‘Survivor: Game Changers’ cast: Can old school player Jeff Varner take out the newbies?

Of the 20 returning castaways in Wednesday’s “Survivor: Game Changers,” Jeff Varner is by far the most veteran of the group. Having first played way back in “Survivor: The Australian Outback” (Season 2) where he came in 10th place, Varner made a return appearance to “Survivor: Second Chance” (Season 31) where he placed a disappointing 17th. Will this old school player finally win on his third try? Read my analysis of how Varner’s past performances may impact his game and then make your own “Survivor 34” predictions ahead of the first episode.

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In Australia, Varner’s unfortunate claim to fame was that he was voted out of the merged tribe thanks in part to stepping out of the immunity challenge for a taste of peanut butter. Prior to that boneheaded move, Varner was playing a strong social game with several allies and no enemies to speak of. During his final tribal council, Varner and Colby Donaldson tied at five votes each, but the rules at the time dictated that ties would be broken based on past votes. Since Varner had prior votes cast against him and Colby had none, Varner was sent packing.

A whopping 15 years later, Varner returned for “Second Chance” and was immediately made aware of how differently the game was now played. When his tribe split between old and new players, Varner decided to vote with the newbies in order to oust Vytas Baskauskas. Following that big game move, Varner saw an opening to bond with Abi-Maria Gomes, who was on the outs after rubbing people the wrong way. That alliance helped Varner make it even further in the game, until Abi turned her back on him and voted him out.

Varner has played a mostly loyal game on both of his seasons, but he’ll need to start cutting some throats if he wants to survive through the merge in “Game Changers.” Since Varner is the only person from the first six seasons to be invited back, it’s safe to say that the “Survivor” producers think he’s able to adapt to his new surroundings … and continue to make great TV in the process.

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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?

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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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