‘I’m going to get so roasted for this!’ The nail-biting University Challenge final – reviewed by last year’s winner

Covering everything from voguing to ‘badass flags’, the grand final went down to the wire between Imperial and Reading – the first final not to feature an Oxbridge team in nearly a decade‘Online trials, remote practices and virtual pub quizzes”: all challenges faced by teams trying to prepare for this year’s University Challenge. But Covid gave contestants one that was far harder than any of those – meeting your teammates for the first time on the day of filming, especially in a game that depends so much on knowing your team’s strengths. The entertainment has not suffered, though – from first round dabs to 235 point winning margins, and no fewer than five games separated by five points, this season has certainly not struggled for drama. The same is true of last night’s nail-biting grand final.The road to the final is often long and, due to the show’s convoluted quarter-final rules, often winding too. Not, though, for the Imperial College London quartet of Max Zeng, Fatima Sheriff, Michael Mays and Gilbert Jackson, who swatted aside St John’s, Cambridge, Exeter, Kings College London, Reading and Emmanuel College, Cambridge to make it to this stage. Their opponents: Sylvian Jesudoss, Margaret Ounsley, Michael Hutchinson and Kira Bishop, the University of Reading team completing the lineup of the first final not to feature an Oxbridge team in nine years. They knocked out the Scottish trio of Strathclyde, Dundee and Edinburgh, as well as beating Birmingham and St John’s, Cambridge, with their only blemish being a defeat to Imperial. This wasn’t necessarily reason to be downhearted, though: two teams have won the title despite facing previous conquerors in the final. Ahead of last night’s grand final, the only thing we could guarantee was that the trophy would go to a captain called Michael. Continue reading...

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