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Sports activities reporter Eddie Timanus, a five-time ‘Jeopardy!’ winner himself, says champ James Holzhauer’s enormous winnings put him in a distinct class.
USA TODAY

Eddie Timanus, who compiles the school coaches polls for USA TODAY Sports activities, was a five-time winner on Jeopardy! in 1999 and a Match of Champions semifinalist in 2000. He gives his tackle the outstanding run of present “Jeopardy!” champ James Holzhauer:

I’ll admit it: From the second he was launched on “Jeopardy!” as (cue Johnny Gilbert voice) “knowledgeable sports activities gambler from Las Vegas, Nevada,” I used to be intrigued. This man received’t be afraid to wager large, I believed.

Positive sufficient, when James Holzhauer uncovered his first day by day double and used his now-familiar phrase, “All of the chips,” I had a hunch we have been about to see one thing particular. Even so, I wasn’t fairly ready for the true game-changer we’ve witnessed on the present during the last three weeks.

At the same time as early as Holzhauer’s fourth victory, host Alex Trebek was questioning aloud if it was too early to undertaking whether or not Ken Jennings’ report 74-day profitable streak is perhaps in, properly, jeopardy. Nope, it undoubtedly was not too early. Having already surpassed the $1 million mark in earnings, Holzhauer is on tempo to overhaul Jennings’ whole in common video games in fewer than half the variety of appearances.

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Jennings did finally lose, and Holzhauer will as properly. However the lucky challenger who unseats him might be going to wish some assist from Holzhauer himself. We’ll delve deeper into that under, however first, right here’s a fast primer on what has made him such an unstoppable power.

I don’t use the time period “game-changer” frivolously. It will get bandied about in sports activities contexts fairly a bit, though generational abilities who really alter the way in which their explicit recreation is performed aren’t that frequent. However Holzhauer is taking part in the sport as nobody else has, as much as and together with Jennings.

In the beginning, a profitable “Jeopardy!” participant has to have a broad trivia data base. From what I’ve noticed, Holzhauer, 35, doesn’t seem to have many holes in that regard. Of equal if not larger significance, nevertheless, is a contestant’s potential to grasp the buzzer, or, to make use of its correct identify, the signaling gadget. In response to statistics compiled by Andy Saunders at thejeopardyfan.com, Holzhauer efficiently rang in first almost 57 % of the time by means of his first 14 wins. That’s an exceptional share with two different rivals making an attempt to do the identical.

But it surely’s his method to the board that’s made him a real game-changer. Whereas many gamers, myself included, choose to play classes from high to backside and attempt to persist with them, Holzhauer clears the big-dollar clues first. Due to his potential to ring in first constantly and barely miss, he often has a substantial whole constructed up by the point he uncovers a day by day double. He finds most of them since he’s in a position to preserve management of the board for lengthy stretches, and, as we’ve seen, he’s not afraid to wager large. A sports activities gambler, certainly, however maybe betting on himself is the most secure wager of all.

That’s how he’s been in a position to accumulate scores which were unprecedented within the present’s historical past. He already owns the six highest single-day finishes. Pace, intuition, confidence and data — fairly SICK, wouldn’t you say?

So, what’s going to it take to dethrone him? It is going to solely occur if somebody is inside hanging distance of him going into Last Jeopardy. That’s to say, a rating of no less than half the chief’s whole. So far, all however considered one of his video games have been locks. There are a few methods this might occur.

It’s conceivable somebody fast sufficient to beat him to the draw just a few instances may preserve the sport shut. But it surely isn’t simple for a challenger taking part in his or her first recreation to match that form of effectivity with the signaling button. Timing is all the pieces, and expertise solely makes timing higher. So it’s in all probability going to require Holzhauer to truly miss on a kind of large wagers. Then, after all, the challenger must ship an accurate response on the ultimate clue and hope the champ misses. So far, Holzhauer has solely missed one Last Jeopardy. As I stated, it will take fairly a bit of fine fortune.

Many followers are curious how Holzhauer would stack up towards different tremendous champs of the previous like Jennings or a number of match winner Brad Rutter. Figuring out a great factor once they see it, I wouldn’t be in any respect stunned if the present’s producers make such a match-up occur in the future.

Some of us on social media have even been variety sufficient to incorporate me on that listing. Whereas I admire the sentiment, I’m moderately positive Holzhauer could be the windshield and I the bug. I don’t have the precise figures, however I believe my buzz-in share topped out at 30 % on a great day. So for now, I’ll simply take pleasure in watching to see how a lot this man finally ends up taking residence.