Where should Survivor: Game Changers winner Sarah Lacina stand in the official CarterMatt Winner Rankings? It’s not something that was worth discussing right away following the finale — there’s some recency mixed in there, and you don’t want to give her a higher spot on the list just for the sake of doing so.
Yet, the further and further away one gets from Sarah’s game this season, the more impressive it starts to actually feel. Sarah played a game where she didn’t rely on immunity challenges to win, and nor did she technically find idols. Everything she got she got as a result of hustling. She managed to take a Vote Steal advantage from directly under where Michaela was sitting during a challenge! She convinced Sierra to give her a Legacy Advantage in the event she was voted out … and then she voted her out! Sarah played with guts, but more than that she played with a heart and mind that understood the game and fundamentally what people needed out there.
During the finale, there was a lot of comparison made between Sarah and her own Survivor: Cagayan winner of Tony Vlachos, which is something that does make a certain degree of sense when you do think about their two games side by side. Both flipped between alliances, and both somehow managed to convince people not to vote them out at the end of the game when it made complete sense for them to do so. They were able to constantly check in with people, and made them feel like they had a sense of deep loyalty. They were able to win people back even after betrayals.
With this said, Sarah had a part of Kim Spradlin in her in that she also had a delicate touch when she needed to. She was able to console someone like Sierra when she needed to, and was willing to stand up for Zeke until the very moment she realized that keeping him was a lost cause.
Did Sarah play as dominant a game as Kim? Probably not, but she did play a better overall game than Tony because she was able to do much of his moves and more without having a Tyler Perry idol to play after the votes. She didn’t have a security blanket and did almost everything as big and bold.
With this, Sarah is the #4 winner on our rankings. Yep, that’s high! Still, it’s hard to put someone lower who voted correctly the entire season and was so easily able to make everyone on her tribe love her. Nobody was bitter against her; some jurors were just extremely pro-Brad because of that relationship. She beat a guy who won five immunity challenges! Sure, he was also someone with a reputation for being abrasive, but that didn’t matter. Sarah played a hell of a game that was consistent, smart, and worthy of SO much praise in a season this difficult and with so many twists. She was quiet when she needed to be quiet, and dived in head-first when she needed to make moves. It’s also just hard to get past the fact that she wasn’t seemingly targeted at all at the final four, just because she allowed Brad’s distaste for Tai’s gameplay to fester.
Take a look at the full winner rankings here. The season rankings will be updated in due time. (Photo: CBS.)