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The Amazon’s Runner-Up: An Interview with Matthew Von Ertfeldaby David Bloomberg -- 06/04/2003
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Matthew Von Ertfelda was a good provider, worked hard, did well at challenges, and was on the outside of the core alliance almost the entire game. Yet he made it to the final two. RealityNewsOnline was able to talk to him a bit about his strategy and play at several key points.
RealityNewsOnline: Hello, Matt, and thanks for taking the time to answer these questions from RealityNewsOnline!
Matthew: No problem! Glad to help out.
RNO: Since you have said you were fairly naïve about the strategic game, what was your original plan at the beginning of Survivor and how was that changed when you found out that the tribes were split by gender?
Matthew: Originally I planned to have an organic strategy that evolved based on the changing dynamics of the game. As stated in my pre-show strategy spiel, I planned on acting / changing colors like a chameleon, alternating between follower and leader, weak and strong, naïve and clever, as dictated by the makeup of the tribe at the time. I planned to build relationships, specifically with women, and craft alliances based on my charm (yes, believe it or not!), honesty, my ability to survive in the jungle, perform well in challenges, etc. This was how I was going to carve a niche for myself within the tribe. When I learned our tribe would be all men, I realized the very skills I thought would be assets in a mixed tribe could be perceived as very threatening in an all male tribe. The general perception that I was physically strong [and] jungle savvy, [which] combined with my failed alliance, forced me to scramble and kick my strategy into high gear. Given all the testosterone and egos, I chose to adopt a very passive / non-aggressive / naïve / follower role. I wanted to blend into the surroundings / become invisible / non-threatening and avoid getting caught in the crossfire when other tribe members fought for the leadership role.
RNO: As things went along, why did you continue to believe what Rob was telling you rather than trying to feel things out for yourself?
Matthew: Rob had not voted against me and was still a source of information, even if it was sometimes skewed, as I later learned. I was also isolated by other members of the tribe who formed a tight clique that I could not penetrate. Rob was plugged in and, even though he was not trustworthy and manipulated me at times, we had a relationship which allowed enough information for me to know whose head was on the chopping block and then decide which voting bloc to join and which to avoid. Because I was still on the outside, I opted to work even harder at providing for the tribe and doing well in challenges, a kind of pity ploy to win points with a tribe that didn't really accept me. This helped me build a rapport with Butch and Christy, both very hard workers, and even Rob to a certain degree, but not the others. On several occasions, I tried to craft a friendship with Alex, but there was too much mutual distrust at the time. Rob, however deceitful, was still a conduit. Manipulation or not, we had a relationship which, in the end, served me well and facilitated Alex's pivotal boot, allowing me to claw my way to the Final 2.
RNO: Before Deena was voted out, you seemed to think you were still part of the all-guys alliance ("the chain"). But then almost immediately after, you talked to the camera about how you were on the outs and it was the foursome of Jenna/Heidi/Alex/Rob who were in charge. What caused you to have such a quick realization that those four were aligned and you were not part of it?
Matthew: It was not an epiphany at all; I knew all along that other tribe members did not like me and were gunning for me. It did not take a rocket scientist to know that I was the odd man out. When the opportunity arose to get rid of Deena, I joined the rest of the tribe and helped eliminate a strong player who might have been tough to take out later on. The fact that, when I won immunity, she chose to target Alex, meant that she was not honoring our earlier alliance and that, after his exit, I would almost certainly have been next. Re: Alex, he always had a better relationship with Rob and had spent lots of time building a rapport with Jenna and Heidi, while isolating me. I give him credit as his strategy was pretty effective. When Deena went, I banked on turning Rob to our side. A risky, but successful, strategy at the time.
RNO: After Alex was voted out and the plan was to get rid of Jenna or Heidi, why did you go along with Rob in booting Christy instead of talking to her and getting her solidly on your side?
Matthew: When she refused to commit to our voting block, Christy proved that she was extremely unpredictable and someone who would never honor an alliance or collective strategy. She was also not someone anyone could beat in an Final 2 scenario. This was an opportunity to vote off Christy, strengthen the Butch / MVE (Matt) / Rob alliance and isolate Heidi and Jenna.1 2 Next-->
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