Why ‘Survivor’ Star Russell Hantz Believes Boston Rob Mariano Is a ‘Subpar Player’

Notorious Survivor villain Russell Hantz played one of the most dominating games in Samoa, but his ruthless gameplay cost him the win. He then returned for the following season, Heroes vs. Villains, and made it to the Final Tribal Council, where he lost due to his overly aggressive playstyle, again.

However, when he returned for Redemption Island intending to play differently, his tribemates assumed he wouldn’t, and promptly voted him out, reducing him to tears. In a YouTube video, Russell called Boston Rob Mariano a “subpar player” for playing the same game five times.

Rob Mariano Russell Hantz
Host, Jeff Probst, with former Survivors, Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz | Monty Brinton

[SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information revealed in Survivor 40: Winners at War Episode 5.]

Boston Rob Mariano sent to the Edge of Extinction

Initially placed on Sele tribe, Redemption Island champ, Boston Rob Mariano almost immediately made Parvati Shallow his “number one” and also aligned with Africa champ, Ethan Zohn.

They lost the first immunity challenge, and he agreed with the majority to vote off Natalie Anderson due to her close connection with Jeremy Collins. The Sele tribe went on to lose twice in a row, where Rob orchestrated the vote-off of Guatemala winner Danni Boatwright and then was blindsided by fellow ally Ethan’s elimination.

After a rare win saved Sele from going to Tribal Council again, they swapped into three tribes. Rob, alongside former tribemates Ben Driebergen and Adam Klein, joined former Dakal members, Sarah Lacina and Sophie Clarke, to create the expansion tribe, Yara.

Because Rob had the numbers, even though they didn’t trust each other, he made Ben and Adam sit at camp all day so that they wouldn’t have any side conversations with the ladies. While it seemingly worked, the guys still voted to send the Robfather to the Edge.

Russell Hantz explained the Boston Rob Mariano elimination went differently

According to three-time Survivor competitor, Russell Hantz, when Rob left camp to film his confessional, Ben and Adam got together with Sophie and Sarah and hatched a plan.

Russell says the four purposely used Rob’s method against him because they made him feel comfortable by staying at the camp. Additionally, if they were running around and scheming, then Rob could have been able to work his magic and potentially stayed, or made the ladies use one of their advantages.

Therefore, Russell thinks viewers should “give credit to Ben and Adam” because they were able to use Rob’s plan against him effectively. Borneo winner Richard Hatch also expressed in a YouTube video that he believes the plan to eliminate the Robfather happened while he filmed a confessional.

Why Russell Hantz thinks Boston Rob Mariano is a ‘subpar player’

After the episode, Russell Hantz uploaded a YouTube video describing why he believes his once nemesis, Boston Rob, is a “subpar player.” The Samoa runner-up explained the Redemption Island champ “made the mistake” of employing his “old strategy” while playing with “people who know how to play the game.”

Because Russell receives similar criticism, he said he purposely played the same way in Heroes vs. Villains as he did in Samoa because the all-stars didn’t see his season.

However, when the runner-up returned for Redemption Island, everyone assumed he would do the same thing, but he attempted to play differently.

Russell pointed out that Rob has not changed his game any of the five times he’s played, and was “crazy” to believe his buddy system would work with all winners.

The runner-up then promised that he would play differently if he plays again, similarly to how Tony Vlachos is competing this season. Survivor 40: Winners at War airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m EST on CBS.