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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst: Criticizing Sandra Diaz-Twine's gameplay is like trying to spot reduce with weight loss


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/12/2017 

Survivor: Game Changers host Jeff Probst is weighing in on Sandra Diaz-Twine's gameplay and ouster following an impressive 16-day run.

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Sandra, a two-time Survivor winner, finally had her torch snuffed by Jeff after three seasons and nearly 100 days total in the game.

"She remains one of my favorite players and not just because she agreed to play for a third time knowing the odds were really stacked against her -- more than any other player," Jeff told The Hollywood Reporter.

The self-declared "queen" of Survivor was targeted by her new Game Changers tribe during the latest episode after a tribal swap left her outside of the majority alliance. Many fans love to hate her -- while her fellow castaways applaud her -- but it's hard to argue that her strategy is anything less than very impressive.

When asked what Sandra did right on the currently-airing season, Jeff replied, "A lot... I just like how she plays."

Before she exited the game, Sandra managed to create chaos at Tribal Council, not to mention she was close to luring Ozzy Lusth under her wing in order to save herself.

"For my money, her attitude combined with her ability to gently ease people where she wants them without ever panicking is why she is Hall of Fame," Jeff explained. "The sugar escape with [James "J.T." Thomas] was fascinating to watch. She engineered everybody like they were her personal puppets."

The "sugar escape" refers to how Sandra heightened an already-brewing tension between J.T. and Michaela Bradshaw at camp by getting rid of all their sugar when only J.T. and Michaela used it in their coffee, which had been won at a prior Reward Challenge. J.T. blamed Michaela for failing to ration the sugar, while Michaela grew angry, knowing she was innocent in the situation.

"[Sandra] played an aggressive game this time and I think that was the right move," Jeff told The Reporter. "She knew there were snipers everywhere with her in their crosshairs. She's a badass. Lots of people despise her. She doesn't care."

In terms of what Sandra did wrong on the Game Changers season, Jeff had trouble coming up with something in particular.

"It's hard to criticize her gameplay, because you can't just say you like 'most parts' of someone's game but then pinpoint the one or two specific areas you don't like. It's like trying to spot reduce with weight loss, you can't have it both ways," Jeff confessed.

"If you like Sandra's overall game, you have to accept her Achilles' heel. I think her inability to be soft and to 'snuggle up' once in a while is probably her one really weak spot. She didn't evolve quite enough with where the game is now."

Survivor has become an increasingly cutthroat game strategy-wise in which blindsides are absolutely expected and temporary voting blocks are often formed instead of strong alliances that last long-term. The game has become less about surviving the elements and providing food and shelter for one's tribe.

"I do not think Sandra was going to get to the end, ever. Just no chance," Jeff continued. "Everybody wanted to be the one to take her out. And Sandra doesn't play to make the jury. She plays to win. It didn't work. So I guess that's what she did wrong this time -- she didn't win."

Jeff is curious as to whether Sandra envisions scenarios in her head that might happen on the beach and then role-plays how she might respond, or whether she just reacts with animal instinct at all times.


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