‘Survivor: Game Changers’ episode 1 recap: Who won royal battle between Queen Sandra and King Tony?

During the two-hour season premiere of CBS’s “Survivor: Game Changers,” a royal battle was brewing between Queen Sandra Diaz-Twine (the only person to win twice) and King Tony Vlachos (the ruthless winner of “Survivor: Cagayan”). At the end of the landmark 500th episode, which castaway retained their sovereign moniker and which two players were sent packing? Read our recap below of Season 34, Episode 1 and then make your own “Survivor 34” predictions.

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In the first hour, the 20 castaways were divided into two tribes — Nuku and Mana — by perennial host Jeff Probst. While the fan favorites were running around a ship collecting food and supplies, Sierra Thomas discovered a secret advantage. She later opened the envelope in private, revealing a legacy advantage that will give her immunity either when there are 13 people left or six people left. While both tribes got to know each other, Tony rattled feathers by running off into the jungle to search for a hidden immunity idol. While he never found one, he did create a target on his back that would come back to haunt him later on.

At the immunity/reward challenge, Probst revealed a new twist: in the event of a tie at tribal council, there would no longer be a re-vote. Instead, everyone would have to unanimously agree on which of the tied castaways should be sent home. In the event a decision cannot be reached, everyone besides the tied players would have to draw rocks. When Mana lost the challenge, everyone was on board with voting out Ciera Eastin, who they felt was playing the game too hard by “throwing out names.” The vote came down to nine against Ciera and one against Michaela Bradshaw, making Ciera the first person voted out of “Survivor: Game Changers.”

How did Jeff Probst get ‘Survivor’ host job with this audition tape?

In the second hour, Tony and Sandra’s battle for the ages started out on a positive note, with both former winners realizing that they’d need to take each other to the finals if they wanted to win. They even agreed to bring former champ J.T. Thomas into their final three. But soon, Tony was getting suspicious of Sandra and he started a campaign against her. Meanwhile over at the Nuku camp, Cirie Fields was worried that her game moves against Ozzy Lusth eight years ago might come back to haunt her, so she started making as many friends as possible, including super-fan Zeke Smith.

When Nuku again won the reward/immunity challenge, it became immediately clear that either King Tony or Queen Sandra would be going home. “You’re only the king until the queen arrives. I’m here,” Sandra arrogantly told the camera. Usually when the “Survivor” editors play a clip like that it means that the person saying the quote gets kicked off, but that wasn’t the case this time. Somehow, Sandra was able to convince everyone to vote against challenge beast Tony, sending him home in a nearly unanimous decision. The only two people who didn’t vote against Tony were Tony himself and Sandra, who opted to vote for Aubry Bracco.

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Congratulations to our reader Jangus Brownstone for earning a perfect 100% score predicting “The Stakes Have Been Raised.” This reader tied with 17 other users, but topped the leaderboard with his high 13,585 point score by locking in the best odds. Brownstone accurately predicted all the answers to this week’s contest questions, including that Ciera would be voted out, that Nuku would win the reward and immunity challenges, that a hidden idol would not be played and that no would quit or be medevaced. See where YOU place on our “Survivor: Game Changers” leaderboard.

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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