Another Canadian joins the growing trend of ‘Jeopardy’ super-champions

TORONTO – It’s not your imagination: The « Jeopardy » sequences are getting longer.

Ray Lalonde, the Toronto stage artist who has won 10+ games, is just the latest in a new generation of trivia titans to take to the Alex Trebek stage.

Prior to Thursday’s game, Lalonde had raised US$285,100.

Also consider Mattea Roach, the 24-year-old Canadian “Jeopardy” phenom who won 23 straight games earlier this year, giving him the fifth-longest streak in show history.

The two are among just 16 competitors in the show’s history with winning streaks of at least 10 games, said Andy Saunders, the Guelph, Ont.-based blogger behind « The Jeopardy ! Fan. »

Of those 16, seven have appeared on the show in 2021 or 2022, including Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio, who hold the second and third longest streaks of all time.

Saunders has a theory as to why.

« The show has lowered its barrier to entry, » he said.

Around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the show’s producers began allowing potential contestants to audition at any time, rather than only being able to take an entrance test a few days a year.

And for those who pass that initial test, the second round of auditions now takes place via video call, Saunders said, rather than requiring quiz hopefuls to travel to a major metropolitan center to try out in person.

« There were a lot of people who are really good at ‘Jeopardy’ and just needed that extra push to try, which made it easier for them, » Saunders said.

A spokeswoman for « Jeopardy » did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the number of applicants had increased in recent years, but Saunders said he had ruled out some of the other possible explanations.

The series cues don’t seem any harder, he said, and the would-be super-champions use a variety of different strategies, so it’s not their style of play that gives them an advantage.

But whatever the explanation, Saunders said he liked long streaks.

« I love seeing great players succeed, » he said.

Not only does it give you something to research, but you can also analyze the game in a slightly different way, Saunders said.

« You can definitely tell with the longer streaks that some players are good in some categories and not so good in others. »

It seems to be working for the series, he added: « The ratings keep going up every time there’s a longer streak. »

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 29, 2022.


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