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The Survivor Paradigm: Does The "Best" Player Always Win? Or Can You Lose And Still Be The Best?


*Spoilers Ahead*


So every Wednesday a few of us get together and do a Survivor podcast (after we eat a ton of steak and nail 10/10s in our pick up trucks). While last season of Survivor stunk, this current season is fantastic and as a result the podcast has been fantastic too. The guy seemingly running the show this season has been a fella named Omar, whom I declared in episode 1 or 2 to have a 0% chance of winning. After that he went on a heater and became the odd-on favorite to win, and all I could do is keep doubling down that he was not going to win. And then just like that last night, Omar was voted out and I was once again proven right.

But me being right isn't the point of this blog. Instead, it brought up an interesting discussion often had in the Survivor world that I call "The Survivor Paradigm", even though I'm not positive this is the correct usage of "paradigm" it seems right enough so let's go with it.


Basically, some Survivor fans think you can still be the BEST player on the season even if you lose. Other fans say "well if you lost, how were you the best?". People are saying despite being voted out last night, with 4 contestants still remaining, Omar was "The Best player this season". Can that possibly be true though? How can one be declared the best if they are voted out before 4 others? Cause clearly you didn't play the game well enough AT ALL.

There are so many layers to Survivor. You have to play a perfectly balanced game in every aspect. You have to win challenges but not come off as too dominating. You have to make moves but not be a snake. You have to lie but still be endearing. And you have to outwit and manipulate but still have your peers like you. All while making it to the end but not being the goat who is dragged to final Tribal. It's extremely tough. The winner of each season successfully navigates all of that. Losers don't. But that doesn't stop some fans from thinking you can lose, be voted out 5th, but still be the best.




That's the paradigm. "He was the best player but the jury didn't vote for him" means he didn't play the best game because Survivor at its core is a social game. You can dominate challenges but that doesn't make you the best. You can orchestrate a huge blindside, but that doesn't make you the best. Because obviously Omar was great (according to the edit) at orchestrating votes this season, but his tribemates saw he was too big of a threat and got rid of him. 

So it's interesting. It's like when the Warriors went 73-9 in the regular season and then lost to the Cavs in the Finals. Were the Warriors still the best team that season? Some say yes, somehow. I say no, because to be the best you have to win the championship. Just getting there isn't enough. Being a challenge beast or finding a bunch of idols or creating a blindside isn't enough, you have to win.


We have this discussion, a recap, and I begrudgingly pick who I now think is going to win (and I'm not happy about it!) on this week's episode.