The Rise of the Purples

Ianic Roy Richard
Jun 21 · 8 min read

There’s this guy in the sports universe named Jon Bois. Jon creates videos and talks about a number of different sports. He’s an excellent mind. In the past, he’s also created a series of articles in which he messes around with video games like NBA 2K and Madden to create an alternate reality of sorts, a universe in which things don’t work out the way they do in real life.

I’ve always been a fan of this kind of practice. I would do the exact same thing with my NBA 2K franchises, inventing my own world in which somebody like OJ Mayo becomes comparable to the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. In the Survivor world, we’ve been gifted with a little website called BrantSteel.net. It’s a simulation site that allows users to play through every season of Survivor as they see fit, allowing for customization of any season’s cast with the entire roster of Survivor players at their disposal.

Since we’re in the dearth of the Survivor off-season and I’ve been re-reading some of Jon Bois’ old articles, I had a little thought: why not simulate the Survivor franchise using Brant Steel as our tool? So I set out to exactly just that in a new series I will call Fake Survivor. We will start today with Fake Survivor: Borneo but first, some ground rules.

  • To decide any season’s roster, I will load up the season I am simming (in this case Borneo), go over to the simulate tab, and choose random. This ensures that no bias will have gone into choosing my cast of players for the season.
  • While the cast of players is random, I will follow a season’s theme to the limits of their possibility (IE: All-Stars will be all returning players from the first 7 simulations, Micronesia will have half returning players, Cambodia will be all second-time players).
  • Speaking of which, returning player seasons is where there will be some bias because I will not be able to complete a roster by randomizing. I will hand pick players from past seasons to compete in those seasons and do my best to avoid pre-conceived notions from reality, simply abiding by their performance in Fake Survivor history. I will try to mirror the number of returning players from each season based on what happened in reality.
  • I have not altered any player’s profile to make them better or worse than anyone else on the season. I have not adjusted any player’s relationship to other players in any way to impact a season’s results.
  • For simplicity’s sake, we will assume all players are the age they were the first time they played real Survivor. Otherwise it would be weird to imagine an infant Will Wahl on like Survivor: Africa or something like that.
  • No re-starts if a player I like in real life ends up being a really early boot, that’s just the reality and likely kills his chances to return in the future. That’s life man.

With that out of the way, let’s begin our trip with the inaugural season… Fake Survivor Borneo.

The Starting Tribes

Pagong:

  • Chelsea Townsend
  • Gervase Peterson
  • Kelly Bruno
  • Jamie Newton
  • Lucy Huang
  • Mike Chiesl
  • Rafe Judkins
  • Sarita White

Tagi:

  • Angelina Keeley
  • Dave Ball
  • Judd Sergeant
  • Katie Hanson
  • Micheal Yerger
  • Tammy Leitner
  • Tijuana Bradley
  • Tyson Apostol

One more note before I truly begin: in the future, I will have a link available for readers to see the Brant Steel in action. I screwed up this time and thus, don’t have the simulation so you’ll have to take my word for it but in the future, there will be the option to go see how it played out yourself.

At Pagong, things were dicy in the challenges but easy at tribal council. The five-person alliance of Dave Ball, Katie Hanson, Micheal Yerger, Tammy Leitner and Tyson Apsotol ran the show. Judd Sergeant became their first victim, and fake Survivor’s first ever boot. Angelina Keeley quickly followed, we can assume that Tagi rationed their rice correctly and thus, didn’t need her negotiating prowess. In the season’s 4th tribal council, Tijuana Bradley bit the bullet as the last non-alliance member standing.

The heavy losing hurt Pagong because eventually, the alliance had to eat itself. The 4–1 vote against Katie Hanson clearly indicates that she was at the bottom of their hierarchy as she became the only member of their alliance not to make the jury. No word on if Jeff Probst set out to humiliate Katie in challenges like he did in the real world.

From the jump, Tagi proved to be the superior challenge tribe and went to tribal council only twice in the pre-merge. Their key tribal was Tagi’s first, where Mike Chiesl ended up going home on a re-vote. The Tagi tribe was originally split evenly into two alliances of four people but Chelsea Townsend, Lucy Huang, Sarita White and Rafe Judkins convinced Jamie Newton and Kelly Bruno to flip on the revote, leaving Gervase Peterson in the dust and Mike out the door. From that point on, there was only one dominant alliance at Tagi Beach.

Tagi only lost a second time in the pre-merge and the alliance took their opportunity to knock Jamie Newton out of the way early. Kelly and Gervase seemed more docile compared to Jamie, who began displaying signs of intense paranoia mixed in with bouts of uncontrollable anger.

Like in the real Survivor: Borneo, the most interesting vote of the season was probably the merge vote. Looing strictly at the numbers, Pagong came into the merge with a 6–4 advantage but the tribe felt like it had some loose canons. The Lucy, Chelsea and Sarita trio linked up with the 4 Tagis remaining and voted out Kelly, one of the vote-flippers from the Mike vote. She had shown some willingness to go against her alliance in the past and for the three women, that had to be worrisome. This vote also left Rafe in the dark, as he voted with Gervase and Kelly in what he assumed was the Pagong plan, which essentially cut him out of the core alliance (tough they would still use him as a number until he wasn’t needed).

And that time came a few episodes later, after Dave and Michael had been dispatched and Tagi had been left crippled at the knees (sorry Kelly Bruno). The trio decided Rafe was more dangerous than Tyson and Tammy, the Tagis remaining, or Gervase who was kind of like a man on an island, with no real connections left. His loyalty to Mike in the first Pagong tribal council would continue to haunt him, as he never was able to make connections after that tribal council.

Chelsea, Lucy and Sarita approached Tammy in a plan to vote out Rafe. Because Tyson won immunity, that had to be music to her ears as the only possible Tagi vote. You would think that Tammy could have taken this knowledge to Tyson and used it against the trio but this episode revealed a previously unknown feud between Tammy and Tyson. They must have been battling it out for alliance leadership on Tagi because when it came time to write a name down, Tyson voted to send Tammy home because, and I quote, “I like Rafe more than Tammy.” If he had thought about it for a second, he would have realized that with Gervase and Rafe, Tyson and Tammy would have the numbers on the ladies and had a chance to square off with another pair in the final 4. Instead, Tyson let his emotions control him and gave the game to Chelsea, Lucy and Sarita.

In the clutchest immunity win in fake Survivor history (for now, it’s only been one season), Tyson rattled off a second consecutive immunity victory. He hoped that meant finally getting to send home his sudden nemesis, Tammy, but her loyalty to the Pagong women’s alliance ended up being very important. The trio backed Tammy and all voted against Gervase and with Tammy’s vote as the kicker, he went home 4–2.

Needing a 3rd consecutive immunity win to stay alive, Tyson could not deliver. Chelsea won the Blair Witch Project challenge, which would be weird to see play out in 2019 but we can suspend disbelief for this fake Survivor universe. No word if anyone answered every single question with “I don’t know”. Tyson’s failure to win this challenge cemented the Pagong women’s alliance as an iconic group in fake Survivor history as they voted, along with Tammy, to send Tyson out of the game.

Fake Survivor’s first finale starred four women vying for the crown and treasure chest full of fake money on display at tribal council. Tammy immediately replaced Tyson as the clutchest challenge performer when she won at final four (likely adding to Tyson’s distaste for her). The assumed final three that the Pagong women had all taken for granted would have to be broken up. The only question was who would be the one to go home?

Like in the real Borneo, there was an unnecessary tie vote before somebody switched over to send Sarita out of the game. Lucy really wanted Chelsea to go home but Chelsea had done a lot of great work on Tammy. They had a great bond throughout the season and Tammy was not going to vote against Chelsea. So, when the votes came out 2–2, Lucy decided to switch her vote over to Sarita instead of forcing the two to make fire, a decision that probably cost her the game.

The final immunity challenge was a long one but Lucy claimed victory in the end. She could have voted out Chelsea in this moment, but letting Tammy get to the end was not palatable considering the amount of work Tammy put in to get to this point. She had a lot of friends on the jury as well as people who were impressed by her gameplay (and then there is Tyson). She chose to stay loyal to Chelsea and fight it out with her day one partner at final tribal council.

In the end, Chelsea’s social game got her the victory. Within her own alliance, it was clear that Lucy was the preferred winner. She got all three Pagong jury votes. Chelsea was able to secure the win with the 4 Tagi votes left available. This was hammered home when Tammy voted for Chelsea to win because they “shared a strong relationship”. Lucy played an impressive game, never even getting a vote against her in 12 tribal councils but Chelsea’s ability to connect with the people she was sending home ended up mattering more in the end.


If I had to choose, the first Fake Survivor season had a few memorable moments. The weird Tyson/Tammy feud was one of them. They had a chance to take control of the game with Gervase and Rafe at the final 7 but Tyson simply decided he could no longer work with Tammy and it ultimately sunk both of their games.

Judd becoming the first ever boot is also a great moment. Imagine Judd’s personality having to deal with becoming the first ever person sent out of the game. With some luck, maybe he’ll get a second chance down the line.

The impressive gameplay from Chelsea, Lucy and Sarita will be another lasting memory from fake Borneo. Their work at the merge to send Kelly Bruno home was a nice trophy on their mantle. So too was their work on Tammy, spearheaded by our winner, to bring her over and strike against Rafe, who they coldly left out of their alliance at the merge.

In the real world, Chelsea, Lucy and Sarita may be remembered as non-entities but in this universe, they’ve become superstars. Forget your Black Widow Brigade, right off the top in Survivor: Borneo, we’ve been witness to an alliance of strong women completely running the game. Chelsea’s victory assures her a spot as an icon in the franchise and dozens of women will look to emulate her game moving forward.

Come back next friday to see how Fake Survivor: Australian Outback plays out.

A Tribe of One

The premiere spot for Survivor history and analysis ranging from Borneo to the current season.

Ianic Roy Richard

Written by

Sports fan and alleged analyst. Day one Survivor fan and reality television junkie. @atribeofone1 on twitter. For inquiries: ianic.roy.richard@gmail.

A Tribe of One

The premiere spot for Survivor history and analysis ranging from Borneo to the current season.

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