Answer: This iconic game show is pitting its three biggest champions against each other to determine “The Greatest of All Time.”
Question: What is Jeopardy!, of course. This week saw James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter go head-to-head in the show’s Greatest of All Time tournament, with longtime host Alex Trebek moderating as always. The three episodes that have aired so far have been incredible matches, with the contestants getting ample opportunity to show off their Jeopardy! skills and trivia expertise. All three are clearly masters of the game.
The tournament works a little differently than standard Jeopardy! gameplay. Each hour-long installment, or match, consists of two back-to-back games, with the contestants playing for points rather than dollars. At the end of the second game, each player’s points are added together, and the player with the most points wins the match. The first player to win three matches wins the $1 million prize and the title of “Greatest of All Time.”
Here’s a recap of what happened during the tournament’s first week.
The tournament got off to a thrilling start on Tuesday, Jan. 7 with a close match between Jennings and Holzhauer, and not a single wrong answer in the first round. Jennings prevailed in the tournament’s first game, racking up 45,000 points to Holzhauer’s 33,200 and Rutter’s 10,400. Holzhauer won the second game with 30,000 points, Jennings earned another 18,400, and Rutter, far behind and forced to wager everything on Final Jeopardy, finished the game with 0. In the end, Holzhauer’s total was not enough to catch Jennings, who won the match by just 200 points — 63,400 to James’ 63,200.
Holzhauer dominated the second match, winning both games for a total of 82,414 points, far ahead of Jennings’ 57,400. He was also the only person to answer game 2’s Final Jeopardy correctly. (Answer: “Tall, lanky Joel Barlow was an ambassador carrying messages between these two world leaders, both mocked for being short.” Question: Who are Napoleon and James Madison?) Jennings even borrowed Holzhauer’s signature “all in” gesture for Daily Doubles… or tried to.
Rutter, meanwhile, continued to struggle; he earned just 14,400 points in total and finished the second game with -3,600, taking him out of the running for Final Jeopardy. Holzhauer’s victory ensured no player would reach three wins in the first three matches, stretching the tournament to a second televised week.
That second week could consist of only one more match, however. Jennings was victorious again in Match 3, winning both games and coming out far ahead of his competitors with a 67,600 total. Rutter stepped up his game, getting both Daily Doubles in Game 2’s Double Jeopardy round and finished the second game with points on the board, with a total of 23,467. Holzhauer earned 33,692 points in total.
The match also generated the tournament’s most meme-able moments so far. Holzhauer and Rutter, stumped by Game 2’s Final Jeopardy (“These 2 foreign-born directors have each won 2 Best Director Oscars, but none of their films has won Best Picture”), provided some amusing answers instead. Holzhauer wrote, “Who is the GHOST? (Greatest Host of Syndicated TV),” starting to write the name of Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak before crossing it out.
Pennsylvania native Rutter, meanwhile, paid tribute to 2018 Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles.
A quick timeout from the Sixers, where Brad Rutter’s answer on Final Jeopardy was... pic.twitter.com/38H3TNBbVX— The Phifth Quarter (@ThePhifthQ) January 10, 2020
By the way, the correct answer: Who are Ang Lee and Alfonso Cuaron?
Jennings also generated a meme of his own with a correct answer during gameplay, excitedly telling Trebek “OK, boomer.”
The series thus stands at Holzhauer 1, Jennings 2, Rutter 0. But anything could happen when Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time resumes Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.