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What does it take to be the Sole Survivor?

Is there such a thing as the 'perfect' Survivor Castaway? We asked a few people who know the game, inside-out, to 'build' one
Thu, Jun 03, 2021

PHOTOS: Survivor SA Facebook & Twitter

There have been Survivor Castaways who've trounced everyone in physical challenges, some who've out-puzzled the others… Many have proved to be master manipulators and others have found their way to the final by seemingly staying under the radar – but there's yet to be a 'complete' player who was actually successful in claiming the 'Sole Survivor' title.

So how would you 'build' the perfect Castaway who would emerge as Sole Survivor?

Jeanne Michel, Survivor South Africa: Philippines finalist

"In Survivor South Africa, we'd always had a focus on physicality leading the way, but after Rob Bentele won Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets, I think we're going to see more of his blend of power and complete social control control come to the fore," says radio producer Jeanne.

She says that the perfect Castaway for the game and for the viewers are two different things. "For sheer entertainment, you want to look at Marthinus, Ace (both from SSA season 6); Durão or Kobus (both SSA season 7)," she says.

Jeanne says that if you're looking for a true schemer or plotter, you'd be hard-pressed to beat Shane or Marion from SSA season 6. "They were literally rule breakers – stealing things, conniving and backbiting. If you throw a bit of (SSA season 7's) Tevin in there – a strategic mastermind – combined with the daredevils, that'd be pretty amazing.

"The key element of the 'perfect player' is somebody who can adapt. Look at Jacques (SSA season 7) – he went in with a strategy, knew the game and wanted to play big moves, but the game kept throwing curveballs at him that he couldn't handle and it cost him," says Jeanne.

"The best example of that kind of player to me is a kickass woman like Sandra (Survivor: Pearl Islands). Her ability to read the game and turn on a dime if need be really sets her apart."

Follow @jeannemichel1983 on Instagram for weekly recaps of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island, on Sunday evenings.

Zavion Kotze, Survivor South Africa: Champions

Zavion reckons it's possible to build the perfect Castaway from those who have appeared across the seven seasons of Survivor South Africa, so far. "For physicality, I'd make a hybrid of Solly from my season and Ashley (SSA Maldives) who was a challenge monster," he says. "Ashley had an amazing social and strategic game, too – she's my ultimate player."

In terms of the social side, he'd add a dash of Moyra Makina (SSA season 5): "She used her HR skills brilliantly to manage all the other players." He also names fellow SSA: Champions Castaway Marion as the best strategist: "She was the ultimate evil, villainous character – you need both sugar and spice to make the game fun.

"I would have hated to play against a Castaway made up of those components – they'd be brilliant, but also make excellent TV," he says. "Their only vulnerability would be that they're too confident in their ability to win and would probably get blindsided."

Follow @ZavionK on Twitter for live tweets during each episode of Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island.

Werner Joubert, Survivor South Africa: Philippines

"You never want to appear too much of a physical threat – it can intimidate your fellow Castaways and immediately make you a target," says Werner. "It's best to be mildly sporty, but not look like an extreme athlete – that's why I'd point to Boston Rob as a great physical player. Though he was also great at puzzles and an excellent social player, the other Castaways didn't see him winning as many physical challenges as he did."

Werner's favourite social player is Survivor: One World winner Kim Spradlin. "She was one of the most complete players I've ever seen, but she was exceptional, socially. Everyone liked Kim - she was able to listen, tune into people and everyone thought she was their best friend and everyone wanted to play with her and share their strategy with her."

For pure 'strategic brain', Werner says there's nobody better than John Cochrane from the second Fans vs Favourites US season. "He's not a big guy, he's socially quite awkward, yet everyone fell in love with him," says Werner. "Strategically, he knew where to push in an alliance and how to sell himself, as well as being aware of who he could beat."

Follow Werner on Instagram @die_regte_werries and on Twitter @wernerjoubert1.

Leroux Botha, Survivor South Africa Creative Producer & Series Director, Afrokaans

Survivor South Africa guru Leroux Botha is possibly the ultimate Survivor Superfan, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the game, pretty much everywhere it's been played.

He'd combine the social graces of Werner and Zavion to create someone who was very gracious and giving. "The social element is probably one of the most important aspects of a Castaway's game," he says. "If you don't have EQ, you won't last long – plenty of people think they understand it, but they soon find out in the game, that they don't."

On the strategic front, he'd add elements of Survivor: Edge of Extinction's David Wright. "He was able to see where the votes were going, know who was bluffing – very similar to John Cochrane. They're strategic in how they gather info and use it. In terms of storytelling skills and keeping the audience posted on what their plans are, few were better than Rick Devens (Survivor: Edge of Extinction)."

Physically, he'd harness Zavion's athleticism and add a dash of Ashley Hayden to each of them to make an incredibly touch Castaway to beat.

Follow @afrokaans on Twitter and Instagram for Survivor South Africa insights.

  • Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island was filmed on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC). The 8th season of the show is once more hosted by Nico Panagio and will premiere on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Thursday 3 June at 7.30pm. For more, visit or follow M-Net's social media channels.