'Jeopardy!' Tournament of Champions: Gutsy contestant leaves viewers and host Ken Jennings stunned

(Photo: Jeopardy.com)
(Photo: Jeopardy.com)

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

This is getting real. The last spot in the finals round of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions was up for grabs Friday, as 23-game super-champ Mattea Roach took on 6-game winner Eric Ahasic and Andrew He, who began with an impressive five wins himself.

Expectations for Roach were high, especially after they destroyed two other super-champions, Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio, in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, it was Ahasic who started off strongest.

All three (and host Ken Jennings) were treated to a category on Emmy Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin, who delivered the previously recorded clues himself. While giving the $400 clue, he even delivered a famous line from The Princess Bride: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

Roach found themself in second place after the first board in the last semifinal game. They had $4,000, in between He's $3,400 and Ahasic's $5,400.

But in the Double Jeopardy! round, He quickly managed to nab that first Daily Double, bet it all and answer correctly. A few questions later, he did it again and managed to pick up some major cash. By the end of regular play, He had a whopping $39,200 and couldn't be caught. Ahasic's total stood at $17,000, while Roach had $7,200.

Just as Jennings was left stunned by He's wager — "Oh, wow, I did not think you were going to say that" — so were viewers.

All three players were stumped by the Final Jeopardy! clue, under the category of "London Locales," but none of them lost much on their wager. He ended the game with $37,863. Ahasia came in second place with $16,783, and Roach ranked third with $7,200.

So it turns out that Schneider will be the only one of the three players — Schneider, Roach and Matt Amodio, who lost Thursday— who were automatically seeded to the semifinals round, based on their outstanding initial runs on the show, to move forward. When the finals begin on Monday, Schneider will face off against He, whom she beat in her very first game, and Sam Buttrey (who famously looks like Steve Martin). The first player to win three games will take home $250,000, along with serious bragging rights.