2022 Tournament of Champions Preview

It’s playoff time! From nearly 400 episodes, 21 players have qualified for the 30th Tournament of Champions! Over the next 13 to 17 games, these players will do battle, and only one will emerge victorious! Make sure to tune in starting Monday, October 31st for an incredible event!

One thing that I’ve found interesting: Jeopardy! has actually paired this Tournament of Champions in a very orderly fashion—assuming that the automatic qualifiers (Jaskaran, Sam, Rowan, and Jessica) were placed between the 4- and 5-time champions. Ranking otherwise by wins and money, the six quarterfinals were paired 4–10–21, 5–11–20, 6–12–19, 7–13–18, 8–14–17, and 9–15–16.

As always, my prediction model starts by taking a contestant’s net average correct on low-value (top three rows) and high-value (bottom two rows) clues, weighting the average low-value and high-value clues to account for the more difficult Tournament of Champions material, and then making additions based on how well a contestant has played on Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy. Variance is introduced by Final Jeopardy play, Daily Double aggression, and the standard deviation of the contestant’s net low-value and high-value data. From those numbers, a Monte Carlo simulation of the tournament is run 100,000 times in order to create the various predictions.

One further note: Because I have not heard definitively as to how the semifinals were paired, my prediction model randomly pairs two quarterfinal winners with each seeded semifinalist through each run-through of the prediction model.

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Monday, October 31:

Ryan Long on Jeopardy!
Ryan Long
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
405 correct, 64 incorrect
12/19 on rebound attempts (on 55 rebound opportunities)
42.68% in first on buzzer (411/963)
14/22 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $23,000)
8/17 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $16,788

Predictions:
48.647% to win quarterfinal
13.236% to win semifinal
2.898% to win tournament

Megan Wachspress on Jeopardy!
Megan Wachspress
Berkeley, California
112 correct, 31 incorrect
7/8 on rebound attempts (on 32 rebound opportunities)
31.57% in first on buzzer (125/396)
2/3 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $3,000)
5/7 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $9,314

Predictions:
26.806% to win quarterfinal
3.956% to win semifinal
0.229% to win tournament

Maureen O'Neil on Jeopardy!
Maureen O’Neil
Cambridge, Massachusetts
73 correct, 15 incorrect
10/13 on rebound attempts (on 25 rebound opportunities)
26.02% in first on buzzer (70/269)
1/1 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $2,000)
3/4 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $7,120

Predictions:
24.547% to win quarterfinal
3.459% to win semifinal
0.171% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: My first thought here was that Ryan Long got a favorable draw, playing against Megan Wachspress and Maureen O’Neil. But then I got to thinking further, and my conclusion is that this is probably the most deceptively intriguing matchup of the entire round. On paper, Ryan is the strongest of the three players, and I think that Ryan has the best chance of leading going into Final Jeopardy. However—and this is where it gets incredibly interesting—knowing what we know about Ryan’s and Megan’s respective Final Jeopardy! strategies, a contested Final Jeopardy! in this match is going to be one of the most intriguing betting situations in the entire history of the show. Megan’s strategy has been specifically “bet to stay ahead of the leader by $2 if the leader bets to cover”. However, with Ryan, “if the leader bets to cover” is certainly not a guaranteed situation. Any non-runaway game going into Final is going to be a “grab your popcorn” moment for the betting wonks. Ryan is the favorite to make it out, but things are certainly far from guaranteed, with a high likelihood of there being very angry know-it-alls on the Internet who think they know what to do, but don’t quite understand every nuance.

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Tuesday, November 1:

Jonathan Fisher on Jeopardy!
Jonathan Fisher
(originally) Coral Gables, Florida
306 correct, 38 incorrect
12/14 on rebound attempts (on 45 rebound opportunities)
44.05% in first on buzzer (300/681)
12/18 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $12,400)
8/12 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $20,167

Predictions:
30.242% to win quarterfinal
7.572% to win semifinal
1.292% to win tournament

Andrew He on Jeopardy!
Andrew He
San Francisco, California
159 correct, 19 incorrect
11/12 on rebound attempts (on 23 rebound opportunities)
43.57% in first on buzzer (149/342)
7/11 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $37,800)
3/6 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $21,533

Predictions:
45.431% to win quarterfinal
15.904% to win semifinal
5.573% to win tournament

Christine Whelchel on Jeopardy!
Christine Whelchel
Spring Hill, Tennessee
114 correct, 15 incorrect
8/9 on rebound attempts (on 29 rebound opportunities)
37.46% in first on buzzer (106/283)
3/9 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: -$8,500)
4/5 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $15,280

Predictions:
24.327% to win quarterfinal
4.678% to win semifinal
0.511% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: The numbers say that Andrew He is the favorite, and he certainly would have been seeded higher had he not lost to Amy Schneider in one of the most significant Final Jeopardy! clues ever. However, he does have some weaknesses—Jonathan is stronger in Final Jeopardy. Plus, Christine comes in with absolutely nothing to lose—though, I will say that I think she got an unfavorable draw. A movie- or theatre-heavy board will mean an advantage to Jonathan, but Jonathan could very well be the first super-champion to fall if things suit Andrew better.

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Wednesday, November 2:

Brian Chang on Jeopardy!
Brian Chang
Chicago, Illinois
184 correct, 21 incorrect
5/6 on rebound attempts (on 29 rebound opportunities)
39.96% in first on buzzer (181/453)
8/10 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $14,500)
5/8 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $16,800

Predictions:
33.004% to win quarterfinal
7.592% to win semifinal
1.164% to win tournament

Tyler Rhode on Jeopardy!
Tyler Rhode
New York, New York
131 correct, 13 incorrect
7/8 on rebound attempts (on 18 rebound opportunities)
37.54% in first on buzzer (128/341)
2/2 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $7,000)
4/6 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $15,767

Predictions:
31.998% to win quarterfinal
7.377% to win semifinal
1.084% to win tournament

Margaret Shelton on Jeopardy!
Margaret Shelton
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
100 correct, 14 incorrect
13/13 on rebound attempts (on 30 rebound opportunities)
33.21% in first on buzzer (91/274)
4/5 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $12,100)
3/5 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $13,920

Predictions:
34.958% to win quarterfinal
8.674% to win semifinal
1.509% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: If this were the best-of-seven final, the prediction model would very much lean toward a 6- or 7-game series. Tyler is slightly better at the bottom of the board, while Margaret was slightly more aggressive on Daily Doubles in her run. Brian’s got the best balance between everything. In all honesty, I think this game is the very definition of “too close to call”. In a note that will make Lilly happy, but not me, Brian’s contestant photograph does not have him wearing a quarter-zip sweater.

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Thursday, November 3:

Courtney Shah on Jeopardy!
Courtney Shah
Portland, Oregon
139 correct, 16 incorrect
9/15 on rebound attempts (on 31 rebound opportunities)
28.04% in first on buzzer (127/453)
2/5 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: -$1,200)
6/8 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $11,650

Predictions:
22.083% to win quarterfinal
3.901% to win semifinal
0.348% to win tournament

Rowan Ward on Jeopardy!
Rowan Ward
Chicago, Illinois
118 correct, 15 incorrect
6/7 on rebound attempts (on 14 rebound opportunities)
50.00% in first on buzzer (114/228)
6/8 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $16,800)
2/4 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $20,600

Predictions:
41.277% to win quarterfinal
14.457% to win semifinal
4.929% to win tournament

John Focht on Jeopardy!
John Focht
originally El Paso, Texas
117 correct, 11 incorrect
5/6 on rebound attempts (on 13 rebound opportunities)
38.25% in first on buzzer (109/285)
7/8 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $20,300)
3/5 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $18,120

Predictions:
36.640% to win quarterfinal
11.017% to win semifinal
2.805% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: After watching rowan lay waste to the Second Chance Week 2 field, it should come as no surprise that they are listed as the favorite to take this quarterfinal match. Daily Doubles should decide this one—Courtney’s stats on Daily Doubles are working against her, and rowan’s had a couple of high-value misses, which may prove crucial if it comes up at an inopportune time during the Tournament. John is sure to be well-positioned if his opponents make any mistakes. One note: As of the time of writing, the Jeopardy! website has rowan’s “Average Coryat” score as $200 too low, likely as a result of Jeopardy! originally crediting Sadie with the missed “Lord of the Flies” Daily Double in their box score/stats for last Thursday’s game.

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Friday, November 4:

Eric Ahasic on Jeopardy!
Eric Ahasic
Minneapolis, Minnesota
176 correct, 19 incorrect
13/14 on rebound attempts (on 33 rebound opportunities)
39.85% in first on buzzer (159/399)
13/15 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $47,600)
2/7 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $20,514

Predictions:
41.274% to win quarterfinal
16.169% to win semifinal
7.031% to win tournament

Jaskaran Singh on Jeopardy!
Jaskaran Singh
Plano, Texas
97 correct, 16 incorrect
1/2 on rebound attempts (on 13 rebound opportunities)
42.98% in first on buzzer (98/228)
7/9 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $21,400)
4/4 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $17,100

Predictions:
27.249% to win quarterfinal
7.761% to win semifinal
1.799% to win tournament

Jackie Kelly on Jeopardy!
Jackie Kelly
Cary, North Carolina
102 correct, 8 incorrect
13/13 on rebound attempts (on 33 rebound opportunities)
30.58% in first on buzzer (85/278)
5/7 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $17,200)
3/5 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $18,080

Predictions:
31.477% to win quarterfinal
10.151% to win semifinal
3.139% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: According to my prediction data the 4th, 6th, and 7th-ranked players are all in the same quarterfinal. Talk about a grupo de la muerte! I would not be surprised if this match saw the highest scores and combined Coryat of any of the quarterfinal matches in this tournament. All three players are very strong. If Eric regresses to the mean in terms of play in Final Jeopardy!, he could go on a run—that is why the prediction model has Eric as having the best chance of any unseeded player of winning the whole tournament. Final has been his Achilles heel, though—and that’s where Jaskaran is best. Jaskaran, who won the prime-time College tournament last February, has been pegged by some people to go on a run, and his quiz bowl background certainly makes him capable. However, quiz bowl isn’t Jeopardy!, and success isn’t guaranteed. Meanwhile, Jackie also competed alongside a Donegan twin sister—while Kristin Donegan was also in the College tournament, Jackie defeated Ciara Donegan for her first game and put up big numbers in her four victories! Whoever makes it out of this game has a very good chance of knocking off any member of the Big Three.

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Monday, November 7:

Zach Newkirk on Jeopardy!
Zach Newkirk
Arlington, Virginia
133 correct, 20 incorrect
11/14 on rebound attempts (on 36 rebound opportunities)
30.91% in first on buzzer (119/385)
8/13 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $13,500)
4/7 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $15,943

Predictions:
31.532% to win quarterfinal
7.181% to win semifinal
1.082% to win tournament

Jessica Stephens on Jeopardy!
Jessica Stephens
Nashville, Tennessee
73 correct, 5 incorrect
7/8 on rebound attempts (on 19 rebound opportunities)
27.63% in first on buzzer (63/228)
3/3 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $7,000)
3/4 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $14,800

Predictions:
25.748% to win quarterfinal
4.813% to win semifinal
0.447% to win tournament

Sam Buttrey on Jeopardy!
Sam Buttrey
Pacific Grove, California
101 correct, 6 incorrect
5/6 on rebound attempts (on 16 rebound opportunities)
41.67% in first on buzzer (95/228)
2/2 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $4,400)
2/4 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $19,250

Predictions:
42.720% to win quarterfinal
11.371% to win semifinal
2.301% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: The other member of Team Quarter-Zip, Zach Newkirk, has also elected for a suit and tie for his contestant picture, disappointing the legion of quarter-zip fans. Sam Buttrey is the favorite in this final quarter-final on the back of a very strong Professors Tournament performance; both Zach and Jessica have shown they can rise to the occasion against stronger opposition—taking into account the strength of a player’s schedule is one of the weaknesses of my prediction model, and I fear that this may lead to both Zach and Jessica being slightly underrated. Jessica will definitely be looking to continue her momentum from winning Second Chance Week 1. This will definitely be an interesting match!

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Tuesday, November 8:

Amy Schneider on Jeopardy!
Amy Schneider
Oakland, California
1337 correct, 77 incorrect
60/67 on rebound attempts (on 152 rebound opportunities)
52.77% in first on buzzer (1230/2331)
66/76 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $210,200)
28/41 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $26,946

Predictions:
47.438% to win semifinal
19.858% to win tournament

Matt Amodio on Jeopardy!
Matt Amodio
Cambridge, Massachusetts
1305 correct, 122 incorrect
55/64 on rebound attempts (on 125 rebound opportunities)
56.00% in first on buzzer (1237/2209)
76/86 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $304,200)
29/39 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $27,913

Predictions:
52.168% to win semifinal
30.471% to win tournament

Mattea Roach on Jeopardy!
Mattea Roach
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
661 correct, 63 incorrect
33/39 on rebound attempts (on 93 rebound opportunities)
46.02% in first on buzzer (625/1358)
29/36 on Daily Doubles (Net Earned: $57,200)
17/24 in Final Jeopardy
Average Coryat: $20,275

Predictions:
41.138% to win semifinal
11.359% to win tournament

Andy’s Thoughts: On Election Day, Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, and Mattea Roach will be taking part in an exhibition match — all three players will be seeded into the semifinals. I like this, as it gets the three players a chance to pick up buzzer timing again, leaving them on equal footing with the quarterfinal winners. I’m not going to make a prediction as to how this exhibition match will go, though!

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8 Comments on "2022 Tournament of Champions Preview"

  1. Prediction time for me!

    Quarterfinal #1: Ryan – The reason I picked him as the favorite is because he’s already shown multiple, multiple times that he can absolutely thrash his competition when he needs to. (Games 4, 6, and 13 come to mind.) He’s also the sentimental favorite in this match, I feel like, even though that doesn’t really affect chances of winning.
    Quarterfinal #2: Andrew – If he can find and convert the Daily Doubles, Jonathan and Christine are going to be in deep, deep trouble. And as much as I really want Christine to win, her Daily Double track record isn’t looking to do her any favors.
    Quarterfinal #3: Margaret – I originally had Brian listed as the favorite to win, but after looking through each of their stats, I realized that Margaret is a lot more aggressive when she needs to be. She probably could’ve won at least seven games had it not been for that everything Final Jeopardy bet in game 5.
    Quarterfinal #4: rowan – I would say more, but after watching the absolute drubbings they put up against some very good competition in SCT, I don’t think I need to.
    Quarterfinal #5: Jaskaran – He and Eric are very close, or equal, in most stats, but the fact that Jaskaran has yet to miss a Final Jeopardy while Eric only got two out of seven makes Jaskaran the favorite to win in my mind.
    Quarterfinal #6: Jessica – As I’ve said many, many times, this is the same person that almost beat Matt and Jonathan at the same time, so I think her experience with dealing with some of the toughest competition this roster has to offer at one time makes her the favorite. But this is probably the closest match in my eyes.

    Now, let’s see how wrong I turn out to be when everything airs 🙂

  2. Andy, really appreciate your analysis.
    I seeded mine slightly differently. Second Chance champs are 20 and 21, ordered by cumulative total over their 3 games, and College and Teacher champs are between 5-time and 4-time champs as you have, also ordered by cumulative totals over their 4 games. (Rowan (20) 74599, Jessica (21) 54000, and Jaskaran (13) 96000 and Sam (14) 84401)
    If it were up to me, I would have each game have one player from seeds 4-9, one player from seeds 10-15, and one player from seeds 16-21. I think this is a fair way to distribute the players. If this was done at random after seeds 4-9 were each placed in a game, they pretty much succeeded. With the exception of swapping 15 and 16 (Jackie and John), it came out rather well. Given that 15 and 16 are adjacent seeds, this is not a big deal.
    So the way the matchups work out by seeding this way is 4-10-19, 5-11-18, 6-12-17, 7-16-20, 8-13-15, 9-14-21.
    There is an additional fine tune that I like, the total “seed scores” of each game be 37 or 38. None of the games fit this, 8-13-15 is the closest (36). This is basically a generalization of NCAA type seeding – in March Madness each regional has 16 teams seeded 1 to 16. The sum of 1 to 16 is 136. 136/8 games = 17, and the matchups demonstrate this (1-16, 2-15 … 7-10, 8-9). Generalize this to ToC. Sum of 4 to 21 is 225. 225/6 games = 37.5. Since there are three players this keeps each game “equal” at least in terms of seeding. However, like the NCAAs someone unexpected can get hot at the right time.

    • For what it’s worth: my statement on the seedings should not be taken as conjecture—it should be taken as “I figured out how the show seeded and paired the quarter-finals”

  3. My analysis:
    Match 1: Ryan. Megan’s gonna give him a run for his money and Maureen probably won’t go away, but I think that betting situation ends in Ryan’s favor, probably because he’s going to go in guns blazing knowing he needs to win this one. He’ll probably have enough of a lead to be able to bet counter to Megan’s anti-cover strategy. But it hinges on him remembering how she plays, so we’ll see if he does.
    Match 2: Andrew. Jonathan is a very conservative player – he tries to get a lead and keep it, no matter how small it is. Andrew is a more aggressive player and had a lead over Amy Schneider going into FJ, but blew it by putting the wrong NYC island down. Many apologies to Christine, who is a good player but got a really bad draw. I think Andrew takes it because he’s going to set the pace, which means Jonathan will have to keep up. It’s unfortunate that we won’t get a Matt/Jonathan/Jessica rematch, but we’ll get plenty of other great ones.
    Match 3: I legit have no idea. Your prediction model here is “tossup” for a reason. I expect this match will be very back-and-forth and too close to call.
    Match 4: Rowan. Courtney’s good, but Rowan just annihilated some really good competition, and I’d be shocked if they doesn’t do it again here. Their biggest obstacle is the man who defeated them the first time: Matt Amodio, and he comes later. John got a bad draw.
    Match 5: This is also a toughie. Jaskaran cleaned up in primetime, Eric is tough during the game but weak at FJ, and letting Jackie get even one Daily Double could wreck both guys here, since she’s gonna bet “all of it.” I… honestly think I might go with Jackie here, given how effective her strategy is if she can find a DD, get the lead and keep it.
    Match 6: Jessica held her own in her first match against Matt and Jonathan, and then cleaned up in the Second Chance Tournament Presented By Moderna. We can’t count her out of this, since I would think her competition was stronger than Sam’s Professors field. Sam could be out of his element. Zach will hold his own, too. Honestly this one can go in any direction, but my head says Sam and my gut says Jessica, and I’m torn.
    Match 7: …yeah, I’m not going to bother predicting this. Any of them could win. I’m happy that they’re getting some buzzer practice in, and this is a spectacle that I’m excited to see. Alex would have LOVED this.

    I am so excited for this. Here’s hoping this lives up to all the hype. What a field this is!

    • Mostly agree, except with Quarterfinal #4 – given how most of John’s stats are better after five games than Courtney’s are after eight, I’d argue that a Rowan-John matchup is worse for Courtney than a Rowan-Courtney matchup is for John.

      • You ended up being correct on that. I’d forgotten about John, probably because there was nothing distinctive about him. Courtney looked frazzled. And Rowan didn’t use the momentum from the Second Chance Tournament to their advantage, which is unfortunate because the Amodio rematch potential now hinges on Jessica. With Andrew He moving on, good chance we get a Schneider rematch at least!

        Also, I was way off on the Ryan Long match, spot on with Andrew and with match #3 being tight – it was a tie going into FJ! Shame it didn’t go to a tiebreaker. Hoping this ToC continues to deliver!

  4. I am disappointed to see Andrew He and Jonathan Fisher in the same group. A superchamp who beat Matt and a 5 day champ who lead Amy going into final.

  5. No predictions from me, but I would love to see Ryan make the final. Hope he does well tonight.

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