Amazon Pre-Season Power Rankings
Written by Mario Lanza
The game is on, the bios are out, the teams have been announced!
Survivor: Amazon is here, and all I can say is: it is about damn time!
Why has it taken six seasons for the producers to finally film in the
Amazon? That should have been the first or second choice for location.
I'm sure there were legal difficulties, or money issues, or something,
that probably got in the way. But it doesn't matter now
because this is going to be a spectacular location. I can't wait!
This is my first power ranking column for the Amazon season. Those of
you who read my stuff last season will know I had a pretty good track record
for predicting what was going to happen. So I had to debate whether or not I
wanted to come back and try again with Amazon. Should I go out strong, at the peak
of my success, like Jerry Seinfeld? Should I quit, and then make
numerous comebacks, each failed one more embarrassing than the last, like
Michael Jordan? Or should I just keep writing until the end of time,
until I am obsolete and irrelevant, like Cal Ripken?
Okay, it really wasn't all that a hard decision. I'm back. I love this show, I'm
not going anywhere. So I got lucky last season. After my massive
failure in predicting the winner of Africa or Marquesas, it was nice to
finally get lucky for a change with Brian. And now, here is my chance to prove it. Let's
see what I can predict just from reading the Amazon bios. Who will succeed? Who will
fail? Who will be the sweetheart? Who will win?
There are two things I wanted to talk about before I start my column
this year. The first one is about spoilers. I HATE spoilers.
There is nothing that ruins the show
more for me than people telling me stuff like "so and so lost 30
pounds," or "I hear so and so doesn't last very long." Please
don't email me
that kind of stuff, it happens every season, and I don't want to have
to hate you. And the weight loss ones are the
worst, because hometown newspapers and mainstream magazine articles
will report those
without hesitation. It's not just the spoiler sites when it comes
to weight loss spoilers. So at this point I tend just not to read
anything Survivor-related on the internet anymore. I just want to
be surprised. If you know anything that is going to happen this
season, I don't want to hear it.
The second thing I wanted to mention is about this season's tribe
selection process. It has already been
reported many places, including in CBS promos and commercials, that
Amazon is going to be
men against women. I'm not spoiling anything here, this should
common knowledge for anyone who is reading this column. CBS has
been hyping its little gender split for a while. Now, I am under
that the game will REMAIN men vs women for very long, there is clearly
going to be a twist or
some sort of a mix-up along the way. And I know that because
men vs. women is something we just did in our All-Star Alaska story
(currently airing at Survivor-Central.) Men against women is
fun, but it isn't a storyline that you can keep up for very long.
It will be fun at first but it isn't the type of gimmick that can
keep up its momentum. By the way, people have been asking me
about this all week, and no we had no clue that Amazon was going to be
divided by gender. It was just a coincidence that our story had the
exact same twist. But anyway, just keep in mind that these rankings and
predictions I will be making will be
based on the fact that the game will be men against women at the start,
and will be based on the
unique team dynamics that will show up when you split up the genders.
So here we go. First impressions. I apologize if I am way off on
anyone, but hopefully these will all turn out to be pretty accurate. We'll see!
-------- FEMALE TRIBE --------
23, Retail Clothing Sales
Shawna, I hate to say, looks like a pretty insignificant player. I
mean, nothing good or bad really stands out about her bio. She likes
chess, which is a perfect hobby to prepare for Survivor. She played
soccer, all the way to the international level, so you know she is in
shape. But there isn't much else to say she will excel at in Survivor.
an all-female tribe, she will likely be nice enough to not make
athletic enough to not be a hindrance, and she should be okay at least
at the start. She will
likely be one of the sweethearts in the cast, although that, of course,
depends a lot on her personality. She will be one of the youngest
players in the game, but if she
has a decent level of charisma I predict she will be okay. I don't
think she will
make much of an impact on the game though, unless she is the nicest,
sweetest, most charismatic person around. In the long run I don't think
we will remember Shawna very well
when the season is done.
31, Guidance Counselor
Okay, JoAnna looks like she is going to be a strong player. She played
college basketball, so you know she is strong and athletic. Her
counseling career means that she can relate to people, and that she can get along with
others. She likes chess. She is a born again Christian, which I would
normally say would be more of a hindrance, but then again Vecepia proved us all wrong
there so what do I know. In fact, a few people have already mentioned that she reminds them of
Vecepia. I would say JoAnna looks a bit more outgoing and outspoken than Vecepia did,
she looks like she is going to be a decent player. She is the perfect age for this game
(early 30's) and I imagine she will probably do pretty well. She has a lot of
good things going for her. If she gets in good with whoever the power core is for the
females (which I think she will), she is gonna be a key player.
24, Children's Adventure Guide
Christy will be the player who everyone will be watching the first
episodes. Whether it is fair to her or not, the question that everyone
will be asking is "can a deaf person actually play this game
effectively?" I expect that Christy
will prove that she can handle herself quite early on, so it will
probably cease to be an
issue after the first couple of days. I mean, it really shouldn't be
of a problem for her to overcome, social interaction and communication
skills are in no way one hundred percent verbal. Worst-case scenario,
we get other players talking with
hands and buffs covering their mouths so Christy can't read their lips,
like on that episode of Seinfeld. But then again there was this movie
Science Theater (Operation Double 007) where a secret agent could read
lips from across a room, and he ended up
saving the world because of his talent, so you never know. No, I don't
think that Christy's deafness will wind up being a factor at all. But
there are two things that
jump out at me just from reading her bio, and neither one has anything
to do with her hearing. The first thing that jumps out at me is that
she teaches groups of children how to work together and how to get
along. That is a HUGE skill in this game. That is a Richard
Hatchian life skill. Of course it could be of no use to her in
this game, since Christy is so young and all, but the girl has
talent in this area which could be tremendously useful. But, alas, the
other thing that jumps out at me from
her bio is the thing that I believe will lead to her downfall.
Christy has no
favorite video game. She also has no favorite sports team.
tips me off that she is not a very competitive person. She is
really not out there
to win at all costs, she is probably just there for the experience.
I expect that is what will do her in eventually, but I
do think she will have a good strong run for a while. She is not
athletic, but she is the type of player a strong team will want to keep
Although I should point out that Christy is lucky that she isn't on the guys' team. Her lack of
competitive fire would be exploited in a second over on team
testosterone. The male-female separation will help her more than it is going to help
35, Deputy District Attorney
Deena is going to be intense and type A. It says so all over her bio,
from her profession (she is the first lawyer on the show since
she-who-cannot-be-named back on
Pulau Tiga), to the fact that she describes herself as "intense" and
"spirited." But intensity is not necessarily a bad thing, I think it is
clear she will be one of the leaders of the female tribe. Deena is a
she is older than most of the others, she has a strong sense of justice
and right and
wrong, she is obviously pretty religious. She is just a
all-around looking player. The only drawback I see with Deena is that
she may be a
bit overbearing. If she goes too much over the top with the mom
younger girls might resent it. But I think she will clearly be in the
power core of the female tribe right from day one, at least as long as
she doesn't make any
enemies at the start.
21, Swimsuit Model
Ah yes, the token "siren" of the bunch. You knew it was only a matter
time before they cast a swimsuit model on the show. Although sadly, I
think Jenna will be around for very long. I mean, she could be the
nicest, most sweet and caring person in the world, and some of the
will still likely look at her as "just an airhead", or "too weak in
challenges", or "simply over her head." I don't see a whole lot
in Jenna's bio
that stands out as a strength, and her favorite hobby of "sleeping"
doesn't bode well for this type of group. Remember from past seasons
that when females get together as a part of a group, they will
attempt to impress one another by showing off their work
ethic. Jenna will have to step up to the plate from the very first
minute of the game if she wants to have any chance of getting past the
or two. I would like to see her personality first before I make such
any sort of a
snap judgement, but I feel pretty confident that Jenna will be the
first female voted out of her tribe. We'll see.
41, Director of Marketing
I think that Jeanne is going to be a star. When the Amazon season is
over, I think we will look back on Jeanne as fondly as we looked back on Gretchen
in Pulau Tiga and Kathy in Marquesas. I say this because she has a ton of good stuff
popping out all over her bio. First off, Jeanne's occupation is perfect for the
show. She specializes in organization and communication. In fact, ALL of Jeanne's
past jobs were some type of director or manager. She is used to getting
along in a group, and she is used to taking charge. And luckily, I don't get the same "intense" vibe
from her like I do with Deena. I think Jeanne will be the one they all
look up to, I think she will be the central mother figure of the team. Her hobbies are
"creating new ways to have fun" and cooking, so she will be right there
in the center of camp at all times. She's fun, she's outgoing, she's a mother,
she loves Survivor, and more than likely she is probably as sweet as can be. I think you are
looking at one of the major players in the Amazon. I mean, she promotes
milk for a living, how clean and wholesome is that??
47, Travel Agent/Abstinence Counselor
My friend Dennis took one look at her profession and said, "Where is
she booking flights to? Branson, Missouri and Salt Lake City??" That
quote made me laugh, so I had to include it. The most interesting thing in
Janet's bio is the fact that she gives motivational presentations. That's a nice
piece of info to know, although we are long past the days when Richard
Hatch could just sit there ane explain to everyone how to play this game. Just by looking at her
age, and the fact that she is probably less of an athlete than the
rest of the tribe, you would think that Janet would be in danger. But I don't think that
will be the case. I think this will be a wiser, older tribe, and she
should be okay for a couple of votes. The only real problem I see in Janet's bio
is that she has "determination to be in control and to influence
people." That is not a good thing to have in this type of tribe, people like
Deena won't be able to stand that for a second. But my initial hunch is that
she will be okay at the beginning, because the females will probably target youth
and weakness (Jenna) first, not her. Oh, and I wouldn't expect that Janet's
favorite movie would be the Matrix, but apparently it is. That's pretty neat. Woah.
24, P.E. Teacher
Heidi is already a big fan favorite, mostly because she is adorable.
jumps out at me as showing her to be an incredibly sensitive, nice and,
well, kind of
a girly person. She loves sports and athletics. She loves
flowers. She also loves poetry, the
color pink, and she describes herself as "very conscientious."
Personally I am suprised Hello Kitty stickers didn't work their way in
there. I think Heidi
will probably wind up being the sweetheart of the season, unless Shawna
there and steals the title from her. But I do think people are
going to love Heidi, there is very little in her bio not to like. She
is young, she is pretty, she is smart (a master's degree at 24!),
she is fit, and overall she seems like a very nice person. I also think
we will see her cry
at some point in the first couple of episodes, so keep an eye out for
that. But Heidi should
stick around for a while. If only for the reason that she is pretty,
but not intimidating pretty like Jenna. Jenna will threaten the elders,
-----DYNAMIC OF THE FEMALE TRIBE-----
Okay now that I have looked at the bios, it is pretty evident to me
Deena, JoAnna, and Jeanne will probably be the power trio. I mean, an
female tribe is already at a bit of a disadvantage going in, at least
strength-wise, so they will
have to solidify and come together as a unit right away. Read our
story for a good predictor of what should happen at the start of the
three leaders will unite, and really at that point you will have to be
with them or
against them. I predict Janet will be a hanger-on, and I predict that
Heidi will be adopted as their heart. Christy is probably good to
have around too, because of her nature skills, and
that leaves two left stuck on the outside: Jenna and Shawna. I am
guessing those two
would be the first two to go. The only thing that could save Jenna is
if the young people unite, which is unlikely. Christy and Heidi don't
seem like the type.
Of course, this prediction should only hold true until the twist, and then at that point
all bets will be off.
--- MALE TRIBE ---
Ryan strikes me as a bit of a wannabe schemer, but at the same time
there isn't a whole
lot in his bio that stands out, either good or bad. He is young and he
considers himself to be a leader. He loves wrestling (a common trait
among the male tribe), and his
favorite movie "The Best of Backyard Wrestling" leads me to
believe that he
is a rather intense competitor. He just seems like he is going to be
bit of a a guy's
guy, and I of course loved his luxury item of "baseball bat and ball."
Ryan gets in good with some other intense young people on the tribe, he
okay. And I do see a lot of intensity on the male tribe, for what it's
worth. In this group, Ryan could be right at home.
56, Vice President of Estimating
As the token hardcore older military guy of the tribe, Roger is
going to be a
bit out of place in this younger group. He was a Marine in
he has worked as a construction laborer, and what that screams out at
me is that he is a hard worker who will have no respect for
laziness. He loves chess,
which is good, but like Rudy he is really going to have to adapt to the
youth in this
team, not the other way around. They are not going to have to
adapt to him. Still, he is a Vietnam vet, as well as a
Raiders fan, so I'm sure that no one really wants to mess with him.
be an interesting character, and he will clearly be a major character
episode one. He will be the guy who is building the shelter.
24, Computer Project Coordinator
Wow, another scheming Rob! That makes three colorful Robs in a row
(Mariano, Zbacnik, Cesternino.) Can you believe that through Africa, we
had never had a
Rob on the show? I think Rob is going to be one of the stars of
the season. He loves chess, he loves Survivor, he loves deceiving
people, and he wrote his senior thesis in college on reality television
and its impact on America! I mean,
the guy is already all over this game, I guarantee you he has it all
planned out in his head. He is in a young tribe, a bloodthirsty
and he is going to be the big jokester, the one behind the scenes who
no one else will
take seriously. Yeah, I think it's safe to say that Rob is walking into
pretty good scenario to pull off his "shenanigans." He will be with a
guys who take themselves way too seriously, and he can just sit back
and mess with their heads. Oh yeah, and he also got a 1420 on his SATs.
hello to the mastermind of the Amazon.
As a special mention, he and I share a favorite book, The Stand by
Stephen King. Go Rob!
MATTHEW VON ERTFELDA
33, Restaurant Designer
Woah, this guy has quite a bio. His background just screams powerful
male. I mean, he brought his high school wrestling jacket along as his
luxury item, which means he wants everyone to know that he is a great
athlete. I haven't seen
a full scale picture of Matt yet but I imagine he is big and strong,
and I am guessing they would
be nuts to dump him right away. Matt is another male on this
tribe who is a bit of a guy's guy, which is pretty obvious when you see
"The Man Show," "Caddyshack" and "Doom" among his favorites. But what
is funny is that he has
also encountered a fair bit of sophistication in his life, from his
fruit of "fraises du bois", to his favorite scent of "fresh garlic
sauteed in virgin olive oil", to his degree in hotel administration.
Yeah, Matt is probably a bit of a snob. I mean, just look at his
Restaurant designers do not simply advertise on monster.com, you
to have a degree of smooth to get into that type of career. Matt
will be a suave guy, he will be the
camp cook, and I am guessing he will maybe be a little hard to get
along with. He should be an
interesting character though. Just a hunch, I bet the
females will all
Oh yeah, one final note on Matthew. He now has the distinction of the
coolest last name ever on Survivor, just edging out "van den Berghe," "Wiglesworth"
32, Triathlon Trainer
Alex is an interesting looking player. He is a great athlete, he will
a huge asset in the challenges, and he is the perfect age to excel at
game. I think he will be right in the center of pretty much all
activities in the
male tribe. He is going to be a leader, and I suspect he will also be a
strong player. But I don't think he will be our winner at the end, if
only because he looks too likeable and too athletic. He is a huge
threat to win this game right from day one, and that generally
doesn't end well for people. And I have to say that bringing
his triathlon medal as a luxury item is a bit pretentious and cocky.
Um Alex, what
were you thinking?
50, Middle School Principal
Butch seems like the obvious "dead meat" player at first glance, but
never know. I mean, he's got athletics in his background and he is used
organizing people. If the older men in the tribe band together, he is
going to be fine. But I don't think that is going to happen. I
predict Butch is
probably the first male to go, but again he is by no means a weakling.
knows Survivor, he knows sports, and he has kids. Maybe he can get
the breaks will go his way, we will have to wait and see. But in this
intense group of young wannabe
alphas, I suspect he will be a bit out of place.
27, Tax Accountant
Out of all the bloodthirsty, young, competitive males on this tribe, Daniel appears to be
the most hardcore of them all. From his attempts to be a pro wrestler, to his love
of all things wrestling, to his worship of Charles Barkley and his love of
Resident Evil, yeah, I think it is safe to say that Daniel is here to
win and to take no prisoners. And he is on the perfect tribe for it too. I
mean, Daniel's favorite color is black! He is going to be a lot of fun to
watch, he is going to be fiery. At least I assume so, who knows, maybe he
could be as soft and gentle as a kitten in real life. I am just speculating based on his bio.
Nah, don't bet on it. Daniel is probably one of the centerpieces of the male
tribe. He will be their heart. Their fiery heart.
22, Rocket Scientist
Okay, let me be the first one to make the joke. Who says you have to be
rocket scientist to be on this show? Okay, that being said, Dave comes
like a strange person to me. He is part nerd, part frat boy. He seems a
bit quirky (who owns a beef jerky company?), but there is no doubt that
brilliant. Brilliant but goofy. I mean, anybody who loves both the
Hunter and the Big Lebowski is going to be a character. You
don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that. As my friend
Dennis pointed out, Dave brought along a sketch pad and pencil as
hus luxury item, which AKA from Vecepia we all know is an easy way to
have an advantage for Fallen Comrades. That is a nice level of planning
ahead. Dave could
be a complete outcast, or he could be one of the central young members
of the team. He could go either way, but I suspect he will be in with
the big boys. He is just to smart not to wind up there.
-----DYNAMIC OF THE MALE TRIBE-----
Okay this tribe is much tougher to call. I suspect the central themes of this group are going to be youth,
cockiness, and athleticism. Daniel is clearly a key here, and so is Alex. I
think Matthew will be in the power core at first (at least until they can dump him later)
and Rob and Ryan are nice wannabe hangers on. Dave will clearly fit in
better with the kids than Vietnam vet Roger will, and I just don't see Butch having a place in this group at
all. I hate to say it, but I think Butch is probably the first one to go. It
just isn't his type of team.
SURVIVOR:AMAZON PRE-GAME POWER RANKINGS:
This is just kind of a shot in the dark, but I got lucky with Brian
last season so let's see if I can do it again. This isn't really a flat
out guess, I mean after five seasons we kind of know who does well in
this game and who doesn't. Some interesting observations are that this cast is
amazingly young, it is a lot like the Marquesas. And after last season's very much
pro-Southern cast, we have only one or two Southerners this time around. But
it looks like it will come down to young cocky bloodthirsty males against mature
middle aged stable females at the start. It should be a heck of a beginning!
1. Rob Cesternino
When in doubt, pick the guy who studies Survivor as a hobby. The
genius jokester is my preseason pick to win.
2. Jeanne Herbert
Very strong bio, very good people skills, all around strong player
3. Dave Johnson
He is a definite wildcard, but he is also a genius. You don't have to be a rocket
scientist to see that. Ok, I promise to stop now.
4. Heidi Strobel
The sweetheart who everyone will love. Maybe one of those will actually win
Survivor some day...
5. Deena Bennett
A strong leader, but she may have trouble in a twist situation
6. Ryan Aiken
I'm not sure where to put him, but he seems adaptable and cunning. So why not rank him at #6.
7. Daniel Lue
Very strong and tough competitor, but at the same time it is hard for this type of player to win Survivor
8. JoAnna Ward
A strong female leader, she should do well
9. Alex Bell
Very athletic and likeable, a strong threat to win right from day one
10. Matthew Von Ertfelda
Big and strong, maybe too much so. Also maybe a bit pompous.
11. Shawna Mitchell
She seems nice enough, but she doesn't stand out at all
12. Christy Smith
Not very competitive, will have a hard time with any sort of endgame
13. Butch Lockley
Needs to get past the first vote or two, if he does then he could be just fine
14. Roger Sexton
His team is one of youth, he will need to adapt to them fast
15. Janet Koth
I don't see her as a long-term player.
16. Jenna Morasca
She is simply on the wrong team. An all-female tribe doesn't have the luxury of keeping
weak people around.
This is a tough bunch to pick from. There are a lot of very different, very
unique players this time around. In other words, great cast! Here is hoping we have a great premiere. And until then,
go read All-Star Survivor: Alaska, it will give you a few tips on what the
first few episodes are probably going to be like.
is a Survivor fan and all-around good guy currently living in Los
Angeles. He is the lead writer and editor of All-Star Survivor: Alaska,
as well as this weekly column.