The Jeopardy! rematch trivia nerds have waited a few months for may actually come to fruition in the Tournament of Champions. James Holzhauer, the heavy favorite to win $250,000 against 14 other past Jeopardy! champions, now needs to snag a win in Wednesday’s third semifinal to have another shot at Emma Boettcher.
Boettcher famously beat Holzhauer earlier in 2019, ending his 32-win streak that netted him more than $2.4 million on the quiz show. The Tournament of Champions brought both of them back to the show’s stage, where Holzhauer dominated last week and Boettcher also won to advance to the semifinals. Both were put in different semifinal this week, which meant they would each have to win to set up a rematch in the finals.
Jeopardy! advertised Boettcher heavily over the last few days as she won a spot in the semifinals of the tournament. She was described as a “giant killer” in the uniquely nerdy way the show handles itself on social media. But she’s clearly lived up to the hype, and she survived a big test in Monday’s first semifinal matchup.
Facing defending College Champion Dhruv Gaur and wild card entrant Kyle Jones, Boettcher outlasted the pair in a tense match where she needed Final Jeopardy to come out on top. Kyle had briefly tied Emma for the lead after getting the second Daily Double right of Double Jeopardy, but some big clues about books — she’s a librarian, after all — helped her gain a $19,200 to $14,800 edge heading into Final Jeopardy.
A rematch with Holzhauer is far from assured, though, as he faces some tough competition in his own right. But last week’s game proved that Holzhauer’s strategy and breath of knowledge is just as successful against returning champions as it is “fresh meat,” as some Jeopardy! winners like to call their two opponents on the stage.
What’s important to note from Emma’s win on Monday, though, is that the hype the show has given her is more than deserved. Beating Holzhauer wasn’t a fluke, that was proven with her three-game run earlier in the year. But her success in the Tournament of Champions is an exclamation point of sorts, as she was a contestant that didn’t have the tournament wins or quite as successful runs as champion as other winners she’s now beat.
No matter what happens on Wednesday or in the two-day final slated to end the week, Boettcher has made the most of her spot in the Tournament of Champions. It’s just a matter of time whether we’ll know if she can repeat her success against Holzhauer or not, if she’s given the chance.