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.

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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.