Handicapping the 2019 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

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CREDIT: Jeopardy/YouTube

Fifteen of the most memorable recent Jeopardy! champions are returning for the latest edition of the Tournament of Champions, airing November 4-15. The big favorite is of course James Holzhauer, holder of many a Jeopardy! record. Based on their performances in their initial appearances, here is my ranking of who is most likely to emerge victorious. My analysis is based on a mix of playing style, average win total, and gut feeling. Quite frankly, everyone after James is pretty tightly packed.

Also, for the second Tournament of Champions in a row, a contestant who would have been eligible was unable to return, as 2018 Teachers Tournament winner Larry Martin passed away earlier this year.

(I have not included five-game winner Steven Grade in the rankings, because I know him personally, but I will say that I know he has spent plenty of time studying.)
1. James Holzhauer (32 Wins) – It’s not impossible to beat James, but it is improbable, even more so in a tournament format.
2. Josh Hill (7 Wins) – Josh has a tendency to look down before he selects a clue, which makes me think he has a sneaky secret about how strong his chances are.
3. Emma Boettcher (3 Wins) – The James Dethroner has the lowest win total of anyone in the tournament, but the second-highest average per-game earnings.
4. Francois Barcomb (Teachers Tournament Champion) – One of the better recent Teachers Tournament winners.
5. Ryan Fenster (7 Wins) – Hopefully he knows at least one thing about football now.
6. Eric R. Backes (4 Wins) – The four-time curse was very much a real thing, because I believe Eric had the goods to keep going even longer.
7. Anneke Garcia (4 Wins) – The four-time curse was very much a real thing, becauseI believe Anneke had the goods to keep going even longer.
8. Lindsey Shultz (4 Wins) – The four-time curse was very much a real thing, because I believe Lindsey had the goods to keep going even longer.
9. Alan Dunn (5 Wins) – Easily the winner of the best facial hair of this field.
10. Kyle Jones (7 Wins) – Kyle kind of looks like Kirstin Cutts, a four-time winner back in 2017.
11. Rob Worman (6 Wins) – Probably the champion I remember least of this field, so maybe he’ll surprise me!
12. Gilbert Collins (5 Wins) – Does his promise to give his kids 1% of his winnings still apply now that he’s in the ToC?
13. Rachel Lindgren (5 Wins) – She was a solid five-game winner, but an average of less than $20,000 per win gives me a little pause about her chances.
14. Dhruv Gaur (College Tournament Champion) – The college winner always looks strong compared to the other college players, but the step up to the big leagues is a tough one.

James Holzhauer: A Jeopardy Postmortem

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CREDIT: Jeopardy/YouTube

After 32 winning campaigns in a row, Jeopardy James Holzhauer was finally felled on his 33rd game on Monday, June 3, 2019 to user experience librarian Emma Boettcher. His total number of games won and money earned ($2,464,216) in regular, non-tournament shows are second to only Ken Jennings in Jeopardy! history. Of course, what is most impressive about his run was the unprecedented volume of his winnings, as he nearly surpassed Jennings’ money total ($2,522,700 in 75 games) in less than half the time. This begs the question: has Holzhauer changed the game permanently?

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Handicapping the 2017 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions

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CREDIT: Jeopardy!

The latest round of Jeopardy!‘s Tournament of Champions is airing November 6-17, and I’m here to rank the contestants in order of how likely I think they are to take the $250,000 grand prize.

(Special mention must be made of Cindy Stowell, who passed away from cancer after winning 6 games. She probably would have been in my top 3 had she survived long enough to make it to the ToC.)

1. Austin Rogers – His personality may rub some viewers the wrong way, but he understands how to play the game better than anyone else in this group, and his resilient attitude goes a long way.
2. Andrew Pau – He survived a gauntlet in his first game (one of the best non-tournament episodes ever) and went on to average nearly $30,000 per win.
3. Tim Aten – A steady competitor with his eyes on the prize.
4. Pranjal Vachaspati – Honestly, after the first two, there’s a huge drop in expectations, but I do remember Pranjal’s friendliness taking him far.
5. Seth Wilson – He won 12 games, which seems crazy in retrospect. But you gotta respect anyone who has a double digit streak.
6. Buzzy Cohen – Outside of Austin, this Simpsons lawyer lookalike is the most divisive player, but (even though he won 9 games) he’s nowhere near as impressive.
7. Sam Deutsch – Sam’s a strong College Tournament champ, but his presence mostly makes me sad that we won’t see College runner-up Niki Peters here.
8. Lilly Chin – Lilly’s also a strong College champ who I do not think will be intimidated by her adult competition.
9. Hunter Appler – At this point, we’re getting into the territory of, “Oh, I kind of remember him winning a lot.”
10. Lisa Schlitt – Lisa always looked shocked when she won. It will serve her best to come in expecting to win this time around.
11. Jason Sterlacci – Outside of Colby Burnett, I’ve never been much impressed by a Teachers Tournament champ, though I wouldn’t be shocked if this Dr. Rich from Community doppelgänger pulls off a run to the final.
12. Justin Vossler – Justin kind of looks like 2015 ToC champ Alex Jacob, but he’s nowhere near as idiosyncratic.
13. Alan Lin – I might be underestimating Alan. Or overestimating. I’m really not sure.
14. Jon Eisenman – I know I watched this guy’s episodes, but I don’t much remember what happened in them.
15. David Clemmons – The level of play in David’s Teachers Tournament was kind of meh.

Jeopardy! 2016 Power Players Superlatives

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LouisCKJeopardy

MVP
Louis C.K.

Most Likely to Repeat What He Just Said
Al Franken

Most Inexplicable Winner
Lara Logan

Most Out of Sorts
Anderson Cooper

The Not-Quite-Wolf Blitzer Award (as he had the good sense to hardly ring in)
Michael Steele

MichaelSteeleJeopardy

Jeffrey Malone’s 50 Favorite TV Shows of All Time

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You can learn a lot about people from their favorite television programs. TV viewing involves spending a lot of time with fictional characters and more or less forming relationships with them. Who we choose to spend our time with says a lot about our own personalities. With that in mind, here are the current standings for my 50 favorite shows of all time.

Arrested-Development-Season-5

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Jeopardy! 2015 Tournament of Champions – Handicapping the Contestants

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JeopardyToc2015

The top Jeopardy! contestants from the past year are returning for the Tournament of Champions. Here are my estimations of everyone’s chances.

(1 and 2 are set. 3 and 4 are close to each other. 5-11 are more or less interchangeable. 12-15 are close to 5-11; one could possibly argue them up a few spots.)

1. Matt Jackson – Prone to occasional slow starts and recent pop culture is a weak spot; otherwise one of the best contestants of all time
2. Alex Jacob – Employs the most counterintuitively successful strategy ever
3. Dan Feitel – Strong all-around player given to unnecessarily large wagers in Final – may not matter in a Tournament, where there’s less incentive to do so
4. Greg Seroka – His 7 wins are the second most among this ToC group
5. Brennan Bushee – Mr. Creepy Smile was fairly dominant for a handful of games
6. John Schultz – Great contestant, but his facial hair skills currently outrank his Jeopardy! skills
7. Michael Bilow – Only a 3-game winner, but a bit of a wild card – excellent in his victories, but flamed out spectacularly in his loss
8. Vaughn Winchell – The OG of the Winchell-Yates-Schultz Streak
9. Kristin Sausville – Wife of a former ToC contestant pleasantly won five games
10. Scott Lord – His streak ended when Alex started losing his voice
11. Andrew Haringer – Won his 5th game on the 7000th Jeopardy! program
12. Kerry Greene – Led going into Final in only half of her wins – unlikely that she can maintain that luck in a tournament
13. Catherine Hardee – 4-game winner’s run actually preceded the last ToC
14. Jennifer Giles – Teachers Tournament champ needs to show some improvement if she wants to be on the level of Colby Burnett
15. Elliot Yates – The sweetheart of Season 31 won four games without too much spectacle

Celebrity Jeopardy! 2015 Power Rankings

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The latest round of Celebrity Jeopardy games wrapped up on Friday. Here is a rundown of how the famous people fared. (Detailed results can be found at J! Archive.)

john-berman-on-jeopardy-620x348

Could Cut It On Real Jeopardy!
1. John Berman
2. Mo Rocca (I seriously considered putting Mo first, but John did beat him. Still, they were pretty evenly matched, and if they played each other 100 times, I don’t think either of them would win more than 55 matches.)

Acquitted Themselves Nicely
3. Neil Flynn
4. Vince Gilligan (If Neil and Vince can pick up the pace, they could move up to cutting it on regular games.)
5. Bellamy Young
6. Penn Jillette
7. Aaron Rodgers
8. Zachary Quinto

Didn’t Embarrass Themselves
9. Wendi McClendon-Covey
10. Debra Messing
11. Mark Kelly
12. Cynthia Rowley

It Could’ve Been Worse
13. Ginger Zee
14. Josh Gad (I almost put Josh ahead of Ginger because he showed a little more promise, but his wrong answers do need to be taken into account.)

The Wolf Blitzer Award
15. Kevin O’Leary

Mr Wonderful

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