Richard Hatch, Borneo – While Hatch often gets discredited for being part of the inaugural season with a bunch of people who didn’t know what it took to win, I believe this fact makes him even more deserving of the top spot on this list. His perception of others and self-awareness, along with the fact he knew forming a voting block would be necessary, makes him the best of the first eight, and would still be in the top five for overall winners.
Sandra Diaz-Twine, Pearl Islands – “Any one but me”. While this strategy can be linked back to Vecepia three seasons earlier, Sandra really made it her own, and it is how more players need to think. She always had the intentions of booting Rupert with Christa, but the rug was pulled out from under her when FairPlay did it before she could. At the final seven she sat outside the core alliance but somehow made it to the end, and got six out of seven jury votes.
Tina Wesson, Australian Outback – Due to the edit not wanting to show off much of their winner, we didn’t get to see nearly enough off her. All I need to say here is she convinced Colby Donaldson to basically give her the million. Do you need anymore convincing on how good she was?
Vecepia Towery, Marquesas – Watching Rob Mariano leave in the first merge tribal council, you would assume Sean and herself would be next, seeing as that was how Survivor went at the time, but the fall of the Rotu 4 meant the pairs of Vee/Sean and Neleh/Pascal, along with Kathy, who brought them all together, made the final five. When Sean went on day 36, you would assume Vee would be next, but her immunity win caused her to team up with Kathy to “rock out” Pascal. The very next day she flips on Kathy to guarantee her a seat at the final tribal council. She basically flip flopped on everyone but somehow still managed to take home the million.
Brian Heidik, Thailand – Brain’s game was impressive but very similar to Rich’s. Get tribe into majority at merge, promise everyone on your tribe the same thing, and slide into the finals. He won the last three immunities meaning he couldn’t even be targeted by Ted, Helen or Clay.
Amber Brkich, All-Stars – While most will argue that she didn’t even deserve to be playing with some of the best castaways, she got sixth spot on my list due to her playing better than Ethan and Jenna. She made the alliance with Rob to hide behind the big target, while latter the alliance became romance for the two.
Ethan Zohn, Africa – Nice guy and challenge threat, but didn’t do much other than being part of the dominate alliance.
Jenna Morasca, Amazon – I know a lot of people have given Jenna crap, but me putting her last is not me saying that I didn’t like her or respect her win. For her, winning four out of eight immunities is big moment of the season.