As is tradition I will sort the players into Gold, Silver or Bronze groups prior to the ToC taping.
Names within each group are sorted by surname.
Gold: Eric R. Backes, Emma Boettcher, Steven Grade, Josh Hill, James Holzhauer,
Silver: Francois Barcomb, Anneke Garcia, Kyle Jones, Lindsey Shultz, Rob Worman
Bronze: Gilbert Collins, Alan Dunn, Ryan Fenster, Dhruv Gaur, Rachel Lindgren
No argument if someone wants a stronger metal for James as like Roger Craig’s year this could be the time for solo Platinum to be in play.
Eric lost his game 5 though it was still a strong performance other than the FJ! clue miss. If he had managed that fifth win that was within his reach he’d be a clear cut Gold.
Emma beat James and that has to count for something. Emma made the ToC field with respectable numbers and “only” winning 3 games is not enough for me to write her off.
Steven gets Gold for me as he had a stage presence of J! champ from the get-go.
Josh has the right skill set that lines up well to success on J! with buzzer reflexes and pop culture knowledge.
Francois was clearly the best player in his Teachers Tournament and seemed like he could have done as well in regular play.
Anneke deserved to make this field and it’s great the 15 was set in time to keep her in the mix. During her five games I was never convinced she had played her best game yet. With another chance perhaps she can really do well and I did consider Gold for her.
Kyle will make Gold for others who do such sorting and I completely understand as 7 wins plus the other stats do justify it. For me I during his run I never felt that extra excitement that I was seeing a super champ even though he reached superchamp status.
Lindsey gave me trouble for placement as she is the one (there is always one each ToC) when I consider all three groups. I settled for the middle as Bronze did not seem fair and Gold though tempting, also seemed incorrect.
Some of Rob’s stats indicate Bronze while I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for his posted efforts about studying and the long amount of time to get better. If the J! powers do a top 5 separated for the QF round then his 6 wins could have him not playing James, Kyle, Josh or Ryan the first week.
To me Gilbert and Rachel were the easiest placements as both instantly went in Bronze. They are welcome to prove me wrong. Either could of course make the semis with a FJ! clue solve in the QF game. Finals? I would not bet on that as I expect them to play from trailing positions every game they are in.
Alan was my favorite player from S35 and I really wanted to put him higher than Bronze. I’m hopeful his 6/6 on FJ! clues can continue and that he can make the second week of play. I expect the powers to treat him as expendable and give him no favors with match-ups. No matter what happens nothing will take away the joy I got from Alan pulling out his needed 5th win.
Ryan Fenster. That guy. He is one of the more memorable characters the show has produced. More than once Ryan has demonstrated amazing comeback skills and of course his football “knowledge” is legendary. Ryan had split streaks that led for four wins and later three more. Nine games of experience can only help him in the ToC. I found it hard to ignore his trailing for the FJ! round in 5/9 of his games.
Dhruv gets Bronze because it’s easy to dismiss the College Champ for being too young and in over his head in the ToC. Dhruv’s 2/4 on the FJ! clues could be considered ¾ as he went for humor in a lock position in his last game.
Part of the early hype for the ToC in announcing the field was the potential for an Emma vs. James rematch. How to make that happen? The way to guarantee it is for them to meet in a QF match. There is history for players who were in the same regular play game not to play against each other in the QF round.
Semis? Just as unlikely although this could be the year to do it. Emma and James both making the finals? I would bet against it except for the fact fans want it and the J! people know it. Matchups can be nudged but James and Emma would still have to do the heavy lifting in the semis. Time will tell.
If the QF round has the five who won the most games separated then that is: James, Josh, Kyle, Ryan & Rob
I will predict James plays Alan or Gilbert & either Rachel or Lindsey for the QF round for what the powers see as sacrificial lambs. That’s fine as it’s more about getting the FJ! clue right. James played 33 games and plenty of players scored enough against him that doubling up in the FJ! round would likely be enough to make the semis.
Agenda item #2 getting Emma to the Semis: She won’t play James or the other women. I’ll predict Gilbert or Alan & Dhruv or Francois.
For QF5 I’ll predict guys who can chill all day and go with Steven & Kyle as two of the players.
For the overall winner the easy prediction is James will win and that is certainly possible. On the other hand history indicates the big dog can be beat to open up the results to other outcomes as well.
I’ll pick a finals for James, Rob (go JBoard member with the most history and posts here), and Anneke. 6 players did not win five games or more so I predict that someone with T, C, 4 or 3 status makes it to the end.
A pick of James, Josh and Emma may have more takers although I’ll pass on such dreams or Hoyle occurring.