‘Survivor: Game Changers’ cast: Can Cirie Fields overcome the likability factor to make it to the finals?

CBS’s “Survivor: Game Changers” is set to premiere on March 8 featuring a cast entirely composed of all-stars and, thematically speaking, players that in their past seasons changed the way the game of “Survivor” is played. One of those players is Cirie Fields, back for a record-tying fourth time following her appearances on “Panama” (Season 12), “Micronesia – Fans vs. Favorites” (Season 16) and “Heroes vs. Villains” (Season 20). Cirie is one of the most loved and respected players in series history, but has never made it to the finals — can she overcome the likability factor and get to the end? Read my analysis of how her past performance is likely to impact her game and then make your own “Survivor” predictions ahead of the first episode.

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Cirie’s warm personality and instant likability has always been both her biggest blessing and her biggest curse on “Survivor.” In her first two seasons, “Panama” and “Micronesia,” Cirie used her charm to get her to fourth and third place, respectively, but failed to make the final tribal council in either due in large part to an unwillingness by her peers to allow her the chance to win over a jury. In her third season, “Heroes vs. Villains,” her cast found her social game to be so big of a threat that they took her out early in 17th place.

Cirie’s charm is matched on the other end of the spectrum by her cunning and often ruthless strategic maneuvers. As the winner of “Micronesia,” Parvati Shallow gets a lot of credit for the masterful manipulation the women used against the men, but it was Cirie’s quiet and crafty work behind the scenes that laid the foundation for much of hat Parvati was able to achieve. Not only did she initiate the blindside elimination of Ozzy Lusth, but she is the one who put it in Natalie Bolton‘s head that she should ask Erik Reichenbach to give her his immunity necklace so that they could vote him out instead.

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It’s her “Micronesia” and “Heroes vs. Villains” attempts that offer the best clues as to what type of game Cirie is headed into for “Game Changers.” Like “Game Changers,” both of those seasons featured casts of veterans and/or super-fans well-versed in Cirie’s social prowess and manipulative style of play. Cirie enters the new season having played with three other players before (Ozzy, Sandra Diaz-Twine and J.T. Thomas), but of the remaining 16 only Jeff Varner of “The Australian Outback” first played the game before her.

To win “Game Changers,” Cirie will have to adapt to a game that has evolved in many ways since she last played 14 seasons ago. As we saw last season, the game of long-lasting alliances that Cirie has always played has been supplanted by one of voting blocks, weakly bonded alliances that change vote-to-vote. The good thing is that Cirie has always played a flexible game with a willingness to betray an ally in order to further her own game. The problem is that Cirie is typically one of few people on her season playing that way, but this season a lot of the younger players she’s up against will employ a similar strategy.

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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?

Who will win ‘Survivor: Game Changers’? See exclusive odds

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.

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