Survivor: Russell Hantz’s Top 100 Greatest Survivors Ever (10-1)

Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /
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Survivor, Natalie White
Survivor winner Natalie White (L) and runner up Russell Hantz – (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images) /

7. Russell Hantz (Samoa, Heroes vs Villains, Redemption Island)

Wow, this must have been devastating for Russell Hantz. I honestly thought he’d end up at number one or two since these rankings are on his YouTube channel, but I’m glad things were ranked fairly.

While I personally wouldn’t have Russell in the top ten, I understand why he’s ranked here. Despite being an old school player, Russell invented the way new school Survivor is played with his ability to find idols without clues and completely flip the game with how he played those idols.

Russell went into the merge down 8-4, but was able to play idols and swing things in his favor. Russell’s downfall on both Samoa and Heroes vs Villains was that he had no jury management skills whatsoever. With most of the Samoa jury being made up of former Galu members, they didn’t like how cocky Russell was and therefore gave their votes to Natalie White instead.

In Heroes vs Villains, Russell deserves a lot of credit for how he played pre-merge, but post-merge was when he cost himself the game with how he treated the remaining Heroes. Russell convincing Tyson to vote Parvati and then playing his idol on Parvati was a brilliant move and it helped him take out Boston Rob not long after.

While people are very split on how they feel about Russell and I’ve always been very anti-Russell, I do understand why his legacy is important for Survivor. I don’t like that he practically took over the show for several years despite not being on those seasons, which also plays a factor into why I don’t like him.

I know Russell’s first two games were impressive, but we saw him sputter in Redemption Island and in Australian Survivor and that’s because people had no desire to play with that kind of person.

Just think – If Russell could have just had a smidge better of a social game in Samoa, he wins that season. That’s something he should have learned, but playing back-to-back prevented him from learning that critical lesson.