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'Survivor' host Jeff Probst analyzes all-champs edition eliminations

Spoiler Alert: This story contains details, including player eliminations, from Wednesday’s season premiere of “Survivor: Winners at War.”

When you line up famous “Survivor” contestants for the CBS reality competition’s first all-champions edition, you’re going to have some big-name eliminations right off the bat.

And “Survivor: Winners at War” (Wednesdays, 8 EST/PST), featuring 20 previous winners, delivered on that front in the premiere episode of Season 40. 

Natalie Anderson, who won 2014’s “San Juan del Sur” after her twin sister was the first eliminated contestant, found herself in that spot Wednesday. Later, Amber Brkich Mariano, half of the show’s most famous real-life alliance with husband and fellow competitor “Boston Rob” Mariano, heard host Jeff Probst’s iconic departure line: “The tribe has spoken. It’s time for you to go.”

However, it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, as neither competitor is necessarily gone for good. Season 40 features Edge of Extinction, a twist introduced last year that sends eliminated players to a separate island where they get a chance to influence the game and possibly return to compete for a record-setting $2 million prize.  

More:‘Survivor’ host Jeff Probst on all-champs edition: ‘We’ve never had a season played this hard’

The winners edition opened with greetings between friends and past competitors as one boat dropped off 10 men and a second dropped off 10 women to a tiny sand spit near their Fiji island camps. But pleasantries quickly took a back seat to intense game focus, says Probst, who divided the players into two tribes, Dakal and Sele.

Even an opening Champagne toast, meant as an appreciation for the returning competitors, was subject to strategizing.

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