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ESPN’s Resident JEOPARDY! Champion Handicaps This Week’s GOAT Special

Before the ABC prime time premiere of JEOPARDY! The Greatest of All Time on Tuesday, ESPN producer James Quintong provides a scouting report

EDITOR’S NOTE: JEOPARDY! is coming to ABC in a multiple, consecutive night event with JEOPARDY! The Greatest of All Time, premiering Tuesday (8-9 p.m. ET). Hosted by Alex Trebek, “JEOPARDY! The Greatest of All Time” features three of the highest-money winners in the game show’s history: Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and James Holzhauer. The first to win three matches – two games in a match – receives $1 million and the title of JEOPARDY! The Greatest of All Time.

ESPN coverage producer James Quintong is a one-time JEOPARDY! champion – watch the video highlights above (from his Dec. 8, 2005 episode) and below (from his Dec. 7, 2005 game-winning episode) – and provides Front Row with this preview.


DIFFICULTY OF MATERIAL:

The clues and responses usually get a bit tougher for the Tournament of Champions and other special events. Rutter and Jennings have thrived with these special tournaments and are probably a little more used to the increased difficulty. Holzhauer seemed to do just fine in last fall’s Tournament of Champions, but I didn’t think the clues seemed noticeably more difficult than the regular season.


STRATEGY BETTING ON DAILY DOUBLES AND FINAL JEOPARDY!:

Holzhauer owns the top 16 single-game records in JEOPARDY! history because of his bold bets on Daily Doubles and Final JEOPARDY! (He was 78-for-84 on Daily Doubles and 35-for-37 on Final JEOPARDY! combined during his initial run and the Tournament of Champions, according to thejeopardyfan.com.)

Part of the reason he could be in position to make those bets was that he cleaned up on the higher-value clues, giving him a big bank. Jennings and Rutter are likely going to use that same strategy, so expect some very large bets (and potentially some big whiffs).


BUZZER RUST:

Holzhauer is obviously the freshest player of the three, with all of his games taking place last year, so the buzzer rhythm/timing/etc. is probably most ingrained in him. However, Jennings and Rutter both competed in the All-Star Games team event earlier in 2019, so it’s not like they’ve been away from the stage for that long. Rutter did have one bad round in that tournament but then stepped up and defeated Jennings head-to-head in the finals.


PREDICTION:

 

I think many JEOPARDY! fans would love to see this event go the full seven matches, although I wouldn’t be surprised if one contestant goes on a run and sweeps three in row. With that said, I’m going to predict Brad winning in six matches, with James taking two matches, and Ken capturing one match.


SALUTE TO “THE REAL JEOPARDY! GOAT”:

That’s how I refer to Trebek, who has hosted JEOPARDY! since 1984. He announced last spring that he’d been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. While contestants don’t usually spend much time with Trebek outside of what you’ve seen on TV, one of my own personal experiences is him comforting me and my fellow contestants after my first game saying that the questions that day were really hard (which our scores reflected, as you can see in the video below).

Videos courtesy Sony Pictures Television

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