Players of the smash reality TV series “Survivor” have employed various techniques over the years to outsmart and outlast rivals. But have any of the contestants ever cruised to a win by penning poems for other players and generally being so darn wholesome?

That’s the approach taken by pseudonymous player MFL in the first season of Crypto: The Game, a “Survivor”-inspired experience that captivated the crypto industry with a blend of real-world scavenger hunt elements, online gameplay, and strategic shenanigans. And it propelled him to victory in last Friday’s final.

MFL’s unique approach won him a prize pool of more than $115,000 worth of Ethereum (41 ETH), at the current price—but to hear him describe it, his genial behavior was no conniving tactic. He was just enjoying himself and wanted to savor the experience. MFL also doesn’t speak English, and says he’s based out of a small town in Japan.

And unlike some of the well-connected crypto company founders, prominent artists, and influencers that participated—including musician Justin “3LAU” Blau, venture capitalist Packy McCormick, and pseudonymous influencers Deeze and Bored Elon—MFL told Decrypt through a translator that he’s “just a crypto enthusiast.”


The self-effacing MFL said he believed the majority of the other players were smarter than him, and that he didn’t ultimately benefit from any secret alliances—a common tactic in “Survivor.” He said that he did join with friends from the community around HyperLoot, a game built around the Loot NFT project.

Both MFL and Crypto: The Game founder Dylan Abruscato attribute his success to the way he approached the game: Being helpful and kind to everyone he encountered, despite the fact that he had to wake up in the middle of the night to compete.

MFL not only won, but played a perfect game: He didn’t receive a single vote against him until the final round, and he did it all by being downright decent. But because he had no alliances and hadn't been invited to any of the “secret groups” that were being formed across Discord, Telegram, and Twitter DMs, he expected to be voted out early.


With that in mind, MFL said that he decided to focus on “enjoying the game” by using memes to depict different team members, and writing poems about his thoughts on the game—with help from Google Translate.

“It wasn’t a strategy,” he told Decrypt. “I just wanted to leave a memory of me being there. I was enjoying the excitement of surviving, day by day.”

WAGMI wins

Kindness ultimately prevailed, in other words, as the bull market crypto ethos of WAGMI—or “we’re all gonna make it”—won out in the end.

“He perfected the strategy of being a favorite amongst his peers, which proved to be a winning strategy,” Abruscato told Decrypt

Former esports player Logos, Crypto: The Game’s first season runner-up, similarly went out of his way to help players both on and off his team. In the second immunity challenge, participants battled to see which team could get the highest collective score in Pac-Man. Logos held Zoom meetings for his tribemates where he taught them the basics and how to boost their scores.

Abruscato admitted that he was surprised to see friendly vibes rule the day in a crypto-fueled riff on a competition that typically benefits the ruthless and conniving.

“I love WAGMI, the mantra,” he told Decrypt. “But I always assumed that in a game where you are (by design) tasked with eliminating each other, that it would be cutthroat.”


Crypto The Game had 410 strangers compete across a variety of arcade games, puzzles, and IRL challenges in a 10-day game show that quickly dominated the Crypto Twitter discourse. Players were split into different teams, each player paid 0.1 ETH (about $280) as a fee to join, with their contributions going to the prize pool for that season.

Crypto: The Game is a competition inspired by the hit TV series "Survivor"
Crypto: The Game is a competition inspired by the hit TV series "Survivor." Image: Crypto: The Game

Each day throughout the first season, teams competed in a variety of challenges that could win them immunity from being voted out. Players would then vote each night on a player to be removed from the game. The finale brought back all the players who had been cut and had them vote for who out of the remaining players should receive the prize.

Interestingly, despite a star-studded player base full of notable figures from the crypto world, the players who made it the furthest were relatively unknown. Notoriety can be a double-edged sword, however. 3LAU, the musician and founder of crypto music platform Royal, told Decrypt that being a recognized figure “definitely hurt” his chances of winning. 

According to 3LAU, the first targets to be voted out were venture capitalists. Players felt like the prize money would be better off in the hands of someone to whom it would make a difference—which also put a target on 3LAU’s back. He was voted out about halfway through the first season, via a surprise betrayal from one of his own teammates. But he isn't too upset about it.

“The whole idea of this is to give someone a financial opportunity that they otherwise wouldn't have,” 3LAU told Decrypt. “I’m glad the winner was who he was.”

When’s Season 2?

Crypto: The Game is likely to see a sizable increase in player interest for the next season, given how many early participants proclaimed the game as being one of the best things they had ever experienced in the crypto world.

Abruscato was hesitant to say anything that might reveal upcoming surprises in store for the second season. But after the warm welcome for his first rendition of the game, he expressed interest in seeing what other “crypto mechanisms” could be used to make it an even more engaging experience in the future.


“We received this amount of attention, engagement, and awareness without a waitlist, allowlist, a token, points, or any of those common crypto mechanisms,” he affirmed. “This season instilled even more confidence in me that this community is ripe for novel internet experiences that are genuinely fun.” 

Crypto: The Game’s next season doesn’t have a start date just yet, but Abruscato said his team is determined to keep it going indefinitely—as long as people are willing to play.

Edited by Andrew Hayward

Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to correct the number of players in the first season, as well as to clarify MFL's comments around secret alliances.

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