04:20 PM EDT 11/24/2015
Originally posted 11/11/2015 11:45AM
A lot of the credit goes to host Jeff Probst and the producers, who throw in a liberal amount of twists and turns so that contestants never truly know what's coming. Over the years, we've seen tribal swaps, fake merges, hidden immunity idols and double eliminations. (We're going to pretend that Redemption Island and the outcast twist never happened.)
But sometimes, the twists are not masterminded by the producers. Contestants have come up with ingenious strategies to change the game.
Probst tells PEOPLE that the game isn't done evolving and that the second half of the season will mark a new era in Survivor history. Given the aggressive gameplay of this season's 20 returning contestants, nothing would surprise us.
Can PEOPLE's own Stephen Fishbach change up the game? In the exclusive preview above, he is plotting with Ciera Eastin to wrestle the game away from the alpha males. With her sneakiness and his strategy, it might just happen.
Below, Probst breaks down the season and tells us which players have impressed him – and which ones haven't learned from their mistakes.
Originally posted 11/04/2015 10:35AM
When the 31-year-old martial arts instructor played in Survivor: Cagayan, he made a colossal mistake in taking eventual winner Tony Vlachos to the finals even though he may have had a better chance against Kass McQuillen, who had rubbed some of the contestants the wrong way.
That choice cost him the game.
During his second chance, Hwang's game never really got off the ground. He went to nearly every tribal council and watched as his allies were voted off.
He was voted off on day 16 – partially because of his perceived closeness to contestant Andrew Savage.
Hwang tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and how he would play the game differently if he had another shot.
Originally posted 10/30/2015 01:00PM
"I always felt like I had what it takes to win the game," he told PEOPLE before competing on Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, "and I've been waiting for ten years to go back."
But his dream came to an abrupt end the night of day 13 when host Jeff Probst came to the camp and told Deitz that his son was ill and that he needed to return home immediately.
It was very serious. Deitz's 17-year-old son, Danny, had an enlarged heart and needed an transplant. After more than two months in the hospital, he received a new heart.
Deitz, 56, tells PEOPLE about the scary experience and how his son is doing today.
Originally posted 10/21/2015 12:25PM
The worst-case scenario for Angkor would be another grueling physical immunity challenge.
Fortunately for Angkor, this week's challenge appears to be something that any tribe could win. In an exclusive preview of Wednesday's episode, contestants must climb onto a platform and use massive slingshots to hit targets on the beach.
Originally posted 10/10/2015 06:35PM
This season of Survivor is different from many others: of the 17 contestants left, almost all of them are legitimate threats to win the game.
Originally posted 10/10/2015 11:35AM
If you need a reminder that Survivor is a social game, look no further than Peih Gee Law.
Originally posted 09/30/2015 12:20PM
"These contestants are getting a second chance to play a game that millions of people want to play," Probst told PEOPLE. "It is not going to be easy for them."
Case in point: the seasons' second immunity challenge. In an exclusive sneak peek at Wednesday night's episode, teams climb over increasingly steep A-frame walls – and it doesn't go smoothly.
Originally posted 09/23/2015 03:40PM
Sometimes the seasons live up to the hype (Survivor: Cagayan comes to mind). Other times, the season never really gets off the ground.
But this season, everything is different. Probst, 53, talked with PEOPLE after returning from filming Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance – and he seemed genuinely energized about the season. "The contestants were honored that people voted for them, so they felt an obligation to play hard," Probst tells PEOPLE. "Many of them swing for the fences from the get-go."
Originally posted 08/25/2015 10:00AM
Well, this should be fun.
CBS has released the first details of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, and the season sure looks like a winner.
In May, America voted for the cast of the long-running franchise's 31st season. They chose 10 men and 10 women who had competed once before but hadn't won the game.
By and large, America got it right, although the omission of Survivor: Africa's Teresa Cooper was a heartbreaker.
Still, multiple sources have told PEOPLE that the season turned out to be one of the franchise's strongest in its 31-season history. Here's what to expect:
Originally posted 05/18/2015 07:50PM
You've got to hand it to the producers of Survivor. They sure know how to keep a franchise going.
Two weeks ago, the long-running show announced a voting process where America would get to choose contestants for next season.
Through Wednesday night's finale, voters can visit Survivor's website to choose the 10 men and 10 women who they want to see compete next season.
Last week, PEOPLE profiled 10 women who are in the running to compete.
Now it's time to hear from the men.
PEOPLE spoke with 9 of the potential male contestants. (Mike Holloway is still an active contestant on the current season. As such, he is under a press embargo and cannot campaign for a slot.)
Here they are, in no particular order:
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