The fact that I am writing about Survivor’s 30th season is incredible. Even I didn’t think that I would be writing about this show for the better part of 15 years and this enormity of this show is a fact that isn’t lost on me.
Survivor Worlds Apart sees the teams divided by social class: white collar, blue collar, and no collar. I have never seen an edition of Survivor receive as much pre-season hype as this one has and this is primarily due to the fact that the majority of the contestants this season are superfans and know the game inside and out. This means that (for the most part), each contestant will be making the best possible individual move for their own game at tribal council finally resulting in the ultimate Survivor chess game that we have all been waiting to see.
Without further ado, let’s get to it. Here’s my pre-season cast assessment and how I think this season’s players will perform. Remember that this is based simply on the contestant biographies and pre-season interviews.
1. Max, White Collar
Max Dawson will win Survivor: Worlds Apart. There is no denying the fact that the former reality television professor walks into the game with the biggest target on his back, but the good news is that he knows about the target that will be on him and has likely prepared accordingly. Not only will Dawson have a contingency plan in place for every scenario, the fact is that he probably has had these plans in place for years (in the event he was ever cast on the show). I believe that the best pre-game strategy is to know the show inside and out and in that regard, Dawson will not have an equal this season. I look for him to put together a majority alliance quickly, allowing him to coast to the merge where he can begin to make the power moves that he is clearly dying to. My only concern with Max is seeing him fall into the trap of getting bored and consequently making big moves just for the sake of making them. Playing a safe game also means that you are playing a boring one, but (as previous seasons have shown us), this puts you in the best position to win.
2. Shirin, White Collar
In her pre-show interview, I got a bit of a Katie Gallagher vibe from Shirin. She is undoubtedly one of the smarter players this season and will rival Max in terms of her Survivor pedigree. I believe that Shirin will recognize Max right away, and that the two will form one of the best alliances ever as they basically get everyone else to do their bidding. If you think that this might be a Boston Rob and Amber kind of pairing, you’d be wrong because I believe Max and Shirin might just be two Boston Robs.
3. Tyler, White Collar
Are you seeing the trend here? I definitely feel like the White Collar tribe is going to dominate this season and Tyler is another example of somebody who looks like a phenomenal player. Tyler worked as former talent agent’s assistant and I equate this to mean that he probably has great social skills. He is also likely used to dealing with many different types of personalities and I like that he says he is in the game to make an impact and “not go out with a whimper.” I see Tyler making some major power moves this season.
4. Joe, No Collar
When I initially saw Joe’s picture, I presumed he would be the second-coming of Fabio (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering Fabio is a former winner). After watching his pre-game interview, however, Joe immediately rose up my list as a strong contender. There is no doubt in my mind that Joe’s obvious athleticism will help the No Collars sail through the early immunity challenges. This will likely result in the jewelry designer making it to the merge and, if he does, everyone else should look out because the Arizona native will almost certainly go on an individual immunity run. The girls will love him and the guys will want to be friends with him. I expect good things.
5. Kelly, Blue Collar
Placing Kelly so high on my pre-season rankings is definitely a risky move. On paper, she is one of the older members of her tribe but remember that this isn’t always a bad thing (ie. Tina Wesson and Dawn Meehan). The New York State Trooper seems to be very trustworthy, and in a game where trust is the most valuable currency, I can’t shake the feeling that everyone will want Kelly as a friend rather than a foe. I like her.
6. Jen, No Collar
Jen is one of the biggest question marks for me this season as I can’t discern her fate one way or the other. On any other season of Survivor, I would probably see her as an early boot (as her flighty nature and carefree lifestyle likely wouldn’t jive with the others). On Worlds Apart, however, this actually could make Jen quite popular with her teammates. If she connects with Joe, I believe that these two could make a powerful pair.
7. Mike, Blue Collar
In his pre-season interview, I thought that Mike came off as a little abrasive and the oil driller openly admitted that he has the “itch” to be this season’s villain. While rubbing people the wrong way might not be the best pre-game strategy, I believe that Mike is smart enough to save his potential duplicity for the confessional cameras only and that only viewers will be able to see his villainy. I believe that he will be a dominating presence on the Blue Collar side but that the others will likely succumb to his will, rather than attempt to thwart it. One potential issue for Mike might be Rodney as I expect the pair will battle for top dog status. If this is the case… I always bet on the more experienced horse.
8. Hali, No Collar
Hali seems like a shrewd player, and one that I couldn’t get a clear read on. I feel like that will be the case with many of the other players this season and that Hali’s ability to fly under the radar will result in her advancing quietly. She seems to have a clear strategy and I believe that she will have an easy time bonding with all the members of her tribe. I also see her as part of a strong voting bloc with Joe and Jen. I think she will be in the game for awhile.
9. Sierra, Blue Collar
I really think that I should be ranking Sierra higher, and while I have placed her in the #9 position, this is primarily due to the fact that I believe the Blue Collars will be in some early immunity trouble. I believe that Sierra will be one of the swing votes on her tribe (as it seems quite obvious that Rodney and Mike will go head-to-head). While my gut tells me that Sierra will align with Rodney (because of their similarity in age), I am hoping that she won’t as I see Rodney going early. I don’t want Sierra to be a casualty of war so I hope she chooses her side correctly.
10. Vince, No Collar
Like Jen, I believe that if this was a normal season of Survivor, Vince would be an early target (only because I believe the others would have a hard time relating to a coconut vendor). That said, this is Worlds Apart and while Vince is many things, ‘threatening’ doesn’t seem to be one of them. I believe that Vince will provide a lot of entertainment this season (for both fans and his tribemembers respectively).
11. Lindsey, Blue Collar
Another risky pick here as most pundits have projected Lindsey to go early. I have placed the tattooed hairstylist here primarily because I believe there are others who will be targeted first. I don’t think that Lindsey will make any dumb moves in the early stages of the game (it’s amazing to me that others will even though we are 30 seasons into the show). As long as she keeps her head down and stays out of Mike and Rodney’s way, I think she is clear for a couple of rounds.
12. Dan, Blue Collar
There are two facts to remember when discussing how this postal worker from Maine will fare in the game. The first is that he is the oldest member of his tribe and will likely be voted out for that reason alone. The second is that Dan is probably the second biggest Survivor fan on this season (after Max). He has admitted that he has sent in over 100 audition tapes and driven 250,000 miles (to open casting calls) in his lifelong desire to be on the show. I am sure that during a couple of those drives, he must have started thinking about what he would do if ever did make it on. I believe that Dan already has a plan in place to combat his tribe looking at him as their weakest link. I am not sure how successful he will be in any attempted implementation of this counter-measure, but we shall see.
13. Will, No Collar
This “YouTube Sensation” seems to be a likeable guy and will probably connect with most of his teammates. The problem is that I believe that the others will forge stronger bonds and have more in common. If Will was on another season, I believe he would be a contender. On Worlds Apart, he will be lucky if he makes the merge. While it is likely that the No Collars will take out Nina first, I am quite sure that Will will be the next in line.
14. Nina, No Collar
Nina seems to be many people’s pick for the first boot and this argument can clearly be made as she is the oldest member of her tribe and is deaf. She also admits in her pre-game interview that she has a hard time hearing when many people are talking at the same time (which is almost a certainty on Survivor). The thing is that I know Nina personally and she has attended a few of my reality events in the past and prior to being cast on the show. On a season of superfans, I believe that Nina is one of the biggest. She is also incredibly fit and is an incredibly genuine person. If Nina can make it past the first couple of tribal councils (by either helping the No Collars go on an early immunity streak or by using her social game), I think she could surprise some people. I am rooting for her.
15. Joaquin, White Collar
For the same reasons as So (listed below), I believe that Max/Shirin/Tyler will quickly bond due to their Californian connection, and that this will likely leave Joaquin/So/Carolyn on the outside looking in. I also don’t see Joaquin/So/Carolyn forming a counter-alliance and that one of the three outsiders will likely slide themselves into the #4 spot in the majority group. Since Joaquin’s brute strength will be needed to win immunity, I believe that So or Carolyn will be the first White Collar casualty but that Joaquin’s arrogance (evidenced in his pre-season CBS interview) could be perceived as too much of a detriment to keep around. He also describes himself as “spontaneous” and “erratic” which are not words any alliance wants to hear.
16. So, White Collar
When I initially started putting this list together, I thought that So would be ranked much higher. The problem, however, is that she is on the White Collar tribe and I believe that many of the others will bond quickly. I believe that the power trio of Max/Shirin/Tyler will realize that they need to keep Joaquin around to help them win immunity challenges and that So or Carolyn will be the next target only because they will need to get rid of someone.
17. Carolyn, White Collar
Carolyn is the oldest member of her tribe and says that she has the ability to make good television because of how quickly she can lose her cool. Uh oh. I would be stunned if she made it to the merge but stranger things have happened. Carolyn’s best move is to play up how trustworthy she is and then wait to strike. We shall see if she has the wherewithal to do this.
18. Rodney, Blue Collar
Go ahead and say it. I know you are thinking that the reason I have Rodney listed here is because he claims that he “might go down as the best person from Boston” ever on Survivor, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say this had something to do with me putting him last on my pre-season list, but there is a lot more to it than him throwing shade at the greatest player of all-time (Boston Rob). Rodney came off as incredibly egotistical in his pre-season interview and I believe that this won’t go over well with his teammates. The difference between him and Boston Rob is that Rob chose to only display his cocky side to the confessional camera and I don’t think that Rodney will be able to keep himself in check. I expect him to battle with Mike for control of the tribe and, when he loses, he will just be a sitting duck.
Survivor: Worlds Apart premieres tonight at 8 p.m. on CBS & Global.
Tags: murtz, Murtz Jaffer, Survivor, Survivor Worlds Apart