'I Couldn't Be More Grateful': Feras Basal Wins Australian Survivor: Titans V Rebels

In a unanimous vote, Feras Basal has been crowned the Sole Survivor and winner of Australian Survivor: Titans V Rebels.

On Tuesday night, the grand finale of Season 9 of Australian Survivor saw one Titan and one Rebel sitting side-by-side at the final tribal, pitching to a jury of their fellow players to win the top spot.

Feras Basal and Caroline Courtis had both managed to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast the other castaways this season, each playing very different games, and in a season all about breaking rules -- redefined a "new era" of Australian Survivor. But it was Feras who came out on top, with a unanimous vote from the jury, awarding him the $500,000 cash prize, and the glory of the title of Sole Survivor.

Feras Basal Australian Survivor 2024 winner

"I feel so overwhelmed," Feras told 10 Play after his win, adding, "I couldn't be more grateful.

"What I learned, especially with this season, is nothing is guaranteed and you can never be too confident," he continued.

Throughout the season, Feras spoke about how important it was for him to go through the game representing his community, hoping to become the first Arab man to win Australian Survivor, and ultimately the drive to be a positive representation was the biggest hurdle he had to overcome in his game.

"It was the thing that really scared me the most because a lot of things that happen in Survivor, that you have to do to win, goes against my religion, my morals, my ethics.

"As a Muslim, we shouldn't be lying to each other or backstabbing. It was really hard to overcome that hurdle... what I came to terms with is it is just a game. I'm not backstabbing anyone in real life, we're all friends outside of the game.

"I wanted to make my community proud, to see an Arab Muslim on TV representing the community the best I possibly can. That was something that meant a lot to me."

Having watched the last few seasons of the show, Feras said he never really identified as a "superfan", but felt like he knew enough about the game to maneuver his way around people.

Landing on the beach, ahead of one of the first vote-offs for the Rebels tribe, Feras started to realise he might be very well equipped to go deep in the game.

"How I look and how I speak, as Kirby said, I sound like a used car salesman. I thought people wouldn't really trust me and I thought I'd be one of the first people out," he laughed.

"I think people expected me to work with the more dominant people in the tribe. That's not the game I wanted to play, I wanted to work with the quirky people, people like Raymond.

"Once I had that grasp of, you know what, I can build relationships very well and I can read people, I thought I could actually go far in this game... I definitely relied on my social skills and my strategic process to get me through to the end."

As the game went on, Feras' natural charm made him a key player that people identified as a necessary ally when it came to making moves. And, in arguably the most fluid season Australian Survivor has ever seen, people wanted to work with him more than they wanted to target him.

"I think in the past, 'big players' were players where we saw their moves and, if we didn't see their moves you weren't a big player. But in this season there were a lot of people behind the scenes that were huge players," he said. "Aileen was one of them, Eden was another. It was a lot harder for us to pinpoint who is a massive player in this game.

"I think that’s why the target was shifted to Kirby," he continued. "She was the only person we could all confidently say, 'She is a massive player. Look at how she’s talking at tribal, look at the control she has'.

"Kirby played an amazing game with her moves because they were loud, and people saw them. My moves were more about whispering in people’s ears, putting the work in at camp, even at Tribals... My moves were a lot more subtle so a lot of people didn’t see how much of a big player I could be and, thankfully, someone like Kirby took a lot of the heat off me and onto her."

From allies to sworn enemies, to the best of friends, Feras and Kirby had a huge impact on how this season changed how loyalty, alliances and strategy were viewed.

"Kirby was someone that really pulled people in," Feras explained, "we both had our different styles of socialising with people but both of the styles worked and I think, because of that, a lot of people were drawn to Kirby one day and to me another.

"I think that had a massive influence on how fluid this season was - especially knowing that the two people who are great at the social part of the game are the ones who are also going to war and becoming friends again and going to war… I think that left a lot of people confused as to where they wanted to go."

But the relationship had to end somewhere, and Feras knew it was vital for his game to make it further than Kirby, backing himself and no longer using her as a shield. After holding a hidden immunity idol for over 30 days -- a new record in Australian Survivor -- he used it on himself.

"I 100 percent knew I was safe that night," he admits, "it was whether or not I play my idol for Kirby. I knew if she was gone I would be next on the chopping block and I would be at risk, so it was a huge dilemma and probably the hardest decision I had to make on the island.

"It was time to stop hiding behind Kirby, let them all see the big player I am. If I win, I'll win with pride that I backed myself [and] I didn't hide behind anyone. If I lost, it is what it is. It was a huge dilemma but thankfully it paid off."

Despite being the architect of her elimination, Feras and Kirby still have the highest respect for one another in and out of the game.

"It was such a rarity to see someone like me and Kirby work together, and against each other... we proved this is the new era of Survivor where it's not just a simple vote every time, a simple alliance, or a simple rivalry.

"We pointed our guns at each other and, when it was time to play the game together, we put them down. Apart from all that our bond was amazing... and I think we truly cared about each other, and about representing both of our communities. We just wanted to be bosses of the game, and bosses of our communities and I think we achieved that and I couldn't be more proud of her and of myself because of it."

Heading into the finale immunity challenge -- always some kind of signature torture device designed by the most wicked Survivor gods -- Feras knew that his back was up against the wall. Having sustained a shoulder injury during the first week of the game, Feras had to fight through the pain or let the chance to sit at the final tribal slip through his fingers.

"Thankfully it wasn't a skill-based challenge," he laughed, "I knew if I stepped down from that Feras Wheel then I would be 100 percent going home. It was something, for once, I could actually control and pain was one of them."

With a major decision ahead of him, Feras had to choose between taking Mark or Caroline to the final tribal, and while it was ultimately an easy decision -- he admitted it was still an emotional one.

"I got close with Mark and, as hard as it was to vote him out, I kind of did want to sit next to him at the end as well. But I realised... Mark in that final tribal, his speech would be amazing," Feras explained.

"He's a diplomat, he's used to answering tough questions, I just couldn't risk something like that for my game."

And the risk paid off, with all nine jury members writing Feras' name down, voting him as the Sole Survivor for 2024.

"I'm so proud of how I held myself throughout the whole journey. I wasn't bitter, I made moves, I was a good sportsman in the game and I'm so proud I got to show that on TV," he said. "I brought a lot of entertainment and a lot of smiles to people's faces hopefully!

"It's been so humbling to see the support, it was one of the things I was most scared of... someone said, 'I've never felt truly represented by someone being on TV until now'. Seeing things like that really fills my heart up, it honestly does."

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