NEW YORK (WABC) -- Host Ken Jennings is kicking off the first two rounds of the "Jeopardy! Masters" tournament, and it's clear that late host Alex Trebek is always in his thoughts.
Each hour-long episode of the series showcases the six highest-ranked current "Jeopardy!" contestants, with two action-packed and high-stakes games.
Amy Schneider, Matt Amodio, Mattea Roach, Andrew He, Sam Buttrey, and James Holzhauer are battling head-to-head for the grand prize and the title of "Jeopardy! Masters" Champion.
The players are facing off to win $500,000 and the Trebek Trophy.
"We talked a lot about what the prize should be, if this is a masters tournament, is there a blue jacket like a golf tournament? And we finally decided that we couldn't do better than naming our cup after Alex Trebek. The stage is now named for Alex and it's like he's still there when we're taping," Jennings said.
Jennings is excited to host the show and says he feels he's hitting his stride.
"Just like Alex, I look at the responses well in advance and we discuss things like pronunciation and phrasing and alternate answers," he said.
One nice part of having trivia pros play in this tournament? A lot of the nerves that come with being a first-time contestant are gone.
Jennings keeps up his trivia knowledge by playing along with the contestants, and that's something he said Trebek did too.
"To do it convincingly you really have to do it along with the contestants because it goes so fast, that if you aren't actually playing the game in your head you can't really pretend to host, and that was kind of Alex's secret I think. He was a bright guy, loved the game, and was just playing it in his head along with the contestants," Jennings said.
"Jeopardy! Masters" premieres Monday, May 8th, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.