|Survivor: Winners at War|
|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||20|
|Location||Mamanuca Islands, Fiji|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Original release||February 12 –|
May 13, 2020
|Filming dates||May 22, 2019– June 29, 2019|
Survivor: Winners at War is the 40th season of the American competitive reality television series Survivor. The season filmed in May and June 2019 and is the eighth consecutive season to be filmed in Fiji. Celebrating the show's twentieth anniversary milestone, the season featured twenty returning winners from past Survivor seasons competing for a US$2 million prize, which was won by Tony Vlachos by a 12–4–0 vote over Natalie Anderson and Michele Fitzgerald. The season aired on CBS in the United States and Global in Canada from February 12, 2020 to May 13, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal live finale for the winner reveal was foregone but instead shown through a live teleconference between host Jeff Probst and the finalists.
In addition to returning winners, this season is the thirteenth season to feature returning players, and the fifth season to feature only returning players. In addition, the season brought back the Edge of Extinction twist first introduced in the show's thirty-eighth season, where voted-out players could opt to stay for a chance to return into the game. The season introduced fire tokens, a form of currency that could be used by remaining players in the game to buy rewards or advantages.
The season was preceded by a retrospective special titled Survivor at 40: Greatest Moments and Players on February 5, 2020, which featured interviews with past players, series highlights and first few minutes of the premiere episode. Winners at War received positive reviews from critics for its strategic game and memorable moments, with the performances of the "Cops R' Us" duo of Vlachos and Sarah Lacina being singled out, and Vlachos being praised as a deserving winner.
The season's theme and players were announced at the finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols on December 18, 2019, revealing that the season would consist of 20 winners from past Survivor seasons. The winner would receive $2,000,000, the largest cash prize ever given out in American reality TV history since The X Factor.
In addition to the larger grand prize, the payouts for all contestants were increased for this season only: whereas in previous seasons the first contestant eliminated received US$2,500 with increasing payouts for subsequently eliminated contestants, each returning player in Winners at War was guaranteed a minimum US$25,000 payment for participating in the season.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the typical live reunion show following the two-hour finale episode did not take place, but instead, the finale ran for three hours, with the final segments featuring Probst remotely from his home garage to video chatting with the Final Three to announce the winner.
When asked about the possibility of an all-winners season during a 2018 interview with Us Weekly, host and executive producer Jeff Probst stated that it was unlikely, saying, "We have 10 great winners that you’d want to see play again. We don’t have 20. We don’t have 18. Some of the winners don’t want to play again. Some of the greats are like, 'No, we’re done.'" In 2019, CBS president Kelly Kahl, who had been a proponent of Survivor since its beginning, suggested the idea again to Probst as a way to celebrate the show's 20th anniversary, and nearly all of the previous winners that were asked accepted the offers to return. Among those who accepted who the production team had considered unlikely to return were married couple Rob and Amber Mariano, who had begun their relationship while competing on Survivor: All-Stars, and Survivor: Micronesia winner Parvati Shallow, who had initially declined the offer as she had recently given birth. Probst has cited those three accepting the offers as the impetus to move forward with the season. Both Rob and Sandra Diaz-Twine were asked about returning for this season well after they had accepted to return as mentors for the prior season Survivor: Island of the Idols.
Among those that did not return included John Cochran, winner of Survivor: Caramoan, whom Jeff Probst called "the only one that would have been on the list [where] if he had said yes would probably have a spot on the show" in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Richard Hatch, winner of the show's first season, Survivor: Borneo, was not included due to his behavior in Survivor: All-Stars in which he competed in a challenge naked and his genitals made incidental contact with another contestant, Susan Hawk, who quit the game shortly thereafter. "Given his history on our show, it did not seem appropriate," said Probst to Us Weekly. “We were in a different time and different culture back then and we would never let him run a challenge naked now." In that same interview, Probst revealed that Survivor: Palau winner Tom Westman was among the castaways who was ultimately cut. Accounting to Inside Survivor both Tina Wesson, winner of Survivor: The Australian Outback, and Mike Holloway, winner of Survivor: Worlds Apart, were included in the mix for casting but cut along the way. Additionally, Survivor: Fiji winner Earl Cole was contacted, but declined due to the birth of his child. Survivor: Panama winner Aras Baskauskas was contacted but declined, feeling that his Survivor journey was complete and being unwilling to leave his children.
While none of the cast of Winners at War are the oldest players to play the game, the average age of the players for this season is the highest of any other prior season at 37.85 years, beating out Survivor: Nicaragua's average age of 37.6 years, and much higher than the average ages of players from several of the past recent seasons which have skewed younger. Probst said they did not even consider the age of the players when asking the winners to return, though did feel that older players are more interesting to watch, as their maturity brings unique facets to the game.
All but two of the challenges during the season were based on previous challenges that at least one of the winners had participated in. While this had been done before in Survivor: All Stars Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Survivor: Cambodia and Survivor: Game Changers, Probst stated that they would not draw attention to who had done previous challenges unless there had been a major event involving it from a prior season.
This season reintroduced the Edge of Extinction from Survivor: Edge of Extinction, the show's thirty-eighth season, wherein contestants who are voted out are taken to a desolate, abandoned beach with fewer amenities than the tribe camps. Contestants on the Edge of Extinction may either wait for an opportunity to re-join the main game by winning a competition or may choose to leave the game at any point by raising a white sail. Unlike in Survivor: Edge of Extinction, Winners at War contestants were not given the option to decline heading to the Edge of Extinction, though they could raise the mast immediately upon arrival. While the Edge of Extinction element had been controversial with fans when it was first used, the mechanic was added for this season as an assurance to returning players of additional chances to get back into the game after being voted out, a concern that had been raised by some when Probst spoke to them about returning.
This season introduced "fire tokens", a currency that allows players to purchase comfort items, food, and advantages. Probst said that the producers had come up with the idea of fire tokens to emphasize that the game is about creating a society, and these tokens could help in establishing that society. Each player started the game with one token, but may give tokens to other players at any time. When voted out, players must bequeath all of their tokens to remaining players before heading to the Edge of Extinction. Players on the Edge of Extinction were given the chance to win fire tokens by either finding advantages and privately selling them to remaining players, or by completing tasks; the players can then use the tokens at the Edge of Extinction to buy comfort items, food or advantages, including advantages for the eventual challenge to return to the main game.
|Contestant[a]||Original tribe||Swapped tribe||Merged tribe||Main game[b]||Edge of Extinction|
Returned to game
|Sele||None[c]||None[d]||1st voted out
Removed from jury[e]
40, Pensacola, Florida
The Australian Outback & All-Stars
|Dakal||2nd voted out
1st jury member[e]
43, Shawnee, Kansas
|Sele||3rd voted out
2nd jury member[e]
45, Hillsborough, New Hampshire
Africa & All-Stars
|Sele||4th voted out
3rd jury member[e]
Returned to game
|Dakal||5th voted out
43, Pensacola, Florida
Marquesas, All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains & Redemption Island
|Sele||Yara||None[d]||6th voted out
4th jury member[e]
36, Los Angeles, California
Cook Islands, Micronesia & Heroes vs. Villains
|Sele||Sele||7th voted out
5th jury member[e]
44, Riverview, Florida
Pearl Islands, Heroes vs. Villains & Game Changers
|Dakal||Dakal||8th voted out
|Left game by raising sail|
44, Los Altos, California
|Dakal||Sele||None[d]||9th voted out
6th jury member[e]
35, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
|Dakal||Sele||Koru||10th voted out
7th jury member
28, Los Angeles, California
Millennials vs. Gen X
|Sele||Yara||11th voted out
8th jury member
39, Mesa, Arizona
Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains & Blood vs. Water
|Dakal||None[c]||12th voted out
9th jury member
29, Santa Monica, California
|Dakal||Yara||13th voted out
10th jury member
36, San Antonio, Texas
|Dakal||Dakal||14th voted out
11th jury member
41, Foxborough, Massachusetts
San Juan del Sur & Cambodia
|Sele||Dakal||15th voted out
12th jury member
28, Williamsburg, Kentucky
David vs. Goliath
|Dakal||Sele||16th voted out
13th jury member
48, Marion, Iowa
|Sele||Dakal||17th voted out
14th jury member
36, Boise, Idaho
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
|Sele||Yara||18th voted out
15th jury member
34, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Cagayan & Game Changers
16th jury member
29, Hoboken, New Jersey
33, Edgewater, New Jersey
San Juan del Sur
45, Allendale, New Jersey
Cagayan & Game Changers
Twenty former winners were divided into two tribes of ten: Sele and Dakal. Players with heavy connections outside of the game were targeted first, including Natalie (aligned with Jeremy) and Amber (married to Rob). The “old-school” players fared poorly early on; even after a tribe swap split the remaining 15 players into three tribes, every winner from the first half of Survivor’s season lineup was eliminated before the merge. They were all sent to the Edge of Extinction to compete in challenges for the chance to earn fire tokens and sell advantages to players still in the game. The lone exception was Sandra, who raised the white flag and declined to remain on the Edge for a chance to earn her way back into the game.
On Day 19, Tyson rejoined the game in the first battle-back challenge and the tribes merged. Tyson joined players like Tony, Jeremy, and Ben in an effort to keep the big targets (the “lions”) together to eliminate the more under-the-radar players (the “hyenas”). However, the alliance of Tony and Sarah (self-dubbed “Cops R’ Us”) plus free agents Ben and Nick controlled the majority of the votes post-merge. Natalie rejoined the game in the second battle-back challenge on Day 35 and found herself and Michele on the outside of a foursome including Tony, Sarah, Ben and Denise. Natalie managed to survive thanks to two idol plays and a final immunity win, assisting in voting out Denise and Ben and forcing Tony to eliminate Sarah in an emotional firemaking challenge. At the Final Tribal Council, the jury commended Natalie on her comeback efforts but respected the dominant game of Tony more, awarding him the victory in a 12–4–0 vote.
|Challenge winner(s)||Voted out||Status|
|1||"Greatest of the Greats"||February 12, 2020||Dakal||Natalie||1st voted out|
Removed from jury[a]
|None||None||Sele||Amber||2nd voted out|
1st jury member[a]
|2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||February 19, 2020||None||Dakal||Danni||3rd voted out|
2nd jury member[a]
|3||"Out for Blood"||February 26, 2020||None||Dakal||Ethan||4th voted out|
3rd jury member[a]
|4||"I Like Revenge"||March 4, 2020||None||Sele||Tyson||5th voted out|
|5||"The Buddy System on Steroids"||March 11, 2020||None||None[b]||Sele||Rob||6th voted out|
4th jury member[a]
|6||"Quick on the Draw"||March 18, 2020||None||Yara||Parvati||7th voted out|
5th jury member[a]
|Sandra||8th voted out|
|7||"We're in the Majors"||March 25, 2020||Sandra||Yara[c]||Yara||Yul||9th voted out|
6th jury member[a]
|8||"This is Where the Battle Begins"||April 1, 2020||None||Tyson[d]||Denise||Wendell||10th voted out|
7th jury member
|9||"War is Not Pretty"||April 8, 2020||None||Ben,
|Kim||Adam||11th voted out|
8th jury member
|10||"The Full Circle"||April 15, 2020||None||None[f]||Tony||Tyson||12th voted out|
9th jury member
|11||"This is Extortion"||April 22, 2020||None||Unaired[g]||Tony||Sophie||13th voted out|
10th jury member
|12||"Friendly Fire"||April 29, 2020||None||None||Denise||Kim||14th voted out|
11th jury member
|13||"The Penultimate Step of the War"||May 6, 2020||None||None||Nick||Jeremy||15th voted out|
12th jury member
|None||None||Michele||Nick||16th voted out|
13th jury member
|14||"It All Boils Down to This"||May 13, 2020||Adam, Amber,
|Natalie[d]||Michele[i]||Denise||17th voted out|
14th jury member
|None||Tony||Ben||18th voted out|
15th jury member
16th jury member
|Original air date||US viewers|
|583||1||"Greatest of the Greats"||1.3/7||February 12, 2020||6.68|
Twenty returning winners arrived in Fiji to play an All-Winners season of Survivor. The two tribes of 10 (Dakal in red and Sele in blue) were informed that the grand prize this season would be $2 Million, and that the Edge of Extinction was in play. Lastly, Jeff introduced the Fire Tokens to the cast, where at their camps the tribes found out they could use their fire tokens to buy advantages and luxury items whenever they were at challenges.
After Sele's loss at the immunity challenge, Rob and Parvati realized they would be an unexpected duo. The new school players scrambled to put out a name, with Adam and Denise's early "looking for water" separation putting a target on their backs. When Ben approached Rob for strategy talk, he spilled that Danni had been suggesting Rob as one of the options. Rob confronted Danni and, impressed with her honesty, formed an old school alliance with her, Ethan, and Parvati. When Adam found out that Denise and himself were targets, he tried to shift the target onto players with previous relationships like Natalie and Jeremy, the two having previously played together in San Juan del Sur. While the tribe scrambled before Tribal Council, Rob and Parvati were dumbfounded that they were not the targets.
At Tribal Council, Denise and Adam pushed for prior relationships to be targeted over second-time players. Eventually, a majority of the old school alliance decided to send Natalie to the Edge to split up her and Jeremy. As Natalie left Tribal Council, she chose to bequeath her fire token to Jeremy. The next day, Sele claimed victory at the immunity challenge, which also gave Denise her first-ever win at tribal immunity. Meanwhile, during Natalie's first day on the Edge, she received an advantage and luxury item menu and was informed of finding ways to earn new fire tokens. Following a clue left by the Edge Sail, she discovered a hidden immunity idol that works for the next three Tribal Councils, which she could sell to anyone on the losing tribe.
The first two days were relaxing for Dakal, with Sandra and Tony patching things up from Game Changers, and Yul and Sophie gathering other first-time returners Wendell and Nick into a group. After the immunity challenge loss on Day 3, Yul and Sophie started recruiting the former Game Changers trio (Sandra, Sarah, and Tony) to target Amber, Kim, and Tyson. Sandra discovered an offer for an idol had appeared in her belongings for a fire token, which she accepted, correctly guessing that Natalie had made the offer from the Edge. Prior to the season, Tyson, Rob, Jeremy, and Kim had played in a televised Poker tournament with Tyson casually suggesting an alliance if the four of them were to play Survivor again. Kim and Amber felt the early pace of the game was overwhelming, with Kim shocked to find herself being actively left out of strategic talk by the majority of Dakal. At Tribal Council, all three tried to convince the tribe that there was no Poker Alliance in the game, with Amber and Kim trying to convince others to take out Nick for being the most recent winner. It was to no avail, with the disconnected players and the Game Changers sending Amber to the Edge fearing her natural alliance with her husband Rob at Sele. Before arriving at the Edge, Amber chose to bequeath her fire token to Rob.
|584||2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||1.4/7||February 19, 2020||7.16|
Early on Day 4, Rob from Sele discovered he had received a fire token, voicing his concerns to Parvati that it might mean either Amber or Sandra had been sent to the Edge. Later in the day, Ben worked on his social game by showing Denise how to look for an idol, which she eventually found. However, the idol was split into two halves. She had to give one half to tribemate before sundown. After choosing Adam to discuss tactics with, he convinced her not to share the idol with her suggestion, Parvati, but with Adam instead.
At Dakal, Kim still felt she was on the bottom of the tribe and went on an idol hunt of her own. She found the Dakal split idol and revealed it to Sophie as an attempt to gain trust with a person in the majority. Despite a rocky first season playing together in Cagayan, Sarah and Tony sought to use their six-year friendship to solidify a true trustworthy "Cops-R-Us" alliance.
On the Edge of Extinction, a new advantage clue had Amber and Natalie searching high and low throughout the island. After giving up for the day, Natalie discovered a "safety without power" advantage hidden inside the water well. The advantage allowed a player to leave Tribal Council and return to camp before the votes are cast to protect his or herself. Natalie chose to sell it to Jeremy for a fire token. He accepted the deal, guessing that it came from Natalie and realizing that the Sele tribe wasn't fully aware of the potential of the fire tokens.
After seeing that his wife had been voted out, Rob fumbled in the puzzle portion of the challenge, leading to Sele's blowout loss. Since old school players were at a numerical disadvantage, Parvati and Rob wanted to target new school players, primarily Jeremy or Ben as outsiders. Danni felt vulnerable as her alliances and Parvati were leaving her out of conversations. Danni revealed to Ben, in front of Ethan, that there was an old school alliance in her attempts to plead her case. Ben suggested Danni as the best to vote out due to her scrambling, while Danni started to pitch a Parvati vote to Rob. Jeremy and Michele tried to recruit Adam to join in the plan.
At Tribal Council, the Sele tribe spoke about the rapid pace of the game and that the old school players were struggling to keep up. Parvati spoke about an old school and new school divide, and Ben revealed Danni's slip-up earlier in the day as an example of Sele's paranoia. The resulting paranoia amongst Sele led Rob to ask the entire tribe to dump their bags and expose if they had an idol. Denise and Adam kept their idol halves hidden from the view of their tribemates while the rest of Sele revealed the contents of their bags. After a flurry of whispering among players, the entire tribe voted out Danni for her scrambling. Before arriving at the Edge, Danni bequeathed her fire token to Denise.
|585||3||"Out for Blood"||1.4/7||February 26, 2020||7.14|
After eliminating Danni, Adam sought to unite the new school players against Rob, Parvati, and Ethan, who he felt were running the tribe. Denise felt secure about her position in the tribe thanks to an extra fire token from Danni and her full idol (Adam had returned his half to her). At Dakal, the tribe continued to flourish thanks to Sandra netting a shark. Despite this, Tyson worked to gather numbers against Sandra in an attempt to get back on the plus side of the numbers. Yul had mixed feelings and ultimately told Sandra about Tyson’s plot. The three players on the Edge had a chance for a fire token; Natalie deciphered the clue and found a paper stating there was a "vote steal advantage" hidden in an opposing tribe member’s torch; she anonymously offered the advantage to Sarah on Dakal. After accepting the offer, Sarah had Tony camouflage her and she was able to retrieve the "vote steal" from Sele’s torches.
Dakal edged out Sele for the victory. At camp, Adam, despite being in the majority with the new schoolers, attempted to get Denise, Ethan, and then Rob on board with voting out Parvati, to Rob's confusion and frustration. Jeremy was also wary of Adam and wanted to vote him out, but Michele had misgivings -- she insisted that despite Adam's duplicity they should preserve the new schoolers' numbers, suggesting an alternative strategy of weakening Rob and Parvati by blindsiding their close ally Ethan. At Tribal Council, the old schoolers voted against Adam, but Michele’s plan came to fruition and Ethan was sent to the Edge of Extinction. Ethan chose to bequeath his fire token to Parvati.
|586||4||"I Like Revenge"||1.4/7||March 4, 2020||7.08|
Adam was stunned by Ethan's blindside and found himself as the outsider of Sele. Rob and Parvati feared the worst now that it was just them against the new schoolers. While Adam tried to regain his tribe's trust by doing more chores around camp, Rob convinced Jeremy and Michele that Adam was still playing both sides. On Dakal, morale was high thanks to the tribe's winning streak, but Tyson suspected that Yul had been leading an alliance of one-time winners against the people with connections. Tyson tried to warn Sandra and Tony to no avail as Sandra was still angry that Tyson threw her name around days ago. However, Sarah felt that keeping Tyson around was a good move for her since she had bonded with him. On the Edge, the four inhabitants were given a task to carry twenty logs, one at a time, from the top of the mountain back down to camp before sundown. They all struggled mightily, with Ethan almost fainting and requiring medical intervention near the end point, but all four completed the task and earned a fire token each.
Dakal built up a substantial lead on the puzzle as Sele repeatedly struggled to get any of the keys. Adam managed to pull through and get all three himself. Afterwards on the puzzle, Rob and Michele breezed past Nick and Sarah, who had to undo initial piece placement, and won Sele their second challenge. Back at Dakal, Tyson targeted Nick for struggling on the puzzle as it was the same one he succeeded on back in David vs. Goliath. The rest of the tribe considered voting out Tyson. However, Tony wanted to assemble a group of big threats including Sarah, Kim, and Sandra to keep Tyson as shields for themselves. Although Sarah and Kim were on board, Sandra had doubts as she felt Tyson was too dangerous. At Tribal Council, Tyson voted for Nick, who voted for Kim on the chance Tyson had an idol. The rest of the tribe voted to send Tyson to the Edge. As Tyson left, he bequeathed his fire token to Nick.
|587||5||"The Buddy System on Steroids"||1.4/6||March 11, 2020||6.91|
Yul confided in Sarah and Wendell regarding his friend and former castmate Jonathan Penner’s wife’s ALS diagnosis. Upon arriving at their marooning site, the castaways were redistributed into three tribes of 5: Dakal consisted of Denise, Jeremy, Kim, Sandra, and Tony; Sele consisted of Michele, Nick, Parvati, Wendell, and Yul; Yara consisted of Adam, Ben, Rob, Sarah, and Sophie.
On Dakal, Denise and Jeremy bonded with Kim, hoping to bring her into an alliance against Sandra and Tony. On Sele, Michele and Wendell, who previously dated, awkwardly reunited; she and Parvati agreed to target Wendell if it benefited their game. On Yara, Adam, Ben, and Rob shakily attempted to stick together to keep a majority against Sarah and Sophie. The tribe’s search for an idol at the new camp resulted in Sophie finding it; she had to give half to a tribemate before sundown, and she chose Sarah.
Sele and Dakal came from behind to respectively place first and second, as Yara blew their large lead during the puzzle. Adam convinced Ben and Rob to target Sarah instead of Sophie, but Rob aimed to keep the entire tribe together at camp to avoid the potential for scrambling (a tactic that he had used to great personal effect in Redemption Island), much to the annoyance of several of his tribemates. Sarah gave Sophie her half of the idol back and debated playing her vote steal. At Tribal Council, neither Sarah nor Sophie played their advantages, but they weren’t needed as Adam and Ben joined them in blindsiding Rob, who bequeathed his two fire tokens to Parvati before heading to the Edge.
|588||6||"Quick on the Draw"||1.6/7||March 18, 2020||7.83|
The Yara tribe celebrated a Rob-free morning after Tribal Council, with Ben improving his social game by bonding with Sarah and Sophie. Adam, however, felt that his position has weakened despite the necessary move to eliminate Rob. On the Edge, the castaways were given a clue to another advantage, which Tyson figured was hidden in the rocky tidal area near camp. Retrieving an idol nullifier, he sold it to Parvati on Sele for a fire token. He used the token to acquire a jar of peanut butter for himself.
With Yara winning immunity, Sele and Dakal were left to scramble for Tribal Council after seeing that Rob had been sent to the Edge. Wendell and Michele's history saw the two struggle to make a plan when Michele told Wendell that she was considering voting for him so Parvati would bequeath her fire tokens to her. Wendell tried to sell his vote to Parvati for her fire tokens, but she chose to use that information to recruit Nick into making a big move. The vote sale was brought up in Tribal Council when Parvati tried to highlight Wendell's potential to betray Nick and Yul, but the men stuck together to send Parvati to the edge, voiding her idol nullifier. On her way out of Tribal Council, Parvati chose to bequeath her tokens to Michele.
Meanwhile on Dakal, Tony was left spooked by Rob's elimination, retreating to a new Spy Shack by Dakal's water well. Denise tried to solidify a bond with Kim and Sandra about protecting the women, knowing that she was the likely target if the tribe stuck to original tribal lines. Once out of hiding, Tony rallied Jeremy, Sandra, and Kim together to protect big threats. Sandra was skeptical about the idea knowing that she had connections on the other tribes, and decided to sell her idol to Denise for two fire tokens if she'd vote out either Tony or Jeremy. The two successfully negotiated a deal where Denise paid one fire token to Sandra before tribal with the idol, and would pay the second token after tribal. At Tribal Council, Jeremy tried to explain that it would be pointless to stick to original tribal lines, but remained nervous with Denise about the original Dakal trio's intentions. When Jeff asked the tribe if anyone wanted to play an idol, Denise stepped up and played Sandra's idol on herself. After returning to her seat, she surprised Dakal with her original idol and used it to protect Jeremy. When the votes were read, the entire Dakal tribe (plus Jeremy) had voted for Denise, with her sole vote sending a stunned Sandra to the Edge. Leaving Tribal Council, Sandra bequeathed her new fire token to Yul.
|589||7||"We're in the Majors"||1.7/8||March 25, 2020||8.18|
Sandra immediately decided to raise the sail on the Edge, believing she would have no chance of winning a challenge to get back in the game. The others on the Edge received a clue for four fire tokens hidden on top of the mountain; Tyson found one, but Rob found the other three. At Sele, Yul began to grow wary of Wendell's loyalty after the latter's open negotiation at their Tribal Council for fire tokens. Michele gave Wendell a fire token to extend trust to him, although she regretted it after he talked down to her. At Dakal, Kim considered siding with Jeremy and Denise against Tony if it would further her game. At Yara, Adam was convinced that Sarah or Ben had an idol; his paranoia turned his tribemates, specifically Sarah, against him.
Yara maneuvered through the course more slowly than Dakal and Sele (making them less susceptible to spilling water), which proved to be effective as they finished first. Dakal earned second place over Sele by a narrow margin. Nick was frustrated with Wendell's trash-talking at the challenge, which he thought may have cost them the victory. Yul's plot to coax Wendell into giving Michele a fire token made Nick concerned about Yul's strategic prowess and ability to plan ahead, making him and Michele swing votes on whether to vote out Wendell or Yul. At Tribal Council, they chose to send Yul to the Edge; when tasked with bequeathing his fire tokens, he chose to split the two between Sarah and Sophie, giving them one each.
|590||8||"This is Where the Battle Begins"||1.6/7||April 1, 2020||8.23|
All except Amber (who had given her token to Rob), Parvati, and Yul purchased an advantage to have their bags already dug up, with Natalie and Rob using the rest of their tokens for an idol if they won their way back into the game. Tyson beat Rob by inches and joined the newly merged Koru tribe. While setting up camp, Wendell and Jeremy befriended each other, but Jeremy joined with Ben, Tony, and Tyson against the less flashy players like Wendell and Nick. Meanwhile, Denise's huge move of single-handedly voting out Sandra raised concern among her tribemates.
Denise and Jeremy emerged victorious. Most of the remaining men targeted Nick over Wendell upon Jeremy's insistence that Wendell would work with them. Sophie was concerned at Jeremy's power, and shifted the majority’s target onto his closest ally Wendell. Jeremy came to realize Wendell was being targeted over Nick and attempted to shift the vote to Adam instead, seeing Adam as an easy vote that the whole tribe could agree on. Adam grew paranoid over his spot in the game, but at Tribal Council, a reluctant Jeremy, along with the rest of the group except the post-swap Sele members, blindsided Wendell. Before arriving at the Edge, Wendell split his two fire tokens between Michele and Nick.
|591||9||"War is Not Pretty"||1.5/6||April 8, 2020||7.85|
Nick and Michele were livid about Wendell’s elimination; while Nick, tired of being seen as the easy vote, vowed revenge, Michele tried to talk him out of doing something rash. Adam reflected on the similarity of a fleur-de-lis he noticed on the Tribal Council voting podium and Denise's split immunity idol from Day 4. Seeing an opportunity to gain trust with Michele, Adam told her he believed that there was an idol on Jeff’s podium at Tribal Council.
Kim, Ben, Michele, Sarah, and Sophie won reward, but Sarah decided to give her spot to Nick, as it was his birthday the day before and he had gotten blindsided by the last vote. Despite her claim that it wasn’t to further her game, Denise and Jeremy felt it was a strategic move, and Adam expressed concern about Sarah’s reputation for blindsiding friends. On the Edge, Parvati and Danni located an advantage that would give a player the chance to flip a coin for immediate immunity at any Tribal Council up until the final seven, shared the knowledge with others and chose to sell it to Michele for her four fire tokens.
Kim won the challenge. The alliance of “big threats” agreed on splitting the vote between Nick and Adam, but Ben convinced them to split between Nick and Michele instead. Meanwhile, Nick convinced Tyson that Sophie was coming against him, but Adam rallied numbers against Sarah, Sophie’s closest ally, instead. When Kim found out people were targeting Sarah, she worked with Tyson to flip the vote on Adam for having the ability to sway decisions. Adam’s claim that Ben and Sarah were too close led to an argument with Ben, and several castaways scrambled to figure out a plan, with Tyson’s name thrown around in the crossfire. This continued into Tribal Council; while the others whispered freely, Adam and Ben’s conflict boiled over, with Ben getting mad at Adam for suspecting Sarah had an idol from when they were on Yara. Before the votes were read, Adam attempted to play the voting podium symbol believing it to be an idol, but was wrong and subsequently voted out. Adam bequeathed his fire token to Denise before going to the Edge.
|592||10||"The Full Circle"||1.6/7||April 15, 2020||8.14|
On day 24, the castaways were greeted by their loved ones; unlike previous seasons where one person would meet them for a reward challenge, entire families made the trip. Jeff also gave all the castaways time with their loved ones at camp. Meanwhile on the Edge, those castaways were met by one or several loved ones each as well.
Tony won the challenge. At camp, Jeremy sought to break up a strong duo in Sarah and Sophie. Sarah wanted to get Kim out thinking she would win the game in the end, but Tony felt Tyson was the more pressing threat. Tony then got an idea to blindside Jeremy for his strong strategic game and coming after Sarah. Jeremy sensed something was up and considered using his "safety without power" advantage. Meanwhile, Sophie tried to talk Sarah into using her steal-a-vote. Two five-person alliances emerged among the scrambling: Denise, Jeremy, Kim, Michele, and Tyson targeted Sophie; Ben, Nick, Sarah, Sophie, and Tony targeted Jeremy. At Tribal Council, more whispering commenced. When Jeff said it was time to vote, Jeremy and Sarah both played their advantages. With Jeremy gone, the other alliance discussed who they were going to switch their vote to. Sarah took Denise's vote, and Kim played her idol from Dakal on Denise to negate two votes. While Sophie received two votes herself, Tyson was sent back to the Edge with five votes after Michele flipped; he had no fire tokens to bequeath.
|593||11||"This is Extortion"||1.5/6||April 22, 2020||8.16|
Jeremy was upset about Tyson's elimination, as he was relying on him as a shield. Jeremy and Ben got into an argument, with each telling the other that they were the next biggest threats left. Early the next morning, Tony snuck out of camp and found an idol. Wanting to go back to the chaotic gameplay he used back in Cagayan, Tony pledged loyalty to the minority alliance, but Denise and Kim grew skeptical. On the Edge, Natalie and Parvati found a bottle containing a clue to the whereabouts of another advantage. They realized it was hidden underneath the shelter, and Parvati distracted the others while Natalie found an "Extortion" advantage; this allowed her to force somebody to pay a number of fire tokens or else they would be forced to sit out of the immunity challenge and would lose their next vote. She played it against Tony, who had three, but was able to obtain one each from Jeremy, Nick, and Ben to match the six-token fee. To cover up the fact that she had the 50-50 safety coin, Michele told Tony she had spent her fire tokens on an advantage for if she was sent to the Edge.
Tony won his second immunity challenge in a row. Back at camp, Sarah approached the majority alliance with a plan to split the votes between Jeremy and Michele on the chance the former played an idol. Jeremy told the minority alliance that he wanted to vote Ben off, but Denise and Kim secretly decided to flip over to the majority and vote against Jeremy. However, Tony decided to take the opportunity to blindside somebody and approached Nick, Jeremy, and Michele about blindsiding Sophie who he felt was too tight with his closest ally Sarah. While Nick was up for it, Jeremy showed reluctance, because he wasn’t sure if he trusted Tony when he told him that Denise and Kim were about to betray him. At Tribal Council, the majority alliance (including Denise and Kim) stuck to the plan and split the votes between Jeremy and Michele. However, Jeremy and Michele joined Tony and Nick, blindsiding Sophie and sending her to the Edge with an unused idol in her pocket. Sophie split her two fire tokens between Sarah and Kim.
|594||12||"Friendly Fire"||1.5/6||April 29, 2020||8.08|
An irate Sarah scolded Tony for leaving her in the dark at the last vote; to regain her trust, Tony told Sarah of his idol. He also told Ben, and evolved his "spy shack" strategy by making a "spy nest" in the trees, which only Sarah was aware of. Ben and Jeremy's conflict continued, while Kim rallied tribemates into voting Tony out next. Ben found an idol while searching with Tony, although Tony caught Ben trying to hide it from him. At the Edge, the 11 castaways were tasked with carrying 20 coconuts (one at a time) from one side of the island to the other. The first six to complete this task would earn two fire tokens each. The placements were Natalie, Sophie, Yul, Parvati, Tyson, and Wendell, with the other five (Danni, Amber, Rob, Adam, and Ethan) not earning any fire tokens.
Jeremy, Ben, and Sarah fell out early. During the challenge, Jeff offered peanut butter and cookies to anyone who would drop out. Kim and Michele accepted the offer, giving Denise immunity, while Tony accepted Nick's request for a fire token if Nick would drop out. This gave Tony his third consecutive immunity win. Back at camp, everyone initially agreed to vote Jeremy out. However, when Ben told Tony that Kim had been trying to make a move against him, Tony switched the plan, working to convince Ben, Sarah, and Jeremy to blindside Kim. Michele sensed Jeremy was still in danger and loaned him her 50/50 coin flip. At Tribal Council, Tony and Jeremy whispered to each other, leading to another live tribal. Amongst the whispers, Kim expressed concern that Tony, Sarah, and Ben were running the game, Sarah got a sense she was in trouble, and Denise lashed out when Jeremy tried to start a conversation with her, saying she wanted to get the vote over with. After the votes were cast, Tony openly offered to play his idol for Sarah while Jeremy mulled playing the coin flip. No advantages were played, and Sarah joined the men in sending Kim to the Edge. Kim split her three tokens between Sarah, Michele, and Denise.
|595||13||"The Penultimate Step of the War"||1.4/5||May 6, 2020||7.57|
Jeremy gave Michele’s 50/50 coin back to her. The next morning, Sarah and Tony convinced Ben to target Nick rather than Jeremy, who they wanted to keep as a shield.
Nick won the challenge, foiling Tony's plan. Back at camp, Tony and Sarah were reluctant to vote out Jeremy, since that would expose them as the two largest threats left. As Michele’s advantage was common knowledge among the tribe at this point, the majority agreed to split the votes between her and Jeremy, while Jeremy tried to rally tribemates against Ben. Nick emerged as a swing vote; at Tribal Council, Michele played the advantage and successfully negated two votes, while Jeremy was sent to the Edge. He bequeathed his two tokens to Michele.
Michele, left out of another vote, confronted Nick about where his loyalties were. The next morning, she attempted to get the alliance of Ben, Sarah, and Tony to turn against each other by telling Sarah that Tony would be unbeatable at the end. At the Edge, Natalie continued her dominance at finding advantages; this new one would be sold to a castaway in order to give another competitor a disadvantage at the upcoming immunity challenge. She sold this to Nick for 8 tokens, and since he had only 6, he asked Michele to loan him the remaining two.
Nick anonymously willed the disadvantage to Ben, meaning he would have to set up a 30% longer line of blocks. Michele won the challenge, thwarting the majority’s plan to oust her. As it was the last day to use fire tokens, Denise proposed everyone eat the rest of the rice so she could buy more and be more prepared for the second re-entry challenge if she were to get voted out. Ben and Denise had targeted Nick, while Michele and Nick targeted Denise. Tony’s spy nest allowed him to listen in on Denise forming a final three with Sarah and Ben, which made him talk to Sarah about possibly voting out Denise instead. However, at Tribal Council, he and Sarah joined Denise and Ben in sending Nick to the Edge.
On Day 35, both groups were informed that the second and final re-entry challenge would take place today, and the group from the Edge prepared accordingly. Yul, Parvati, Wendell, Tyson, and Sophie each bought one advantage, and Natalie, having amassed sixteen tokens, bought three advantages, a jar of peanut butter, and a hidden immunity idol that she gave to Tyson, with whom she shared her peanut butter.
|596||14||"It All Boils Down to This"||1.6/7||May 13, 2020||7.94|
The remaining competitors on the Edge of Extinction competed in the second and final re-entry challenge.
Natalie won the challenge, and the other Edge competitors became official members of the jury. Natalie reconnected with Michele, who was on the outside of the foursome containing Tony, Sarah, Ben, and Denise. Natalie informed Michele that she had an idol and vowed to use it to further both of their interests. She also told the remaining castaways that the jury was convinced Tony would win if he made it to the end in an attempt to shake up their alliance. This frustrated Sarah, who felt she wasn’t receiving credit for making the same moves as Tony because she was a woman.
Despite falling behind early, Michele won the immunity challenge. Worried about a potential idol, Tony tried to convince his allies to split the votes between Natalie and Denise, but they dismissed his concerns and planned to pile all their votes on Natalie. After Natalie played her idol at tribal council, Tony and Ben were forced to play theirs, and all four votes for Natalie plus two for Ben were negated. With Denise and Sarah the only two eligible to receive votes, Denise was sent home in a unanimous revote.
Tony spent the following night searching the island for idols, but failed to locate one. Natalie began her own search at dawn and successfully found an idol.
Tony won his fourth immunity challenge. He then convinced Sarah to engage Natalie in strategy talk at the water well while he spied on the conversation from his spy nest. Sarah convinced Natalie to reveal her idol and shared the news with Tony and Ben. The threesome initially planned to vote for Michele, but Ben gave Sarah permission to vote him out to help her game, feeling that his Survivor journey was complete. Sarah switched her vote to Ben at tribal council, and he was sent home 3-2 over Michele after Natalie’s irrelevant idol play on herself.
Natalie won the final immunity challenge. Tony, Michele and Sarah all practiced fire that afternoon as Natalie contemplated her decision. At tribal council, Natalie elected to take Michele with her to the Final 3 and force Tony and Sarah to make fire. Despite an early lead by Sarah, Tony came back and won the challenge, sending Sarah to the jury.
At the Final Tribal Council, all three finalists highlighted their unique journeys to the end: Tony’s dominant strategic play, Michele’s underdog story playing from the bottom, and Natalie’s resilience on the Edge and hard work earning advantages. The jurors agreed that Natalie dominated the Edge of Extinction portion of the game, but felt Tony had a much stronger social and strategic game. They awarded Tony the title of Sole Survivor and the $2 million prize in a 12-4-0 vote over Natalie and Michele, respectively.
|Original tribes||Swapped tribes||Merged tribe|
Winners at War received positive reviews from critics. The cast, level of strategic game, memorable plays, and Tony Vlachos' humorous moments received praise, and the performances of Vlachos and Sarah Lacina, both individually and as the “Cops R’ Us” duo, were singled out as highly impressive; Vlachos was unanimously recognized as the deserving winner of the season, with several reviewers noting that he, unlike Lacina, had correctly assessed the late-game threat of Natalie Anderson, and had managed to never receive a single vote against him despite being largely seen as a threat by other players. The "nail-biting" fire-making challenge between the two in the final episode also received large praise. Conversely, the season's editing and the return of the Edge of Extinction (which had received negative returns upon its premiere in the eponymous season) received criticism, although Anderson's game both during and after her time on the Edge of Extinction received high praise.
Martin Holmes of Vulture gave a very positive review of Winners at War. While he stated that it "hasn't been a perfect season" due to the Edge of Extinction remaining "a flawed twist", all old-school players being voted out early, and the editing, he highly praised the season's humor, emotional moments, as well as Vlachos' game and victory, stating "All-star seasons tend to favor the quieter, under-the-radar players, and Tony’s previous games were anything but under-the-radar. He was bold, brash, and in-your-face, an agent of chaos who flipped on allies with such frequency you’d think he was aiming for a world record. It was a style of gameplay that never should have won the first time, let alone a second, especially against a cast of all winners. And to do it with zero votes against him the entire game? Wowee! What’s most impressive about Tony’s victory is that he didn’t have to compromise his gameplay or his personality. He didn’t sneak into the final three by laying low, nor did he rely on a bevy of twists and advantages. Tony’s game was complex, multi-layered, and overall, dominant. He displayed unexpected patience early on, hoping to avoid the mistakes of his Game Changers outing. Resisting the urge to look for idols, he instead channeled his frantic energy into camp life activities, such as constructing a rickety-ass bamboo ladder to go fruit picking. And it worked — both the strategy and the ladder. People lowered their guards, allowing him to make the merge — that’s when the old Tony emerged. Empowered by his Immunity Challenge wins, Tony took control, maneuvering the pieces to his advantage, his last-minute 4-3-2 blindside of Sophie being his magnum opus. The more power he gained, the more the mad genius came out — the jungle runs, the spy nests, the flip-flopping. Even when he wasn’t immune, he’d put himself into a position where nobody dared take a shot. It was a game worthy of the ultimate Survivor crown." Holmes also pointed out that Tony alone recognized the late-game threat of Natalie Anderson. He called Cops ‘R’ Us' joint game "one of the most remarkable performances by a Survivor duo ever", and that "Both deserve credit, and both would have been deserving champions", calling their fire-making challenge "the perfect ending to the Cops ‘R’ Us arc. [...] For two people that couldn't stand the sight of each other at the Cagayan reunion, to Tony not being able to look at Sarah out of guilt, it’s quite the journey. This is also very likely the moment that secures Tony the win." He called Natalie Anderson "fantastic" and gave high praise for her late game, but points out that "it doesn't compare to Tony's 39-day display of high-wire trickery, master manipulation, and control of the votes."
Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly gave a very positive review, calling Vlachos "the most entertaining player in the history of the show because no one else mixes game sense and nonsense more than him", and stating: "He managed to direct almost every single vote he was a part of, somehow without angering the folks he blindsided. And he never had his name written down once. Dominant. And probably the most dominant Survivor performance ever, especially considering the level of competition. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to have a great winner on such an important season." He highly praised the performances of Vlachos and Lacina both as a duo and individually, although he noted that Lacina had failed to correctly assess the threat of Anderson, whom he also praised. However, he criticized the editing and return of the Edge of Extinction, stating "This isn’t even about fairness or anything like that — although Nick lasting all the way to day 34 and having zero opportunities to earn a single token before the competition certainly is anything but fair — but more about what makes for a more dramatic and intriguing contest."
Gold Derby conducted a poll taking the opinions of fans regarding the season. The largest group of voters felt Winners at War lived up to being the best season of Survivor yet. However, the second largest contingency felt the season was only okay due to the early elimination of old-school favorites.
Jeff Probst himself gave high praise for Vlachos, stating that "on top of everything else, he was so entertaining week after week with his giant ladders, sharks and spy nests. I agree with what he said at final, that he didn’t really make many mistakes. I won’t get into the GOAT (greatest of all time) debate, but I will say we could not be happier with Tony as the winner of our biggest season of all time."
As a result of his win, Vlachos was added to The Ringer's Mount Rushmore of Survivor players, which already consisted of fellow Winners at War contestants Rob Mariano, Sandra Diaz-Twine, and Parvati Shallow. In part due to her gameplay in Winners at War, Lacina was also added to The Ringer’s hall of fame list, as were Anderson, Jeremy Collins, Michele Fitzgerald, Tyson Apostol, Ethan Zohn, Yul Kwon, and Kim Spradlin-Wolfe.
|1||"Greatest of the Greats"||February 12, 2020||1.3/7||6.68||0.6||2.70||2.0||9.40|||
|2||"It's Like a Survivor Economy"||February 19, 2020||1.4/7||7.16||0.6||2.36||2.0||9.54|||
|3||"Out for Blood"||February 26, 2020||1.4/7||7.14||0.5||2.29||1.9||9.45|||
|4||"I Like Revenge"||March 4, 2020||1.4/7||7.08||0.6||2.30||2.0||9.40|||
|5||"The Buddy System on Steroids"||March 11, 2020||1.4/6||6.91||0.6||2.21||2.0||9.12|||
|6||"Quick on the Draw"||March 18, 2020||1.6/7||7.83||0.6||2.13||2.1||9.98|||
|7||"We're in the Majors"||March 25, 2020||1.7/8||8.18||0.5||1.90||2.2||10.10|||
|8||"This Is Where The Battle Begins"||April 1, 2020||1.6/7||8.23||0.5||2.00||2.1||10.23|||
|9||"War is Not Pretty"||April 8, 2020||1.5/6||7.85||0.5||1.89||2.0||9.75|||
|10||"The Full Circle"||April 15, 2020||1.6/7||8.14||0.5||1.99||2.1||10.13|||
|11||"This is Extortion"||April 22, 2020||1.5/6||8.16||0.5||1.88||2.0||10.05|||
|12||"Friendly Fire"||April 29, 2020||1.5/6||8.08||0.5||1.80||2.0||9.89|||
|13||"The Penultimate Step of the War"||May 6, 2020||1.4/5||7.57||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|||
|14||"It All Boils Down to This"||May 13, 2020||1.6/7||7.94||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD|||
|No.||Air date||Total viewers
|1||February 12, 2020||2.128||2|||
|2||February 19, 2020||2.046||3|||
|3||February 26, 2020||2.026||5|||
|4||March 4, 2020||2.193||2|||
|5||March 11, 2020||2.016||3|||
|6||March 18, 2020||2.206||1|||
|7||March 25, 2020||2.139||3|||
|8||April 1, 2020||2.086||6|||
|9||April 8, 2020||2.148||3|||
|10||April 15, 2020||TBD||TBD|
|11||April 22, 2020||TBD||TBD|
|12||April 29, 2020||TBD||TBD|
|13||May 6, 2020||TBD||TBD|
Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2020-05-19 based on https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=62617812