Thursday, February 11, 2010

Survivor Heroes vs. Villans Preview: Power Rankings 1-10

10. Stephenie LaGrossa (Palau, Guatemala) - Heroes

A strong player, Stephanie could have been put on either tribe. In Palau, she was the ultimate hero, being the last remaining player from her tribe up against a full opposing tribe who had not lost a challenge to date. In Guatemala, she ran her team's alliance right to the very end. On her way, she upset enough people that she finished second to Danni. She's been placed on the Heroes tribe; I suspect she will be under the radar until closer to the merge. One thing is for certain, she has been on both extremes of the game and she has an idea on how to play both sides.

9. James Clement (China, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites) - Heroes

James is not a bad player, his holding of the second dumbest move of all time not withstanding. His physical appearanc hurts him more than it helps; James looks like he should be a dominant physical player, but he tends to fall a bit short of translating that to immunity challenge wins. If he can find himself to the final tribal council, he has a better than average chance of winning. He has a very likeable personality which translates pretty easily into jury votes. More than likely though, he's going to be eliminated early into the merge.

8. Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands, All-Stars) - Heroes

Rupert is a trusting individual. This has carried him far, but ultimately cost him the game. This time he's going to be prepared for possible blind sides, but he now has a bigger question in front of him: How will he handle not being the only alpha male on his side? Will he fight to be the alpha male, or will he let somebody else take charge and play a more subtle game? If he is able to tone down his personality, he has a chance to surprise, especially if he's willing to take a second banana role in the beginning.

7. Tyson Apostol (Tocantins) - Villans

When remembering Tocantins, one of the things you remember is Tyson's face when he realizes he is being blindsided. The change in his face from cocky to shock (along with Coach's reaction) was one of the highlights of the show. What is forgotten is that Tyson was a phenom at individual immunity challenges; part of the reason why Tyson became a target was that nobody was sure if they were going to have another chance to take Tyson out. If that continues, Tyson could surprise.

6. Amanda Kimmel (China, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites) - Heroes

The eternal runner up. It's not fair to rely on her to repeat her mistakes from both China and Fans vs. Favs tribal council - she hadn't had the chance to find out how her strategy had gone in China and so she repeated it in Micronesia. With that sid, she is likely the best all-around female player in his game. Combining her strategical abilities and a strong base of skills for challenges, she might be the best female player Survivor has ever seen. Her concern has to be that she will end up being an early target precisely because of her broad skillset.

5. Colby Donaldson (Australia, All-Stars) - Heroes

Our first alpha male jock comes back for one more crack at the win. The lingering question is whether he remains the dominant player he was in 2000. I'm not sure he is, but I think he's learned more on how to play the social game and use his carm to his advantage. And if that does combine with the old Colby dominance, I doubt anybody can stop him from winning the game.

4. Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands, Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites) - Villans

Her game is known - play the social game to the max, and don't worry about immunity challenges. I suspect that her success in playing the game will be lost. (Honestly, how many people can remember that she won Fans vs. Favourites?) As well, I suspect that she would have no problem in attempting to fly under the radar until she is reunited with her good friend Amanda. So long as she doesn't cause waves early, she is a good bet to make it to the end.

3. Tom Westman (Palau) - Heroes

Tom is a former champion, which is always a negative in these all-star seasons. At the same time, he was a dominant physical player who showed an underrated tactical mind. He is also a born leader who can hold together a team. Strong contender to take a 4 person Hero alliance to the final four.

2. James "J.T." Thomas (Tocantins) - Heroes

JT is the biggest physical threat in this game. If anybody is going to "pull an Ozzie" and run the indivdual immunity table. At the same time, JT has shown an ability, to adapt to what is thrown at him. He is able to identify who hid best target is and act upon that. The only thing that concerns me is whether he's able to function on his own, or if he needs a Steven to be his sidekick.

1. Russell Hantz (Samoa) - Villans

Russell's greatest advantage is that nobody has seen his game. When combined with his tendency to "cause chaos", it's a great cover for his strategic mind. Everybody will assume he's a villan because he's overbearing, loud and a troublemaker. As well, nobody will have dealt with his strong "manipulate emotions" game. On the down side, he will grate on people, but if he's in control it won't matter. This game is Russell's to lose; it's only a matter of whether he keeps himself in control.

(An underrated piece is that Russell has experience on being both the underdog and the favourite.)

Russell is my pick to win Survivor: Heroes vs. Villans. We'll see, starting tonight, if I'm right.

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