Best Survivor Strategists

The 10 players who have employed the greatest strategies to make it to the top on "Survivor".

The Top Ten

1 Parvati Shallow (13, 16, 20) Parvati Shallow is an American television personality and was the $1,000,000 winner of the reality television series Survivor: Micronesia.

Parvati is a triple threat. Her social game was masterful, her physical game lead her to win multiple immunities, and she engineered some of the most brilliant moves in survivor history from the blind side of Erik to handing out two immunity idols to protect her fellow villains. Parvati always knows who to align with and most importantly how to beat them in the end. Even on Parvati's first season she used her strengths to advance in the game. In addition, in her first season there were multiple times when she narrowly escaped being voted out. Parvati clearly is an amazing survivor and there are few other players that even come close to her level.

Oh. My. Gosh, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! Parvati is easily my least favorite winner EVER. SO OVERRATED!

Each time had a great strategy, great social game and great physical game. Maybe the best all around player in history (besides Russell)

Parvati did so bad in cooks islands. She never did anything but bounce around & smile with that gummy grin/squinty eyes. She couldn't open a coconut or clean a fish. Her 2nd season she back stabbed all her friends & took credit for cirie's moves. Her best move was alingning with Cirie & Amanda made that happen! In HvV she couldn't beat Sandra! She does well at challenges & in convincing all the guys that they have a chance, but that's it. I think the only reason she ever won, was because Amanda sucks at tribal!

2 Yul Kwon (13)

Yul is often criticized for his over-powerd immunity idol "carrying" him to the finals of Cook Islands, but it would have served him no purpose had he not used it to advantage during the merge to sway Jonathan to his side - it would have only prolonged his inevitable torch snuffing. He was an extremely intelligent player, used the idol beautifully, and was rewarded one million dollars for it. - iheartswine

Oh so close! Sandra and Yul both have tied percentages at 17. 2 percent. Come on survivor fans! Vote for Yul! He's better than Sandra! Come on TopTenList! Give the title of the best strategist TO the best strategist, Yul Kwon.

This was Ozzy's season to win, but Karma got him for throwing that challenge to get rid of the outcast kid.

Completely controlled the game. Very few contestants could ever match up to his caliber.

3 Todd Herzog (15)

A true Survivor fan, Todd came into China knowing exactly how to play the game. He forged a strong alliance and kept it alive until the merge, losing only one member to a ridiculous twist. He was able to control the game and backstab some people yet still have the jurors turn around and award him the win thanks in large part due to his great final tribal performance. - iheartswine

Controlled the game

4 Sandra Diaz-Twine (7, 20) Sandra Diaz-Twine is an American television personality who became known for her appearances on the reality game show Survivor. She's well known for being the only person to win twice.

First (and only) person to win TWICE. I think that says something about her value and skill.

She has an interesting strategy. Rather than overplay the game or try to be a "mastermind", she takes the game day-by-day and whatever is necessary to survive 3 more days. She makes sure she is in an alliance, and when that alliance turns on her or falls apart, she picks up the pieces and scrambles to get to the end. She's employed this strategy twice and twice it payed off, earning her the title of the first and only two-time winner and the title of "queen of Survivor". - iheartswine

Basic of the game: Make sure the vote goes an other direction than your way. Perfectly played both times. Plus, she made sure to be considered as one of the weakest when the merge came, which is the key to fly under the radar and gain significant informations about your tribemembers! Her strategy is also based on making the jury hate someone badly, so she can sit next to that person at the final tribal council (Fairplay in Pearls Islands, but Fairplay was voted out at the end by Lillian, and Russell in Heroes vs Villains). Weak player? No, very logical.

Clearly the best since she won twice, but I hate watching her sneaky bad behavior. Her voice is also annoying. Good job getting rid of coach!

5 Richard Hatch (1, 8) Richard Lawrence Hatch was an American actor, writer and producer. Hatch began his career as a stage actor, before moving on to television work in the 1970s.

MADE Survivor.

It may be cliche to add Richard Hatch to a list of best strategists, but it's true. In a time when alliances were unheard of and often deemed "cheating", he forged one and kept it alive all the way to the final four. He was intelligent and cunning, and it was clear that he understood everything that was happening on the island. Much like Sandra, he did what he had to to make it to the end, and nothing more. - iheartswine

6 Cirie Fields (12, 16, 20) Cirie Fields is an American nurse and reality TV personality who competed on four seasons of Survivor.

This woman should have won all the seasons she was on shes amazing

She was amazing and should have won the first time & she was robbed the second time.

Why is this a competition? Cirie is the best ever!

Poverti took credit for all cirie's moves! She should have won her first to seasons. I hope she does well in 34!

7 "Boston Rob" Mariano (4, 8, 20, 22)

Not really a well-known survivor name in the Marquesas until season 8 came around, where he dominated with his soon-to-be wife, Amber and orchestrated one of the biggest blindsides ever when he voted out Lex. This really was one of the first true, modern blindsides (making someone feel they are safe and then stabbing them in the back). In Heroes Vs Villains, he could have easily won if Tyson stuck with the plan, but Rob still managed to play a decent game after a six year break. In Redemption Island, Rob quickly took action by finding the Immunity Idol unlike what he did in season 20. There were some players with potential on his tribe, but Rob flawlessly made them all puppets, then brilliantly took the two most unpopular players with him to the finals and easily won one million times. Unfortunately, he announced that season would be his last, bit Boston Rob was definitely one of the founding fathers of Survivor and my favorite Survivor by far.

Played the perfect game in Redemption Island. He had his whole tribe brainwashed (strong "us" vs "them" mentally, not letting them eat the other tribes food and the buddy system) and took two people he knew he could beat to the end. Earlier seasons he was great at making deals that benefited him and his alliance (Amber) but never fulfilling his end of the deal, taking what he needed and always moving him self further in the game. Amazing player top three survivors of all time for sure (with Russell and Parvati)

Completely dominated two seasons of Survivor (All-Stars and Redemption Island). Master of building alliances and sub-alliances to get himself to the end. Played the perfect game in Redemption Island.

How can you be one of the best, if it took you 4 times to win! If you're on your 4th attempt against a brand new cast & can't win- that's a problem. When playing on an even playing field in HvV he couldn't get it done. Amber won Allstars, because people were voting against Rob! Plus he had big tom and Rupert who are loyal and emotional that he suckard.

8 Rob Cesternino (6, 8)

The smartest player to never win. Helped revolutionize the game by flipping on alliances when its was in his best interest. Used charm and humor to mask the fact that he was in control of the game.

Rob may be funny bus he's also a great strategist! Personally, my favourite player is Boston Rob, or maybe Parvati or Amanda, but my favourite strategists is definitely Rob Cesternino! Also Yul kwon, he's amazing! I should go vote for him too hahah

He was a dead fish on all stars!

9 Russell Hantz (19, 20, 22) Russell Hantz is an oil company owner and former contestant of the reality show Survivor. He played 3 seasons, and never finished higher than 2nd.

Greatest player of all time - lucaskt

Best player in history

You guys are way to hateful on this dude, he played an amazing game, he just played like a true villian, and that should earn him respect, not berating.

Bad strategy. His goal was to get rid of the people that wanted to vote him out. Successful strategy to get to the end, but the worst strategy to get jury votes and win the title of Sole Survivor.

10 Brian Heidik (5)

He played a beautiful social game, and thus had everyone fooled. He promised three different people to take them to the Final 2, and they all believed him. He was never in danger (or even received a vote) and easily manipulated every single person out there, a true mastermind and a real good salesman.

Possibly the single most despicable player ever on Survivor, Brian is also one of the best. He controlled the game from start to finish and was the bad guy. Though a risky strategy, Brian pulled it off by taking a bigger goat to the final two. - iheartswine

The Contenders

11 Tina Wesson (2, 8)

Honestly amazing.

A smart lady. She played everyone like a violin.
Wonder if she and Mad Dog ever reconnected.

Tina was a very subtle threat in the Australian Outback. She ensured her safety by using her alliances, and got out who she wanted by influencing her alliances. Her great social game even led one of her alliance members to make one of the largest blunders in the game and take her to the finals, losing himself the game but earning her the money. - iheartswine

12 JT Thomas (18, 20)

JT isn't the smartest person in the world, but he has proven to be a formidable Survivor player. He earns the respect and adoration of the others by playing up the good ol' Southern boy stereotype, all while he secretly plots their downfalls. And yet, after two seasons of this, he is still regarded as a "hero". - iheartswine

13 Kim Spradlin (24)

Kim is one of my all time favorite players! She was likeable, had a good alliance, won a bunch of challenges, and pulled off several blindsides, which eventually gave her the million dollars.

The reason Kim isn't ranked higher is because the season was boring. She was always thinking long term and managed to fly under the radar while forming strong bonds with everyone. The fact she didn't have to make any BIG moves makes her an extremely successful player! Kim always had control.

I really didn't like Kim or this season! I mean way to go showing what an alliance can do when they stick together & when u make it with dumb nieve people. I wish the Sabrina had won or Christina got it together at tribe swap and took: leaf, Troy & Monica

Kim played all sides and everyone believed her. She made everyone feel safe by trusting her and then orchestrated almost every elimination in the season. Plus she won ~

14 Amanda Kimmel (15, 16, 20)

Amanda is a fantastic player who manages to be a big part of strategic moves while still hanging under the radar. She deserves to have done better than she did.

15 David Wright (33)

Amazing fake idol play, one of he best in history. It kept him in the game and got rid of one of his enemies.

16 Colton Cumbie (24)


There is evidence of a troll on this list... Colton sucked! - Turkeyasylum

The only good thing about him, was we got to meet his boyfriend in blood vs water!

17 Tom Westman (10, 20) Tom Westman is a Sole Survivor of the series Survivor. He competed on Survivor: Palau and Heroes vs. Villains.

Tom is an excellent social, physical, and mental player. In Palau he led his Koror tribe to decimate Ulong, and went on an impressive string of immunity wins post-merge. He was able to control his alliance and decide who was going while still smelling like roses afterward. Plus, who can forget how he warped Ian's mind in the final immunity challenge of Palau? - iheartswine

18 Stephen Fishbach (18)

Played much like Rob Cesternino. He had several alliances and sub alliances. People give JT the credit because he was so damn likable that he was the one who made the alliances with coach, Tyson, Debbie, brendon, etc. But just because you "create" an alliance does not mean you are the leader of the alliance. JT was the allure to get the alliances with everyone but Stephen was the guy who made the decisions on what to do with each of those alliances thus controlling the votes.
JT isn't stupid either like everyone says but Stephen deserves the credit from that alliance.

19 Ken Hoang (17)

Great blindside in Ace

20 Spencer Bledsoe (26, 31)
21 Bob Crowley (17)

5 wins in a row a fake immunity idol and tribes liked him
Best player ever

22 Tony Vlachos (28)

He was an amazing strategist. For exapmle... the spy shack was one of the greatest ideas in the history of survivor. He learned what the other alliance was tying to do and prevented it. He also convinced a naive Woo to take him to the finals, where he one with all but one vote.

23 Terry Deitz (12, 31)

Terry is definitely one of the best players in Survivor. In season 12, Exile Island, he created one of the best comeback stories ever. He found the Hidden Immunity Idol the very quickly on Exile Island but, was on the loosing tribe that went into the merge and immediately got decimated, so he had to win 5 individual immunities post-merge. He is the best challenge performer (tied with a few other players for first place), but unfortunately did not pull through when he needed to the most- the final immunity challenge. Danielle won and could take Aras or Terry to the final two, and she took Aras. It was a terrible move, because Aras beat Danielle by winning the jury, but if it were a modern season with a final three instead of two, he would have ben in the finals and most likely would have won. In season 31, Second Chance, he was pulled from the game because his son was having medical complications, but he could have won easily because, like in season 12, his physical game and social ...more

24 J'Tia Taylor (28)

Is this a joke?

"She was SO Smart and deserved to win #ROBBED

25 Natalie White (19)

Natalie laid out her strategy early on in the game: She was going to attach herself to a strong person who she thought could take her to the end and who she could beat. She played Russell from start to finish, feeding his ego and riding his coattails until at last, when he served her no more purpose, she let go and took home the million dollar prize. - iheartswine

I don't know if she won, or is Hussel just lost! Like Amber in the All Stars

Ok, seriously people? Everyone bitches about how Fabio never should have won, yet so many people think that Natalie should have won? The sad reality is that all votes cast for Natalie weren't votes for Natalie, but against Russell. Who the hell would even remember this bimbo if the jury wasn't made up of such whiny, arrogant bitches (that comment goes out to both genders of the jury)... If Russell had won, no one would give a crap about Natalie.

26 Vecepia Towery (4)

Blended in like a chameleon and played other contestants like a fiddle. Impressed.

Vecepia employed a strategy of adapting to every situation she was in by socializing, whether it was on Day 1, the tribe switch, or the merge. She wasn't afraid to play dirty, voting out her friends and allies to make it to the end and win. - iheartswine

27 Grant Mattos (20)

He was strong, smart, and knew who to rely on. That's what's needed to get far.

28 Stephenie LaGrossa (10, 11, 20)

First time around she was awesome never gave up and made a good move by convincing janu to quit (I think she convinced her not Jeff) in Guatemala, she had so many sub alliances that everyone wanted to got to the final 2 with her, she got her alliance in power by convincing Judd to flip when there was a 4-4 tribal tie after the switch(the biggest move in the game that led to her power position) and from then on controlled all the votes made sure she stayed in power basically by just being so likable. Did she vote off some of the wrong people for her endgame, ya but was still the best player there and deserved to win against anyone in that season. In HvV she was targeted early which you can't fault her for.

29 Aubry Bracco (32, 34)
30 Grant Mattos (22)

Grant was on Season 22, not 20. He had an underrated understanding of the game, his only flaw was falling for Rob's charms.

31 Jon Dalton a.k.a. "Jonny Fairplay" (7,16)

I hate him, but... he did some things right.

Oh and screw you Jon

Jonny Fairplay is EASILY one of the biggest villains of all time, but also one of the best strategists too! Although Fairplay was unathletic, brash, and at sometimes an instigator, he is definitely conniving, clever and mentally strong. In the Season 7 final 3 tribal council, Lillian Morris explained Jonny very well, she said that "he never stops thinking and ALWAYS has an escape plan", this is because he strategically plays and lies his way out of elimination and breaks/starts alliances to save his own ass countless times! And who can forget "The Dead Grandma Lie" that is Jonny's most notorious moment that solidified his spot as a villain in many people's eyes, but a major SURVIVOR who does whatever it takes to get to the top.

32 Kelley Wentworth (29,31)

Total mastermind can find some damn idols and got to f4 in the total minority

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