With less than a week to go until the second season of Australian Survivor premiere on Sunday 30 July, Inside Survivor’s Aussie correspondents got together to assess the castaways about to embark on the World’s Greatest Game.
Taking turns in a snake draft, Dylan Vidal, Alice Barelli and Austin Smith picked their winner candidates, big characters and personal favourites to assemble their teams. Read on to hear their first impressions, deeper thoughts and predictions for all twenty-four castaways…
DYLAN’S FIRST PICK
FORMER SPECIAL OPS COMMANDER | 37 | WA | ASAGA TRIBE
First Impression: At first glance, all I could wonder is what did the ‘W’ stand for in Mark’s name? Then, when I read that Mark wanted to play the game like Lee from last season, it hit me. The ‘W’ must stand for wanker.
Dig Deep! In all seriousness, when I first saw Mark. W on the list I knew straight away that he would be the biggest advocate for Australian Survivor: Mateship Island Season 2. Mark is someone whose narrative is all too familiar at this point. With his strong physical presence, charming smile, army survival skills and strong moral compass, Mark. W is a cookie cutter poster child for a strong survivor contestant. Mark may say that he wants to break all the rules, but I believe he will forge too many bonds for him to break his word in the name of the game.
Why He’s Team Dylan: It would be remiss of me not to pick him first. It goes without saying that Mark. W will ease his way to the merge. If this season’s contestants aren’t quick enough to act then Mark will make a deep run, and they will find themselves dishonourably discharged from the game.
ALICE’S FIRST PICK
MODEL | 22 | WA | ASAGA TRIBE
First Impression: The “face” of season two, ambitious, mature…Parvati 2.0?
Dig Deep! Sarah was one of the first of the new cast to be featured, and it’s clear to see why – she is beautiful, she has appeared on reality tv before, and is certainly saying all the right things in interviews and her bio. She has travelled extensively for her job and works in an environment known to be bitchy at best, so I think she will have more life experience than a typical 22-year-old. I also love that she is planning to have the “most intense social game on the planet,” particularly since this long form Survivor requires a significant social game just to get to the merge. And as a model, I assume she’s in shape.
Why She’s Team Alice: Choosing Sarah at the top of my list isn’t so much to do with her bio and “meet Sarah video” but my remembering her from “The Face Australia” almost three years ago. She was ambitious, took criticism well, responded quickly to advice, and was willing to do just about anything to succeed. And she has – she’s an international model. I trust her to be able to do the same again while remaining likeable. It’s also a major plus in my book that she’s been shown fully clothed in action shots rather than as a bikini babe – hopefully setting her up as a serious player.
AUSTIN’S FIRST PICK
LIME FARMER | 51 | QLD | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: Eccentric hippie uncle on the outside, with a cutthroat strategist hiding behind that bushy beard.
Dig Deep! Mark H. is one of the characters I’m most excited about this season. I was a little concerned that our first Aussie farmer would be a true blue bloke with a heavy mateship attitude towards the game, but Mark is anything but. In everything we’ve seen so far of him, he’s drawing the clear line between real life and the game. He’s a genuine, honest, friendly fellow in the real world, but he understands that Survivor can demand a level of cunning and deception that he’s willing to dive straight into – and I don’t think the other castaways are going to see it coming. They’re going to see a Rupert on their tribe – they should be worried about someone far more dangerous.
Mark’s personal history has seen him fight through loss and hardship to reclaim control of his life and career, and those tried-and-tested attitudes of determination and relentlessness should serve him well on the beaches of Samoa. He seems physically capable – certainly for his age – and even with a cast significantly younger than him, I get the sense that he’ll be able to put on the non-threatening front and charm his way into real relationships. He’s definitely one to watch.
Why He’s Team Austin: Mark H. has been featured prominently in the promotional material – which brings up the spectre of last season’s Des. But despite the surface-level comparisons of the grey-haired Queenslander, I get a far more positive vibe from Mark. He understands the game’s complexities and looks like he’ll be happy to be the likable uncle of the tribe to get him through the early days until he can get his claws into the strategic game. It might sound strange, but I could definitely see Mark H. in the Final Five – and as a threat to win. But even if life gives you limes, you make… limeade? Even if Mark goes out early, he’s going to make an impact on the season, and that’s why he’s my first pick.
AUSTIN’S SECOND PICK
DOCTOR | 29 | VIC | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: Intelligent as a Ravenclaw. Underestimated as a Hufflepuff.
Dig Deep! She might seem innocuous on paper, but Tessa has a lot going on. Having run the gauntlet of medical training, she’s clearly a smart cookie with the relentless determination to achieve her goals. Tessa talks about her daily struggle for respect as a young doctor, but her tone suggests that she doesn’t let other people’s misconceptions of her get in her way: she’s got a lot of self-confidence and doesn’t feel the need to prove herself to anyone.
She talks a lot about her strategies coming into the game, and almost all of it sounds great – play into her tribemates’ underestimations of her, avoid outbursts and divert any frustrations into calculated revenge, be willing to play Survivor as a game and leave honour at the doorstep. It’s an attitude that could serve her well, as long as she doesn’t get hung up on the idea of the all-girls alliance she raises. Alliances based on gender don’t have the greatest track-record, and even though I could see a number of her fellow Samatau women connecting with her (calling an Anneliese alliance now!), Tessa will need to be flexible and open to working with anyone if she wants to take the crown.
Why She’s Team Austin: Tessa strikes me as a real threat to win this thing. She seems like a pretty ordinary woman on the surface – no wacky job, weird personality or unusual appearance. Even sporting her Hogwarts cap, she’ll be able to come into the game and blend in. This should allow her to build the alliances she needs in the early days so that once the incubation time is over, she can break out of her shell and take control of her game. It could definitely see Tessa as our Sole Survivor – and that’s why she’s Team Austin.
ALICE’S SECOND PICK
STUDENT | 23 | VIC | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: Can we be best friends, please?
Dig Deep! Student, Mega Fan, Competitive, thinks she’ll be underestimated… is this how Australian Survivor tries to cast Kristie again? Anneliese really appealed to me as somebody who could do very well in this game. I think Anneliese is one of the genuine fans on the cast (as opposed to the no-seriously-I-love-the-game-who-is-Sandra?). I also think she’s right in being underestimated – there are plenty of characters on her tribe to draw early attention but also enough that I think she can vibe with to stay safe. I just hope Anneliese’s competitive ‘high achiever’ streak propels her to play under the radar rather than flaming out early.
Why She’s Team Alice: Anneliese is a super fan, and I am a total sucker for super fans. I think she’s got the smarts to get far and the social game to back it up. I draw faith from her being self-aware and hope that this can persist once the dehydration, malnutrition and sleep deprivation set in.
DYLAN’S SECOND PICK
DIGITAL ADVERTISING PRODUCER | 22 | NSW | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: A self-proclaimed life-long Survivor fan who is almost too positive to function. Peter will either make a long run or be eliminated before you can say “WALRUS!”
Dig Deep! On closer inspection, this cast seems to be tailor made for a young, likable gay man to thrive. The women of this cast seem to be leaps and bounds stronger than the men, and that could play into Peter’s advantage. I predict there being a lot of women in this cast looking for a gay best friend and that will be Peter’s ticket to success. However, if Peter finds himself in a situation where he is on the wrong side of the numbers or a tribe with alpha males I can also predict Peter not possessing the strategic capabilities to fight his way out of that situation.
Why He’s Team Dylan: I predict that Peter will make a deep run in this game but will paint a target for himself for being too likeable or he will make it to the end and get no votes for being nothing but a floater.
First Impression: “Aren’t there ads for you online? Can’t I order one of you from the back of a magazine or something?” – Courtney Yates
Dig Deep! Michelle has never been camping before in her life, with the closest being “roughing it in a three-star hotel.” Now I know you’re thinking “Girl…. does she know what she has signed up for?” One might even say that she has no business being out on the island. To that, I say you’re WRONG! Michelle will be the dark horse of the season, and she will find her Mr. Sheffield and manipulate the men to her advantage. I predict a growth narrative reminiscent of Cirie back in Exile Island complete with the fear of leaves.
Why She’s Team Dylan: Okay so a guy can only hope. I have very little to go off but if I were to make one outlandish prediction let it be this one. If I’m realistic though, I predict that Michelle will be able to overcome the elements but ultimately fall at the hands of an inopportune tribe swap and get eliminated pre-merge.
ALICE’S THIRD PICK
ENDURANCE ATHLETE | 32 | VIC | ASAGA TRIBE
First Impression: Mighty Mouse!
Dig Deep! Sam has a lot of things going for her: having run four ultra-marathons alone suggests physical fitness and immense mental fortitude. She’s a lawyer, so I assume she’s not only a clever cookie but has had to deal with some difficult types over the years. She’s in her early thirties which suggests she has accumulated some life experience. Imagine that packed up in a tiny frame (favoured in individual immunity challenges!). I think she could be (literally) overlooked by other castaways. The biggest concerns with Sam are that she has no knowledge of the game and that she is pro-teamwork. I think being a great member of a team will be a solid attribute pre-merge, but unless she gets into a dominating alliance (another team, I suppose), she could go early post-merge for being a physical threat.
Why She’s Team Alice: I couldn’t pass up the combo of an ultramarathon running lawyer whose stature will allow her to be underestimated. I just hope she can survive being “outplayed” by other super fans!
AUSTIN’S THIRD PICK
AARON “A.K.” KNIGHT
WEDDING DJ | 29 | SA | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: Enthusiastic Superfan. Dedicated Superfan. Superfan Superfan Superfan.
Dig Deep! At first glance, AK’s bio is all about his love for Survivor – he applied last year, he cites his favourite superfan players (Evan, Nick, Phoebe), he speaks about the game with adoration. Yes, he drops the big #BigMovez buzzword, but he also values that there are different layers to a winning game and that all of it comes down to convincing the people you’ve wronged to vote for you to win. Survivor is obviously a huge passion for AK, but he knows that it’s not black-and-white or as easy as telling a few big lies.
When he’s not geeking out about getting to play this game, he also talks about his physical strengths in the game suggesting he won’t be a slouch come challenges. He’s used to heavy labour in a past career as a fence installer, but he has been putting in a lot of physical training in preparation for Survivor, including working on his swimming (his admitted weakness). AK is dedicated to this endeavour – he’s not going to waste his shot.
Why He’s Team Austin: Let’s get it out of the way: AK could definitely be an Evan or a Nick: the super-keen superfan who plays way too hard too fast and over-thinks his way out of the game. However, AK is in a season with many more players talking about “the game,” which should serve him well. He strikes me as a genuine person who will be able to connect affably with his fellow players. If he’s able to avoid the urge to make moves for the sake of making moves, he might be able to strike a good balance between the strategic, physical and social games and he could live out his dream all the way to the end.
AUSTIN’S FOURTH PICK
PHOTOGRAPHER | 29 | WA | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: You don’t need an optical zoom to tell he’s easily the biggest fish-out-of-water on the cast.
Dig Deep! He isn’t strong physically – he hates exercise and gyms (I feel ya, buddy). He isn’t primed for cutthroat strategy – he’s too empathetic to betray a friend. He describes himself as socially awkward and weird. At first glance, Jarrad is easily a triple threat for an early boot. He stands out like a sore thumb, not only on his tribe but amongst all twenty-four castaways – there is nobody else remotely like him out there. In most cases, being the odd man out is a curse, but Jarrad could break the mould.
In his brief bio, he comes across as a likable, easy-going man with a wealth of experiences (and campfire stories) as a globe-trotting photographer and charitable volunteer. He’s passionate about what dream he’s chasing and says he loves pushing himself through anxieties to challenge his comfort zone. If Jarrad can use his goofy charm to find a place as a foot-soldier in somebody’s alliance, I can see his likability and infectious energy carrying him a decent way through the game.
Why He’s Team Austin: I think there is a very high chance that Jarrad is a pre-merge boot – his apparent challenge weakness, reluctance to play aggressively and distinct individualism could combine to make him an easy target. Even if he makes it deep, the players would be crazy to take someone who seems so genuinely likable to the end. Nevertheless, I can’t help but be drawn to Jarrad. I hold out hope that he will be an enjoyable, laid-back presence with a unique perspective. One of the things I love about Survivor is seeing people from all walks of life step into this crazy game. I don’t know if we’ve had too many players quite like Jarrad and that’s why I want him on my team.
ALICE’S FOURTH PICK
ADVENTURE GUIDE | 27 | WA | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: I promise I didn’t choose him because he’s cute.
Dig Deep! Locky seems to live an interesting life – spending half of it as a plumber in WA and the other half as an adventure guide in Europe. Locky has certainly built up plenty of outdoors skills, and one could assume he will cope better with the camping aspects of Survivor. He cuts an intimidating figure but has the luck of a fellow giant on his team in 198cm tall Adam – fingers crossed this can reduce the physical threat of such a tall frame. Locky isn’t a Survivor fan and doesn’t seem to have any strong strategic plan. That being said, his survival and challenge abilities can hopefully get him to the merge, and he’ll have picked up enough allies or strategic skills to get him deeper into the game. My biggest concern was actually the Season 1 Sam vibe I picked up from his bio – how many people recall him as a fantastic Survivor player?
Why He’s Team Alice: Locky is one of the only castaways to come equipped with solid survival skills, and I think this can endear him to his tribe. He’s got physical ability to help out in challenges, and I hope his competitive spirit can carry him through.
DYLAN’S FOURTH PICK
NICOLA “ZIGGY” ZAGAME
OLYMPIAN | 26 | NSW | SAMATAU TRIBE
First Impression: Ziggy is a two-time Olympic medal winning athlete in water polo. It bears repeating – SHE IS AN OLYMPIC ATHLETE!
Dig Deep! The advantage that this will bring to her tribe is astronomical. The only person that comes remotely close to her in athletic accomplishment is Kent who swam the English Channel a year ago – and appears to have given up all athletic activity since then. Although, the more I thought about it, Crystal Cox in Survivor: Gabon demonstrated to us that being an Olympic medal winning athlete doesn’t always translate to the challenges in Survivor. Ziggy appears to have only a basic knowledge of the game which may prevent her from falling into the “big moves” trap that so many super fans fall into every season.
Why She’s Team Dylan: This recently retired Olympic athlete will either strike gold or leave the island with nothing but a mere bronze glow. I have enough faith in Ziggy to predict that she won’t create any waves and will be an early merge boot.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 and the rest of the draft picks and assessment!