of a David or Jay fan. I didn’t really think that he played the best social/strategic/physical game, he was just there most of the time. I don’t really have much to say about Adam.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: David definitely played the best game of the season. Initially appearing as a likely premerge boot, David evolved into a social and strategic powerhouse. By the end, he was voted out at F4 because he was too strong a competitor. He should definitely come back in an HvV-type season.
3. Michele Fitzgerald
Michele had an incredibly controversial win. Personally, her win actually made me quite depressed for a few days since I felt really bad that Aubry was robbed of the win. I still think that Aubry was robbed, but as time went by, I learned how to accept and understand how Michele won over the jury of Kaoh Rong. Michele played a very strong social game, building relationships with the majority of the jury. Survivor isn’t just a physical or a strategic game. At its core, it’s a social game. You win the game by making sure that the people in the jury like you, and that’s the position Michele found herself in at the end of Kaoh Rong. So even if Aubry is obviously the most deserving of the win for me, I understand why Michele won.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: Definitely Aubry. She played a strong strategic game. Her playing of Tai was definitely masterful. Aubry had her fingers wrapped around Joe, and if Joe hadn’t been evacuated at F5, she would have won the game. Such a shame that her next showing at Game Changers didn’t live up to her first game.
2. Jeremy Collins
When Cambodia was showing, I definitely wasn’t rooting for Jeremy. I was rooting hard for the underdog, Kelley, and was really heartbreaking to see her lose the final immunity challenge. However, it’s undeniable that his meat shield strategy worked wonders. He was seldom the person on the chopping block even though he was an immense threat, and he had two pawns, Tasha and Spencer, who almost willingly handed him the win.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: Kelley Wentworth was a revelation in Cambodia. She was in the minority all throughout the game, but she always had something up her sleeve to pull through to the next day. She was one challenge away from final tribal, which she had extremely good odds of winning.
1. Sarah Lacina
Sarah played one heck of a game. It was so good, in fact, that her win was obvious from the get-go. She played every one of the castaways, making them believe that she was ally #1, allowing her access to information and advantages she otherwise wouldn’t have access to, and cutting them once she made use of those perks. A bitter jury wouldn’t have given her the win, but luckily for her the season’s theme was Game Changers and aggressive play was definitely rewarded by the Game Changers jury.
Who should have won, if it were up to me: For storyline closure, I would have wanted Cirie to win. She definitely deserved to win Micronesia, but I’m not so sure with Game Changers. She made a debacle with the vote-stealing advantage which alienated Sarah and causing their alliance to implode. So in the end, I think the right person won Game Changers, even though it was obvious a mile away.