The two-week tournament kicked off on Monday, but Wednesday’s episode marked the return of Holzhhauer, who won more than $2.4 million during a dazzling run that featured record-breaking single-game cash hauls and some extremely aggressive bets on Daily Doubles.
Much of the hype surrounding the Tournament of Champions isn’t the $250,000 grand prize but just how Holzhauer would do against proven Jeopardy! veterans, as his shock and awe strategy could falter when matched up against strong players. But Wednesday’s episode showed Holzhauer is far from a very bright flash in the pan.
Facing Alan Dunn, a 5-game winner, and Lindsey Shultz, who won four games during her time on the show, Holzhauer was his old self. He jumped out to an early lead in the Jeopardy round and led the whole way to a victory that secured him a spot in the Tournament of Champions semifinals. Holzhauer was in his familiar far-left position on the stage, and the first round even had an “All In” category, referencing Holzhauer’s tendency to bet it all on a Daily Double.
Feeling good about this category! pic.twitter.com/TOLr76JIHs
— James Holzhauer (@James_Holzhauer) November 7, 2019
Trebek joked knowingly that Holzhauer would start with a $1,000 question, and he did, getting it right. But despite leading in the first round it was far from an early blowout. Questions Holzhauer undoubtedly knew — like who won the 2016 NBA title, for example — went to other players, though this tweet about it from the Cavaliers account doesn’t make much sense.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 7, 2019
He did lead heading into the first commercial break with $5,600 while Alan had 2,000 and Lindsey had 3,600. He expanded that lead to end the round with $8,800 while his two competitors sat with $4,000 each.