The 2019 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions ended on Friday, with James Holzhauer winning the 10-day event and adding another $250,000 to his impressive haul from the quiz show this year. Holzhauer ending as champion gave us a number of answers to questions fans have asked about Holzhauer and his game since he won 32 straight games earlier in the year.
Yes, his shock and awe strategy of amassing high dollar amounts and doubling up will work against seasoned contestants. Yes, he’s just as knowledgable and good on the signaling device as any recent champion. And yes, he did get revenge on Emma Boettcher, who ended his run. A bonus yes here is that Boettcher was better than basically everyone but Holzhauer in the tournament, reaching the finals and finishing in second place.
So what happens now? Is James Holzhauer done on Jeopardy! and, if not, what does he do next? There aren’t any traditional Jeopardy! tournaments left for him to win, and his official run on the show is obviously done. The most logical solution, however, is to create a new challenge that former greats like Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter could compete in. That’s basically what happened when IBM wanted to show off its Watson supercomputer. The computer is human this time, however, and it appears we’re getting a brand new Jeopardy! tournament in early 2020.
According to USA Today, ABC is inventing a new tournament for Holzhauer to face off against Rutter and Jennings. Called the Greatest of All Time tournament, Holzhauer will be one of the players Alex Trebek called the three greatest players in show history in a unique format that will try to determine the best of the best.
“When James had his run last year, a lot of people were wondering, well how would he do against Ken Jennings? How would he do against Brad Rutter? (They’re) our two most successful players in Jeopardy history,” says host Alex Trebek in an exclusive interview. “These three players have won close to $10 million in ‘Jeopardy!’ prize money, and over 100 games among them, so it was logical.”
Before Holzhauer, Jennings was the most famous Jeopardy! player in the show’s history, rattling off 74 straight wins in 2004. Rutter, meanwhile, played during the Jeopardy! era where a champion was forced to retire after five straight wins on the show. He does hold the record for most money earned in Jeopardy! history, adding up a total of $4,876,036 in winnings over various tournaments since he first played in 2000. Rutter has never lost to a human opponent, with only the aforementioned Watson beating him in regulation play.
The format is interesting here: unlike other Jeopardy! tournaments where a two-day total is added up to determine a winner, this showdown is slated to go an undisclosed number of days given the win conditions.
But the GOAT tournament will be anything but typical: It consists of a series of two back-to-back games, airing weeknights (8 EST/PST) beginning Jan. 7. The player with the most combined winnings from the two games wins the “match,” and the play continues on successive nights (except Monday) until one of them has won three matches and takes home a $1 million prize. (The other finishers get $250,000 apiece). That means the tournament can last anywhere from three to seven days.
It’s essentially a first to three, which is common in sports but definitely unusual in Jeopardy! But this is uncharted territory for the show in a lot of ways, which only makes it all that much more exciting for fans.