Nov. 11 is the first day of finals in the “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions” for season 38. The championship pits the 21 top players of the season against each other in a series of games to determine the ultimate winner. The top three players after quarter- and semi-finals play will go head-to-head in up to seven finals games. The first competitor to come out on top in three games will win a $250,000 prize.
Although this tournament occurs at the end of every season, this last season of the game show was uniquely historic. It was the first season since famed host Alex Trebek’s passing, which also meant that it was the first season of the show since 1984 that Trebek did not host.
It is a near impossible task to fill the shoes of a great like Trebek, however, “The Big Bang Theory” and “Blossom” actor Mayim Bialik and the longest winstreak “Jeopardy!” champion in history, Ken Jennings, filled the job.
The two alternated hosting duties every few weeks. Each took on a tournament, with Bialik hosting “Jeopardy! College Championship” and Jennings hosting the “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions.”
To match an already unprecedented season, the contestants the two hosted proved to be some of the fiercest competition the show had seen since Ken Jennings’ 74-game run in 2004.
It started with the “Amodio Rodeo,” the nickname given to Ph.D. student Matt Amodio’s 38-game streak. Amodio is known for his extremely strategic play, such as beginning all his responses with “what’s” to save time.
Amodio came away with the highest single-game winnings that season ($83,000) and the most correct responses in the game (42). When his run ended, he was second in consecutive games won in the history of the show, only behind Ken Jennings.
Amodio’s performance on the show would have been season-defining any other year. However, in keeping with a remarkable season, Amy Schneider, an engineering manager, would clench the number two spot. Her 40-game run was the longest win streak by a female contestant on the show. Even more impressive than that, however, is her 95% accuracy in responses and $1.3 million in cash winnings.
Although nobody snatched Schneider’s spot on the leaderboard, two contestants from season 38 would also make the top ten list of “Jeopardy!” champs. That means competitors from this season alone comprise nearly half the top ten list.
One is Mattea Roach, a 23-year-old tutor from Nova Scotia whose 23-day run is the longest of any Canadian on the show. “Jeopardy!” questions tend to cater to an older, American audience, making her success on the show all the more impressive. She left the show with over $500,000 in cash winnings and the fifth spot on the list of most consecutive wins. The second is Ryan Long, a rideshare driver whose 16-game streak was enough to give him the number nine spot on the “Jeopardy!” all-time leaderboard, and nearly $300,000. Only Amy Schneider rivaled Long’s ability to run entire categories with both running a record-setting three categories in a single game.
Unfortunately, Long lost his quarterfinal match on Oct. 31, but his time on “Jeopardy!” was memorable nonetheless.
At this time, the semi-finals are underway. Amodio, Schneider and Roach immediately qualified for a spot in the semi-finals as the top three players from the season. Six other competitors will join them in the semi-finals after their quarter-final wins. Among them are many fan favorites.