Updated! Tournament Wild Cards – What Score Should I Aim For?

Prior to the 2017 College Tournament, I introduced a model for predicting a player’s chances of qualifying as a wild card for the semifinals if they did not win a game. This model took the combinatorics from Keith Williams at The Final Wager back in 2015 but used slightly different percentages.

Last updated: November 27, 2022. Now includes a model for super tournaments and also now includes all Teen, College, Teachers/Professors, and Tournament of Champions games in tournaments that used a wildcard. While I don’t know if there will ever be a tournament with wildcards again, it’s always good to be prepared.

I have now analyzed all four of Jeopardy!’s regular tournaments (Teen, College, Teachers/Professors, and the Tournament of Champions) and have a complete set of player scores from everyone of these tournaments. I have not included the Battle of the Decades and Million Dollar Masters in with the Tournament of Champions data, because I feel that the field quality in the super-tournaments are different enough that I think it would skew the data.

Because my update now includes all possible data, I have returned to using a Z-score instead of the Student’s t-score for the College Tournament and the Tournament of Champions. The Teachers Tournament will still use the Student’s t-score in its model for the foreseeable future, due to there having been significantly fewer Teachers Tournaments.

The combinatorics calculations are similar to those mentioned in my College Wild Card post. However, in these charts:

  • For the QF Finishing Position: Unknown column, 9 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of three scores beating the player’s score.)
  • For the QF Finishing Position: 3rd column, 8 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of two scores beating the player’s score.)
  • For the QF Finishing Position: 2nd column, 8 non-winning scores to come are assumed (with a maximum of three scores beating the player’s score.)

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These graphics show the percent chances of qualifying from each position (known and unknown) for each $1,000 score between $0 and $20,000, as well as other pertinent data.


Teachers/Professors Tournament:

Teachers or Professors Tournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000.( Last updated: November 2022.)


Tournament of Champions:

Tournament of Champions chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. (Last updated: November 2022.)


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College Tournament:

College Championship chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. (Last updated: November 2022.)


Teen Tournament:

Teen Tournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $20,000. (Last updated: November 2022.)


Supertournaments (Battle of the Decades/Million Dollar Masters/etc.)

Supertournament chances of qualifying as a wild card for each finishing position (known and unknown) and score from $0 to $25,000. Last updated: August 21, 2018.


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1 Comment on "Updated! Tournament Wild Cards – What Score Should I Aim For?"

  1. A huge thank-you to Robert Mcielwain, whose late 80s and early 90s data was invaluable in completing the set of College Championship data.

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