Survivor: Game Changers – Preseason Rankings (The Top 5)

The Adrenalist Writer continues Survivor: Game Changers Pre-Season Ranking, listing the players of Game Changers based on how they changed the game in their previous seasons.

Seventeen years ago, we were introduced to a reality TV show that most would consider a game changer for television. The show unquestionably endured and is still standing, but what made Survivor the show that it is are the wide variety of contestants which come to play for every season.

In every season of Survivor, we see people establish archetypes, factions, and different strategies that would give them the million. From over the top performances to under the radar gameplays, we see players break the mold and it helped the game evolve through the years making Survivor one of the most unpredictable shows on television.

For its 34th season, in honor of all the people who were willing to make big moves and sacrifices to change the game, Survivor brought together the players who changed the game and have potential to change the game to compete for the title of Sole Survivor.

With the cast finally revealed by CBS, I will be ranking the players of Game Changers based on how I think they changed the game in their previous seasons. Last week, the 10th to 6th spots have been filled; this week, I will be listing down the top 5 castaways to conclude this four-part list.

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Survivor: Game Changers Contestant Ozzy Lusth (Courtesy of CBS)
5. Ozzy Lusth

Cook Islands (Runner-Up); Micronesia (9th Place); South Pacific (4th Place)

Ozzy’s legacy in his Survivor journey has always been his challenge dominance. It is what helped him and the Aitu four make a victorious comeback after things seemingly worked against them at the Mutiny. He could have won the season had the jury respected his physical game over the strategic game that Yul possessed.

Three seasons later, Ozzy returned as one of the favorites competing against the fans in Micronesia. He believed he was in an alliance that would help him get to the end, but with a Hidden Immunity Idol in his possession and an obvious strong physical game, he was targeted by the all-female Black Widow Brigade.

It took a while before Ozzy made another return, and in South Pacific, he managed to really put his challenge dominance into use when he voluntarily sent himself to the Redemption Island, and this season made him the first person to be voted out three times in one season, and the first person to return from Redemption Island into the game twice. He could have won the final tribal council, but his journey was cut short when he lost the final immunity challenge.

With all of those accomplishment in his resume, Ozzy is definitely a game changer whose gameplay served as an inspiration to future players like Joe Anglim, Fabio Birza, and Mike Holloway.

Being one of the two four-time players in this season, Ozzy needs to keep an eye out for people who will target the challenge heroes. While his physical ability works well for him at the individual phase of the game, he needs to make sure that he is the numbers so that when he loses a challenge, he’s going to be safe. He needs to understand the social aspect of the game, and really put his social game to the test. If Ozzy can make great connections and bonds with people, he would definitely get to the end, but if he fails to convince people that he’s not going to be that big of a threat as they get deeper into the game, he’s going to be gone at the early stage of the merge for sure.

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Survivor: Game Changers Contestant J.T. Thomas (Courtesy of CBS)
4. J.T. Thomas

Tocantins (Winner); Heroes vs. Villans (10th Place)

The first player to play a “Perfect Game” – not receiving elimination votes, and then receiving a unanimous jury vote at Final Tribal Council in Tocantins, J.T. is definitely the poster boy for the great combination of a great social and physical game. Using his southern charm to win the hearts of his competitors in Tocantins, along with Taj’s and Stephen’s wits, he helped the Jalapao three turn the tables when they were outnumbered by Timbira at the post-merge phase of the game.

This perfect game, however, took a different turn when he returned as a hero who was trying to be villainous in Heroes vs. Villains. Taking the leadership role at the Heroes’ camp after blindsiding Cirie, J.T. still tried to use his charisma to get by in the game, but he decided to commit one of the dumbest moves in Survivor history by giving Russell Hantz, the idol whisperer, an idol because he misread the situation at the Villains tribe.

With two varying stories from his first two seasons, you can say that J.T. was a game changer because he was the first person to win a “Perfect Game” proving that a great social game could help you achieve a lot in a season; or you can say that J.T. was a game changer because he committed one of the biggest blunders in Survivor history, a really daring move if you ask me.

J.T. will probably be remembered for his latest season as he mentioned in preseason interviews, but he has to remember that he’s playing with game changers. These people will look into his “Perfect Game” in Tocantins and think twice about taking him to the end. He’s also in a starting tribe with Cirie, and things will go wrong quickly if they both wouldn’t find a way to bury the hatchet. J.T. is the only person in this season whom I think is going to really downplay his game, although he doesn’t have to, because his charm is not going to fool any of these game changers, and his physical prowess won’t be as great in a season where there are many alphas.

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Survivor: Game Changers Contestant Tony Vlachos (Courtesy of CBS)
3. Tony Vlachos

Cagayan (Winner)

The Sole Survivor of arguably one of the top-notch seasons of Survivor, Tony got through the game fueled by paranoia. This paranoia kept him on his feet: he built “spy shacks” to discreetly listen in on other people’s conversations; he found several idols, including an idol with special powers; he flipped on his own alliance several times making him responsible for the unpredictability of the post-merge stage of the game; most importantly, he talked llama to Chaos Kass.

Tony wasn’t afraid to be flashy, and this gameplay may have influenced the showy gameplay used by other Sole Survivors in their respective seasons, and is the main reason why “big moves” were put always into consideration when it comes targeting other people and choosing the rightful winner. I would consider Tony as one of the recent players worthy of the “game changer” title for all of the bold moves he made.

Unfortunately for Tony, his paranoia-fueled game won’t be as effective in Game Changers. These players are smart enough to not let him go deep into the game, and they probably wouldn’t want to keep someone who would swear on his dead father’s gave and then still break his promise. His erratic behavior is going to turn off other players, and this could be the main reason why he might be targeted early in the game. Unless he does something miraculous and show that he’s not as paranoid as he was in his previous season, there is no doubt that Tony will be voted out pre-merge.

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Survivor: Game Changers Contestant Cirie Fields (Courtesy of CBS)
2. Cirie Fields

Panama (4th Place); Micronesia (3rd Place); Heroes vs. Villains (17th Place)

Known as “the woman who got up off the couch and played Survivor,” Cirie is regarded as one of the most strategic players to ever be on the show. She started in Panama seemingly on the losing end, but she worked her way into the numbers by using her social skills. Not only did she survive the first tribal council where it seemed impossible for her to stay over the “lumberjack lady” Tina, she also survived the second tribal council where they were swapped and she was in the chopping block with Melinda. After that, she worked hard to get into the numbers, and made sure that the target was off of her.

Cirie competed for the second time in Micronesia as one of the Favorites. This is the season where Cirie showed the lethality of her strategic game. She was a swing vote at the early stage of the game, and she was a key member of the all-female Black Widow Brigade responsible for all the blindsides post-merge. Her biggest game changing move in the season was convincing Erik to give up his immunity necklace for Natalie, making the Fan pull off one of the dumbest moves in Survivor history. She could have won the season had she made it to the end, but due to the circumstances that the season presented – where there were two medical evacuations – the number of finalists was reduced to 2.

With a very heroic resume and extraordinary likability, Cirie returned for the third time in Heroes vs. Villains as a Hero. Her observational skills were put to use and she formed strong bonds with some of her fellow Heroes right off the bat. She was seen as a huge threat early on, as it seemed like she was in control of the majority alliance at the Heroes tribe, and this resulted into a blindside when J.T. flipped on their alliance. With her resilience, social and observational skills, and strategic prowess, there is no denying that Cirie is a game changer.

This season, Cirie could easily get into the numbers. She’s already very strategic and social, and now, she’s planning to play a more physical game. With all those three combined, Cirie will be unstoppable, and she has a huge chance of winning the game if she makes it to Day 39. There’s a big possibility that this season will revolve around Cirie, and that’s going to make her win or her ouster really emotional for the viewers. Jeff has mentioned that she can’t win because she could win, and people won’t give her the shot. If Cirie is not going to make it all the way to the end, I am pretty sure that she is going to outlast two-thirds of the players this season.

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Survivor: Game Changers Contestant Sandra Diaz-Twine (Courtesy of CBS)
1. Sandra Diaz-Twine

Pearl Islands (Winner); Heroes vs. Villains (Winner)

The pioneer of the “as long as it ain’t me” strategy, Sandra Diaz-Twine is the only two-time winner in the history of Survivor. Say what you want to say about the queen, but Sandra is a game changer no matter how you keep arguing that she’s not really a game changer and the only reason why she’s here is because she won twice. She won twice because she made game changing moves that kept her outside of people’s radar, which is a very difficult strategy if you ask me because there’s a possibility that people will look at you as a goat if you make it to the Final Tribal Council.

Sandra claimed her first victory in Panama where she started in the Drake tribe controlling the votes with her allies Rupert and Christa. This alliance was overthrown in the merge by Fairplay and Burton, but Sandra managed to maneuver herself through the game by switching from one alliance to another, and making sure that the votes are in her best interest. She was able to defend her gameplay and claim the title at the Final Tribal Council when Lil chose to take her over Fairplay.

Thirteen seasons later, Sandra returned as one of the Villains in Heroes vs. Villains. With her sense of adaptability, Sandra managed to, once again, take herself all the way to the end. She was able to deceive Russell on multiple occasions: throwing Coach under the bus to save her ally Courtney, and making him think that she has no chance at winning because she isn’t viewed as a threat all throughout. Her efforts to try to make something work with the Heroes, despite the Heroes sabotaging their chances of making something work for them, paid off at the end when the Heroes rewarded her the title of Sole Survivor making her achieve what seemed impossible at first, to be the series’ first two-time winner.

Coming into Game Changers, Sandra has no blemishes in her record as she has played and won twice previously. This would ruin her chances of making it deep into the game because people wouldn’t want to take someone like her to day 39, in fact, there’s a big possibility that she will be voted out pre-merge if she doesn’t step up and make others think that a third win is impossible. If Sandra could tweak her strategy a little, she could win for the third time, but it’s going to be really difficult to get through this game as her fellow game changers are already targeting her before the season even started.

And that concludes The Adrenalist Writer’s Survivor: Game Changers Preseason Rankings! Who are the contestants on the top of your list?

You can watch Jeff Probst’s Survivor: Game Changers Cast Assessment below:

You can watch the first 7 minutes of Survivor: Game Changers below:

What are your thoughts on Survivor: Game Changers? Let me know in the comments below!


Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting Top Lists about a wide variety of topics. Got any suggestions? Click here.

Header Image: CBS

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