We always tend to wait at the very least a couple of days before we update our “Survivor” winner rankings after a season, and there is a simple reason for that: You don’t want to do it impulsively and just because you love a player.
This season, that is true even more so since Adam Klein is easily one of the most likable winners in the show’s history, and his story is emotional and incredibly inspiring. We also picked him to win before the season, so it was imperative to not let the heartstrings or our own ego get in the way of figuring out where he stood on the list (which you can view in full over here).
Now that we’ve had that time, it’s starting to become easier to see the full picture on Adam.
What he did right – He was incredibly likable, and was able to build great bonds with a lot of different people. His social game was apparently even better than we saw on the show based on our own interview with him, and he made key decisions when he needed to, including voting against Figgy after the tribe swap and trying to push the right buttons with Ken at the final four to ensure that he considered turning on David — which he ultimately did. Adam found two immunity idols, he won a challenge, and based on some other interviews, his story ultimately had nothing to do with why people voted for him. It was all about game.
The thing that we were the most impressed with, and this is something that we’d probably do if we were a “Survivor” player (not if we’d ever want that), is that he really did a great job of projecting things on other people. With Hannah, he made her feel like she was in control, and he was willing at times to make moves that he didn’t want to just to continue that illusion. Meanwhile, he was also able to project people like David and Jay as huge threats, knowing that having them in front of him would be a way to keep himself safe. He understood perceptions almost better than anyone, and actually was a little like Tony Vlachos in his understanding that having other threats around can be a good thing.
What hurts his ranking – We cannot say anything he did was “bad” since he ended up winning the game! However, at the same time we tend to rank people higher who either made fewer mistakes, or established such a level of control and dominance that makes their victory more impressive. The latter is why Tony, a guy who did make several mistakes, is still among our top five winners — he was on the right side of the vote every week and managed to convince Woo to do something that was absolutely insane.
Adam wasn’t always on the right side of the vote, and at times had to recover from errors that could have been significant, such as passing along more information that he needed to to people like Taylor and Hannah. While he may not have been in serious danger after the merge like it was presented, at the same time it still appeared that he was playing harder to the point that it made some allies question their trust in him. You can also argue that David was the more dominant player of this season, and Adam just happened to do the right things at the right times to get rid of him.
Where he stands in our rankings – As of right now, he’s sitting within the top half of our winners at #16, right after Mike Holloway (a guy who took his game by the horns, but made a catastrophic mistake along the way) but before JT Thomas (a guy who controlled the merge largely based on likability and strategy, though he did have help in the form of Stephen). This seems like the right spot for Adam since he embodied a little bit of the traits of some of the under-the-radar winners, while also showing some strategic acumen and an understanding how people within the game think. We made the Tony comparison earlier, but in the end we’d say he is a more well-rounded version of Cochran from “Caramoan,” a superfan who is extremely capable, and understands precisely when to stay behind targets and when to make moves.
As we mentioned, you can see our full list of winner rankings here. Where do you think Adam stands? Be sure to share in the comments below! (Photo: CBS.)