Who Can Win ‘The Circle’? Examining The Precedent Set By Past Seasons

- The Circle -
Who Can Win ‘The Circle’? Examining The Precedent Set By Past Seasons

When I watched the first season of The Circle, the finalists came down to five of the first contestants we met. Starting off the competition at the same time appeared to have given them the opportunity to form bonds and alliances that late-comers just couldn’t catch up to, and it didn’t escape my notice that four of the five players had also entered the game as themselves. But do these things help you win The Circle? Let's take a closer look at Circles past.

The Circle UK, Series 1 — The Early Catfish Gets the Worm

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In 2018, a 25-year-old woman named “Kate” beat out the competition. Of course, Kate was just an alias. The real person behind the profile was a 26-year-old man named Alex Hobern who decided to take a risk and use his girlfriend’s photos instead of his own.

While many of his fellow players decided to tweak certain aspects of themselves, whether that be their ages, their jobs, their sexuality, or their family life, he was one of only two true catfishes in the game who opted to play as another person entirely. That seemed to work in his favor considering he was also named the “Viewers Champion” by fans at home.

The Circle UK, Series 2 – It’s Never Too Late to Play

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One year later, Irish contestant Paddy Smyth proved you can win as yourself — and you don’t need to get in on the ground floor. While he didn’t mention that he has cerebral palsy until later in the game, he was all too happy to use his background in social media activism to help guide his strategy when it came to playing to his strengths, and he didn’t let anything hold him back.

In fact, during the second season of the British show, the 31-year-old was one of the last competitors to enter the game. Starting during Episode 10, just about halfway through the competition, Paddy was the 13th of 16 profiles to enter the circle, and he still managed to pull off an upset. Even more surprising, Paddy never even managed to become an influencer before the end of the show.

The Circle UK, Series 3 — It’s All About the Strategy, Baby

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When the third season rolled around, it was a Catfish who started the game late who scored the entirety of the prize money. 30-year-old Natalya Platonova parachuted into the competition as a 29-year-old paratrooper named “Felix” during Episode 5. During a season ripe with catfishes, Natalya still managed to stand out from the crowd and became an influencer in the 14th and 16th episodes of the show. Playing as someone else and starting off a few episodes behind most of her competition didn’t cramp her style one bit.

The Celebrity Circle — Ain’t No Catfish Like a Hip Hop Catfish

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Just a month ago, the British version of the TV show launched The Celebrity Circle, in which famous Brits had the opportunity to play as themselves or as another star. With almost all of the contestants starting off on equal footing in Episode 1 — only one player was introduced later on — it was anybody’s game. That said, Lady Leshurr came in determined to win by playing as Big Narstie, a fellow famous rapper. After scoring one of the first influencer roles, Lady Leshurr went on to win it all.

The Circle Brazil — The Best Version of Yourself

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In March 2020, Brazil took its own crack at the reality TV show, and the competitor who came out on top was 25-year-old Marina Gregory. Well, sort of. While she was playing as herself, she was playing as a 22-year-old version of herself… and one who could sing, too. She started off the game in the very first episode, and though one relative late-comer managed to make it to second place, the finalist spots were mostly rounded out by Episode 1 entrants.

The Circle France — Honest Authenticity Wins Out

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During the French version of the show, 12 profiles faced off in The Circle, but 28-year-old Romain Ben managed to nab the win. Entering the competition during Episode 1 as himself, he decided not to make any adjustments to how he was presenting to the rest of the crew. Instead, he decided his honest self was the best way to move forward, and it ended up working pretty well for him. He became an influencer twice before he went on to win the show.

So Who Stands a Chance?

If you look at all the different seasons, the winners vary between people playing as themselves, the best version of themselves, or as someone else entirely. Similarly, coming in late in the game doesn’t mean it’s impossible to score the grand prize — just ask Paddy. With that said, cementing yourself early on in the series certainly seems to help.


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Images: Instagram, Netflix

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