[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the finale of Survivor: Game Changers.]
After 39 days, four hidden immunity idols, three advantages, one sugar-related prank, and countless bonkers Tribal Councils, a winner was crowned on Survivor: Game Changers, and that winner was… Sarah Lacina. The 33-year-old police officer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, dominated the season strategically and was rewarded for her efforts, beating Brad Culpepper and Troy “Troyzan” Robertson in the finals to take home the million dollar prize.
While Sarah used strong social connections and strategic moves to get to the end, Brad got there by going on an epic challenge winning streak, coming in first in the last four immunity competitions of the season. But as Brad’s challenge game thrived, his social and strategic games began falling apart. He unsuccessfully attempted to pressure Tai into giving him one of his hidden immunity idols — which did not go over well with the jury — and then made the mistake of bringing Sarah to the finals even though she was clearly a more respected player than Tai, whom Brad chose to cut loose.
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The finale started with yet another crazy Tribal Council as five different players had immunity (via either challenge, idols, or the Legacy Advantage), meaning Cirie was voted out even though nobody had actually cast a vote against her — simply due to the fact that she was the only one who was not safe from elimination. (The four-time player also received a standing ovation from the jury on her way out of the game.)
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While Brad kept winning challenges, Aubry and Tai were voted out of the game, setting up the final three — with Brad displaying extreme confidence that he could beat anyone at the end. But there was one twist left: Host Jeff Probst unveiled a new final Tribal Council format. Instead of the standard Q&A session between jurors and finalists that has finished up every Survivor season ever, producers installed an open forum for free-flowing debate and discussion, so jurors could go back-and-forth with the finalists (as well as fellow jurors), rather than just making one comment or question and then staying silent. At the end of that forum, it was pretty clear that Sarah had the votes, which Probst read live back in Los Angeles — revealing her as the winner of season 34.
We’ll have much more coverage coming up, including my full-episode recap, Jeff Probst’s insight on the finale, info on next season, and interviews with the final six. And for more Survivor info and updates you can follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.