The Top 10 Best Social Game Performances in the History of Survivor. Limiting entries to only one per player and to only one per category, so if you think someone is missing, check out “Top 10 Survivor Strategic Game Performances”
10. Danni Boatwright – Guatemala (Winner)
Danni overcame one of the greatest odds to ever win the game, overcoming a 6-4 numbers disadvantage, that was later reduced to a 5-1 disadvantage, with her being the one. She was horrendously disadvantaged in the game but she managed to perfectly ingratiate herself well into the Nakum tribe and get them all to trust and respect her. She never made any enemies and managed to make a final three deal with Rafe and Stephanie that saw her make it all the way to the final two and win the season. Danni also votes off her strongest ally in Gary, to allow her to be able to work with the rest of the group and she keeps all the bigger targets in an alliance with herself so that she would never become the target. She also let the big players from both sides go after each other while she was able to fly under the radar. What makes Danni’s win even more impressive is that she is probably one of the only winners who could play the exact same way a second time and win the game again. Her game is very much an under the radar one but it’s very subtle, low-key and social as well.
9. Natalie White – Samoa (Winner)
One of the most underrated winners of all time. Natalie White played an incredible social game in Survivor Samoa. She played to Russell’s ego fantastically well, letting him make all the big moves while tending to his every need like a puppy. But she was no puppy, she was arguably even more in control of the game than Russell. Natalie recognized early on that the aggressive females of her tribe were all being voted out and so she tended to Russell’s every need, made herself seem unassuming and dumb and played to his ego masterfully while telling Jaison and Mick to stick with him as well, saying that they could both beat him in the end while still making herself look unassuming and beatable as well. Natalie also needs to be praised for the work she did to get Erik Cardona voted off at the merge and I truly believe this is one of the top 10 moves in Survivor history as it changes the game and clears the path for her and her allies to take control of the game and make it to the final four. At the same time this move also highlights her incredible social game as she uses her sweet and soft voice to subtly plant seeds of doubt into the minds of the Galu members, causing them to turn against each other. At final tribal council, she connected with each jury member on a personal level, she highlighted Russell’s arrogance and Mick’s lack of leadership and she made sure to let everyone know why her game was the best for her and not for anyone else. She was also on the right side of the vote every single time, proving to be incredibly in-tune with the game and the personal connections she had built with the jury members allowed her to win the season. Natalie is one of the best social players of all time and she went with Russell to the end knowing that she could beat him.
8. Tina Wesson – Australian Outback (Winner)
Tina’s social game arises out of her just naturally being an amazing person that everyone loves to be around. She was able to work with and connect with people from all walks of life, which was key in her win. In the pre-merge part of the game, she made a crucial social move to sway Colby on to her side away from Jerri and Amber and was then able to dominate the rest of the game with Colby and Keith by her side. he also played a very key role in the post-merge part of the game by keeping the members of the other tribe on her side and picking up Roger and Elizabeth along the way. Then her incredible social game allowed her to get the necessary votes to win the season. Tina’s just an awesome lady who naturally was able to get the votes to come to her by being so awesome and nice.
7. Earl Cole – Fiji (Winner)
Earl’s win was incredibly commanding. He was able to align himself with a strong group of people, most noteably his best bud in the game, Yau-Man, and then take his alliance to the end with him. He also convinced Dreamz and Cassandra to flip on to his side allowing him to easily take control of the post-merge part of the game with two hidden immunity idols on his side that he nor Yau-Man ever had to use. Then he was able to take two goats to the end and win 9-0-0 after he takes out his best bud Yau-Man, recognizing how necessary it was for him to win the game. His social game is amazing as he is able to connect with every single player in the game on a personal level, a key reason why he won all nine votes and was never targeted. Earl was able to make people like Anthony, who was completely disregarded by many others in the game, feel a part of something in the game and feel appreciated. Earl was recruited just two days before filming began. He didn’t know the game, so his strategic awareness wasn’t as amazing as other winners, but his social game was just about right up there with the best and it is what he relied on to win Survivor Fiji.
6. Tom Westman – Palau (Winner)
Tom somehow managed to stay in control of the majority alliance the whole time, keeping everyone on his side, even Colby who despised him. He was a strong leader of a strong tribe and is probably the main reason why Koror was so dominant and didn’t lose a single immunity challenge. The way that Tom was voting people off was actually quite ruthless, yet the jury still respected him incredibly because of how good of a social player he was. Everyone respected him, and everything came through him. No move by Koror was made in Palau without it going through Tom. He even managed to guilt Ian into stepping down at the final immunity challenge, when Ian had every right not to step down. A player who can still make everyone like him despite voting them all off in a ruthless way is a one of a kind.
5. Jeremy Collins – Second Chance (Winner)
In Survivor Second Chance, Jeremy played one of the most incredible games Survivor has ever seen. From the moment he set foot on the beach in Cambodia, he knew he had to get all the big targets around him and be the centre of a massive alliance without anyone even knowing it. He aligned himself with Andrew Savage, an arrogant leader who would always look like the one in control, Tasha, the strongest female player in challenges who tends to alienate people she doesn’t like, Joe the strongest male player in challenges who everyone is going to want to get out the moment he loses individual immunity, Stephen a known Survivor strategist and Spencer, a known fighter and well rounded player who can maneuver out of any tough situation. Jeremy set this alliance up so masterfully that everything came through him. Every single person would talk to him and then he would go talk to everyone else. Meanwhile, every single one of these players became a bigger target than him at some point in the season, which is exactly what he wanted. This constantly allowed Jeremy to keep the pressure off of himself, even though the pressure should have always been on him. Spencer was closest to Jeremy, Tasha was closest to Jeremy, Stephen was closest to Jeremy, Andrew was closest to Jeremy, everyone in his alliance was closest to him, allowing him to always be in control without the others really even knowing. In addition to his stellar gameplay was his amazing final tribal council performance where he famously said “it’s not even about me, it’s about my family”. How can you not love a guy like that? While everyone else was running around trying to build their resumes by making big moves, Jeremy remained relaxed and calm through the storm and kept everyone under his wing until they could no longer take him out. The jury respected his game and his personality so much that he won in the biggest margin in Survivor history, a 10-0-0 victory.
4. Rob Mariano – Redemption Island (Winner)
Rob’s game in Redemption Island is the best one ever. Everyone that Rob aligned with trusted him to the maximum. Everyone knew they didn’t have a shot against Rob in the end but still wanted to be best buds with him, thinking they would go to the end of the game with him. From early on Rob made a strong alliance of people who were starstruck and in love with him and using psychological mind tricks only he knows how to use, he convinced each and every single one of them that they were at the top of the pyramid with him. When Matt returned from Redemption Island and showed signs of wavering towards Zapatera, he quickly eliminated him again, scaring anyone from ever entertaining the thought of going against him for the rest of the game. The other piece of brilliance from Rob’s win in Redemption Island is his “Buddy System” in which he made everyone in his six person alliance have to have a buddy with them at all times so that there was never any chance that Zapetera could talk to an Ometepe member alone and infiltrate their alliance in an attempt to get Rob out. In a perfect world, Rob wouldn’t be arrogant to the other tribe, but it’s undeniable that him making his tribe hate the other was a factor in keeping everyone so closely aligned with him so it all worked out in his favour in the end. Rob’s social game is incredible and he knows how to manipulate people into getting what he wants better than any other Survivor player.
3. Cirie Fields – Panama (4th place)
Cirie is an absolute master of the social game. Every time she was in trouble in Panama, she managed to get herself out of it, by using her fantastic social skills to connect with people and give them a reason to keep her around. She always worked hard around camp and always made everyone feltcomfortable around her, acting like the mother figure around camp. She was never the leader of her alliance, but she didn’t need to be. She let others take control of the main stage while she pulled subtle and incredible social and strategic moves behind closed doors. Her social game was so good that Aras was willing to jeopardize his own game to take her to the final two.
2. Kim Spradlin – One World (Winner)
Kim is another one of these players that makes everyone feel so comfortable and so connected with her that they all feel like they are going to the end of the game with her. Despite being the figure-head of her alliance, she always remained democratic and impartial and at the same time was able to persuade everyone else to vote for whoever she wanted to vote for, an incredibly magical way of playing the game. Kim always kept her options open, allowing her to swiftly navigate her way through the game. She also made everyone trust her so much that she never had to play her hidden immunity idol as she was never in danger. Everyone wanted to be Kim’s best friend and even though she blindsided a lot of people, her social game allowed her to still win the game by a vote of 7-2-0.
1. James ‘JT’ Thomas – Tocantins (Winner)
In Survivor Tocantins, everyone loved JT. People loved him so much that they were willing to sacrifice their own games so that he could advance. Brendan said in the merge episode that JT winning would be the most satisfying outcome if he wasn’t going to win. JT lied several times to Coach and even though Coach constantly raved about how he valued honesty and integrity in the game above all else, he still voted for JT to win, that is just one example of many of how good of a social game he had. With his charm and likable personality, everyone wanted to form an alliance with JT and he was able to navigate his way through the game without ever having a single vote cast against him. He also overcame some incredible odds simply due to his likability factor as he was down 6-3 in numbers at one point but due to being so amazing, every single person on that island wanted to be an alliance with him, allowing him to easily overcome his numbers disadvantage. Although Stephen played a better strategic game, JT walked away with all seven votes, proving how important social game is in Survivor and proving how much of a dominant player he was. It’s unlikely that an alpha male with the size, stature and challenge ability of ‘JT’ would ever be able to win in quite the same manner, making his win all the more impressive and emphasizing truly how special his social game was.