‘Survivor: Game Changers’ cast: Hali Ford leads early odds to win — will she live up to the hype?

When “Survivor: Game Changers” premieres tonight on CBS, Hali Ford of “Survivor: Worlds Apart” enters the season leading our odds to win. More people are predicting her to prevail than two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine or last season’s outspoken challenge beast Michaela Bradshaw. This season, Hali will be up against some of the series’ biggest stars and toughest competitors, battling them to prove that she deserves the title of “game changer” after an underwhelming appearance in her first season. You’ve picked her to win, but does she really have what it takes to pull it off? Read my analysis of how she’s likely to play the game and then make your own “Survivor 34” predictions ahead of the first episode.

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Hali will begin her game as a member of the Mana tribe alongside the aforementioned Sandra and Michaela, as well as another former champion Tony Vlachos, “Big Brother” alum and “Kaoh Rong” medevac Caleb Reynolds and the player that voted her own mom out on “Blood vs. Water,” Ciera Eastin. To say that Hali, at least on paper, is out-matched by these heavy-hitters is an understatement, but all “Survivor” fan know that the unassuming players are sometimes the most deadly.

Like Parvati Shallow and Amber Brkich, each winners of previous seasons featuring veteran casts, Hali should be able to coast through the first couple tribal councils simply because there will be players with huge targets on their backs right out of the gate. If she can lay low long enough to build an alliance that trusts her and that she can trust, Hali could find herself in a position at the merge to claim the title “game changer.”

To win, Hali will have to earn the respect of a jury made up entirely of “Survivor” legends, a group that’s unlikely to award a floater the million dollars. For that reason, Hali’s biggest challenge this season will be proving that she is willing to make bold decisions and take risks.

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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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