Viewers would be forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu during last night’s University Challenge finale on BBC Two, hosted by Jeremy Paxman.
Just a few years on from the epic showdown between rival contestants Bobby Seagull and Eric Monkman, Monday night’s finale between Imperial College and Corpus Christi, Cambridge was all about two more quiz giants set to go head-to-head.
Cambridge’s Ian Wang, nicknamed ‘Grandmaster Wang’ for his ability to quickly identify 80s pop tunes, and Imperial’s Brandon Blackwell – a native New Yorker and veteran quizzer – had both already emerged as breakout stars in this year’s series, and the finale saw their respective (all-male) teams battle it out for the grand prize.
— Steve. (@stevebollig) April 20, 2020
The showdown was already being touted as “Brandon vs Wang” on social media, with viewers eager to see how they would fare against one another.
It all comes down to this #UniversityChallenge
— James Wilcock (@James_Wilcock) April 20, 2020
“Brandon vs Wang. It’s the Foreman vs Ali of televised nerdery,” one fan wrote on Twitter.
— Chris Parsons (@ChrisParsons274) April 20, 2020
However, the episode proved to be more of an anti-climax for some viewers…
Well this is a total anti-climax so far #UniversityChallenge
— Douglas Dickie (@DouglasDickie1) April 20, 2020
Within the first ten minutes, Imperial was up by 100 points, while Corpus Christi was flailing on just -5. By the end of the episode, Imperial had triumphed with 275 points to their rival’s 105 points.
Brandon posted on Twitter shortly after the finale, praising both his Imperial teammates and Cambridge rivals, and adding that it “was wildly humbling & a great honor to meet Prof [Andrew] Wiles,” the noted mathematician who presented Imperial with their trophy.
My teammates are the GOATs. CPC-C are the most cohesive team in the modern era & would've for sure won other recent series. It was wildly humbling & a great honor to meet Prof Wiles. Receiving support like my team & I have has been truly incredible. Thx all#universitychallenge
— Brandon Blackwell (@_brandon2_) April 20, 2020
Several viewers also took to Twitter to praise the episode’s unsung hero, Imperial’s team captain Caleb Rich.
— Baz Flashmannes (@BazzFlashmans) April 20, 2020
“All eyes were on Brandon and Wang but this man Rich was on fire,” a fan posted on Twitter.
— JanettoCornetto ???????????????? (@janettocornetto) April 20, 2020
Wang also took to Twitter to offer “massive congratulations to the Imperial team who gave a dazzling performance and who fully earned their win”.
In all seriousness, massive congratulations to the Imperial team who gave a dazzling performance and who fully earned their win. I'm incredibly proud of our team for making it this far and a huge thank you to everyone who's been rooting for us #UniversityChallenge
— Ian Wang (@iantwang) April 20, 2020
Former University Challenge rivals Bobby Seagull and Eric Monkman have since gone on to become firm friends and even co-present TV series – could this be the start of a beautiful friendship between ‘Grandmaster’ Wang and Brandon?
If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.