Survivor Winners at War: How Adam Klein can win a second time

Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

He’s the youngest player competing in Survivor: Winners at War, yet he and the others know his level of expertise and fandom heading into the game.

One of the least discussed aspects of Survivor All-Star seasons is just how much older the average castaway is compared to modern seasons. With the fact that some of these winners earned their first million more than a decade and a half ago, we have a decidedly legendary cast of classic and contemporary winners.

Youngest among them is Adam Klein, representing the Millennials both in season and in age. Whereas his season was filled with wild characters, engaging stories, and a few select super-strategists, Adam will be playing with house money in Winners at War, as the youngest returning winner is actually a veteran of the Mamanuca Islands of Fiji.

Adam Klein is way and above the exception to the rule that superfans of Survivor will flame out quickly in their seasons. The former ORG player entered the game for real in Millennials vs. Gen X, starting out with close allies Zeke and Hannah on the Millennials tribe. Unfortunately, the latter would betray his trust at their first Tribal Council, as the Triforce alliance took out a similarly influential player in Mari.

Hannah would eventually return to work with Adam down the line, but more pertinent to remove was Adam’s main antagonists, the core showmance of the Triforce. After swapping onto the Takali tribe, he seized the opportunity to work with Gen X-ers Ken and Jessica, taking out Figgy as a means to stop the showmance and regain leverage with Taylor heading into the merge.

Amazingly, he felt he wouldn’t gain an enemy from removing Taylor’s love interest, as Adam very well could have been the merge boot of his season. However, with Michelle and Taylor falling in quick succession, Adam now found himself second in command to David’s alliance, standing in opposition to Zeke.

Though Adam played more assuredly than he should have at first, Adam knew the most important part of becoming a modern Survivor winner; he knew how to leverage his situation to decrease his threat level. He used idols twice, including once used on an ally after winning immunity of his own, as a means of reassuring his numbers and showing loyalty to those surrounding him. There was rarely, if ever, a time in the post-merge where Adam wasn’t working with a core group to strategize who to take out next.

Once Zeke was eliminated and his core group starting to dwindle, the tables started to turn on David. Adam and David worked together to get rid of the opposing alliance before finally turning on David at the Final Four, with Ken winning immunity and taking out his longtime ally. The jury respected Adam’s strategic gameplay while disappointed in Ken’s loyal game disregarded at the last second, as well as Hannah’s unwillingness to take out David sooner, giving him a 10-0-0 win.

You’ll notice I mentioned nothing of Adam’s harrowing season-long story with the pain of missing his ailing mother, Susie, especially when it comes to his winning game. As much as it defined his personal growth on the show, as well as a crossover story element that allowed him to bond with frenemy Jay Starrett, people harshly and unfairly undermine his game skills and awareness by how harrowing his story of playing for his mother.

Must Read. Survivor: Ranking the best Survivor seasons ever. light

He is so much more than his story, as his superfandom pre-and-post-show has him set up well for Survivor: Winners at War. He enters the game with quite a few connections throughout the winners’ circle, including Boston Rob on Sele and Tyson on Dakal through poker events at Run it Up Reno, going head’s up with Boston Rob in a charity tournament and even provided his charity with $1,000 for coming in second.

That was a totally selfless act that defines Adam’s personality; willing to give back and go to bat for his team to the point of drawing rocks. As explained in his ET Canada video, he’s entering this season anticipating and hoping to be underestimated due to the impression many fans had about his win, knowing on a deep level of the perception others might have about his win in the echelon of winners.

To have that meta-level of game awareness in the pre-game interviews in a season filled with egos is going to be a massive leg up on the competition, as being able to suppress your resume is crucial early. He’s one of a few young recent winners in a tribe where he’s the youngest male by eight years’ difference (at least), so being serviceable to others and having a perception of being a footsoldier early should work to his benefit.

The only thing I would have to fear about Adam’s game is that he does become too enamored with the players of his season. He’s well and above the show’s biggest fan of all the winners, and the tribe he’s part of has him looking up to the stars of the show. Though he seems prepared to do what it takes, there is the nagging feeling in the back of the mind that just before he’s willing to backstab, a seasoned vet will know how to blindside him first.

Next. Survivor winners: Ranking the best Sole Survivors by season. dark

Other than that, Adam Klein is in a good position early in Survivor: Winners at War. There are bigger fish to fry than him now and down the line, and he might be one of the more likelier candidates to perform well in individual endurance challenges down the line. I can’t wait to see what he has planned as the young gun and how his Millennial storyline evolves (or is emboldened) this time.