Answer: The final round of the “Jeopardy!” Tournament of Champions.
Question: What is the most compelling competition on offer Thursday night, more fevered than an NFL collision, with higher stakes than an NHL game and with more dominant, evenly matched opponents than anything the NBA can muster?
The two-day finale of the tournament, which brings back the top performers from the previous season, promises a brain-teasing grudge match: It pits 20-time winner and fan favorite Julia Collins against 11-time winner Arthur Chu, who aggravated some fans of the game show with his iconoclastic board-hopping strategies.
Some may make this a hero-vs.-villain plotline, but it’s certainly a matchup of two excellent players, with vastly different personalities, meeting in their primes.
Collins’ winning streak was the second-longest in the show’s history — behind the immortal Ken Jennings — and her $429,100 in winnings are the most ever for a female.
Chu bagged $297,200 during his multi-week run, which drew widespread attention for Chu’s game-theory-motivated tactic of hunting around the board for Daily Doubles and higher-value clues rather than moving in an orderly progression.
“I don’t think I’m particularly smart,” Chu told The Post at the time his winning episodes aired. “It was all about looking for the right strategy for studying and the right strategy for playing the game and drilling myself on it ’til it became second nature.”
Collins is among Chu’s defenders, noting his on-air persona: frumpy, painfully shy, borderline taciturn.
“There’s nothing wrong with the way he played. It’s been really interesting because people ask me about that a lot and I think expect me to have some negative opinion about that,” she told USA Today. “I think the reason that he got so much attention for it had to do more with the persona that he cultivated on the show than the actual style of game play.”
In the days since he became a quiz celebrity, the 30-year-old Chu — a Swarthmore alum who lives in Ohio — has become a critic of nerd culture and a self-deprecating writer.
“I learned that it doesn’t matter how well you do in the tournament because whether you flame out in the first round or take home the grand prize, it will be less important than the fact that you’re skinnier now,” he wrote about his experience on the show.