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The Survivor: Winners at War Players Who May Be in Over Their Heads

Five Survivor winners who seem too overmatched to win again.
  • Adam Klein, Danni Boatwright and Yul Kwon are among the Survivor: Winners at War players who we think may be ill-equipped to take on the game's greatest winners. (Photos: CBS)
    Adam Klein, Danni Boatwright and Yul Kwon are among the Survivor: Winners at War players who we think may be ill-equipped to take on the game's greatest winners. (Photos: CBS)

    Survivor premieres its 40th season on Wednesday, gathering 20 former winners to battle it out for the biggest prize in show history ($2 million). We're previewing the cast in three parts: Yesterday we listed the players with the biggest targets on their back, while today we're looking at those who may be in over their heads. (Tomorrow we'll count down those who we think can win.)

    Let’s be clear: there’s no wrong way to win Survivor. While the show itself seems to value big moves and balls-to-the-wall gameplay over subtler, harder-to-televise social moves, every winning game is worth the same million dollars in the end.

    That said, not every winner comes into the all-winners’ season with an equal shot at the $2 million dollar title. While there are plenty of obvious targets in Survivor: Winners at War who have a tough uphill climb ahead of them, there are also a number of players who will have an equally tough time because they’re not enough of a threat. Primetimer's Survivor superfans Jessica Liese and Joe Reid are always hoping to be surprised, but all the same, they’re a little worried these five players might not be bring quite enough to the table to seal the deal. In no particular order:

    Danni Boatwright

    Winning Seasons: Survivor: Guatemala (Season 11)
    Other Season(s): none
    How She Won: Danni managed to redefine the concept of going under the radar, going so far as to keep her plans away from the producers. Once all her allies were eliminated, her enemies kept using her vote to get rid of each other, and before they knew it, Danni had made it in front of a jury full of people who liked her.
    Why She's Not Enough of a Threat: Danni's been out of the Survivor loop for so long, she's working from a deficit when it comes to making relationships with the other players and may find herself in danger of a very early elimination. -- Joe Reid

    Ben Driebergen

    Winning Seasons: Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers (Season 35)
    Other Season(s): none
    How He Won: Though Ben had a target on his back for most of the game, he was able to find three hidden idols (and, bafflingly, got away with playing one before the votes were cast) in order to prolong his time on the island. At the final four, he benefited from a then-previously-unseen twist in which the usual Tribal Council vote was replaced with a fire-making challenge.
    Why He’s Not Enough of a Threat: Ben’s tenacity and charisma could help him in this game, but he benefited from so many in-game advantages in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers that it’s hard to imagine him doing as well if isn’t quite as lucky this time around. -- Jessica Liese

    Michelle Fitzgerald

    Winning Seasons: Survivor: Kaoh Rong (Season 32)
    Other Season(s): none
    How She Won: Michelle played a relatively quiet, highly social game, making use of relationships to work her way into the majority alliance as well as keep the target off her back. She also won several well-timed immunities and a unique reward challenge that allowed her to remove a player from the jury.
    Why She's Not Enough of a Threat: Like Ben, Michelle benefited from a little bit of luck: her tribe’s early challenge strength and an unusually high number of medical evacuations meant that she evaded Tribal Council for a record 22 days. Her game was so subtle the first time around that she’s not likely to be targeted as a threat, but she may have trouble taking control of the game in a way that will be required of the winners’ winner. -- Jessica Liese

    Adam Klein

    Winning Seasons: Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X (Season 33)
    Other Season(s): none
    How He Won: Adam managed to slip away from the alpha males who'd targeted him from an early stage, then hopped alliances until the end of the game. At final tribal council, his incredibly emotional story about his mother's cancer diagnosis sealed the deal with the jury.
    Why He’s Not Enough of a Threat: For somebody who maneuvered his way to the end via his social game, it never seemed like he was all that well-liked within the confines of the game. With so many expert-level social games to contend with, we could see Adam going very early. -- Joe Reid

    Yul Kwon

    Winning Seasons: Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
    Other Season(s): none
    How He Won: Yul formed an ironclad alliance of four early in the game that never faltered, and he strategically pulled in stragglers to eliminate his strongest opposition. He also found a super-powered Hidden Immunity Idol early in the game and leveraged it so successfully that he never actually needed to play it.
    Why He’s Not Enough of a Threat: Though Yul’s intelligence is a formidable, he’s just had too much of a life since playing Survivor. Between hosting documentaries for PBS and apologizing for Facebook inappropriately mining our data, he hasn’t necessarily had time to maintain a deep study of the game as it’s evolved over the past 14 years. Nor would he have maintained the same deep connections that some of his fellow winners have made through charity events and social media. -- Jessica Liese

    Survivor's 40th season kicks off with the two-hour premiere of Survivor: Winners at War on Wednesday February 12th at 8:00 PM ET on CBS.

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    TOPICS: Survivor, CBS, Adam Klein, Ben Driebergen, Danni Boatwright, Michelle Fitzgerald, Yul Kwon, Reality TV