Challenge Double Agents Player Preview: Natalie Anderson
On Survivor Winners at War, they had a twist called Edge of Extinction, where eliminated players would live on a barren island and compete in intense physical challenges and tasks where winning would give the players a better shot at re-entering the game later (which she would). It is here where Natalie, the first voted out player, consistently kicked ass week after week, dominating both men and women physically. Her performances led to her social media getting flooded with tweets every week to go on the Challenge. Now, here we are at the end of 2020, with Ms. Natalie Anderson, the winner of Survivor San Juan Del Sur and runner-up of Winners at War getting ready to compete for a different million-dollar prize.
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Introducing Natalie: While Natalie is known for Survivor, her original reality show is the Amazing Race Season 21. Alongside her twin sister Nadiya, they were a strong duo who finished in fourth place. They were a divisive team, to say the least. Even though they brought entertainment, at times, their Twin behavior came off as a bit extra, and then add in the fact that they always go full throttle all the time, once you sour, it feels exponentialized. Their energy is always at 150%, and sometimes you need to switch it up. They returned for Season 24 (All-Stars) and finished in last place.
The two then played on Survivor San Juan Del Sur (Blood vs. Water 2). Natalie’s sister Nadiya was the first player voted out, which was a bit of a blessing for Natalie. As the game went on, people realized that having your loved one still in the game makes you a target and handcuffs you to someone. Natalie skillfully played the game by aligning with the game’s coupled players and then picking off the stronger of those pairs late in the game. Natalie also won individual immunity once and had a highly successful immunity idol play that blindsided her top ally, virtually guaranteeing her the win.
When Natalie returned for Winners at War, she got voted out first as she and close-friend Jeremy Collins got immediately labeled as a couple that had to get split up, and thus Natalie was the first boot. As mentioned above, Natalie consistently killed it on the Edge of Extinction, killing every single challenge physically. What makes it even more impressive is that the people living on the Edge of Extinction were generally only eating a scoop of rice a day, and Natalie was on Edge for 33 days!!! After re-entering the game, Natalie then used two immunity idols (one she got on Edge) and then one found on Day 37 of the game to get herself to the final four. She then won the last challenge to get a seat in the final three. Natalie ultimately lost the jury vote to Tony Vlachos, who played one of the greatest games in Survivor history. Nonetheless, she still earned four votes against a dominant player and maybe could have earned more, but Natalie may have rubbed some people the wrong way during the end of her run on Edge of Extinction. There were complaints about her personality in postseason interviews, though you could possibly write it off as jealousy from her dominating the Edge of Extinction.
Natalie Anderson: 34 years old, 5'5, 148 lbs, ROOKIE, Winner of Survivor San Juan Del Sur, Runner up of Winners at War, 4th Place Amazing Race 21
Skills and Physical Strength: In terms of fitness, Natalie works as a CrossFit trainer and competes as an amateur on the CrossFit circuit. She has broad shoulders and strong legs, which, in my opinion, would make her formidable in a Hall Brawl/Tug of War situation. We know from her time on Survivor Winners at War that Natalie has cardio for days and has experience competing in obstacle courses with physical tests and puzzles. Being on Survivor has also prepared her for swimming challenges and eating gross foods.
Since Survivor often has endurance-based balance challenges, I expect her to do well in heights challenges since she’s used to standing on narrow perches for long periods. Legitimately, I’m not entirely sure what Natalie would struggle with on the Challenge in terms of the physical game. I think people on this cast are much better at individual parts of the game physically, but that’s not a weakness; that’s being a normal human.
SSMP (Social, Strategic, Mental, and Political) Game: At 34 years old and in a committed relationship, Natalie isn’t your typical Challenge rookie. Unless she wins the first couple of challenges to establish herself as a top player, Natalie could be treading on dangerous water. If you’re not a big partier or not available for showmances, then you have to be a power player to survive as a rookie, generally. It doesn’t help that she is one of only two Survivor players on the cast. At least the Big Brother players enter the show with a general camaraderie that eventually gets stronger or devolves over time.
Based on her time on Survivor, it’s evident that Natalie is an excellent strategic mind. Sadly, the game doesn’t allow you to play too strategically as a rookie as most people aren’t going to put their trust in someone they don’t know. Players may also target her because they know she’s already won over a million dollars on reality television. On the social game spectrum, I think Natalie might have a tough time. She is a strong woman who moves faster than the speed of light. Meanwhile, the Challenge house is full of cruder reality stars who don’t always clean up after themselves and aren’t super considerate, so there could be a conflict rather quickly. I could see Natalie getting into it with a few cast members, especially on those nights where some players get belligerently drunk.
Eliminations & Winning Potential: As a cross-fit athlete, I expect Natalie’s grip strength to be firm. She would do well in most physical eliminations/headbangers and is, of course, a cardio monster. When it comes to carnival games, Natalie has two seasons of Survivor where she played the weirdest games and puzzles that should make her well-suited for any elimination.
Can Natalie win? If she can navigate the social and political game (which I think will be tough), then Natalie realistically can win this season and a final. Natalie can run miles on an Island after not eating more than 250 calories a day for weeks; then, she can run a Challenge final. She has all the abilities and skills to thrive in a final. It all comes down to whether she can handle the house environment. Ironically, Survivor might be an easier game for her because, on Survivor, the sandbox is loaded with more toys and options for players to navigate their way to the end. In a Challenge house, there is a more obvious game always getting played, and there are limited options. The simplicity can be somewhat maddening, especially if on the outside. Hopefully, Natalie finds the path best for her on the Challenge.