Survivor Winners at War: How Sarah Lacina 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. /

The most recent female Survivor champion: Sarah Lacina will try to become the first player to win two all-returnee seasons as she enters Winners at War with a new outlook.

In 19 years of Survivor, there have been only four seasons that featured a full cast of returning players. All four winners from those seasons are back to battle it out in Winners at War. Sarah Lacina is among that elite foursome, with perhaps the most useful experience coming into season 40.

The game has evolved plenty since Amber won All-Stars and Sandra won Heroes vs. Villains. The level of play in Second Chance and Game Changers represents some of the most strategically advanced seasons in the show’s history. The fact that Sarah played exceptionally well in a difficult, all-returnee season only three years ago gives her a slight advantage.

Sarah is an interesting case because she played so differently in her first two seasons, so it leaves us wondering how she’ll perform in Winners at War. Is it even possible for her to match up to the cunning way she played Game Changers? In her pre-game interview with ET Canada, Sarah commented on her Survivor evolution.

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This Iowa cop went from playing like a well-meaning police officer in Cagayan, to a full-blown criminal in Game Changers. Sarah still believes that some of the cast won’t trust her for her devious performance. As a result, she feels that she’s like a criminal on probation that’s trying to get back to being a good guy, but she might just want to turn criminal again.

While every castaway should look for ways to adjust their game, Sarah might not have to change too much to prove victorious in Winners at War. In Game Changers, she did a magnificent job of controlling the game from the shadows. She wasn’t afraid to lie to her closest ally or flip on any alliance to get ahead. That type of gameplay is risky, but she pulled it off in subtle ways to avoid getting noticed or vilified too early.

Sarah also proved that she can succeed in a twist heavy and advantage-filled season. She used her Vote Steal advantage effectively by not only taking out a threat but also taking away Cirie’s closest ally. And who can forget the Legacy Advantage! After Sierra told Sarah that she would give the Legacy Advantage to her if she gets her torch snuffed, Sarah decided to blindside her closest ally. That Legacy Advantage proved crucial to surviving that crazy, “Advantagegeddon” Tribal Council.

In her CBS bio, Sarah mentioned a new strategy she’ll try to implement. Her goal is to create psychological warfare and paranoia to disrupt her fellow winners’ gameplay. I’m not exactly sure how she plans to do this, but this ploy sounds risky. Sarah came into Game Changers with something to prove, and she delivered on that. Based solely on pre-game interviews, it feels like Sarah doesn’t have as much to fight for and might overplay herself out of the season as Tony did three years ago.

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That type of aggressive gameplay will only get her into trouble, especially with a talented group like this one. She took big risks in season 34, but all of them had a direct connection to her success. Trying to create paranoia rarely offers a direct path to success. If Sarah can stick to her winning formula and disguise her strategic moves well enough, she could cement her legacy as one of the best players of all time.