The numbers are in following last week’s two-hour season premiere of “Survivor: Game Changers” and Sarah Lacina (previously of “Survivor: Cagayan”) is our new frontrunner to win with 3/1 odds. Current predictions have Sarah leading with a significant margin over Malcolm Freberg at 9/2 and Sandra Diaz-Twine at 15/2 odds; the pre-season frontrunner, Hali Ford, is now fourth with 10/1 odds. Because Sarah’s tribe won both immunity challenges in the premiere, we’ve seen only a little bit of her strategy, but what we saw suggests that she came to play with a new strategy to win. Read my analysis of how the players at the top of the leaderboard are faring and then update your “Survivor 34” predictions in our weekly event.
Last time Sarah competed she did her best to play an honest and loyal game and that ultimately sent her home. This time around she’s declaring that “[her] word is no longer [her] bond.” If Sarah truly is ready to play a dirtier game, willing to stab people in the back and get blood on her hands, then she is indeed a huge threat. The thing is, most players will be expecting Sarah to play a loyal game so they’ll want to be allied with her. Once in an alliance, Sarah will be the last one anyone thinks will backstab them, giving her the advantage of the blindside.
This season has already shown that each player will be held responsible for their reputation and history so when the Mana tribe sent Tony Vlachos home last week, Sarah’s game got stronger. Existing relationships have already impacted the games of Cirie Fields and Ozzy Lusth, while Sandra is actively fighting against her reputation as an undefeated two-time champion. Sandra’s path to victory is probably the steepest hill to climb, but her strategy to convince players that they should take her to the end because a jury won’t give a third million dollar prize is fairly compelling and might actually work — she escaped a fierce battle with Tony with not a single vote cast against her.
Malcolm’s presence in the premiere was fairly low-key, and that’s a good thing. Malcolm is on “Game Changers” because of his rebellious and big move-focused game on “Survivor: Caramoan.” This time he seems to be going in the opposite direction, dialing down and letting other players put their own necks on the line. If he continues to play follower rather than leader, the target he has on his back may shrink small enough to give him a path to the end.
Hali also took a backseat in the premiere and for now looks like she’s a pawn in Sandra’s chess game. On a regular season that’s a precarious position to be in because you’re unlikely to impress a jury by riding coattails, but on a season of all-stars laying low is the only way to escape early elimination. To win Hali will still need to be a more active strategist than she was on “Survivor: Worlds Apart” and prove that she’s deserving of the title of “game changer.”
Get a closer look at the Season 34 contestants by clicking through our cast photo gallery. In our “Survivor” predictions center, you get to answer the following questions before each episode airs on CBS every Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT / 8 p.m. ET.:
Who will win “Survivor”?
Who will be eliminated?
Who will win Reward?
Who will win Immunity?
Will a hidden idol be played?
Will anybody quit or be medevaced?
Gold Derby readers just like YOU often turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, so it’s important that you give us your predictions. You can continue to update and change your forecasts throughout the week, just click “Save” when you’ve settled on your choices. You’ll compete to win bragging rights and a place of honor on our leaderboard. Be sure to read our contest rules and sound off on the season of “Survivor” in our reality TV forum.