‘Jeopardy!’ Fan Fave Ryan Long Eliminated in Tournament of Champions Premiere

Ryan Long

Ryan Long, the fan-favorite Jeopardy! champion, who won 16 consecutive games back in June, has lost in the first round of the Tournament of Champions, which premiered on Monday, October 31.

The Philadelphia-based Uber driver was up against attorney Megan Wachspress (6 wins) and executive assistant Maureen O’Neil (4 wins), two of the lower-seeded contestants in the competition. Many viewers expected this to give Long a distinct advantage, seeing as he’d won an impressive 16 games and $299K in his previous outing.

However, Long could not repeat his success, as he struggled with the increased difficulty of the questions. This included a category literally named “This Category is Confusing,” which completely stumped the former champ. “I don’t know, couldn’t begin to guess,” Long said as he randomly landed on a Daily Double.

Wachpress and O’Neil didn’t fare much better as they also had difficulty with the complexity of the questions. In fact, by the first commercial break, all three players were barely out of negative scores. “After some jitters, I’m happy to see that all three of you are out of the hole,” host Ken Jennings commented, trying to encourage the returning champions.

In the end, O’Neil won with a $16,799 total and advanced to the semi-finals. Long and Wachspress left the game and the competition with a cash prize of $5,000, ending their dreams of becoming the Tournament of Champions victor.

During his first run on the long-running game show, Long crashed out after 16 wins, with some fans believing he lost on purpose. “I didn’t throw the game,” Long told USA Today at the time. “I didn’t lay down for it, but I wasn’t sad that I lost either. I felt like I was maybe ready to go, but I didn’t lay down.”

“A little bit of a disappointment that Ryan, a 16-time champion, didn’t advance to the semifinals, but still finished in second place,” wrote a user on the Jeopardy! Reddit forum following Monday’s game. “Anyway, congratulations Maureen, and we look forward seeing you in the semis.

“While I’m not a trivia expert, I could tell that the material was pretty tough, so I don’t blame the players for struggling,” said one fan, while another added, “These TOC questions are TOUGH. So many triple stumpers. Especially that parliament vowel category was a complete shut-out, I think.”

“Wow, the first upset is in game 1! I hope this sets the stage for a wild and fun tournament! Let’s goooo!” wrote another viewer, while one fan stated, “Absolutely shocking turn. Seemed this would be a cakewalk for Ryan.”

Meanwhile, a viewer on Twitter added, “Watching Ryan crumble horribly makes me hopeless.”

Jeopardy!, Tournament of Champions, Weeknights, Check your local listings