Image credit: CBS
Credit: Image Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

Image credit: CBS[/caption]

At the end of tonight’s Survivor Philippines finale and reunion, Jeff Probst revealed the title (Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites) for the next season to premiere on Feb. 13, 2013. And he told EW more than that when we spoke about the 26th — yes, 26th! — installment of the reality franchise. Read on for more intel on what to expect next.

This marks the second time Survivor has gone with a Fans Vs. Favorites format, which will pit returning players against first timers. The first occurrence was in season 16 with Survivor: Micronesia. That installment was a hit among fans (and remains my personal favorite Survivor season ever), so it seemed like only a matter of time before the show went back to the twist, especially now that they have had nine seasons since the last one from which to pull returning players. “We have a lot of great [former contestants] who we have not yet anointed as a star or worthy of being in an all-star version of some sort,” Probst told EW, indicating that all the returning players would be playing for the second time, as opposed to the third or fourth. “And we started looking at that list and said, we actually have a new batch of people that would be fun to put against a group of newbies. And the result was fantastic. It really worked. It will be a season that most fans will regard even better than Survivor: Philippines. I really believe that. I know I’ve been wrong in the past, but if I’m wrong on this one, man, snuff my torch.”

One of the noticeable changes between the two seasons — which were shot back-to-back in the spring of 2012 in the Caramoan Islands — is that there will be less rain next time around since Philippines was filmed at the tail end of the rainy season, leading to those 21 consecutive days of downpours. An upside of the sunnier skies will be even more water challenges in Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites 2. (Some water challenges in Philippines had to be scrapped and replaced due to the inclement weather.) “We were in the water a fair amount for Philippines, but we’re in the water even more in Fans Vs. Favorites,” says Probst. “Nothing gets Mark Burnett more excited than a shot in the water of someone diving down to untie something. That is the thing that he loves the most. So the mandate is, get those Survivors in the water as often as possible.”

But don’t assume that the better weather means that the next round of contestants will have it easy out there on the island. “The weather eases up, but it doesn’t mean the evacuations ease up,” teases Probst. “It’s a pretty tough season and it starts early. There’s a lot of drama.” So it indeed seems as if once again at least one person will be taken out of the game for medical reasons. Paging Dr. Romana!

For those fans that long to see another season of solely new players, don’t hold your breath for that to happen again anytime soon. “Returning players have yet to let us down,” says Probst. “They always deliver. They’re too irresistible. And the truth is that I’m realizing the only time in quite a while that we haven’t brought people back is One World, and it was not one of the most popular seasons. So I don’t know if you can deduce from that that returning players are the answer, but certainly a conclusion to draw is that if and when you can bring returning players back, do so, because they add life to your show.”

Also check out Dalton’s full ‘Survivor: Philippines’ recap as well as his quick take on the finale and see our pre-game interviews with the final four in the video player below. Check back Monday for new interviews with the final four as well as Jeff Probst about the finale. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop all year round, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.