St John’s through to the final of University Challenge

St John's recovered from Liverpool's early lead to comfortably secure their place in the final

St John’s College have defeated the University of Liverpool in the semi-final of University Challenge. They will face Peterhouse, Cambridge in the final on Monday 18th April.

Establishing an initial 25 point lead, St John’s looked like they were well in control from the start. However a quick recovery from Liverpool on the subject of an Australian streaker saw them take the lead for the first third of the show. St John’s broke even at 40 points and just when it looked like St John’s was going to settle into one of their own characteristic streaks, Liverpool once again took the lead. Finally at 90 points all, John’s settled into winning form closing the show with 195 points to Liverpool’s 95. 

St John’s team have gone from strength to strength throughout the competition. The first round saw them more than double Bristol’s score. Since then, they have had two convincing wins against Queen’s University Belfast and Newcastle University and snatched victory from St Catherine’s College, Cambridge by 5 points.

However, St John’s are the distinct underdogs for the coming match having lost to Peterhouse in the quarter final 150-195.

Overall, Oxford have won University Challenge the most times. A victory for St John’s in the final would mark Oxford’s 16th win in 45 years, dwarfing Cambridge’s current total of 9 wins.

The winning Oxford team is comprised of Angus Russell (History and Modern Languages), Charlie Clegg (Theology), Dan Sowood (Chemistry) and Alex Harries (History).

Katherine Hodgson, second year undergraduate historian at St Hugh’s told Cherwell: “I’ve watched every episode so far. I’m a total fan girl for the Johns team – big fan of Harries, if they don’t win I’ll be down a load of money, bet most of this month’s student loan on them winning.”

Victory for the all-male St John’s team will not ease questions over sexism in University Challenge. At last year’s semi-final, Jeremy Paxman reignited the debate when he introduced both Oxford teams and declared he would ask the usual tough questions. “Few tougher, perhaps, than why on earth are there no women left in this stage of the competition?” This year follows the same broad pattern with the semi-finalists including 14 men and two women.

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The final of University Challenge will air on BBC 2 at 20:00 next Monday.