After watching him target and oust every obstacle in his path (from Marissa and Betsy to Kelly and Laura), find three hidden immunity idols (two with no clues), and flip Shambo over to his side, it is time to start asking: Where does Russell stand on the list of best Survivor players ever? Of course, it depends on what criteria you use to define “best”. Richard Hatch, who practically wrote the rulebook on how to play the game, has to stand atop the list of best pure strategists, followed by Cook Islands‘ Yul, Fiji‘s Yau-Man and Amazon‘s Rob Cesternino. There have also been great social players, like sweet southerner Tina (Australian Outback) and famed flirt Parvati (winner of Micronesia). They should not be underestimated—social gameplay is just as important as strategy. Their method was so different from Russell’s, though, it’s hard to compare and contrast. The best players of all, however, are the ones that have combined strategy, social skills, and challenge-dominating physical prowess. The three names that reside at the top of that list are Boston Rob (All-Stars), Tom (Palau), and J.T. (Tocantins). It’s hard to put Russell above any of those three. They were the ultimate triple-threats (remember, people in the game didn’t hate Boston Rob until after he slit their throats). The strikes against Russell are that he did not camouflage his deception very well, making players immediately wary of him, and he has done next to nothing in the challenges (his tribe was decimated, and he has not come close to individual immunity). So, if you’re judging on all-around game, he has to be dropped down a few pegs, but if you just want to go by pure strategy, at this point I’d put Russell right under Hatch in the two spot.
What about you? Where would you rank Russell on the list of best players ever? But before you answer, make sure to check out the latest episode of Survivor Talk below, where recently booted Laura discusses how she’ll vote on the jury. And to get all the Survivor scoop (as well as MovieQuoteOfTheDay) sent directly to you, you can follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.