‘Jeopardy!’ EP Explains Reasoning Behind Major Tournament of Champions Format Changes

by Caitlin Berard

Back in April, British game show producer Michael Davies was appointed the new executive producer of Jeopardy! following an eight-month trial run in the role. The remainder of Season 38 played out as normal, despite the shift behind the scenes. Davies, however, already had major plans in the works, and after the Season 38 finale, those plans began to unfold.

The EP started by rolling out the Inside Jeopardy! podcast. Hosted by Davies and fellow producer Sarah Foss, the podcast takes fans behind the scenes of the iconic game show. Each week, the producers update fans on the newest Jeopardy! news, give gameplay analysis, and share behind-the-scenes stories.

The latest episode is entitled “What is the New Tournament of Champions?”. In it, Michael Davies gave an overview of the changes fans can expect in the coming TOC.

This was a welcome explanation to fans, who were shocked to learn that this year’s TOC will include two winners from the new Second Chance Tournament who didn’t previously qualify to play against the latest Jeopardy! greats.

Furthermore, Davies is taking a page from sports with the format of his tournament. Season 38’s top champions – Matt Amodio, Amy Schneider, and Mattea Roach – will be sent straight to the semifinals rather than competing to get there.

‘Jeopardy!’ EP Micheal Davies Explains the ‘New’ Tournament of Champions

According to Michael Davies, the decision to slingshot the top three was made to differentiate Jeopardy!‘s winningest champs from the rest. “None of these decisions were made lightly,” the EP explained. “But we looked at Mattea and Matt and Amy… We had to draw a distinction between them and the rest of our players.”

“And you’re not talking about the three top seeds that are two or three games ahead of everyone,” added Jeopardy! legend Buzzy Cohen, the special guest of the August 15 episode. “They have played historical runs of the game of Jeopardy!.”

“As much as that seeding might seem like an advantage, and in some ways is, it also might be a disadvantage,” Cohen continued. “The other players they’re gonna be up against in the semifinals are gonna have a little bit of practice with the buzzer.”

Michael Davies then explained that Buzzy wasn’t the only one who felt the top champs would be at a disadvantage. The rest of the Jeopardy! crew worried about the additional challenge for Matt, Amy, and Mattea as well.

“Yeah, the pushback I got from my team about seeding them was never about the advantage,” Davies said. “It was about the disadvantage of… They would then go into that second round, or the semifinals, without having played a game.”

The Jeopardy! EP then teased a mind-blowing practice game that fans will never see…or will they? “And actually, one of the things we’ve been talking about is… How do we give them a practice game that feels somewhat real?” Davies said. “A practice game, by the way, that may break the internet, were we ever to put it out there.”