June 20, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Jeopardy!’s Ultimate VIP Tournament

Change into your all-blue onesie and start phrasing every sentence like a question, because this! Is! Intellectual battle-royal time! Jeopardy! will begin airing its “Greatest of All Time” tournament on Tuesday, January 7, which will reunite the three best players to ever compete on the show — Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, and Brad Rutter — so they can duke it out quiz-bowl style to become the ultimate Jeopardy! GOAT. The tournament also comes at a poignant time for longtime host Alex Trebek, as he continues to fight his stage 4 pancreatic-cancer diagnosis and contemplate retirement.

Since the rules of the tournament aren’t exactly the easiest to understand at first glance, Vulture is here to answer some questions you may have about what to expect over the next few days, as well as unpack the history of our trio of smarties. Let the games, and those super-quick buzzer fingers, begin.

How many days do I have to block out for this? And how exactly is it structured?
First up, programming note: This Jeopardy! tournament won’t be airing in its normally scheduled pre-Wheel of Fortune slot on ABC. Instead, it’ll be taking up a full hour from 8 p.m.-9 p.m. ET each night it airs.

Each tournament episode will consist of a set of two back-to-back games, hence the hour-long running time. The player with the most combined winnings from these two games wins the “match.” The play will then continue on each successive night until either Jennings, Holzhauer, or Rutter wins three matches — that means the tournament could end as quickly as three days or last as long as seven. So, we could potentially see the winner crowned on Thursday, January 9, or, if things really heat up, it could continue on into the subsequent week. Just keep in mind that the tournament will not be airing on Friday, January 10, so enjoy that night for yourself.

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