Survivor statistics glossary

By: Jeff Pitman | Last updated: June 10, 2023

So what the heck is this Survivor Score/Average business?

Answer: You'll be sorry you asked. It's an attempt to apply Sabermetrics to Survivor. (Sorry yet? If not, read on.) Essentially, an attempt to answer: "Who's the best Survivor player?"

So you might notice that we have two ways of measuring total scores. One is the Survival Score (SurvSc). It's simply the sum of three components: Challenge Win% (ChW%), Tribal Council% (TC%), and Jury Vote% (JV%, irrelevant until the finale). So SurvSc = ChW% + TC% + JV%, for a max score of 2 (3 after the finale).

The other score is the Survival Average (SurvAv). It's a simple sum of fractional Challenge Wins (ChW), weighted TC Ratio (wTCR), and a weighted JuryVote% (to be exact, JV% times 6). Or SurvAv = ChW + wTCR + (6 * JV%). This has two advantages over SurvSc: (1) It's always a positive number (or zero), since tribal council votes are treated as a weighted ratio (instead of a potentially negative sum), and (2) it has a larger spread, and in looking at past seasons, we just feel it better represents the games we saw.

Neither ranking is perfect, however, and we're open to suggestions. Feel free to comment below with potential improvements. Check the individual leaderboard and overall season scores to see how they work.


Special scoring cases

  • Final Three vote-off: In a final three Tribal Council, where only one vote is cast (by the F3 IC winner), both VFBs are counted, but only the single VAP counts. This is done because otherwise, the person not voted off is effectively penalized for not voting someone out, even though they theoretically did.


Adjustments due to not being voted out

From time to time, a player leaves even when the tribe hasn't actually spoken. Here are the adjustments made in scoring when that happens.

  • Colton, quitterQuits: Because quitters leave the game without being voted against, this inflates their SurvAv and SurvSc overall scores. To adjust for that, we came up the following fix: A quit should be scored as a unanimous vote-out by the tribe (including the person quitting). So if someone quits from an 8-person tribe, they receive 8 VAP, 8 TotV, and 1 TCA. Nobody receives credit for voting them out, though. To avoid confusion, we do this only to calculate their scores, and do not include them in season totals.
  • Medevacs: We originally came up with a different means for making a similar adjustment for medevacs, because it seemed unfair to penalize medevacs in the same way as quitters. But as time has passed (and the line between quit and medevac has blurred from Philippines onward), the unanimous vote-out seems like the best adjustment here, too.
  • Drawing rocks: Since this is essentially a tie-breaker, we don't do anything special to adjust for a person being eliminated by drawing rocks. This leaves Paschal English's and Katie Collins' scores artificially high, but so be it.
  • Elimination by tie-breaker: In the final Ulong "Tribal Council" in Palau, where Bobby Jon and Stephenie competed in a fire-building competition rather than voting, we scored it as an individual challenge win for Stephenie, and not as either person voting.
Glossary of terms
  • Challenge stats
    • ChW: Challenge Wins. For tribal challenges, a contestant earns a fraction of 1 win, depending on if they participated (no points for sitting out). So in a five-person tribe's win, each participant gets (1/5) of a point, or 0.2 points. Duels (or individual RCs as in Ep1) at Redemption Island count as half a challenge (and half a win). Individual challenge wins count as a full point.
    • ChA: Challenge Appearances. Used to calculate ChW%. Fractional for tribal challenges (same as ChW), except sit-outs get charged for an appearance, because they could have participated.
    • ChW%: Challenge Win%. Simply, ChW% = ChW / ChA.
    • SO: The number of times a contestant sat out of a challenge.
    • Plc: Place finished in an individual challenge
    • %Fin: Percent finish - roughly, percent of a win achieved, with 1 being 100%.
    • MPF: Mean % finish - mean of all % finishes in individual challenges.
  • Tribal Council stats
    • VFB: Votes For Bootee. The number of times the contestant has voted for the person who was ultimately voted out. Applies only to initial votes (no points for revotes in case of a tie). Special case: In a final three TC, where only one vote is cast (by the F3 IC winner), only that vote counts.
    • VAP: Votes Against the Player. The total number of tribal council votes cast against the contestant. Again, only initial votes count (no penalty for revotes), and here a hidden immunity idol (if played) erases the votes. In the special case of a final three tribal council above, only the F3 bootee receives a vote against.
    • TotV: Total votes cast during the tribal councils the player has attended (again, only initial votes count). Used to adjust for different vote totals as tribes shrink.
    • TCA: Tribal council appearances. The number of times a contestant has attended tribal council (at which they voted).
    • TC%: Tribal Council percent. Attempts to reward voting for the bootee (which players controlling the vote almost always do), while punishing receiving votes yourself. The formula is: TC% = [VFB - (VAP/TotV)] / TCA.
    • wTCR: weighted Tribal Council Ratio. Very similar in intent to TC%, but calculated as a ratio of VFB to VAP, while also scaling to a uniform number of TC appearances. The formula is as follows: wTCR =2* [VFB / (4+VAP)] x (14/TCA). I originally tried (1+VAP) to avoid dividing by zero, but this overly rewarded getting zero votes against relative to just one vote against, which seemed silly. (4+VAP) scaled that effect back comfortably. 14 was used as the scaling factor for TC appearances because there are usually 14 episodes, then a final scaling factor of 2 to bring maximal scores up to roughly even with ChW and JV% high scores.
  • Jury stats
    • JVF: Number of jury votes for the contestant to win. Maximum nine (Earl Cole, Fiji), theoretically.
    • TotJ: Total number of jurors. Necessary to not punish unanimous 7-juror winners (JT Thomas, Tocantins).
    • JV%: The percent of total jury votes cast for the contestant, or Jur% = JVF/ TotJ. This number is used, raw, in SurvSc, and is scaled in SurvAv (multiplied by six) to make it similar in size to ChW and wTCR.
  • Overall scores
    • Survival Score (SurvSc). It's simply the sum of Challenge Win% (ChW%) + Tribal Council% (TC%) + Jury Vote%, for a maximum possible score of 2 (3 after the finale).
    • Survival Average (SurvAv). It's a simple sum of fractional Challenge Wins (ChW), weighted TC Ratio (wTCR), and (eventually) a weighted Jury%. The latter two max out at six points total, for a theoretical maximum score of around 18 or so.
  • Percentile ranks
    • MPF percentile: This ranking is a measure of ability in challenges. It compares a player's single-season Mean % Finish (MPF, above) in individual challenges to those of all players in Survivor history who appeared in 4 or more individual challenges (363 data points through Survivor 43). Obviously doesn't mean much for players out pre-merge ... sorry.
    • VFB% percentile: This ranking is a rough estimate of strategic acumen - the ability to consistently vote people out. It's a simple percentage, VFB (votes for the person booted) / TCA (times casting a ballot at Tribal). That score is then compared to the same for all players in Survivor history (788 data points through Survivor 43).
    • rVAP percentile: This ranking is intended to reflect a combination of social and strategic skill - ability to avoid being voted against. It's a simple subtraction: rVAP (relative VAP) = VAP - TCA, where VAP is total votes received in a season, and TCA is times casting a ballot at Tribal. That score is then compared to the same for all players in Survivor history (788 data points through Survivor 43).