James Holzhauer returned to Jeopardy! in a big way this week, cruising in his Tournament of Champions appearance as he led the whole episode and secured a runaway victory against seasoned Jeopardy! winners. The blowout put him in next week’s semifinals, as he continues to be the favorite to win the $250,000 grand prize against 14 other past Jeopardy! winners.
Thursday brought some talk of conspiracy concerning Holzhauer’s Final Jeopardy bid, but it was extremely silly: he didn’t need to bet big to win more money on Wednesday’s episode. The game only needed to be won to get a spot in the next round. But later on Thursday another narrative developed when Emma Boettcher also secured a spot in the tournament’s semifinals.
Boettcher, you may remember, is the competitor who ended Holzhauer’s run of 32 wins that netted him more than $2.4 million earlier in the year. There were some conspiracy theories about that win, too, because it’s 2019 and that’s just what happens when people have a lot of free time and don’t fully understand Jeopardy! game theory. Anyway, Holzhauer and Boettcher in the semifinals increases the likelihood that the two meet again for what would be a much-hyped rematch.
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 8, 2019
Boettcher was dominant in her own right on Thursday, with nearly double the score of other contestants entering Final Jeopardy. Though not a true runaway, she was also the only person to get Final Jeopardy correct. Entering the semifinals as a winner means it’s unlikely Holzhauer and Boettcher will face off in the next round, as they’ll likely face off against wild card winners, but wins from each in the semifinals would mean a two-day showdown between them and a third Jeopardy! champion in one of the more hyped tournament finals in recent memory.
But that’s getting pretty far ahead of what’s actually next on the show, and there are plenty of strong Jeopardy! players left in the tournament. On Friday’s episode, for example, Teacher’s Tournament champion Francois Barcomb went on an impressive run in Double Jeopardy to cruise to a spot in the semifinals. Barcomb is known for his great timing on the signaling device, something that makes him a formidable opponent in a tournament where knowing the answers isn’t as big an advantage against other trivia heads. So it’s far from certain a rematch happens, but it would make for some great television.