Rutter, Holzhauer, and Jennings to battle for the fate of the universe in ultimate Jeopardy! showdown – The A.V. Club


Hold your loved ones close and start praying for mercy, because the gods (of trivia) are going to war and there’s no telling what sort of horrific destruction will be left in their wake. This comes from USA Today, which says that ABC has announced a new primetime Jeopardy! event called The Greatest Of All Time that will feature three of the quiz show’s most powerful combatants going head-to-head-to-head for the first time ever—and in a testament to humanity’s resilience, none of them are a robot this time. The three competitors in question are recent Tournament Of Champions winner James Holzhauer, 72-game winner Ken Jennings, and all-time prize money record-holder Brad Rutter (with Jennings and Rutter having previously competed against IBM’s Watson computer in 2011).

The special tournament is going to air on ABC in primetime, starting on January 7, and it’s going to involve an unusual structure. Rather than a one-off winner-take-all episode (or even a regular week-long event), each episode will have two back-to-back games, with the contestant who has the highest total prize money winning the match. Play continues until someone wins three matches, so it could last for anywhere between three and seven episodes—depending on if it’s a shutout or a more protracted battle where they each manage to win two before necessitating a final playoff game. The winner gets $1 million and the other two get $250,000, but the real prize is that the winner will become the master of all space and time (at least when it comes to trivia knowledge).

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek is too smart to try and pick a favorite, but he implied to USA Today that Holzhauer’s tactic of racking up money from high-value clues before hunting for Daily Doubles might be a killer strategy, though Jennings and Rutter (who definitely know about that strategy) could easily derail him by going for the valuable clues before he can. Also, as Trebek says, “you have to be confident in your knowledge,” since it doesn’t matter what your strategy is if you can’t drop that serious Jeopardy! knowledge.

Holzhauer, Jennings, and Rutter have already begun (jokingly) trash-talking on social media, with Jennings noting that Holzhauer will hopefully be able to afford some proper TV attire if he wins:

Holzhauer is the one dropping real heat, though, offering some statistical analysis of why nobody has a shot at winning except for him (and making sure to remind Jennings that he’s the only one who never won a Tournament Of Champions):

Then there’s Rutter, who just seems happy to be there:

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