6. Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands, Heroes vs Villains, Game Changers, Winners at War)
WOW! I can’t believe Russell allowed for Sandra Diaz-Twine to be ranked over him, but as much as people want to complain about it, she’s deserving of being this high. Honestly, she should be ranked higher, as she was the show’s first two-winner and was the only two-time winner for a decade. It took an all-winners season for her title of being the only one to be no more.
Sandra won Pearl Islands and nearly played a perfect game, but Tijuana’s vote for Lil prevented that from happening. Sandra bickered with people throughout Pearl Islands, but when it came down to it, her strategy of “Anyone but me” really did work and kept her in the clear time and time again.
No one viewed her as a threat in her original season and it was the same thing in Heroes vs Villains. Heck, Russell thought Sandra had no chance of winning that he purposely kept her around so he could take her to the end. We all know how that worked out.
While some fans don’t love either of Sandra’s wins, winning the show twice solidifies her as one of Survivor‘s best. She showed she had big-time game when she returned for the third time in Game Changers, which some argue was actually her best game.
Sandra went pre-merge in Game Changers, but she was targeted because she was a two-time winner and no one wanted to see her make it far. She had a huge target on her back in Winners at War as well, but built strong relationships and was in a good spot until she was blindsided pre-merge by Denise. That play was not a good look for Sandra, but as she’s always said “The queen stays queen”.
If you don’t think Sandra is a top ten player, I’d question your Survivor fandom. Anyone who can win the game twice deserves to be ranked this high, if not higher.
5. Richard Hatch (Borneo, All-Stars)
There’s no Survivor without Richard Hatch. Period.
I could end Richard’s section with just those two sentences, but obviously, I’m going to give him his due diligence because he’s the original king of Survivor, winning the first-ever season and inventing a key aspect of the show that’s now common knowledge known as alliances.
When the 16 castaways set forth for Borneo in 2000, no one knew what to expect. People were voting people off based on various reasons, but strategy was not one of them. Richard immediately formed an alliance of him, Rudy, Sue, and Kelly, which was half of the Tagi tribe and therefore gave them the majority after the first vote.
These four stuck together after the merge, at least in the early votes, and picked off the former Pagong members one by one. Richard and his Tagi alliance are responsible for why Pagonging is a common term in Survivor these days.
I’m a little surprised that Richard isn’t ranked higher simply because of him winning the first-ever season and setting the bar for how the game should be played. He was playing a cutthroat game before anyone knew that was how to be played.
Richard was eliminated early on All-Stars due to being a former winner and he was slated to be included on Winners at War but was removed from the cast list due to what had transpired between him and Sue Hawk in All-Stars, as the Dan Spillo removal in Island of the Idols had just occurred and it wouldn’t have been a good look.
Had Richard been on Winners at War, however, he surely would have been an early target for his legacy alone. All I have to say is “I’ve been bamboozled!”