A Singaporean contestant on the British quiz show “University Challenge” is dazzling viewers with his impressive geography skills.
The Feb. 14 episode of the long-running TV show featured 22-year-old Maximilian Zeng and his Imperial College London teammates dominating against the University of Reading team in the quarterfinals of the show’s 51st season.
Zeng’s uncanny ability to answer nearly every obscure geography question correctly has made him a favorite among viewers. It also helped his team reach the semifinals round, with Imperial College winning the episode with a commanding 225 points over Reading’s 120 points.
Social media users praised the biochemistry student as clips of his confident answers emerged online and have since gone viral.
Zeng was able to identify Italy in one question by looking at an image of its navy’s coat of arms. He also correctly answered Jaipur as the Indian city to be nicknamed “the Pink City.”
As impressive as these answers were, his answers from Imperial’s previous match against King’s College London on Jan. 14, in which he correctly identified locations on an unmarked map, turned him into an overnight social media darling.
In an interview with CNA, Zeng shared that he got his first world map at age 3. By age 6, he knew all countries and capital cities in the world.
The former Hwa Chong Institution student also revealed that he uses “rote memorization,” a studying technique he learned in Singapore when participating in quizzes such as those featured on “University Challenge.”
According to Zeng, he only hits the buzzer when he “absolutely knows the answer.”
“People might say I have fast buzzers or I might be taking risks. I see a lot of comments about that. But pretty much every single time I press the buzzer, I’m like 99 percent sure of what the answer is going to be,” he was quoted as saying.
While the student also gave several wrong answers during their matches, many gravitated towards the contestant for his calm and cool demeanor throughout the series.
Meanwhile, his Imperial captain, Michael Mays, earned mostly criticism online for his alleged favoritism towards teammate Gilbert Jackson. Mays was accused of ignoring Zeng and teammate Fatima Sheriff and focusing mainly on Jackson when seeking answers to questions.