Sports reporter Eddie Timanus, a five-time "Jeopardy!" Winner himself, says champion James Holzhauer's big wins that bring him to another class.
Eddie Timanus, who composes the polls of college coaches for USA TODAY Sports, was a five-time winner at Jeopardy! 1999 and the semifinals of a tournament of Champions in 2000. He offers the remarkable edition of the current "Jeopardy!" – Champions James Woodcutter:
I admit it: From that moment on he was called "Jeopardy!" as featured (keyword Johnny Gilbert) "A professional sports player from Las Vegas, Nevada," I was intrigued. This guy is not afraid to bet big, I thought.
Sure enough, when James Holzhauer discovered his first daily double and used his now well-known phrase, "All Chips," we had a hunch we were there. Seeing something special. Still, I was not quite prepared for the real game changer we saw on the show in the last three weeks.
Already at Holzhauer's fourth victory, host Alex Trebek wondered if it was too early to project whether Ken Jennings' record 74-day winning streak might be in jeopardy. No, it was definitely not too early. Holzhauer has already surpassed $ 1 million in profit margins and is outperforming Jennings total in less than half of the stakes. TALL TASK: From 5-10 Kyler Murray to 6-7 Tyree Jackson, NFL teams take stock of the draft QB prospects
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Jennings eventually lost, and Holzhauer will do as well. But the lucky challenger who scans him probably needs help from Holzhauer himself. We will discuss it further below, but first a brief introduction to what has made him an unstoppable force.
I do not use the term "game changer" easily. In sporting contexts it is quite common, although generation talents, who are actually changing the way their particular game is played, are not so common. But Holzhauer plays the game like no other, except for Jennings.
First and foremost, a successful "Jeopardy!" – Players have a broad knowledge base. According to my observation, the 35-year-old Holzhauer does not seem to have many holes in this regard. However, the ability of a competitor to master the buzzer or, to use its own name, the signaling device is of equal if not greater importance. According to statistics compiled by Andy Saunders at thejeopardyfan.com, Holzhauer has successfully rang through his first 14 wins in nearly 57 percent of the time. That's a phenomenal percentage with two other competitors trying the same.
But his approach to the board has made him a real game changer. While many players, including myself, prefer to play categories from top to bottom and try to stick to them, Holzhauer first clears the clues to the big dollar. Thanks to his ability to ring in at first and rarely miss, he usually has a considerable sum when he discovers a daily double. He finds most of them, as he is able to keep the board under control for long stretches, and as we have seen, he is not afraid to bet big. A sporty player, but maybe betting on yourself is the safest bet of all.
So he was able to collect points that were unprecedented in the history of the show. He already owns the six highest single days. Speed, instinct, confidence and knowledge – pretty SICK, would not you say?
What does it take to dethrone him? It will only happen if someone is within range of Final Jeopardy. That is, a score of at least half the total number of the leader. So far, all his games were locks. There are several ways this can happen.
It is conceivable that someone who is fast enough to beat him a couple of times can keep the game tight. However, it is not easy for a challenger playing his first game to achieve this efficiency with the signal button. Timing is everything and experience just makes the timing better. Therefore, Holzhauer will probably miss one of these big bets. Then, of course, the challenger would have to give a correct answer to the last clue and hope that the champion misses. So far, Holzhauer has missed only one last danger. As I said, it would be a bit lucky.
Many fans are curious about how Holzhauer would beat other super-champions of the past like Jennings or multiple tournament winner Brad Rutter. I would know a good thing if they see it, and I would not be surprised if the show's producers would one day perform such a match-up.
Some people on social media were even kind enough to put me on this list. Although I appreciate the feeling, but I'm pretty sure Woodcutter would be the windshield and I would be the bug. I do not have exact numbers, but I suspect that my buzz-in share on a good day was 30 percent. Right now, I'll just enjoy watching how much this guy finally takes home.