During Philippines and Caramoan, I competed in a little Survivor game of my own: a fantasy league against two of my oldest friends, brothers Eric and Scott. We drafted our teams auction-style (in the spirit of Survivor’s greatest reward challenge, of course), with each captain getting $100 total to bid on players. We tend to wait until the season’s a bit underway before drafting, so we have a better sense of who the players are and what they bring to the table. The team with the winner gets a cash-prize and bragging rights. The other teams get zilch.
I’m in New Orleans with the brothers right now, here for Eric’s bachelor party. We took a brief time-out from our Bourbon Street haze to do our Survivor draft right here in the Big Easy. For this week’s Wiggle Room, I’ll recount the results of our draft along with some personal analysis. You can judge the decisions and teams for yourselves in the comments below or, as always, on Twitter. (I’m @roundhoward, like Ron Howard but so much rounder.)
Survivor drafters ready? Go!
—Vytas is an extremely savvy player[/caption]
Aras’ “junkie” brother, the first nominee of the draft. It is no surprise that he was a hot-ticket item. After a contentious bidding war between all three of us, Scott won Vytas for a very healthy $36.
“Vytas is an extremely savvy player,” Scott said of his first-pick. “His social game is excellent so far. He is extremely self-aware but also excellent at building relationships with other players, and excellent at letting someone like Brad Culpepper think he’s running the show, even though Vytas is more or less controlling things and guiding what happens. I think he’s atheltic enough to win challenges, and I think with his edit, he’s getting enough screen-time to be a contender.”
I put up a fight for Colton’s better half, but ultimately didn’t feel comfortable spending more than $20 on a non-returning player. Eric took him for $21.
“I think that Caleb is playing a decent social game,” explained Eric. “After his power move this week with taking out Culpepper, he’s basically going to be leading the Tadhana tribe. He isn’t making any enemies when the tribes interact. I think he’ll seamlessly merge into an alliance once the tribes merge.”
I nominated Ciera for $1. Nobody challenged me, so she’s on my team by default. I am so very okay with this.
Sure, she hasn’t done too well in challenges. She’s been on the block at every single council. But for a buck? I will happily take Ciera. She is feisty. She wants to be there. It’s very clear that she’s fighting to stick around in the social game. She’s in a good place in her alliance with Caleb and Katie right now. She still has her mom on the other side. I don’t believe she will win, but she could go far if things break the right way. For a dollar, I think it’s a steal.
My second steal in a row! I got Monica with little trouble at all, for a bargain price of $7. I guess the stink of Brad Culpepper is so foul that it even scared my fantasy rivals away. It doesn’t scare me — well, it doesn’t scare me too much.
I do think Brad’s specter could continue to haunt her. But Monica is in a majority alliance on Galang. Brad’s antics aside, she’s still on the right side of the numbers. Before this week, I feared that Galang might toss her out the door as a means of getting her husband on Redemption Island. But now that Brad’s already there, the fear is out the window. I’m not sure if Monica has the stuff to win the game, but if her alliance remains on target, she’s a final five player at least — and who knows where she could go from there. I’m thrilled to have Mrs. NFL on my team at such a low cost.
The Australian Outback winner was my pick to win Blood Vs. Water before the season began. I was impressed with her in her first episode, and I like the place she’s in with the Don’t Say Anything alliance. But her quiet edit troubles me — enough that I didn’t want to spend more than $20 on picking her. Besides, Eric won her for $20, which means he’s spent $40 at this point, and his brother has spent $36. I still have $92. I’m saving my big bucks for bigger players.
Here’s how Eric justified the Tina pick: “She has the experience of winning a Survivor season. She’s playing a very good social game. She’s not getting too involved with any one person. With her daughter still alive as a potential ally come the merge — and with the fact that she’s under-the-radar right now — she could potentially move towards the front.”
Eric nominated her for a dollar. Nobody bit. I don’t like Kat’s chances at all right now. If Galang goes to Tribal, it’s Kat or Laura Boneham going home. I’m not bidding any money on that risk. Scott felt the same way, so Eric got stuck with the One World vet — and even he isn’t thrilled about it.
“I’m not happy at all,” he complained. “I was hoping someone would bid $2 for her.”
Remember what I said about big bucks for big players? After a fierce bidding war, I landed Tyson on my side — for a walloping $55. Much more than I would have liked to spend, but after my bargains on Monica and Ciera, I felt comfortable taking a risk.
For one, Tyson doesn’t have a loved one in the game anymore
, and I think that’s huge for any and all likable players. When the tribes merge, he’ll have no conflict of interest in targeting anybody. He’s also in a majority alliance, and is building sub-alliances already. (Coconut Bandits for life, bro.) Physically, Tyson’s one of the very best in the game, and the shoulder doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much. He was fine in this week’s immunity challenge. Finally, I was so impressed by his reaction to Rachel’s exit last week. After two failed attempts at Survivor, Tyson looks to have learned a thing or two about how to approach the game with a carefree attitude while still keeping his head on his (injured) shoulders. I love Tyson this season. He’s my man.
“I immediately regret this decision.”
The immortal words of Ron Burgundy ran through my head as Aras was next up on the board. After spending so much on Tyson, I never stood a chance. Major bummer. If you put a gun to my head right now and asked me to name the Survivor: Blood Vs. Water winner, Aras gets my vote. He’s not on my team, purely because I didn’t have the money to spend on him. As the bidding war heated up, I suggested to Eric to bid his highest amount possible — if he won, he’d get the season’s top player; if he lost, it would cost Scott big money, and that’s good for me. A little underhanded, sure, but this is Survivor we’re talking about, isn’t it?
Eric employed the strategy, but Scott took the plunge and scooped Aras up for a massive $58 — leaving Scott with both Brothers Baskauskas, but only $6 left to bid on the remaining players. Was it worth the cost? Here’s how Scott justifies it:
“Aras’ social game’s great. He has a strong alliance. He’s extremely likable. He’s awesome in challenges. And he’s won the game before. He’s the total package. He’s one of the most impressive Survivor players I’ve seen in my five years watching the show.”
After my Aras wambulance-ing, my spirits lifted immediately as Hayden was next on the block — and I snagged him for five freakin’ dollars.
“How did I get Hayden, winner of Big Brother, for five bucks?” I exclaimed. “He won a reality show before. And I won him for five dollars. Unreal.”
In fairness, I don’t love Hayden’s spot in the game right now. If Tadhana goes back to Tribal Council — a very likely outcome given the season thus far — then Hayden could very well go next. But the dude won Big Brother. The dude is a challenge beast. You have to give him more credit than five dollars. An absolute steal in my book.
Next up on the block: the Queen of Redemption Island. She goes to Eric for $8. No disrespect to Candice — she’s kicking ass on RI
, no doubt about it — but $8 for Candice and not Hayden, Eric? Really? She’s barely in the game right now! Once again, even Eric wasn’t thrilled with his choice.
“I’m not really sure what’s going on with my team,” he laughed. “But Candice has been very good in the challenges, and nobody knows when the person from Redemption will return to the game. It could be next week, in which case, she could insert herself back in and make some relationships.”
Scott, unable to really compete with only $6 left at his disposal, laid out a counter-argument for his brother: “Candice is totally isolated on Redemption Island. All these other people are forming alliances, friendships, relationships, and she’s all alone. She’s going to come back into the game three weeks into the show as an outsider. No one will know if they can trust her or not. She’s an immediate target.”
Oh, how badly I wanted both of the Coconut Bandits on my season. It wasn’t meant to be. Eric shelled out his final big purchase on the O.G. Survivor, a grand total of $33 — a number I simply couldn’t match due to my previous purchases.
“Gervase is f—ing awesome,” Eric said of the pick. “I love how he celebrates at the challenges, pissing everybody off.”
Couldn’t agree more. I’m not too brokenhearted about it — Gervase’s showmanship, as amazing and entertaining as it is, could cost him everything in the end. But he’s now without a loved one, in the majority alliance on the ever-winning Tadhana. Outlook looks good.
As Katie was nominated, before I could even open my mouth, Eric put more money on the table than I could spend. Sixteen dollars for Tina Wesson’s daughter. That gives Eric six players, while Scott and I will only have five. Eric wanted the numbers advantage more than anything, and didn’t see much value in the other remaining players. I’ll give him that. I’m on the record about how much I love Katie and Ciera this season, too, so I’m not judging his choice.
With Eric’s team finalized, and with Scott’s wallet finished, I could choose any player I wanted for the fifth spot on my team. I picked LoMo, as the Survivors call her on Twitter. I don’t like how quiet she’s been.
She’s suffering from Edititis: the disease Survivors get when editors ignore them completely. (See also: Brenda in Caramoan and Brett in Samoa.)
But of the remaining four players, I think Laura has the best chance to go deep. She was the first person on Samoa to catch onto Russell Hantz’s schemes. She’s a wide-eyed player, literally and figuratively. She still has her daughter out there (also on my team!), and if the two get to the merge and join forces — along with fellow mom/daughter duo Tina and Katie, perhaps — they could do some real damage. I’m happy to have her in my fifth spot.
In landing both brothers Baskauskas, Scott sealed his fate: he would get what we all agreed were the top two players of the season, in exchange for the three players leftover at the end of the draft. He’s not upset about it, for obvious pro-Aras/Vytas reasons, but also because he doesn’t mind Laura and John.
Scott on Laura: “She’s very competent in the challenges. She’s certainly not in the majority alliance, but she’s not the bottom, either. The biggest thing she has going against her is Survivors hate Rupert, and I think that’ll prevent her from winning the season.”
Scott on John: “Well, he’s got dreamy blue-eyes. I’m with Malcolm on that one. John is a dreamboat. It was a shame to see the man-candy go. He was pretty incompetent at Survivor. He’s not built for Survivor. He’s a nice guy, but he’s not particularly savvy.”
I actually think John’s an interesting case. Redemption Island affords players an opportunity to reflect on their game and make adjustments if they get back in. If John can get back in the game, and figure out what he did wrong before he got the boot (see: being the worst immunity idol clue handler of all time), he might actually do some damage. He’s certainly up for it physically, and he has relationships that he can rework. John is positioned for a major-comeback story arc. We’ll see if he can pull it off.
Yeah, well, you know.
THE FINAL TEAMS
Vytas Baskauskas – $36
Aras Baskauskas – $58
Laura Boneham – $1
John Cody – $1
Brad Culpepper – $1
Caleb Bankston – $21
Tina Wesson – $20
Kat Edorsson – $1
Candice Cody – $8
Gervase Peterson – $33
Katie Collins – $16
Ciera Eastin – $1
Monica Culpepper – $7
Tyson Apostol – $55
Hayden Moss – $5
Laura Morett – $7
Your turn! Hit the comments and pick our picks apart. I’ll see you down there.