Michael Jordan sliding to pick No. 3. Tom Brady dropping to the sixth round. Mike Piazza going 1,390th. Add another one to that list: Larissa Kelly dropping to pick No. 6 in the Jeopardy! All-Stars draft.
This week is Jeopardy!’s first-ever All-Stars tournament. The competition brings back many of the game show’s best-known contestants from this century for a team competition. Six teams of three will compete over a two-week tournament.
As a big fan of Jeopardy!, I was obviously very excited for this. Some of my favorite (and least favorite) players are back and are playing against each other. It hasn’t disappointed so far, even though the show’s modified format has resulted in more commercials than it had ever aired in one half-hour program before this week. (There weren’t actually more ads, but the old people were loud with their complaints that the first game was spread out over two days.)
Update (10:43 a.m. ET): At the explicit requests of Jeopardy! contestant and defender of the faith Alex Jacob, we would like to clarify that there were not actually more ads in this edition of the show. The running time was the same. Deadspin regrets the confusion and ever attempting to make a joke about Jeopardy! in the first place.
The team captains made their draft picks in a special that streamed last September. Buzzy Cohen, Colby Burnett, and Brad Rutter were the captains. Thursday night, the three competitors were Cohen, Kelly, and Alan Lin.
Kelly killed it. She answered 14 clues correctly, against insanely tough competition. At one point her team was up $10,400. When Cohen pulled his team back into the game with a Daily Double, Kelly kept her lead. She handed it off to David Madden, who was the only contestant to get the correct response to to this clue in the category African Geography: “The 7-letter names of these western- & easternmost mainland countries begin with the same letter.” Team Rutter is ahead by nearly $25,000 going into the second game of the tournament. (Each semifinal is a two-game total.)
Kelly was a dominant player when she appeared on the show in 2008, winning seven games. She would’ve won the 2009 Tournament of Champions if she hadn’t missed Final Jeopardy. And she went sixth in the draft to Brad Rutter, the man who’s won more money on Jeopardy! than anyone else in history. It’s as if the Golden State Warriors drafted Zion Williamson.
Don’t just take my word for it. According to The Jeopardy! Fan’s model, Kelly was the No. 2 rated player in the draft—only behind Alex Jacob, who was picked first overall. Fine. But letting a force like Larissa Fucking Kelly fall to Brad Fucking Rutter ended the tournament before it even began.