It is almost time for the two most important weeks of the Jeopardy! calendar: the Tournament of Champions. 15 of the best champions from 2019 and 2020 have returned to compete for a $250,000 top prize. This tournament will be hosted by the 2017 champion, Buzzy Cohen. Now, I’d like to say something: I’ve gotten to know quite a few former champions over my time in this community, and Buzzy is easily one of the nicest people in the Jeopardy! community. I can not wait to watch him live out a dream of his to host the show. It makes me sad to see all of the people badmouthing him in various corners of the Internet; Buzzy is an absolute mensch who is too nice to be deserving of any of that Internet hate.
These predictions have been done using the same model used to predict the outcome of the All-Star Games, the 2019 Tournament of Champions, and the Greatest of All Time matches.
Please note: Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Monday, May 17, 2021:
Jason Zuffranieri, 48% to win, 68% to advance, 11% chance to win the tournament
Ryan Bilger, 40% to win, 64% to advance, 5% chance to win the tournament
Sarah Jett Rayburn, 13% to win, 38% to advance, 1% chance to win the tournament
Andy’s Thoughts: Jason might be considered by many to be the favourite to win overall, but Jason’s Achilles heel is definitely Final Jeopardy!; Jason is only 12th of the 15 players in the final round. I like both Jason and Ryan’s chances of advancing out of this first quarterfinal; Sarah has been hit with a very difficult draw in her opening round game; she may need to double up through Final Jeopardy! to have any hope of advancing.
Tuesday, May 18, 2021:
Karen Farrell, 36% to win, 49% to advance, 1% to win the tournament
Nibir Sarma, 42% to win, 55% to advace, 5% to win the tournament
Steve Moulds, 23% to win, 47% to advance, 2% to win the tournament
Andy’s Thoughts: Nibir played a dominant College Championship final in order to qualify for this tournament. Karen’s work on Daily Doubles wasn’t as strong as many in the tournament as well. If this game gets an easy Final Jeopardy, semifinal spots might come down to who’s bet more aggressively. Steve is very capable of playing well and should perform well, getting his spot in the tournament after the unfortunate death of Brayden Smith in February.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021:
Jennifer Quail, 55% to win, 93% to advance, 28% to win the tournament
Paul Trifiletti, 13% to win, 64% to advance, 3% to win the tournament
Ryan Hemmel, 32% to win, 60% to advance, 10% to win the tournament
Andy’s Thoughts: While Jason is slightly stronger in terms of game material in the first two rounds, Jennifer’s going 8-for-9 in Final Jeopardy! makes her the tournament favorite in the eyes of the prediction model. I would be shocked if she didn’t at least make the semifinals. Ryan and Paul are also strong players both with an average-or-better chance to advance into the semifinals.
Thursday, May 20, 2021:
MacKenzie Jones, 44% to win, 62% to advance, 10% to win the tournament
Kevin Walsh, 22% to win, 52% to advance, 2% to win the tournament
Ben Henri, 34% to win, 76% to advance, 5% to win the tournament
Andy’s Thoughts: Ben has been through a tournament before; I’m predicting that MacKenzie’s strengths in Final Jeopardy! will carry her farther in the tournament, but that Ben will at least make the semifinals before bowing out, representing his Teacher class well. I’m sure that Kevin would have liked a much easier draw than the one that he got in this game.
Friday, May 21, 2021:
Sam Kavanaugh, 30% to win, 47% to advance, 3% to win the tournament
Andy Wood, 45% to win, 73% to advance, 11% to win the tournament
Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, 25% to win, 51% to advance, 2% to win the tournament
Andy’s Thoughts: There will be fireworks in this last quarterfinal, with both Sam and Andy riding big Daily Double bets in their respective runs. The prediction model thinks that Andy’s skill in Final Jeopardy! will serve him well in this tournament (he’s the only player to be 100% in Final in his regular games.)
Predicted Winners: Jason, Nibir, Jennifer, MacKenzie, Andy
Predicted Wild Cards: Ben, Ryan B., Paul, Ryan H.
Prediected Finals: Jennifer (1st), Andy (2nd), MacKenzie (3rd)
Contestant photo credit: jeopardy.com
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