"Jeopardy!" Is Making These Major Changes to Its Seasons
Production is introducing yet another new tournament that will lead to other adjustments.
Jeopardy! viewers are accustomed to the standard game: Each evening, three contestants face off—two newcomers and one returning champion looking to defend their title. But over the years, the game show has also deviated from its regular format, developing different tournaments and special events to spice up the competition. Now, Jeopardy! is making some additional changes for its upcoming 40th season. Read on to find out which tournaments you'll want to tune into.
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The Second Chance tournament is officially making a comeback.
On March 30, a special episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast dropped in honor of JeoparDAY!, an annual tradition that celebrates the airing of the first Jeopardy! episode in 1964.
On the podcast, executive producer Michael Davies revealed that production is bringing back the Second Chance tournament, first introduced last fall. The competition gives players who didn't win their first game another shot at Jeopardy! glory, which they typically wouldn't have. (Game rules prohibit players who have lost from competing on the syndicated show a second time.)
"The difference now for our contestants this season is that they are aware that a second chance exists, so for those who play a great game, but maybe don't become a Jeopardy! champion, they now know there's a possibility for them to return and compete," producer Sarah Foss said, adding that they aren't yet sure which players will compete, as there's "a lot of great competition."
The tournament will kick off in September, producers said, ahead of Season 40.
"So from the moment we return in September for Season 40, we're going to go into the [Season 39] postseason, starting with Second Chance," Davies told listeners. "And then the regular Season 40 … will start after that."
That's not the only adjustment.
In a bigger turn of events, a brand new tournament is also in the works: Champions Wildcard.
According to Davies, Champions Wildcard is "going to fill the vacuum between Second Chance and the Tournament of Champions," which is also coming back this fall. Davies explained that only non-winners were eligible to come back on Second Chance, and only those who won four or more games could qualify for the Tournament of Champions—leaving out players who won fewer than four games during Season 39.
"How about all the people who won three episodes, or two episodes, or one episode?" Davies said. "In a ToC, I believe—a Tournament of Champions—every champion should get a chance to compete."
According to Foss, all champions who won between one and three games during Season 39 will be invited back to face off in the Champions Wildcard event.
The three tournaments will take 10 weeks.
The addition of Champions Wildcard will shake up and extend the postseason structure, with Second Chance winners moving on to Champions Wildcard, and those winners moving on to the Tournament of Champions. According to Davies, all three tournaments will take about 10 weeks to complete. This will account for a significant portion of the game show's typical 46-week syndicated season.
With the Champions Wildcard tournament, Foss added that viewers will get the chance to see some of their "favorites" from this season once again, including those who first played decades ago.
"You're going to see some of your favorites like Martha Bath—she originally won in 1972 with Art Fleming, she came back and won early in Season 39—she's coming back," Foss said.
Other potential competitors include Lloyd Sy, who took out 13-day champion Ray LaLonde, and Andy Tirrell, who defeated 21-day champion, Cris Pannullo. Another invitation will be sent to Yogesh Raut, the controversial contestant who lost after a three-day streak.
Davies followed up by saying that no contestants have officially confirmed their return, but they do hope that all former one-, two-, and three-day winners accept the invitation to play. Foss added that production is anticipating a "very eventful off-season" while they figure out which contestants will qualify for which tournaments in the postseason.
Fans have mixed reviews about these changes.
Production said that Jeopardy! is maintaining a "pretty healthy balance" between the regular season and the postseason. As Davies believes that the game is a sport, he noted that it's also "on par with what happens in major league sports."
Some Jeopardy! viewers are excited about the new schedule, with one fan writing on Reddit that they enjoy getting "invested in players." However, other fans aren't as jazzed about the expanded postseason, which reduces the number of opportunities for new players to compete.
"I understand all these tournament things, brackets, and statistics appeal to the sport-minded," a viewer wrote on Reddit. "My personal preference isn't that they don't exist, but that they were something separate, and the powers that be let Jeopardy be Jeopardy. Then have some spinoffs that are fed by those who previously played Jeopardy using whatever criteria they want."
One Redditor said the tournaments are "overwhelming" and "really unnecessary," while another said that although Davies is clearly passionate about the game, all of these add-ons are "starting to feel like overkill."
"Enough already. I've had tournament fatigue for a while now," yet another Reddit comment reads. "The game is becoming less [must]-watch tv for me with these endless gimmicks."