Survivor Second Chance Tribe Divisions: First Impressions

Shawn Swaney shares his thoughts on the Second Chance tribes.

Photo Credit: Ant‫‬ via Compfight cc

Disclaimer: Beyond watching all of the previous seasons, I have no knowledge of any pregame alliances or deals. All statements made in this article are completely speculative, based on previous gameplay or well-documented relationships.

I’m not going to lie, when I thought about how the tribes would be divided for Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance, I was left with this sour thought of “how would production mess this up?”. Now don’t get me wrong, Survivor twists have been the stage for some of the best moments in the show’s history, but they often become too gimmicky. In a season where we get to celebrate 20 returning players from varying eras of Survivor, the last thing I want is for their return to be clouded by overt tones of production meddling.

When I, along with everyone else who follows Inside Survivor, got to see the tribal divisions for Survivor: Cambodia, I was glad to see how the tribes were divided. Survivor production obviously put a lot of thought into how to divide the tribes, and it clearly shows. Let’s take a closer look at the castaways that make up Ta Keo and Bayon to see if there is anything of interest to note.

Initially, I did everything in my power to try and find a way that these tribes are different – but I couldn’t. Figuring that there was more than meets the eye, the statistician in me had to do some number crunching.

   Avg Days

    Avg Rew

   Avg Imm

  Avg Place

Ta Keo










**Average days were not adjusted to account for 42 days in Australia (Jeff + Kimmi).

Could it really be that these tribal divisions are as even as they seem? Yes. I must take a moment to applaud production, as these are some of the most even tribes one could imagine. Statistically, there are no significant differences between what I view as some of the major quantifiable factors in playing Survivor. While there is no significant difference, Ta Keo, on average, has a slight edge in all four categories (Average days lasted, Average individual Reward wins, Average individual Immunity wins, and Average place). While these numbers are good at viewing differences on a statistical basis, Survivor is not a game that is easily quantifiable. Things can change at the drop of a hat and the intangibles of the social game are truly what will determine how a castaway will fare.

Enough beating around the bush; let’s look at the two tribes of returnees.


When I looked to break down these tribes, I couldn’t help but notice the overt similarities presented in the eras these players hail from. Each tribe consists of two early era players, two mid era players, and six players from the new era. Even deeper, these era breakdowns are divided by gender, with the three previous breakdowns having an even proportion of males and females. On a strictly physical level, there seems to be an evident splitting of typecasts. Each tribe was allocated two of the four people I would label as the “older guys”: Savage and Keith, Varner and Terry. Further, each tribe seems to have the token “young gun” (Spencer/Joe), “Fiery Female” (Abi/Kimmi), and “Hot Girl” (Monica/Kelley). I would read into this a lot more, but as we have seen many times before, returning players are quick to distance themselves from the stereotypes from their first time in the game.

So, while these tribes might seem like they have been divided evenly, the fun part about returnee seasons is that there will always be some previous relationships. A “notable pairing” is a twosome that has either played together in a previous season or is connected by a loved one in a Blood vs Water season (see Ciera/Monica, Vytas/Terry for further explanation). These notable pairings might not always be good, but they do indicate that there is already a prior relationship before stepping foot on the beaches of Cambodia.

Ta Keo has two of what I would classify as a “notable pairing”. First, Spencer and Woo played on Survivor: Cagayan, but began on different tribes. The two never formally played together until the merge, and even then they never truly worked together. The most notable part of this relationship, in my opinion, is Spencer being one of the few people who can clear up the mystery of what made Woo into “Weasel Woo”. Woo was known for his code of honor in his first season. Spencer was known for his never-give-up style of game-play, often from the minority position. These two together bode well for Spencer, but not for Woo. People know what they’re getting from Spencer, but Woo might try and play more cutthroat on his second attempt. I see Spencer using his knowledge of Woo as a bargaining chip to alienate him from a majority alliance. Then again, Woo could be as aloof as the first time and would be the perfect person to drag along to the Final Tribal Council.

The other Ta Keo pairing that I want to discuss is Vytas and Terry. While these two never directly played together, both Terry and Vytas have played with Aras. The Terry/Aras rivalry in Survivor: Panama was well documented, with Aras often calling the “Whambulance” on Papa Dietz. The time between Panama and Cambodia has inevitably mended any burned bridges between the two and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are now friends. I would fully expect that the strong tie to Aras would push Terry and Vytas to align together, which I think provides a strong advantage for them both. In Vytas, Terry finds a link to the modern era of Survivor and lots of social ties. In Terry, Vytas finds a strong challenge competitor and someone who can easily be thrown under the bus as a post-merge challenge threat.


Bayon boasts three different pairings that I’d like to draw attention to: Keith/Jeremy, Kass/Tasha, and Monica/Ciera.

While Luzon was an absolute trainwreck of a tribe, 3 of the 6 original members are deservedly getting a second chance. Kass, Spencer, and Tasha all started the game together in Cagayan, but played very different games. Spencer sits on Ta Keo, but Tasha and Kass meet up again on Bayon. Originally allies, Kass and Tasha worked together to oust Garrett and remained allied until the merge. After the merge, Chaos Kass flipped sides and effectively severed any bonds she had with Tasha. Coming into Cambodia, I do not see Tasha coming anywhere close to aligning with Kass. Tasha played a very strength based game and relied on the fact that people are going to hold to their words. Kass is known for being unpredictable, which will not endear her to Tasha on their second time around. I believe that these two will exchange pleasantries, maybe form an alliance that doesn’t mean anything, and then move on their way to players where they feel more comfortable.

Keith and Jeremy were both members of the Hunahpu tribe on the second iteration of Blood vs Water in Survivor: San Juan Del Sur. Quickly out of the gate, Jeremy sent Keith to Exile Island, but that didn’t stop the two from forming an alliance. This alliance was never truly tested and quickly fizzled when idol paranoia tore it apart. While never enemies, Keith and Jeremy never really worked together – Survivor: Cambodia gives them that chance. Both of these players were physical threats, so together, they could go far.

The final of the five pairings I’ll discuss is the one that intrigues me the most. In Survivor: Samoa, Monica was constantly on the chopping block, but a dominant Galu and a medevac’d Russell Swan helped her slide right into the merge. Monica played a very good, yet subtle social game, aligning with the “90201” part of Galu. Despite many chances to make a big move, Monica laid fairly low and skated to seventh place. Ciera, on the other hand, was constantly making big moves. Most notably, Ciera voted off her mother and flipped from the majority to the minority to force a rock draw. The common tie between them both – Laura Morett. Ciera’s mother was the focal point of the Samoan 90210 alliance. Sitting together on Bayon, Ciera and Monica are poised to make a great alliance that could go very far. I do think that Monica, in order to establish herself as a strong player, needs to actively make sure that she does not fall into just being a number. While it evokes the mentality of a casual fan, I think that Monica needs to follow the mold of Parvati in her first returning season. Parvati entered her second time with the label of the “flirt” and actively took steps to make sure that she was a visible strategic threat. While it put her neck closer to the chopping block, she used her wit and charm to eventually go on and win the game.

Now looking at the tribes as a whole, does anything really stand out? I look at the division of males as even, but I see a huge advantage for Ta Keo when it comes to the strength of their women. If we remember that Abi-Maria was playing the entirety of the Philippines with a torn ACL, I see very strong challenge competitors in Wiglesworth and Peih Gee. In Shirin, you have a strong puzzle solver who can provide some very necessary brains. The Bayon females, aside from Tasha, were all known for being on the weaker side. I truly think that this strength advantage in the Ta Keo females will be the determining factor in the pre-merge stage of the game.

While I could speculate all day long about which tribe/player is going to do well or flounder, I thought it would be fun to do a quick section of Winners and Losers. I’ll try and avoid the contestants that I already talked about in pairings. Note: not every contestant will get a profile.


Wiglesworth – Kelly is the biggest wildcard in this game because she hasn’t played in so long and we haven’t seen much of her since. While this could be way off base, I think Kelly will be praised for her challenge strength and level head, potentially finding an ally in Terry or Varner. She also has the opportunity to be taken along by superfans Shirin or Spencer.

Jeff – Varner has the opportunity to find his Alicia Calaway 2.0 in literally any of the five Ta Keo females. All five do not have direct ties to the men and could be looking for a quick and stable alliance.

Joe – (Winner… Then Loser) Joe will initially be kept around for his well-documented challenge strength, but will eventually be on the outs due to not being in a strong alliance.


Stephen – I see Stephen being on a weaker tribe, so I don’t know how long he will be able to last before he will be cut loose in favor of a stronger competitor.

Abi-Maria – Abi seemed to thrive in a crowd that was younger and tumultuous. Ta Keo seems to be more of the older, wiser, and level-headed group. She could be a great goat, but I think she’s the first boot from this tribe.

Kass – I wanted to try and avoid the people I talked about earlier, but Kass is just too big of an opportunity to pass up. Kass is just too big of a wild card for anyone to trust her. Her notoriety and inability to stick to a side are too big of factors to overlook, and she will undoubtedly be an early target, if not the first boot from her tribe.

Photo Credit: Ant‫‬ via Compfight cc

Written by

Shawn Swaney

Marine biologist by trade who stumbled into the world of tech start-ups. Nerd who was born into an athlete’s body. Los Angeles resident. Once dreamed of being the first Inside Survivor contributor to actually play Survivor... hopefully settling for second. Follow @ShawnSwaney for hot takes and a tendency to overthink every tweet.

5 responses to “Survivor Second Chance Tribe Divisions: First Impressions”

  1. Shirin sucked at puzzles. She lost the first immunity during the puzzle, and lost the slide puzzle immunity challenge.

  2. Kass was a wildcard towards the cast even before filming!!! She called every single person asking for a pre-game alliance! Shane said so on RHAP…

    @Griff: Yep, that supposedly exists. Once again, thats according to Shane on RHAP.

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