Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 10

Dang it! I was so bummed to see Zeke go last week, even though it was only a matter of time (I had him ranked No. 9 entering the episode). Unfortunately for Zeke, he was too good at the game AND had a compelling story, which made him a giant target.

So who’s next? Well, with the six-person voting alliance shrinking to five (Cirie, Andrea, Aubry, Michaela and Sarah) and possibly getting shaken up, the game seems wide open.

Here’s how the final nine players stack up, ranked by best chance to win:

1. Sarah (Last week: 1). It certainly seems like the Survivor story is being told from Sarah’s point of view, which means she’s controlling much of the action. Even last week, when her ride-or-die ally Zeke ended up going home, it was based around her decision not to fight it and make waves. So she’s still in a very good spot, and I love how she’s playing this year.

2. Cirie (Last week: 3). For as good as Cirie is, she’s still playing a bit under the radar. Is that even possible? Well, she’s quietly pulling all the strings and people are approaching her to see if they can make moves. And yet she’s not mentioned herself as a huge target! Until someone figures out how dangerous she is, she’ll stay in a power position. They’d be foolish to let her reach the end.

3. Andrea (Last week: 4). You have to hand it to Andrea: She knew Zeke was going to come for her — he said as much — so she got him out first. Well-played, Andrea. I don’t know about her long-term prospects of winning, but she’s in a good spot with the majority alliance for now. However, I think Sarah will turn on her and convince others to do the same.

4. Aubry (Last week: 2). I like Aubry’s game, but it feels like she’s more along for the ride than making moves herself. I’m not sure that will result in a winning strategy unless some of the more prominent players get the boot and she can really start playing. Sarah indicated she doesn’t trust Aubry, so where does that leave her in the big picture?

5. Troyzan (Last week: 6). He was clueless after the majority alliance voted Zeke out. His hope is that the group falls apart and he’s able to grab onto some of the pieces. I want to pull for him, but he doesn’t seem to be in a great spot. At least he’s still got the idol in his pocket.

6. Brad (last week: 7). He really needed that Zeke alliance to work out, and it didn’t. Zeke proposed a final five with Brad, Troyzan, Michaela and Sarah. Maybe Sarah can salvage it and pull something together that involves Brad and Troyzan. Otherwise, Brad might be in trouble.

7. Sierra (Last week: 5). Oof. Sierra told the main alliance she wanted to flip and would do whatever they wanted, and they told her to vote for…Tai! They left her out of the Zeke vote completely. That’s not a good sign, because they didn’t even care about building trust with her. At least she saved herself last week, but she’s a top candidate to get booted tonight.

8. Tai (Last week: 8). His own alliance — Brad, Troyzan and Sierra — all voted for him last week! People will gladly throw Tai under the bus, and he’d better play one of those two idols soon or he’ll go home with both of them. He still has a chance to make the final three, but he wouldn’t win if he got there.

9. Michaela (Last week: 10). Not going to happen. Her best chance is to stick by Cirie and Sarah, both of who want to work with her, and keep voting with the majority. But she’s not making big moves herself and people on the jury don’t seem to like her attitude enough to give her $1 million.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 9

Well, well, well…how about that flip last week? Just when it looked like the majority alliance of six was going to pick off the other five players one by one for the next few weeks (BORING!), Sarah switched it up with her big move.

Although I’m not convinced Debbie was the right person to target (she was ranked No. 9 last week), it sure was satisfying to see her go home. And now the numbers are six (Cirie, Andrea, Aubry, Michaela, Zeke and maybe Sarah) to four (Brad, Sierra, Tai, Troyzan).

Here’s how the final 10 players stack up entering tonight’s episode (ranked by best chance to win):

1. Sarah (Last week: 2). Playing in the middle at this point in the game is a dangerous gamble, but Sarah is pulling it off so far. Can she keep it up while positioning herself to make the final three? As noted on the Survivor Know It Alls podcast, returning players often play like the winner from their season — and Sarah is playing a lot like Tony, only better. Still, that might catch up to her at some point.

2. Aubry (Last week: 4). Early in the season, there was talk about Aubry being a threat because she was so strategic. Remember, these players just watched her season before they went out to play (Millennials vs. Gen X hadn’t aired yet). But she keeps hanging around, and as long as bigger threats are still in the game, maybe she’s got a shot.

3. Cirie (Last week: 10). Her weak moment in the challenge actually might have helped her cause. It emphasized how little of a threat she is to win a physical contest, so maybe people won’t target her if that’s the case. Plus, thanks to Sarah, she now appears to be firmly in the majority alliance.

4. Andrea (Last week: 6). It seems like Andrea is starting to crack a little bit, but she’s also in the majority (as long as Sarah doesn’t flip again). I doubt we’ve seen the end of her battle with Zeke, though, and I think he could execute his goal if he gets another chance.

5. Sierra (Last week: 5). So much for that. Just when it looked like Sierra was in a power position, she now finds herself in the minority — this after she proposed a final three deal with Sarah and Debbie! Sarah may choose to work with her again, though, which could help Sierra’s chances if she can get over the feeling of betrayal from the Debbie vote.

6. Troyzan (Last week: 1). The Sarah flip was a big turn of events for Troyzan. Even his own alliance (Sierra, Brad, Tai) would probably rather throw him under the bus now to save themselves for another week. However, he does have an idol — which he might need to use sooner than later.

7. Brad (last week: 3). His chances plummet thanks to Sarah’s move, which now puts him in a minority alliance. Even if Sarah reunites with her buddy Sierra, will Brad get spared? He’s a target and will be for the rest of the game.

8. Tai (Last week: 8). I’ve been down on Tai all season, and a lot of the feedback from you Power Rankings readers lately is that I have him too low. After all, he has TWO idols and hasn’t made a bad move yet. But I still feel like the other players don’t take him very seriously, and this jury of veterans is ultimately going to want to reward a real strategist. Tai just isn’t that, and I have to go with my gut here.

9. Zeke (Last week: 11) Well, he’s out of the line of fire for the moment as he temporarily reunited with the Andrea alliance and was able to help Sarah pull off her move. But even though he’s in the majority, there’s still a lot working against him: Namely, people are aware he’s too much of a “player” and also has a compelling “story.” So they probably won’t let him get to the final three.

10. Michaela (Last week: 7). I know a lot of people don’t like Michaela, but oh my gosh, she cracks me up so much with her antics. A couple weeks after sipping from the mug as J.T. got blindsided, she ate coconut like it was popcorn while Debbie got the boot. Hilarious! That said, I doubt other players appreciate her attitude — and I don’t think the jury would give her $1 million in the end.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 8

Last week’s merge and double elimination took out both Hali (who was ranked No. 4) and Ozzy (who was ranked No. 12) — and it nearly took out top-ranked Zeke after he seemed to ruin his own game by going to Debbie and Sierra to try and organize a coup against Cirie and Andrea.

With Zeke hurting his chances, there’s a new No. 1 this week. Here’s how the 11 remaining castaways stack up, ranked by best chance to win:

1. Troyzan (Last week: 2). Here’s why I continue to be so high on Troyzan: He’s the No. 3 in his alliance, meaning Brad and Sierra might be targets first; he doesn’t seem to be on many radars; and he has an idol. That’s sort of the Adam formula from last season.

2. Sarah (Last week: 3). I’m not sure where Sarah sits right now, and that’s a good thing. She’s certainly not a target, and she could also have some influence over the direction of the game by playing in the middle for a couple more votes. She voted with the majority to boot Ozzy, but that doesn’t mean she’s committed to them.

3. Brad (last week: 9). I’m finally starting to get on the Brad bandwagon as far as his chances. I was so skeptical for the first few weeks, but he really seems to have changed as both a person and a player from his other Survivor appearance. He’s making bonds with people like Aubry and, even though guys like Zeke can see through him, what he’s doing is working so far.

4. Aubry (Last week: 8). Although she’s with the minority alliance, she’s not one of the top targets there (Cirie and Andrea are). So perhaps that will help her stay safe as others continue to go after big threats — and remember, it also looked like she bonded with Brad (which could help keep her off the chopping block).

5. Sierra (Last week: 7). Surprisingly, Sierra is actually the leader of the majority alliance. She is running the game in some aspects. However, I’m not sure that’s a good thing for her at this point — because people might recognize that and come after her.

6. Andrea (Last week: 5). She’s either the leader or No. 2 in the minority alliance (along with Cirie), and I don’t think that bodes well if the majority group (Sierra, Brad, Troyzan, Debbie and Tai) are able to stick together.

7. Michaela (Last week: 10). There was a nice moment where Michaela and Cirie bonded, and you could tell Michaela really listened. But listening is one thing; acting on the advice is another. Let’s see if that was a turning point.

8. Tai (Last week: 11). I still don’t think Tai can win, but with every week that goes by and those two immunity idols remain in his pocket, his chances improve.

9. Debbie (Last week: 13). OK, Debbie — nice move. Nice, niiiiiice move. Debbie, if you recall, was the one behind booting Ozzy; not only was it her idea, but her extra vote came into play. I’m still not high on her game and overall chances, but she now has a big move to claim on her resume.

10. Cirie (Last week: 6). She’s the leader of the smaller alliance and a threat, so she’ll be an easy target sometime in the new few weeks if the majority alliance stays together. I think she’s playing great, but she doesn’t have much protection.

11. Zeke (Last week: 1) Dammit, Zeke. My favorite player of the season goes from first to worst after nearly blowing up his own game last week. Now he’s not only broken the trust with his former alliance, but he doesn’t appear to have anyone to work with (despite what the previews hinted). I hope he can salvage his game, but he’s also being talked about as having too compelling of a story for people to let him reach the end.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 7

I’m still trying to digest what happened last week with Zeke and Varner (I wrote more about that here), and it will definitely be hard to just move on with the game like nothing happened.

That said, Zeke was already No. 1 in my power rankings heading into last week, and I’m going to keep him there for now. While I think his story could eventually make him more of a target (“We can’t let him get to the end or he’ll win”), I think his fellow castaways will rally around him for awhile and he won’t be voted off anytime soon.

From the previews, we also know THE MERGE IS HERE — so that will shake things up dramatically.

Here’s how I see the castaways ranked (by best chance of winning) heading into tonight’s episode:

1. Zeke (Last week: 1). The biggest challenge for Zeke will be to shake off what was a traumatic personal moment and refocus on the game. Given his love for Survivor, I think he can do it.

2. Troyzan (Last week: 2). I like the spot Troyzan is in. He has an idol, but he’s also not a target at all right now (why would they vote Troyzan off when they could go after bigger threats like Ozzy or Brad?).

3. Sarah (Last week: 9). She’s good with her old tribe — Zeke, Andrea and Ozzy, at least — AND had that short-lived alliance with Troyzan before the swap (remember that scene?). Having connections on both sides could be a very good thing. Time for the cop to play like a criminal.

4. Hali (Last week: 4). This first merge vote is going to say a lot about where Hali is and reveal much about her chances going forward. I don’t have a great read on it. But for now, I’m leaving her up high because she’s not an obvious threat.

5. Andrea (Last week: 10). Before Varner outed Zeke, he also outed a supposed alliance between Andrea, Zeke and Ozzy. If that’s really the case, those three could do some damage if they can pull in a few others.

6. Cirie (Last week: 3). I’m a little shaky on Cirie now that the merge is here and Sandra is gone. No one looks at Cirie and goes, “Oh, she’s not a threat.” They all know it, and she’s too dangerous to keep around for much longer.

7. Sierra (Last week: 5). It feels like her chances are still too closely tied to Brad’s. She either needs to make her own big moves or she’ll end up without a good enough resume — even if she survives until the end.

8. Aubry (Last week: 6). Who does she have to work with? Brad, yes. Tai, maybe. But she’s seemed to be on the outs of various tribes through the whole game, and people also view her as a threat socially.

9. Brad (last week: 7). I don’t like his chances with the merge because he’ll become too big of a target — although his alliance with Aubry could prove helpful. The only huge physical threats remaining are Brad, Ozzy and maybe Michaela — which means any of them could be a classic “merge boot.”

10. Michaela (Last week: 8). She’s strong in immunity challenges, but she’s not really the type that’s going to keep her head and stay calm for the rest of the game. That’s going to get her in trouble at some point.

11. Tai (Last week: 14). His two idols will keep him safe for awhile, along with people going after bigger targets. But like Debbie, he’s more of a “Let’s bring him to the end” type for the eventual winning player.

12. Ozzy (Last week: 11). Ozzy is in trouble now that the merge is here. His name is going to be brought up frequently as a target, and unless he goes on an individual immunity run, he might be out soon.

13. Debbie (Last week: 13). She’s too volatile and the other players aren’t going to respect her game enough in the end (although I can see someone taking her to the final three). I can’t even see her using her extra vote in a situation where it would help her.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 6

The Queen doesn’t stay Queen, as it turns out. Sandra, who was ranked at the bottom of the power rankings for most of the season, finally got the boot last week as players wised up to her threat level.

But man, how impressive was Sandra? She played an incredible game right up until the end and seemed to nearly pull off another escape. No wonder she won twice.

Now that she’s gone, though, we have a new name at the bottom. Here’s how I rank the remaining castaways based on best chance to win it all:

1. Zeke (Last week: 2). He essentially made the biggest move of the season, spearheading Sandra’s ouster. That gives him an honorary No. 1 spot this week, but I’m slightly concerned about his future based on the weakness of his new tribe.

2. Troyzan (Last week: 1). Troyzan ended up in a good spot with the tribe swap and still has an idol to play with. He’s in great shape for the merge.

3. Cirie (Last week: 5). Damn! Did you see how fast she, Aubry and Sierra did that puzzle? Cirie is one smart cookie, and she could slip into the Sandra slot as the top social player now, too.

4. Hali (Last week: 6). She’s played a clever game to this point, but seemed to have clashed with Brad at tribal a couple episodes ago. Can they work together? If so, and she makes the merge, I think she’s got a chance.

5. Sierra (Last week: 9). She’s got a great tribe and a solid alliance with Brad and Troyzan. Once she makes the merge, she could have a real shot because she won’t be an obvious threat.

6. Aubry (Last week: 11). The merge can’t get here soon enough for Aubry, because that’s when she can work her magic. In the meantime, she could be viewed as a threat.

7. Brad (last week: 10). He remains a huge target and could go home any week. But for now, his strong new tribe might win enough challenges to keep him safe.

8. Michaela (Last week: 12). If her new tribe loses, she might be a target. To avoid this, she MUST stay below the radar for a couple weeks and not get into any confrontations.

9. Sarah (Last week: 4). Her new tribe’s makeup isn’t very promising. At least if she makes the merge, she seems to have a potential alliance with Troyzan that could help her.

10. Andrea (Last week: 7). As is the case with Zeke and Sarah, she’s now on a weak tribe that could lose immunity for a couple straight weeks. That’s not good for merge chances.

11. Ozzy (Last week: 8). Ozzy’s name got mentioned at tribal council, and though he didn’t get any votes, he’s clearly known as a threat. That doesn’t bode well for the long-term, especially because he’ll be a quick target when they become one tribe.

12. Varner (Last week: 3). He plummets down the rankings this week because he’s clearly in the minority now after the tribe swap — and lost Sandra as a shield. If his group goes to tribal council again, the votes are likely coming for either Varner or Tai.

13. Debbie (Last week: 14). As much as a strategy session with Cochran might have helped other players, I doubt it will do much for Debbie. She might float to the merge because she’s not a target (unless they can’t stand her), but there’s zero chance she wins it all.

14. Tai (Last week: 13). He’s found three idols and still has two of them, but he keeps shooting himself in the foot. It was a sloppy tribal council performance, and it nearly cost him (or appeared that way). No matter how many idols he has, he won’t win if he keeps this up.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 5

I was laughing my butt off and clapping with glee during last week’s tribal council. Between J.T.’s cockiness, Michaela sipping from the coffee mug and the hilarity of a guy talking trash and then going home with an idol in his pocket (actually still at camp!) was pretty awesome.

J.T. was No. 14 in last week’s power rankings, so that was no surprise. Here’s how I see things stacking up this week (in order of best chance to win):

1. Troyzan (Last week: 1). Keeping Troyzan here for now, particularly since it looks like he struck up an alliance with Sarah that could help keep him safe (even without the idol). Feeling better and better about his chances.

2. Zeke (Last week: 2). Still high on Zeke. What’s the reason someone would vote him out right now? I don’t see it.

3. Varner (Last week: 5). I didn’t realize how tight he is with Sandra until last week. That could help him, because if someone is going to take a shot at his group, they’re aiming at Sandra first (or at least they should).

4. Sarah (Last week: 10). That little scene she had with Troyzan seemed like something that could be important for the future. It’s a smart move on her part, and I like her “Play like a criminal” mentality.

5. Cirie (Last week: 3). Cirie is doing exactly what she needs to do so far, and Sandra’s presence in the game continues to provide her some cover. She just needs to keep her head down.

6. Hali (Last week: 6). I’m definitely liking Hali’s game play more than her first season, but I’m still not sure how far that will take her.

7. Andrea (Last week: 4). It’s still hard to get a feel for Andrea’s strategy this season, which is maybe a good sign. She’s doing what she needs to do overall to stay under the radar — yet still be ready to strike when necessary.

8. Ozzy (Last week: 11). Ozzy is the man, right? But once the tribes merge, he’s going to be too big of a threat to keep around — no matter how much food he provides.

9. Sierra (Last week: 12). As long as she’s Brad’s lieutenant, she could struggle to put her own stamp on big moves. That could be a problem at final tribal.

10. Brad (last week: 13). He moves up this week because others are playing themselves out of contention. As I said before, Brad has a fantastic approach to this season, but he’s going to be a big target at some point and that’s bad for his long-term game.

11. Aubrey (Last week: 7). I’m concerned about Aubrey’s chances after last week. She was completely out of the loop on the decision to vote J.T. out and seemed clueless. As smart as she is, it doesn’t seem like she has many people to work with at the moment.

12. Michaela (Last week: 8). Her J.T. trolling was hilarious, but it also showed her fire and temper once again. Survivor winners tend to have level heads; they don’t let their emotions get the best of them.

13. Tai (Last week: 15). I can’t get past lingering doubts about Tai’s strategic play. He’s always going to be easily manipulated and thus end up in a bad spot at times that don’t serve his own best interests.

14. Debbie (Last week: 9). Debbie, Debbie, Debbie. Screaming at people for no reason and going off about how pissed you are is — spoiler alert — NOT how you win Survivor. I don’t care how far she makes it in the game. She’s not going to win it.

15. Sandra (Last week: 16). OK, look — she’s playing an AWESOME game. Kudos to her. But I’m still leaving her at the bottom, because I just can’t see how these very smart players would let her stick around for a shot at the win.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 4

The absolute shocker of a tribal council twist resulted in the ouster of the castaway I had ranked 13th for the second straight week.

Here’s what I wrote about Malcolm before he went: “With the loss of two meat shields right away, it’s time to start worrying about Malcolm. He simply won’t have cover for much longer, and they’ll be coming for him soon as a major threat.”

Of course, if Tai hadn’t played the idol for the correct person, then Sierra would have gotten the boot. But the bottom line is if these veteran players have a shot to take out a threat, they’re going to do it.

I’m trying to reflect that in the power rankings. This is how I see the players ranked by their best chances to win headed into Week 4:

1. Troyzan (Last week: 3). Troyzan blew a big lead in the challenge, but that might help him in some weird way because they won’t view him as a threat. If he can use his idol, survive the next couple weeks and find some safety while the tribe takes out bigger threats, he might have a real shot once the merge happens.

2. Zeke (Last week: 2). This is the one player who I’ve been consistent on, so I’m leaving him toward the top for no real reason other than I need to stop flip-flopping on everyone.

3. Cirie (Last week: 6). The more visible Sandra is, the more it helps Cirie in the game. As long as Sandra is around, Cirie has cover and could make the merge that way. After that, who knows?

4. Andrea (Last week: 7). She’s playing the game she needs to play so far. I’m still not sure what her strategy is overall, but she’s putting herself in decent shape for later.

5. Varner (Last week: 4).  He seemed a little shaky last episode. I hope he rebounds, but he can’t be too visible or appear sneaky or they’ll turn on him quickly.

6. Hali (Last week: 5). At tribal council, it was tough to tell whose side she was really on. It worked out for her that time, but people need to trust her eventually or she’ll be gone.

7. Aubrey (Last week: 9). She’s done a good job of staying under the radar, but for how much longer?

8. Michaela (Last week: 11). Just waiting until everyone figures out what a threat she is. Or will it be too late by then?

9. Debbie (Last week: 10). Let’s be honest: She’s tried to change this season, but her true colors will come through eventually. That might make people think they can’t work with her.

10. Sarah (Last week: 12). I can’t get a good read on her one way or the other. It doesn’t seem like she’s a very big part of the show for now, though.

11. Ozzy (Last week: 14). He’s trying his best to play a good game. I hope for his sake he can keep it up, but it always seems like the players end up realizing Ozzy is too scary of a player to keep around.

12. Sierra (Last week: 8). She’s lucky Tai played the idol on her. But clearly, she’s viewed as a strong No. 2 on her tribe and thus considered a threat. She’s on too many radars.

13. Brad (last week: 1). I know I’m bipolar on Brad, but his huge moves have me concerned about his long-term chances. He’s had a FANTASTIC two weeks — but he’s also seen Tony, Caleb and Malcolm all leave. When it’s time to go after physical threats, who are they going to look at? Brad.

14. J.T. (Last week: 15). OOPS! He screwed his tribe by leaking the info that got the idol played against them AND failed in his effort to get Sandra out. Hardly a winning formula.

15. Tai (Last week: 17). Great move with the idol play, and he had a good episode. But I still don’t see him as being strategic enough to win Survivor. And I love Tai!

16. Sandra (Last week: 16). She’s in a great spot now that the attempted J.T. coup failed. But how dumb are these players if they don’t flip on Sandra? I can’t fathom these “game changers” letting Sandra get much farther.