Boston Rob Mariano is the greatest Survivor player of all-time. When we did our Greatest Player ever feature, he was my pick as the best of all-time and with the announcement finally being made that he will be taking on Russell Hantz on the next season of the show, it is time for me to remind why once more.
First, let’s get the basics out of the way.
It isn’t so much that I feel like Boston Rob is a better player than Russell. I feel like Rob is the greatest player ever and so anyone who lines up against him is in trouble. Why do I feel this way? It’s because the Robfather plays with a different style. He plays Survivor the way that supposed ‘experts’ like myself feel isn’t the right way to play.
Let me explain what I mean.
The best way to play Survivor is the strategy employed by so many great players of the past. It’s to not make any solid alliances early, open yourself up to adaptation depending on where other players fall and most importantly, to not make any waves in the game as this would only draw attention and increase the target on yourself. I can name countless who have done this. Rob Cesternino did it. Stephen Fishbach did it. Vecepia Towery did it. Becky Lee did it and so did Natalie White. I think the best example is Amanda Kimmel.
What is shocking about the way that Rob plays is that he completely ignores this principle. He is loud and sometimes abrasive. He dares you to beat him and the likelihood is that you can’t because no one can. He dominates every challenge that he is in with rare exception. He plays Survivor with reckless abandon and makes no apologies for the fact that he is the best ever. What strikes me every time he plays is that despite being the biggest threat in the game, his undeniable charm and social skills often make players who want to vote him out completely forget their gameplan.
Now let’s talk about the other side of the argument. That Rob didn’t make the jury in Marquesas. That he didn’t make the jury on Heroes vs. Villains. That I proclaim that he is the greatest when he hasn’t won in three attempts. Well, right off the bat, neither has Russell. So let’s get that out of the way. But, in terms of my justification for why I believe Rob is still the best despite two non-jury performances, it’s because he still dominated those seasons. When you talk about Marquesas, you talk about Boston Rob. Who cares where he finished? When you talk about All-Stars, there is no question who was the greatest. And Heroes vs. Villains? Tyson screwed up and if he didn’t Rob had already figured Russell’s plan out. In addition, if you saw any part of that season, you know that people only talked about two things. Sandra winning for the second time and Boston Rob again.
While on paper, under-the-radar is the best way to play… the majority of us won’t get a chance to survive on an island for 39 days. We watch a television show and live vicariously through the players. And Boston Rob is the reason that we watch.
PS. Rob didn’t need any hidden immunity idols.
Tags: Boston Rob, Russell Hantz, Survivor, Survivor: Redemption Island