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Survivor: The Greatest of All Time – #2 Richard Hatchby Jenn Brasler, William Hammon, & Christian Williams -- 02/15/2012
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Before you begin reading this article, you should make sure you’ve already read Survivor: The Greatest of All Time – An Introduction, which we posted Monday. It explains this multi-part article and provides all the background. Also, check out our coverage of the player ranked #1, Rob Mariano. Once you’ve read these, it’s time to move on to #2:
2. Richard Hatch
(53 / 100 points, One First-Place vote, Eight Top 10 Votes, Average Rank 4.3)
While Richard Hatch may have had his problems understanding the rules of tax law, the Celebrity Apprentice, and how to win friends and influence people, he had no problems figuring out how to play Survivor. The competitor who left an indelible mark on the way the game is played, Richard Hatch finished narrowly ahead of our third-place contestant. In fact, only five points separated Richard from our fifth place competitor, but as we know, a close win is still a win.
William Hammon presents his argument for Richard’s place in the top 10:
It's easy to overrate someone because they were "the original," but in Richard's case, the praise he still gets over a decade later is more than warranted. It's one thing to be the first winner, it's quite another to shape how the entire game would be played from that point on.
Without Richard Hatch, we don't even have the concept of alliances, not just on Survivor, but every major competition reality show out there (Big Brother, Biggest Loser, Amazing Race, etc). Hatch, utilizing his skills in corporate team-building, laid the groundwork for every basic strategy employed by every major reality player since. Even the players (mostly recruits) who don't like the idea of alliances have conceded that they're a necessary evil.
Think about where this show goes if Kelly Wigglesworth wins the first season instead of Richard. Instead of alliances being a requirement of success, they are instead shunned, with any participants targeted as villains. Challenge prowess becomes the paramount concern, since Kelly won the last several immunities to get to the end. (Hatch did get an early immunity, though, proving some challenge ability.) Even the social game goes out the window, because the original Tagi alliance was forged in the spirit of loyalty and mixing personalities that somehow were able to mesh.
In essence, without Richard Hatch, the whole concept of "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" has no meaning. If Kelly were to have won that season instead of Richard, it would just be "Outplay."
Without Richard Hatch, Ozzy beats Yul in Cook Islands, assuming Yul is even allowed to make the end game due to his scheming. Without Richard, Colby Donaldson wins the second season. Without Richard, future strategists like Rob (Mariano or Cesternino), Russell, Brian, and Parvati don't even exist. Without Richard, Cirie Fields and the rest of the Exile Island cast just quits after Terry Dietz wins his fifth immunity.
Hatch's legal problems have put a damper on his legacy to be sure, but we're not discussing legacies or the quality of someone's character. We're discussing the quality of someone's play, and in that regard, Richard is still the original, and still one of the best. His acumen and cutthroat abilities have been outdone by players since his time has passed, but every single player who fancies themselves a strategist uses Hatch's original blueprint as the guide to success.
-- William Hammond
For the dissenting opinion on Richard’s eligibility, we’ll turn to Jen Brasler again, who excluded Richard from her top 10:
The fact that no one had played Survivor before Richard Hatch worked to his advantage. No one knew what to expect coming into the game. I attribute his win more to luck than brains, strength, or strategy.
Hatch’s ego almost got him eliminated just before the finale – he dropped out of the final immunity challenge expecting to be taken to the final two by either Rudy or Kelly. He made numerous mistakes in the game, and was almost voted out the very first week. And remember, Greg based his vote for the winner on who picked a number closer to the one he had in mind. If Richard hadn’t picked the number 7, Kelly could have been the show’s first winner.
In All-Stars, Richard seemed more interested in making a scene than winning the game. If he really did know how to play the first time around, he didn’t show it in All-Stars. And his infamous behavior toward Sue was never going to endear him to his competitors, who already saw him as an easy target since he’d won Survivor before. Hatch’s careless gameplay in All-Stars was not that of a person I consider a good player.
-- Jenn Brasler
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Jenn Brasler, an associate editor of Reality News Online and a writer/book enthusiast/secret spy from Falls Church, Virginia, has e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), Twitter (@jennb47), and a blog about ‘90s YA books and TV shows (‘90s Flashback). Bill Hammon can be reached at email@example.com or you can follow him at twitter.com/WilliamJHammon. You can also subscribe to his podcast on iTunes or at realityrantpodcast.mevio.com. Christian has been reading Reality News Online for a very long time, but joined the writing staff a little over a year ago. A reality television junkie who still wishes Anderson Cooper would come back to host one more season of The Mole, he’s almost always willing to argue about Survivor, Big Brother, The Amazing Race, and about a dozen different Food-Channel shows. He and his writing partner Shane share a twitter account (@howwejudgeit), and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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