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November 3, 2015

ToC2015: Strength by pre-Final position

2015 Tournament of Champions
Pre-tourney stats: Pre-Final position Forrest Bouncing
Coryat scores
QF preview SF preview
QF1 QF2 QF3 QF4 QF5 SF1 SF2 SF3 F1 F2

Over the next few days, we’re going to use numbers to size up the field of the 2015 Tournament of Champions, which begins this coming Monday. (Be sure to check out the official Jeopardy! site for the event.)

ToC2015 heads

The first approach is based on an analysis I did after Kerry Greene’s six-win run back in April. As you might recall, she became just the fourth player to win 3 straight games when trailing heading into Final Jeopardy!, and the first five-timer to do so. (Andrew Haringer later one-upped her, winning his first four games from second before locking his fifth.)

As I’ve pointed out several times, including on my guest post over at the Jeopardy! website, a player in the lead heading into Final is much more likely to win. Therefore, I derived a rough estimation of each player’s pre-Final prowess in regular play.

For each game, a player earned points based on the percentage chance of winning based on pre-Final position. I then divided that total by the player’s number of games.

  • Lock: 100
  • First: 65
  • Second: 25
  • Third: 10
  • Eliminated: 0

Using this metric, Matt Jackson and Alex Jacob crush the field. (As Jennifer Giles qualified in a tournament, she had only 2 one-day games, so I’ve excluded her.)

Note: due to an error in my original calculations, some players had too many ‘locks’ instead of ‘firsts’. That has been corrected.

ContestantWinsLockFirstSecondThirdRating
Alex Jacob64385.00
Andrew Haringer51537.50
Brennan Bushee514164.17
Catherine Hardee44157.00
Dan Feitel51570.83
Elliot Yates42355.00
Greg Seroka725168.75
John Schultz514161.67
Kerry Greene633140.00
Kristin Sausville522263.33
Matt Jackson1311392.50
Michael Bilow321066.25
Scott Lord5122148.33
Vaughn Winchell523170.00

This metric has a few shortcomings, namely that these positions are overly simplistic. For example, first place in a tight three-way contest is much different from first place where second is crushed and third is mathematically eliminated.

I could go back and calculate ratings based on actual scores and wagers, but I think that’s overcomplicating what’s already verging on pseudo-science. This is more of a gut check.

For fun, here are the ratings of the regular-play competitors in the 2014 Tournament of Champions, along with their position before Final in their quarterfinal games. (Collins, Chu, and Ingram were the finalists.)

ContestantWinsLockFirstSecondThirdRatingQF pre-Final
Julia Collins20128183.10first
Arthur Chu1174180.83first
Ben Ingram8251162.22first
Drew Horwood8151252.22out
Andrew Moore62575.00second
Jared Hall6312160.71third
Sandie Baker633174.29second
Joshua Brakhage5122148.33second
Rani Peffer5122148.33third
Rebecca Rider55155.83third
Sarah McNitt514164.17second
Mark Japinga42341.00first
3 Comments
  1. Cerulean permalink

    I like it, Keith. I actually used my own formula to list the contestants. My order, which seems a bit surprising at points, is (with points to the nearest hundredth):
    1. Matt Jackson 68.17 (actually a little higher due to a math error)
    2. Elliot Yates 30.91
    3. Brennan Bushee 27.98
    4. Michael Bilow 21.75
    5. Vaughn Winchell 20.35
    6. Greg Seroka 18.55
    7. Catherine Hardee 18.14
    8. Andrew Haringer 17.29
    9. Alex Jacob 15.20
    10. Scott Lord 14.90
    11. Kerry Greene 13.64
    12. Jennifer Giles 9.84
    13. John Schultz 9.57
    14. Kristin Sausville 9.55
    15. Dan Feitel 8.91

    I wonder if using your system there’s a pattern that emerges. Apparently, using days and winnings (not including Tournament Winners, like Teachers’ or College), most commonly the winners of ToCs come from 1st or 8th place, and never from 5-7.

  2. Cerulean permalink

    And the picture spoils it! Now I know that Michael Bilow will be in the ToC! (Not that I’m not happy about that, though.)

  3. Peter permalink

    Well, looking at how well they wagered during final, here’s what I’ve come up with for how the field stacks up (also ignoring Jennifer)

    1: Greg Seroka – 3.00 – 4 wagers – 3 locks
    2: Vaughn Winchell – 3.00 – 4 wagers – 2 locks
    3: Matthew Jackson – 3.00 – 3 wagers – 11 locks
    4: Alex Jacob – 3.00 – 3 wagers – 4 locks
    5: Michael Billow – 3.00 – 1 wager
    6: Kristin Sausville – 2.75
    7: John Schultz – 2.40 – 5 wagers – 1 lock – 5 leads
    8: Scott Lord – 2.40 – 5 wagers – 1 lock – 2 leads
    9: Brennan Bushee – 2.00
    10: Kerry Green – 0.71
    11: Elliot Yates – (0.33)
    12: Andrew Haringer – (0.60) – 5 wagers – 1 lock
    13: Catherine Hardee – (0.60) – 5 wagers – 0 locks
    14: Dan Feitel – (1.40)

    Average – 1.373

What do you think?