FINAL UPDATE: BEN INGRAM WON! Dominated, really. Arthur came in second, Julia in third.
Update: Julia won on Monday. Arthur won on Tuesday. THE ULTIMATE JEOPARDY BATTLE OF FIRE AND LASERS BEGINS THURSDAY:
2014 has been an excellent year for Jeopardy, and it's about to get great again.
In February and March, Arthur Chu won almost $300,000 and got people talking about sportsmanship and game theory with his buzzer-mashing, category-jumping, Daily-Double-hunting style. He was, for a few weeks, sports' most dominant and intriguing competitor, and our favorite by far:
The most dominant figure in sports right now: Arthur. pic.twitter.com/9xEKedWO66— SB Nation (@SBNation) February 28, 2014
Arthur's streak ended at 11 games. Julia Collins' went way further. With no real strategy except knowing absolutely everything, Julia became one of Jeopardy's greatest contestants ever. We kept increasingly hysterical tabs on her run, which reached 20 wins:
That streak is second only to the titanic Ken Jennings, and Julia's final winnings of $429,100 are third all-time (yo, Jeopardy, update your leaderboard) for non-tournament contestants, just barely behind second-place Dave Madden.
Two captivating champs in the same season! What could be better? I'LL TELL YOU WHAT COULD BE BETTER, SELF. WHEN THEY FACE EACH OTHER.
Jeopardy's annual Tournament of Champions -- featuring the season's top 15 contestants (including automatic entries for top College and Teacher champs) begins Monday night and lasts for two weeks. The roster includes some sharp, fun contestants, but none quite like 2014's most dominant.
Arthur and Julia will surely be separated in the initial rounds, but will hopefully continue their success and meet for an Ultimate Jeopardy Battle of Fire and Lasers (UJBOFAL).
LET'S GOOOOOOO. (Here's when Jeopardy is on for you.)
Update: The full schedule is online and updating with results (and a wild card watch). Arthur takes on the very tough Andrew Moore and Rani Peffer Tuesday night. Julia's up on Wednesday night.
Update: Arthur dominated Tuesday, winning entry into next week's semifinals. Julia entered Wednesday's Final Jeopardy in the lead, but was the only of the three contestants to answer the Constitution question incorrectly. She wagered small and finished with $9,100, though, so her chances of entering the semifinals as a wild card are decent.
Update: Julia made it in as the last of the wild cards and plays her semifinal game Monday. Arthur was the quarterfinal round's biggest winner and plays his semifinal game Tuesday.