With less than one week to go until the season premiere of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers on September 27, four of Inside Survivor’s contributors got together to assess the castaways about to battle it out for the $1 million prize and the title of Sole Survivor.
Taking turns in a snake draft, going in alphabetical order, Austin, Martin, Rob, and Tillie picked their winner candidates, big characters and personal favorites to assemble their teams. As Rob and Tillie were last to pick, they each received a fifth player for their team. You can check out Part 1 of our assessment of the first eight castaways or read on for our thoughts on the remaining ten players…
AUSTIN’S THIRD PICK
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
NFL PLAYER | 31 | HOUSTON, TX
First Impression: Competitive, savvy, likable – dark horse contender?
Dig Deep! At first glance, it would be easy to write Alan off as the dumb jock stereotype. Yes, he’s played in the NFL, and yes, he’s still incredibly big and fit. But there’s a lot more under the muscles, and I think it’s going to catch a lot of people – players and viewers alike – by surprise. In his interviews, he comes across as confident in his own identity and sense of self with a thoughtful mind. There’s a gentle humour to the way Alan carries himself that suggests that he could be an easy-going fellow, and he doesn’t seem hungry for power or leadership, which could bode well in the group of alpha personalities that is the Heroes tribe.
However, he does cite his tendency to become “hangry” as a warning flag, as well as his hyper-competitive spirit. These traits are manageable in the real world, but people have been sent home for less on Survivor. If Alan is to succeed in this game, he’ll have to keep a tight leash on those impulses and make sure his fellow castaways see him as the cheerful, polite, loving husband and not the aggressive competitor. But I reckon he could pull it off…
Why He’s Team Austin: …and that’s why he’s my third pick. Alan is a long shot for the win – no high-profile professional athlete has emerged triumphant, and whether or not that secret gets out, his strength could make him an easy target in the mid-game. However, Alan seems clever enough and social enough to ingratiate himself into a beneficial alliance that could get him into the end game with a legitimate shot at the title. Besides, Alan seems to be a positive force in this game, and I’m excited to see what he’ll bring to the table.
MARTIN’S THIRD PICK
YAWA TRIBE (HUSTLERS)
PERSONAL ASSISTANT | 24 | LOS ANGELES, CA
First Impression: 😍
Dig Deep! There are many reasons I wanted Ali on my team. Firstly, shallow reasons, she’s absolutely gorgeous. But she is also a Survivor superfan who appreciates Sandra Diaz-Twine, and that automatically wins my affection. The Hustlers tribe is a potential hot mess but Ali seems the most down to earth and logical one of that group, and I think that will serve her well. She comes across naturally engaging and also looks fairly athletic but not so much to appear overly threatening. I also like what she said in her Hollywood Reporter interview about wanting to find a middle-ground – Survivor is often about balance (and I don’t just mean challenges). Ali also intends to take a play from Sandra’s book, playing the “as long as it ain’t me” game pre-merge, before taking a more forceful approach once the merge hits. If anyone can get away with that game style this season I believe it’s Ali – my one worry for her is Patrick and how their relationship outside of the game (both went to Auburn Uni) might affect her chances.
Why She’s Team Martin: She’s super likable, and everyone in pre-game Ponderosa seems to be getting a good vibe from her. The Hustlers tribe might struggle in challenges, but I don’t see Ali being the easy target for that group. If she sticks to her Sandra-inspired gameplan there’s no reason Ali shouldn’t find success in this game.
ROB’S THIRD PICK
YAWA TRIBE (HUSTLERS)
SMALL BUSINESS OWNER | 24 | AUBURN, AL
First Impression: He might be the first person medevaced due to a sunburn.
Dig Deep! The red-haired, sunburned guy from Auburn, on the red tribe. Is he the reddest Survivor to ever play? At this point, the only interesting thing about him seems to be that very sunburn. He’s pretty low-key and regular, and that will probably do him well. Patrick does have the potential to be an interesting villain, based on how he said he wanted to play, so maybe we could be in store for some interesting gameplay from him. He could have a problem getting on with the bigger personalities on his tribe, and might just fall by the wayside as an easy boot. I think his strength should keep him safe for a while, but there is always a chance he could be an easy vote out.
Why He’s Team Rob: I picked him because I think he’s one of the more ordinary people on the Hustlers tribe, which probably speaks well to his potential longevity in the game. He doesn’t come off as much of a strategist, but thankfully for him, he seems to be on the tribe that fits that perfectly.
TILLIE’S THIRD PICK
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
LIFEGUARD | 26 | SATELLITE BEACH, FL
First Impression: Suffers from resting bitch face.
Dig Deep! Just by looking at Ashley, it’s obvious she is the most physically fit female on this cast. She’s a little bit of a question mark though because she has a pretty bold attitude and is really competitive. Ashley says she will be the one screaming at people in challenges and will be pissed if she loses – which sounds like a Michaela 3.0. She left her day job to go out on a whim to become a lifeguard. That being said she isn’t afraid to take risks and make big moves. Ashley has the qualities of a potential triple threat in this game. She has great social skills, physical skills, and more than likely catches the eye of the males on the cast. She compared herself to the man himself, Richard Hatch, which got me excited for a moment. But then I read that it’s only because he was a winner. You’re not a winner yet Ashley.
Why She’s Team Tillie: When looking at Ashley, I realized she was either going to blow this game away or be blown away by the game. She will definitely be an asset to her tribe in challenges. She is sitting pretty pre-game and can definitely go on a streak to win immunities to save her post-merge. She has a huge personality, and I feel like she can win this game – if and only if she keeps her mouth shut.
TILLIE’S FOURTH PICK
JOHN “JP” HILSABECK
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
FIREFIGHTER | 28 | LOS ANGELES, CA
First Impression: I definitely picked him because he was cute. Anyone notice he said “You Know” twenty-one times in his two-minute cast video?
Dig Deep! “Got nothing for ya!” Okay being serious – JP has a dog. A Husky to be specific. Okay, JP is a tad on the boring side, but I’ll make this work. There are certainly some likable things about JP. For one, he’s athletic, ripped, and very attractive. He’s a firefighter who comes off as being a pretty family oriented, humble guy. From what I see, I don’t think there’s a bad bone in this guy. He also describes himself as a romantic, which may work to his advantage if he can charm his way through the game. And that’s all I got for him.
Why He’s Team Tillie: Cole was taken. But there’s good news; people don’t get voted off for being boring! And I can’t find anything bad about him that would lead to a possible reason why people would want to vote him out. Honestly, I just wanted a built man (sorry Ryan) on my team as a boost.
ROB’S FOURTH PICK
YAWA (HUSTLERS TRIBE)
FISHERMAN | 35 | BEAUFORT, NC
First Impression: Mullet Denise 2.0! (but hopefully better)
Dig Deep! Get these people some sunscreen! As a fellow pale person, I can feel the pain just by looking at them. Lauren and Patrick are perfectly placed on the red tribe. They won’t need a spy shack; they can just wear their buffs and blend in with the flag. At first glance, she looks to be the odd person out on the Hustlers tribe, but due to her physical ability and the fact that she’s relatively down to earth compared to the rest of her tribemates, she might not have as much of a target on her. If the Hustlers lose as many challenges as I’m predicting they do, I could, however, see her becoming an easy vote out, just due to her being the odd woman out in the Hustlers tribe.
Why She’s Team Rob: Of the people remaining (at the time of picking), she is most likely going to make the least amount of waves at the beginning of the season, and I think she’ll be able to prove her worth in challenges. I don’t see her going super deep in the game, but she’ll probably stick around for a good amount of time.
MARTIN’S FOURTH PICK
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
PROBATION OFFICER | 34 | TOLLAND, CT
First Impression: Tony? Jony? Clone-y?
Dig Deep! The man that JP so eloquently described as “another guy and things like that.” JP is wrong, Joe is not just another guy, in fact, Joe is one of the few people on this cast that really pops personality wise, and for that reason, I think he’s going to be a stand-out character. The concern for my man Joe is coming into the game as a bald-headed law enforcement worker. Multiple people on the cast have compared him to Tony, and it’s easy to see why, but that is worrying because they might assume he will play like Tony. They wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that way, Joe himself named the Survivor: Cagayan winner as one of the contestant’s he’s most like, alongside Mike Holloway (for his “balls to the wall” attitude). If Joe shows any incline of a Tony (or even Mike) style game in those early days, people are going to be coming for his head quick just like the real Tony last season. I do have faith that Joe is smart enough not to come in guns blazing; he seems like a sociable person and open to working with most people.
Why He’s Team Martin: I needed a dude on my team, and Joe looks like he’s going to be hella entertaining, whether he makes it to Day 39 or is first boot. If he can get over that initial Tony hump and build some relationships, I think he could make a decent run.
AUSTIN’S FOURTH PICK
SOKO TRIBE (HEALERS)
UROLOGIST | 43 | PARKLAND, FL
First Impression: If this season were Game of Thrones, he’s totally the Dickon Tarly.
Dig Deep! Now that I’ve gotten at least one anatomical joke out of the way for the resident urologist… I’m not really sure what to think about Dr. Mike. There’s a lot that’s appealing, both as a player and as a character. He’s clearly intelligent, and even though he looks like the grown-up version of the Token Nerd from every 1950s high school movie, his confident awkwardness is more endearing than irritating. He’s also a diehard Survivor fan – so much so that his son is named after Survivor: Africa champion Ethan. The Healers tribe seems primed for cohesion, and I can easily see Mike finding his niche if Soko, as a whole, values tribe unity.
My concern with Mike is that his greatest strengths – his smarts, his Survivor knowledge, his inoffensive likability – have a grim downside. The game has changed a lot since the classic seasons, and even though Mike talks up his abilities and asserts that he will play a dominant Boston Rob-esque game, I struggle to see a meek personality achieve such control of the game on their first attempt. Although he might be able to think three moves ahead, I also worry that his fellow tribemates could peg him as a strategic threat whilst he overplays his hand.
But to bring it full circle, he’s not going to go the way of a Dickon Tarly, losing the game through blind loyalty and honour. However, I think he could make the complete opposite mistake and play too hard, too fast, and still see his life in the game go up in flames.
Why He’s Team Austin: So I can make piss-poor puns. (Sorry, had to get another one in there.) Mike is my last pick in the draft, partly so I could represent each ‘H’ and partly because he strikes me as a high risk, high reward player. If things go his way, he could easily be another David Wright, a fish-out-of-water who learns to run on dry land. If he drops the ball, though, he could be another David Samson, over-thinking his way to a premature elimination. That’s not a new projection by any means, but it’s certainly apt – and either way, we’re not going to forget about Dr. Mike.
ROB’S FIFTH PICK
YAWA TRIBE (HUSTLERS)
SURF INSTRUCTOR | 23 | SOLANA BEACH, CA
First Impression: Oh cool another surfer bro… *rolls eyes*. Also, how the hell did I end up getting stuck with half of the Hot Mess…err….Hustlers tribe?
Dig Deep! I think Devon’s game will probably be as successful as the car he shares a last name with. He’ll probably do fine physically, but I just get such an aloof vibe from him that I think will rub his fellow tribemates the wrong way. I could be totally wrong, (hey, this worked for Fabio in Survivor: Nicaragua), but with the direction the game is heading in the recent seasons – more focused on strategy and big moves – the Fabio game doesn’t really work anymore (and it probably shouldn’t have in Nicaragua, but that was a unique season). Upon listening to more interviews, I got more of a Jay vibe from him than a Taylor vibe, which I was initially thinking/dreading, which could bode well for his game, but I honestly don’t see him in this for the long run.
Why He’s Team Rob: Because between the two final picks we had, I think he’s got a better shot (not by much) at going further than Katrina.
TILLIE’S FIFTH PICK
LEVU TRIBE (HEROES)
OLYMPIAN | 46 | EXCELSIOR, MN
First Impression: That laugh!
Dig Deep! She’s so TENACIOUS. She has a huge personality. Reminds me a bit of Debbie Wanner and Kathy Sleckman. She’s the lady who would TYPE IN ALL CAPS. Her hobbies include martial arts, which isn’t common for a 46-year-old, especially for a female. She’s a former Olympian, but hopefully not a physical repeat of the last Survivor Olympian (Crystal Cox). Fun fact: Crystal was one challenge loss away from being tied with the most losses in Survivor history. Katrina seems very team/family oriented and someone who would want to work as a team at all times. So she won’t be a Tony on Day 1, running into the jungle and looking for idols. She’s the person who, if given two options between an advantage for herself or an advantage for her tribe, would pick the one for her entire tribe. I hope she realizes that she will have to betray and stab her own alliance in the back eventually.
Why She’s Team Tillie: Honestly I didn’t pick her – she the was the only person left. I’m from south Louisiana, and I have Hurricane Katrina on my team. No offense to her, but that screams bad luck for me. I feel like her over-excitement and personality may be her downfall. But she’s also an Olympic swimmer who has a shot to prove that she can be valuable in challenges. I don’t think she will win or even make the merge, but if she happens to make it to the final episode, I will personally buy her a drink when I go to LA for finale week, because I really think she is going to be first boot.
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers premieres September 27 at 8 pm on CBS. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for weekly features including Episode Reviews, Edgic, Stats, Next Time On Survivor… and much more.