The last person to leave the game, the person so close to the end they can taste the money but has their opportunity to plead their case taken away at the very last moment. That person becomes ingrained in their respective season as the final recipient of “The Tribe Has Spoken” and earns a place in a very special group in Survivor history: The Day 38 Club.
Inside Survivor contributor Ian Walker continues the countdown of the updated and revised Day 38 Club rankings. The list takes into account the strength of a player’s game, character, and the power of their story.
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No. 14 – Yau-Man Chan (Fiji)
From the moment he stepped onto the beach, Yau-Man Chan stood out in the best way possible. Instantly likable due to his humble nature and high intellect, Yau proved he was more than meets the eye almost immediately, like when he used the power of science to bust open a crate (which the macho beefcake guys couldn’t open).
Self-conscious about being the old guy, Yau immediately used his strong work ethic to weave his way into the majority. Once he was in, he was off, playing one of the most strategically out-of-the-box games Survivor has ever seen, all while displaying some truly surprising challenge strengths. His final gambit was one for the history books, and ultimately what lands him in the Day 38 Club, but it was a heck of a ride to get there.
From early on in Survivor: Fiji, Yau-Man found two things he could rely on in the game: his alliance with Earl Cole and the hidden immunity idol. Yau-Man and Earl clicked instantly and would be on the same wavelength strategically every step of the way.
In fact, it was because of a tag-team effort with Earl that Yau was able to find the idol. While Earl led everybody else away from camp, Yau was left to dig, leading to arguably the greatest idol discovery scene in the show’s history. Yau’s goofy jubilation is an excellent example of just how genuine and likable he was, endearing the audience to him even more.
When he was not making growl noises and excitedly shaking, Yau-Man had a great ability to remain calm under pressure, which proved useful when he was interrogated about the possession of his idol.
That ability to stay calm proved particularly useful when he was in the hot seat at the final six, after picking up some “bad vibes” throughout the day leading up to Tribal Council. Those troublesome feelings would go on to be correct, as Yau-Man became the first person ever to play a hidden immunity idol to save themselves (under the current idol rules) at the next Tribal.
The need to play the idol stemmed from one of the most ambitiously crazy moves in Survivor history, when Yau negotiated a newly won truck with “Dreamz” Herd, in exchange for the final four Immunity if Dreamz so happened to win it. As mentioned above, Dreamz tried to get rid of Yau at the final six, but Yau foiled that plan.
Fast forward to the final four and Dreamz won the final Immunity challenge, setting up a big decision for him. All of Yau-Man’s observations and strategic thinking led him to believe that Dreamz would uphold his end of the bargain, but ultimately, he didn’t. Dreamz reneged on the deal, at which point Yau’s best buddy Earl had to turn on him as well, sending Yau-Man out of the game on Day 38.
Yau’s final moment of the game makes him one of the most sympathetic characters in Survivor history, but he handled it with the true grace and dignity of a man his age, never once feeling regret or bitterness towards Dreamz. Still, it was an incredibly risky move, earning Yau-Man a place in the history books as one of the most daring and strategically creative players to ever play the game.
Stay tuned to Inside Survivor as the Day 38 Club rankings continue over the coming days. Check out the previous entries here.