Rob vs. Russell: Which Survivor Vet Will Become King of Redemption Island?
For two of Survivor's most infamous contestants, there's much more at stake this season than hidden immunity idols and the $1 million prize. In addition to allowing players a chance to return to the game after elimination via the new Redemption Island, Survivor: Redemption Island welcomes back two of the show's biggest villains. After first going head-to-head last year on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, "Boston" Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz will duke it out once again, this time surrounded by 16 newbies. So who will come out on top? We compare stats to see what they need to do to outwit, outplay and outlast.
Check out photos of the Survivor: Redemption Island cast
Track Record: On his first season, he was the seventh person voted out on Marquesas. When he returned for All-Stars, Rob made it all the way to the final Tribal Council alongside his closest ally — and future wife — Amber Brkich. He was the eighth person ousted on Heroes vs. Villains, thanks in large part to his growing tension with Russell. With Redemption Island, Rob will be the first person to play the game four times.
Best Moment: He won the last immunity challenge on All-Stars and took Amber to the final Tribal Council.
Worst Moment: Russell blind-sided Rob in his penultimate Heroes vs. Villains Tribal Council when Russell gave his immunity idol to Parvati Shallow.
Physical Game: He has always been able to back up his underhanded social game with a strong, if inconsistent physical performance. Although he helped win multiple reward and immunity challenges for his tribe on Heroes vs. Villains, Rob's collapse in Episode 2 showed his age and he'll have to step it up again to be a true contender.
Social and Strategic Skills: All-Stars was widely referred to as Rob's game because he was able to exploit his charm and leadership to make several important alliances. Just as important, Rob never flinched when it came to taking out the biggest threat, like when he promised to take care of Lex van den Berghe and sent him packing at the very next Tribal Council. On Heroes vs. Villains, Rob was one of the few to take care of camp and feed the group, and quickly became a tribe leader. He should be able to do the same with this new group, but he'll need to keep his ego in check.
Russell Hantz and "Boston" Rob Mariano join Survivor: Redemption Island
Track record: The oil tycoon made it to the final Tribal Council on Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains, but failed to win the game both times, coming in second and third, respectively.
Best Moment: He found three hidden immunity idol during his Heroes vs. Villains season.
Worst Moment: He didn't receive a single vote from the Heroes vs. Villains jury in the final Tribal Council.
Physical Game: Despite his tough demeanor, Russell has always maintained middle-of-the-road status when it comes to challenges — he's rarely at the bottom of the heap, but he's only enjoyed the top a few times.
Social and Strategic Skills: Two small acts — burning Jaison Robinson's socks and emptying the canteens in the first episode — made Russell the Samoa player to watch. He was aggressive in setting up multiple alliances and voting out his enemies. Going into Heroes vs. Villains, Russell enjoyed a huge advantage because none of his competitors had seen him play the game. This time he'll enjoy no such leg-up. If he really wants the title of Sole Survivor, he'll have to be more stealth in his power moves.
Survivor: Redemption Island premieres Wednesday at 8/7c on CBS.