Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 2

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.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 1

Ohhhhh yeah! It’s time for another season of Survivor (premieres tonight on CBS), so let’s rank which castaways have the best shot at winning it all.

This season is Survivor: Game Changersand 20 returning players (some of them game changers, some of them not really) will try to outwit, outplay and outlast a really fearsome and experienced group. It will be difficult to pull too many tricks or sneaky maneuvers this time around, but that just makes it all the more interesting.

If you haven’t watched Survivor in a few years — or ever — it’s not too late to jump in. Here’s my pitch from last season as to why people should give it another chance.

Here are my picks, in order of best chance to win Sole Survivor:

  1. Zeke. He won’t be viewed as a threat to the same degree as last season, when he stood out (along with David) as major strategists — in part because none of the players who are on this season got to watch him play before they filmed this. He can make friends with anyone, is very clever and won’t be targeted early. I like his chances of making it to the end.
  2. Aubrey. She should have won two seasons ago, and I think her game will be respected (but not feared). She’ll sharpen things up this time and play a calculated, measured game overall.
  3. Malcolm. He’s probably the favorite — but I think that only makes him a bigger target. If he’s around in the final eight, people are going to be whispering his name.
  4. Sandra. Is it possible a two-time winner could be underestimated? It feels like that’s the case for Sandra, which is probably how she’s already won twice. Clearly, she’s doing something right.
  5. Ciera. She’s always upset when people don’t want to play hard, so you know she’s going to be making huge moves. Maybe she’ll end up on the right side of things this time.
  6. Michaela. I could see this going either way for Michaela. If she doesn’t lose her temper, she could definitely make the final three. But I could also see her getting booted early.
  7. Tony. Oh, Tony. Could he pull off another season of Vlachos charm and ride it to a win? I think he’ll be too visible and too big of a target, and he won’t be able to sweet-talk veteran players like he did during Cagayan (C’mon, Woo).
  8. Varner. I hope he resists the urge to play too hard, too early this time. Patience, Varner, patience! Then go for the kill later in the game, after the merge.
  9. Cirie. She’s going to be a threat and the other players will recognize it right away. So that might not work very well long term, unless she’s able to fly under the radar somehow.
  10. Ozzy. You really think this group is going to let one of the all-time great players just skate his way to the merge? No way, if they’re smart (and they are). He’s going to be targeted as soon as he lands on the beach.
  11. J.T. I don’t really remember much about J.T.’s game, except for how he worked with Fishbach during his winning season. Is he able to adapt to the new-school game?
  12. Troyzan. He had the misfortune of going up against one of the smartest players ever, Kim Spradlin, who got the better of him. Let’s see how he does this go-round.
  13. Andrea. She has the experience, can fly under the radar and has been an avid follower of the game long enough to know what mistakes to avoid. That might work out for her if she can get with the right alliance.
  14. Sierra. I don’t love her chances, but she’s also no slouch. Maybe she can make the right moves and end up at final tribal, where anything can happen.
  15. Sarah. Why is she a game changer? I’m not sure. I don’t remember much of her game, except for both she and Tony being cops on their season. Maybe that will allow her avoid being targeted (why would they vote her out if she’s not a threat?) and make it far.
  16. Tai. Everyone loves Tai! Everyone wants to work with Tai! But here’s the thing: Does he play a strategic game? I don’t think so. And so when he’s sitting at final tribal, this group of vets won’t reward him — just like when he lost to Michele.
  17. Caleb. I’m thrilled he’s getting another chance. Really! We watched Beastmode Cowboy on Big Brother and felt bad for him when he got evacuated from Survivor. But is he a strategic player? I’ve never really seen that out of him, so I don’t think he can win.
  18. Hali. I don’t remember much about her, which is why she’s ranked so low. I know it’s only been a few years since she played, but her game just didn’t stand out to me. How is she going to defeat all these ace players?
  19. Debbie. Under no scenario can I see Debbie, who is great TV but not a good player, being rewarded by the jury with a $1 million prize. I just can’t picture that.
  20. Brad. He’s going to piss someone off and get himself voted out before the merge. I just don’t think he can make it very far with the style of game he plays.