With the season finale of what has arguably been one of the best editions, Heroes vs. Villains, this Sunday night and after 20 seasons of cutthroat strategy and boneheaded mistakes, what better time than now to look back at some of the most influential players the game has ever seen. I based influence not exactly on if a person won or not, but how their gameplay has made an impact on all future editions of Survivor and on the contestants, for better or worse. While I did not rank these and decided to do the list chronologically, I believe in my heart that Richard Hatch is without a doubt the overall most influential player of all-time. If he had not won in that first season, the game of Survivor would have turned out completely different and the use of strategy would not be as evolved as it is right now at this point 20 seasons on.
Richard Hatch (Borneo, All-Stars)
Placed: 1st; 14th
He is the grandfather of Survivor strategy, the man who first coined the term "alliance," which is now as neccessary as fire to survive in this game. By getting the idea of gathering a group of people to all vote the same way, it would ensure that they would have strength in numbers to advance in the game. When I first started watching Survivor, I originally thought that it would be a game of strength and endurance, but Hatch reminded us that along with outplay and outlast, outwit is also apart of the Survivor motto. His voting bloc was so unthinkable at the time that the opposing Pagong tribe members were easily picked off one by one, spreading their votes everywhere instead of focused one member, which is now the usual course. If Richard's strategy did not earn him the million dollars in the end, the game of Survivor would look completely different.