Well, my preseason No. 5 and No. 7 picks were eliminated in the premiere of Survivor: Game Changers last week — and I don’t know whether that’s good or bad.
On the one hand, they were clearly threats to win — and were taken out. But it looks kind of dumb for me, since I had them ranked so high.
Here’s how I see the game heading into Week 2, with players ranked in order of best chance to win it all:
1. Zeke (Last week: 1). I’m sticking with Zeke at the top for now, but it’s probably wishful thinking. But his social game is great, he can make friends quickly and there’s no reason for people to view him as a threat early in the game.
2. Varner (Last week: 8). He didn’t do anything special in Week 1 except keep the target on others, and that’s exactly what could help him make it far this season. Why would someone get rid of him at this point? As long as he doesn’t play too hard — which is always a possibility with him — he could have a decent chance.
3. Andrea (Last week: 13). She was almost invisible in Week 1, which makes me like her chances of getting far this year. If she can duck while the bullets are flying early, maybe she can work some magic late in the game.
4. Troyzan (Last week: 12). I started looking at Troyzan differently almost right away. He seems much wiser now and also won’t be taken seriously enough for people to want to vote him out. That could be an interesting combination.
5. Malcolm (Last week: 3). It’s so dangerous to put Malcolm this high, because he’s surely a massive threat. The others need to get him out quickly, and if they don’t, he’s going to be around for a long time.
6. Cirie (Last week: 9). People recognize her as manipulative, but as long as Sandra is around, she won’t be the scariest player in that category. Maybe that will buy her some time.
7. Sierra (Last week: 14). You start to get the sense this could be a season where the biggest targets and threats get removed quickly, and Sierra is an under-the-radar player for the most part. That could pay off.
8. Ozzy (Last week: 10). He’s already so visible, which has to be worrisome. A guy like Ozzy needs to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible so he’s not targeted right away.
9. Sarah (Last week: 15). Tony’s departure could help her, since she won’t have any connection to someone who was clearly untrustworthy. If she makes the merge, you never know.
10. Hali (Last week: 18). OK, so I was REALLY down on Hali coming into the season, but her comments last week were impressive. She seems to be taking a smart approach so far, and I can see her making more of a run than before.
11. Aubrey (Last week: 2). It seems like she’s quickly been labeled as a dangerous player and the others speak openly about that, which will hurt her chances in the long run. She could become a quick target and get taken out.
12. J.T. (Last week: 11). I almost feel like this is too high for him, since a good point was raised already: Why would they give a former winner another $1 million? I don’t have a great sense of how he’ll play yet.
13. Caleb (Last week: 17). I like how he played Week 1, but still don’t feel great about his overall chances — especially since he already lost a meat shield in Tony and now could become a target earlier.
14. Michaela (Last week: 6). I’m disappointed with how Michaela presented herself in the first episode. I thought she’d perhaps play more of an under-the-radar game this time after learning from her first experience, but she can’t hide her emotions and frustrations. That’s not a winning formula.
15. Debbie (Last week: 19). She can’t change who she is. Again, it’s good TV — but not good gameplay.
16. Brad (Last week: 20). I liked how he approached the first few days, and I may have been too harsh in saying he had no chance. But I still think he’s an abrasive guy at times, and how many people are really going to want to work with him?
17. Tai (Last week: 16). It seems like the other players like Tai (of course), but he’s just not someone they’re going to strategize with. As such, he’ll stay around for weeks — maybe make it to the end — but they won’t give him the money.
18. Sandra (Last week: 4). These players are WAY too smart to sit there and not recognize what Sandra is doing. She’s absolutely an incredible player and last week proved once again why she’s won the game twice. But surely, all these “game changer” players recognize a threat when they see one, and there’s little chance she’ll be able to make it to the end based on that.