Sarah Lacina continues to lead our combined predictions to win “Survivor: Game Changers” with 8/13 odds, but Cirie Fields‘ chances are quickly rising — is she getting the “winner edit” that at this point is too strong to ignore? Cirie now has 11/1 odds to win, making her the current runner-up to Sarah and surpassing the 12/1 odds of Brad Culpepper who led the predictions until last week. What makes these three players the most likely to win? Below I take a closer look at how they’re playing so far. Read my analysis and then update your “Survivor 34” predictions in our weekly event.
Let’s start with Brad, who until last week was getting a lot of airtime as one of the strategic masterminds of the season. Prior to the merge he had collected a loyal following of allies — he could safely count among his numbers Sierra Thomas, Tai Trang, Troyzan Robertson, Debbie Wanner and had made personal connections with both Cirie and Aubry Bracco. But then the merge happened and Sierra took the leadership position in the alliance that most of us assumed Brad would take, knocking him down a peg. Then the rest of the players started talking about how in control he and Sierra were and began the process to dismantle their power structure.
That dismantling began last week with the blindsiding of Debbie orchestrated by none other than Sarah and Cirie. Sarah leads the racetrack odds for the second week in a row after successfully flip flopping between alliances twice. Two weeks ago she voted with the Brad/Sierra alliance to take out Ozzy Lusth and this week, knowing she was on the bottom of that group, betrayed them and voted out Debbie. Though the moves have given Sarah a lot of immediate power we have yet to see whether there will be any fallout that makes her a target.
Sarah’s decision to take out Debbie was due in large part to two people–Aubry gave Sarah a heads up that Debbie was looking to replace her within the alliance of six and Cirie convinced Sarah that if she made it to final tribal council with Brad and Sierra that she wouldn’t be respected by the jury. It’s that type of strategic needlework, making other players act in her interest while believing it’s their idea, that has always made Cirie such a dangerous player to work with. Cirie has already managed to control Michaela Bradshaw‘s vote and can now consider Sarah a malleable tool as well.
But putting Cirie’s strategic work aside, the event of most interest to me in last week’s episode was its focus on her overcoming her fears at the reward challenge. When “Survivor” fans discuss the “winner edit” they’re looking for evidence that the show’s editors and producers are showcasing a player’s strategic and social moves in the game in a positive way. In that regard, no player has been given as much positive coverage, both in terms of strategy and personality, than Cirie. At the merge we saw her develop a mentorly bond with Michaela that resulted in a strategic partnership. And last week we saw her supported by the rest of the cast in her attempt to finish a physical challenge that she struggled with. Both scenes painted Cirie as the type of player the audience wants to see win, a tool the show’s editors sometimes use to justify a player’s eventual win.
Cirie truly is one of the greats of the series as a whole so that the producers have an interest in creating a heroic story arc for her this season isn’t that surprising. What is noteworthy though is that every time we get a glimpse of her humanity in this way it’s paired with evidence of her game strategy. In terms of winner edits, you really can’t get much stronger than what we’ve seen of Cirie so far — not only is she a lovable hero, but she’s also a ruthless strategist capable of game-winning manipulation.
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?
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Who will win Immunity?
Will a hidden idol be played?
Will anybody quit or be medevaced?
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