The cast of Survivor: Island of the Idols is an electric, eclectic bunch. They are diverse yet oddly representative of Rhode Island; hardcore fans yet among them are the requisite few recruits; and, most importantly, a group of 20 people with engaging personalities and harrowing, inspiring backstories...though surely there will be several who receive such little screen time that it becomes their legacy. Such is Survivor.
After parsing through Mike Bloom and Josh Wigler's extensive preseason interviews with the cast on location for Parade and The Hollywood Reporter, respectively, as well as Jeff Probst's assessments and the CBS bio, here's an attempt to predict where each contestant will finish:
Aaron is a man of many talents. He's a gym owner, a party boat captain and a father. Oh, and he used to have a kettle corn business. Needless to say, when it comes to Aaron, issa lot! He also loves Survivor and has the body and personality to be successful in the game.
Why Aaron will win
He's going to be able to build relationships with almost anyone out on the beach because of his age and life experience. He applied for the show 13 years ago before he started a family, so this goal is something he's been thinking about for a while.
Why Aaron won't win
Through no fault of his own, Aaron is jacked. (OK, maybe he had something to do with that, but it's hardly a fault.) Even if he tries to play stealthy and under-the-radar, it's going to be hard to overlook that there's a guy with huge biceps walking around. Need someone to target for being a challenge threat? How about Aaron? OK!
Prediction: 10th place - Aaron has a big heart for Survivor, but unfortunately for him, he also has a big body with which to maneuver through the game. He's primed for a post-merge blindside.
Start comparing Elaine to Lauren Rimmer and the like all you want, but more than likely, she won't resemble anyone else in the show's history. She said on Rob Has A Podcast, "I stole a newspaper stand once," and that's maybe the 20th most interesting thing she said during her interview.
Why Elaine will win
Who wouldn't want Elaine around? She just wants to have a beer and talk about life and maybe she won't find all the idols on a season devoted to an island of them but likability factor for this factory worker is going to be through the roof. Also, she has experienced a great deal of family tragedy recently that could help push an indecisive jury over the edge.
Why Elaine won't win
In today's era of Survivor, juries tend to vote for strategy rather than whoever they like the best. In this case, it's hard to see Elaine out-manipulating the other 19 contestants.
Prediction: 9th place - Elaine should make it to the merge, as no one will want to take the Kentucky native out early because they'll want to listen to her stories all day. When it gets down to crunch time, however, Elaine may chug a few too many cold ones at a reward and suddenly find herself on the outside looking in.
Find something wrong with Tommy. It's difficult, right? He's super fit. He teaches fourth grade because he was inspired by his fourth grade teacher. Oh, and he's such a big fan of the game that he frequents the Survivor Reddit boards. Now that's commitment!
Why Tommy will win
He knows he'll have to downplay some of his fandom and athleticism. As he told Wigler, "I don’t want to be labeled amazing." Luckily for not-amazing Tommy, there are plenty of other "meat shields," as they say, to protect him in the post-merge.
Why Tommy won't win
He comes out of the game too hot. He said to Bloom, "I’ve watched this show my entire life," and sometimes contestants have a tough time harnessing their extreme fandom once they hit the beach.
Prediction: 8th place - Tommy has all the tools to slide far into the game, but it's around the final eight that everyone else will start to realize, "We've got to get Tommy out of here before he wins it all."
This nanny made the ultimate sacrifice to come out to Survivor: wine. That's right, Lauren told THR stopped drinking it months before leaving for the beaches of Fiji, one of many pre-meditated moves she made before the game even began.
Why Lauren will win
Lauren will win because she plans to buy a potbelly pig with her winnings. No, in all seriousness, she has a personality that is infectious and has watched the show religiously. She's going to be hard to get rid of, not only because she's going to put up a fight, but because people will want her around.
Why Lauren won't win
If she's not able to contain her zest for Survivor, she could be on Ponderosa quicker than she'd hoped. Lauren said to Bloom, "In the first three days, I have to have an idol," and that makes it seem like she could come storming out of the gate rather than starting slow.
Prediction: 7th place - Lauren's welcoming personality will get her far, and, like Tommy, others will realize that if they bring her to the final three, they might not stand a good shot of winning.
Chelsea knows she can't trust anyone 100 percent out on the island. She couldn't even trust Probst to cast her on a season after she bought him a drink (yes, this happened). After many years of attempting to get on the show - her YouTube audition tape has more than 135,000 views - Walker is more than ready to start playing.
Why Chelsea will win
A trendy winner choice, Chelsea is probably going to take big shots, make unlikely alliances and fight tooth-and-nail to win the immunity challenges. She's studied the game as much as anyone out in Fiji, and she's well-positioned to make a run if she can keep it all together.
Why Chelsea won't win
Chelsea won't win if she lets herself become overwhelmed by the moment. It's something she's been trying to do for a while now, and if she crumbles under the pressure, she's not going to stand a chance of pleading her case for the million.
Prediction: 6th place - Chelsea will mastermind a blindside or two, but her monumental moves will arrive too early. Everyone else will sniff out how strong of a player Chelsea is before she makes it to the end.
Survivor premieres Wednesday at 8 pm on CBS.