Continuing to produce weekly episodes of Jeopardy! with old, and in some cases likely outdated, questions is a controversial enough decision to begin with and its exacerbated by the existence of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions that usually airs in the fall.
A staple of the program since it premiered, the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions is the Super Bowl (or World Cup for our non-American friends) of all televised quiz competitions. It brings together the most successful champions from the previous season to find out who is truly the best of the best. Last year’s tournament aired throughout most of November, with superchamp Amy Schneider eventually beating out Andrew He and Sam Buttrey for the TOC crown.
The Tournament of Champions is as hallowed an event that a trivial trivia can produce and the idea of participating in it with recycled questions was a non-starter for several season 39 champs. In a Reddit post, 13-game winner and TOC candidate Ray Lalonde reported that he would decline an invitation to the tournament while writers and actors are striking.
Lalonde was quickly joined in boycotting the TOC by fellow contestants Chris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson, Ben Chan, Troy Meyer, Ben Goldstein, Luigi de Guzman, and Suresh Krishnan. Celebrity Jeopardy! champion and SAG member Ike Barinholtz would be unable to participate as well, wiping out more than half of the TOC‘s usual 15 contestants.
How can Jeopardy! stage a tournament of champions without questions or even most champions? Turns out that they can’t. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a Jeopardy! spokesperson reported that the Tournament of Champions would be delayed, saying:
“Jeopardy! never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved. Further, no contestants from season 39 have been contacted regarding their availability for any postseason tournaments, including the TOC. The Jeopardy! postseason represents the pinnacle of our competition, and it should feature our strongest players playing our toughest original material.”