All posts by Jakob Myers

Collegiate Quizbowl 2018-2019 Season Preview

Acknowledgements are due to Naveed Chowdhury for editing and contributing to this writeup.

NOTE: All projected lineups are obviously subject to change over the course of the season. A degree of uncertainty about each lineup should be assumed, even where not indicated.

  1. Chicago Maroons (Alston Boyd, Matthew Lehmann, John Lawrence, Kai Smith), 322, highest #1, lowest #2

Unless a major upset happens, with the absence of Jacob Reed Chicago seems on pace to repeat their 2018 ACF Nationals championship. They lose history specialist Jason Zhou, but that loss should be more than made up for by the addition of literature-focused generalist and noted study fiend Matthew Lehmann. Kai Smith will continue to provide much-needed science support to top scorer John Lawrence, and this team will find itself in the unique position of having four very good literature players. History coverage is a concern; watch for how well Lehmann can provide it.


  1. Yale Bulldogs (Jacob Reed, Moses Kitakule, Stephen Eltinge, Adam Fine), 315, highest #1, lowest #2

Yale enters this year as tentative favorites to repeat their victory at ICT, but probable best active player in quizbowl Jacob Reed’s likely absence from ACF Nationals will weaken Yale there. While the loss of Isaac Kirk-Davidoff will be deeply felt, Yale will replace him with religion and literature specialist Moses Kitakule. This team’s ability to repeat their ICT title may depend on Stephen Eltinge’s ability to fill the gap Kirk-Davidoff’s departure left on NAQT categories. Eltinge and Adam Fine will likely continue to put up excellent numbers on science, so even without Reed, Yale retains top-bracket potential.


  1. Ohio State Buckeyes (Chris Ray, Clark Smith, Enoch Fu, Aakash Singh), 297, highest #3, lowest #5

After the arrival of Chris Ray in 2016-17, Ohio State became a quizbowl powerhouse with the addition of thought, religion, and literature-focused wunderkind Clark Smith. With additional support from science player Enoch Fu, this team is well-positioned to upset either team above it for a national title.


  1. Maryland Terrapins (Caleb Kendrick, Justin Hawkins, Graham Reid, Weijia Cheng), 277, highest #3, lowest #7

After two shock top-bracket finishes at ICT and ACF Nationals last year, Maryland is being inundated by a tsunami of new talent. Foremost among this new class of recruits is Caleb Kendrick, formerly of the University of Oklahoma. Kendrick’s arrival brings a new literature-focused generalist to College Park, where he will add his talents to those of lockdown religion player and history-focused generalist Weijia Cheng, literature specialist Justin Hawkins, and excellent science player Graham Reid. A concern, however, will be physics specialist Reid’s lack of coverage in biology. This team’s ability to compete with those above it may depend on how well Kendrick meshes with his new support, but this year’s iteration of Maryland has a definite chance to recapture its Brownsteinian glory days.


  1. Minnesota Golden Gophers (Geoff Chen, Sam Bailey, Shan Kothari, Brian Kalathiveetil or John Waldron), 264, highest #4, lowest #8

Minnesota’s loss of Jason Asher marks one of the first changes in their core lineup since 2014. They still, however, retain the eclectic knowledge bases of Sam Bailey and Shan Kothari and add science prodigy Geoffrey Chen, who has a proven ability to scale to Nats difficulty in a way that has been difficult for Minnesota teams in the past. Their lineup may be rounded out by additional science support from John Waldron or generalism from Brian Kalathiveetil. This team is likely just out of contention for a title, but watch for a deep run at either nationals.


  1. California Golden Bears (Four of: Rahul Keyal, Justin Nghiem, Bruce Lou, Rohin Devanathan, Eric Chen, Michael Coates), 263, highest #4, lowest #7

While the graduation of top-5 player Aseem Keyal will likely mean a slight hit to Berkeley’s strength from 2018, Berkeley’s phenomenal B team provides no shortage of talent to replace him. Aseem’s brother, Rahul, was a standout on that B team, with a similar focus on literature. NAQT specialist Michael Coates and historian Eric Chen would both, however, be solid choices to round out Berkeley A. Whoever it is that ends up joining Bruce Lou, who is perhaps the best active history player in the game, and literature specialist Justin Nghiem, this Berkeley team should not be underestimated.


  1. Columbia Lions (Rafael Krichevsky, Ben Zhang, Gerhardt Hinkle, Daniel Shao) , 254, highest #4, lowest #12

Columbia’s team for the coming year will continue to be anchored by quietly excellent science-focused generalist Rafael Krichevsky. Ben Zhang will be returning for a fifth year of collegiate quizbowl eligibility; although he never reached the heights that might have been imagined for him from his illustrious high school career, he retains the ability to contribute at the collegiate level.


  1. Michigan State Spartans (Jakob Myers, Harris Bunker, Erik Bubolz, Evan Suttell), 208, highest #6, lowest #15

This team loses science specialist Tony Incorvati from its 2018 ICT lineup. Jakob Myers’ rapid development as a generalist and top-flight history player should continue from last year, as should Evan Suttell’s emergence as a solid arts and literature-focused second scorer, especially in the Other Fine Arts distribution. This team is rounded out by Music and mythology specialist Erik Bubolz and Harris Bunker. Key questions, however, remain around this team after its disappointing 28th place finish at ACF nationals, especially surrounding its lack of science coverage and tendency toward crippling negs. MSU will, however, remain an unpredictable team with the potential to upset those above it on this list.


  1. Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (Robert Chu, Eric Bobrow, Walter Zhao, Seth Ebner), 191, highest #9, lowest #14

Last year, tournaments in the mid-Atlantic were defined by a three-way rivalry for second place behind Penn between Maryland, Virginia, and Johns Hopkins. With Maryland’s addition of Caleb Kendrick, the Terrapins may be the clear best team in the region, but the Blue Jays are a fairly unambiguous second. JHU loses only its third scorer, Noah Stanco, and retains its dynamic scientist duo of medical student Robert Chu and physicist and music expert Eric Bobrow. Stanco will be replaced by Walter Zhao, formerly of JHU’s underrated B team. A strong finish at ACF Nationals last year demonstrated that Chu and Bobrow have the ability to scale their game to high levels of difficulty, but it remains to be seen whether this team will be held back by the demanding academic load of its players.


  1. McGill Redmen (Derek So, Joe Su, Akhil Garg, Daniel Lovsted), 189, highest #8, ranked by 12 voters

McGill’s team will be led by generalist Derek So, with support from science and music specialist Joe Su and science specialist Akhil Garg. History player Daniel Lovsted will prove crucial, since history is Derek’s main weakness. Look for McGill to improve on its 2018 finishes, already among the best ever for a Canadian team.


  1. Florida Gators (Tracy Mirkin, Jonathen Settle, Taylor Harvey, Alex Shaw), 181, highest #8, lowest #18

Florida will retain all of last year’s A team, whose strong commitment to improving quickly made them a formidable opponent by Nationals and will likely make them even more formidable going forward. Taylor Harvey has emerged in the last year as one of the country’s best players, and he’ll receive ample backup from sophomore history player Tracy Mirkin, fresh from a breakout freshman year. Literature player Alex Shaw and science specialist Jonathen Settle complete the lineup.


  1. California Golden Bears B (Four of: James Malouf, Pranav Sivakumar, John Xiang, Jeffrey Qiu, Eric Chen, Michael Coates, Rohin Devanathan), 177, highest #7, ranked by 12 voters

Berkeley has a plethora of options for its high-performing B team this year. Those options include history specialists James Malouf and Eric Chen, science player and musician Pranav Sivakumar, freshman Jeffrey Qiu (the top scorer from last year’s formidable Canyon Crest Academy team), NAQT specialist Michael Coates, and Ohioans John Xiang and Rohin Devanathan. Regardless of which of these Berkeley B teams plays nationals this year, however, they should be on pace for a solid finish.


  1. Pennsylvania Quakers (Jaimie Carlson, Nitin Rao, Aidan Mehigan, Paul Lee), 150, highest #9, lowest #20

Eric Mukherjee and JinAh Kim depart from last year’s Nats runner-up Penn team, but literature-focused generalist Jaimie Carlson should be able to keep the Quakers competitive. A question mark surrounding this team is whether or how much grad student Aidan Mehigan will continue playing, given his concurrent duties as a high school teacher, but history specialist Nitin Rao and science player Paul Lee should provide a strong supporting cast regardless.


  1. Virginia Cavaliers (Jack Mehr, Eric Xu, Nick Collins, Lawrence Simon), 141, highest #9, lowest #21

This coming year, Virginia will undergo a rare change in its lineup as history specialist Vasa Clarke departs for law school; in his place, however, Virginia will get to bring back a familiar face, as Jack Mehr returns from a year off. Eric Xu will continue to provide the bulk of this team’s scoring, with support from literature specialist Mehr and arts and literature-focused generalist Nick Collins, the only graduate student on this team. Eric graduates after this year, so this may be this generation of Virginians’ last chance to make their mark.


  1. Washington (Mo.) Bears (Charles Hang, Lily Hamer, Cyrus Zhou, Alex Newman) , 131, highest #9, ranked by 11 voters

2019 will be Charles Hang’s last year with a team that he’s grown to define over his 10-year career at WUSTL. For that last year, he is joined by literature specialist Lily Hamer as well as history, art, and biology specialist Alex Newman and science player Cyrus Zhou. WUSTL should improve on last year’s ACF Nationals finish, in which they led the 3rd bracket due to a prelim bracketing mishap.


  1. Oxford Dark Blues (Oliver Clarke, Alexander Peplow, George Charlson, Jacob Robertson), 120, highest #8, lowest #23

After Cambridge’s loss of Jason Golfinos, Oxford will likely regain the upper hand on the British circuit. While they lose their top scorer, Daoud Jackson, Oxford gains history and geography specialist and terrifying classics player Oliver Clarke and retains Physicist and science specialist Jacob Robertson, George Charlson, and Alex Peplow, who has an eclectic knowledge base in history and “dour British lit”. Oxford remains a team to watch from across the pond.


  1. Chicago Maroons B (Four of: John Marvin, Halle Friedman, Tim Morrison, Samir Khan, Olivia Kiser, James Lasker), 116, highest #10, ranked by 12 voters

While Chicago B loses most of both its ICT and its Nats lineups to A-team promotion and graduation, the Chicago program’s incredible depth will have no trouble furnishing an excellent B team. Candidates for that team include science specialist and Astrophysics PhD student James Lasker, Boston College transplant John Marvin, arts specialist Halle Friedman, generalist Tim Morrison, science player Samir Khan, and history-focused player Olivia Kiser. It remains to be seen what kind of team these disparate elements will produce, but Chicago’s B team looks set to continue its tradition of excellence.


  1. Northwestern Wildcats (Adam Silverman, Anthony Wang, Jack Drummond, Alex Banta, possibly Dillon Edwards), 114, highest #11, ranked by 11 voters

The exit of Greg Peterson means that Northwestern retains an excellent generalist and peerless science player in Adam Silverman, but very little in the way of support for him. Peterson will be joined by Michigan State alum Dillon Edwards, as well as three younger players. Silverman has worked with diminished support before during his undergrad years at Georgia Tech and has improved significantly since then, but whether he’ll be able to replicate Northwestern’s performances of seasons past without as much support is very much an open question.


  1. Stanford Cardinal (Natan Holtzman, Marianna Zhang, Ashwin Ramaswami, Ali Saeed), 111, highest #11, ranked by 12 voters

Stanford’s team this coming year will likely be led by two newly-arrived graduate students: arts-focused generalist Natan Holtzman, formerly of North Carolina, and Chicago alumna Marianna Zhang. With the losses of its entire Division 1 ICT lineup, Stanford’s team will likely be completed by two sophomores, both of whom are former high school superstars who played D2 last year: underrated science specialist Ashwin Ramaswami and literature player Ali Saeed (or possibly arts specialist Young Fenimore Lee). With a complete turnover from its ICT lineup last year, Stanford remains something of a question mark, but an improvement on their 16th place finish at that tournament isn’t outside the realm of possibility.


  1. Toronto Varsity Blues (Zhenglin Liu, Rein Otsason, Paul Kasinski, Chris Sims), 89, highest #13, lowest #25

Toronto’s leading scorer in the coming year will likely be Canada’s best science player, Rein Otsason. Rein will receive support from music specialist Zhenglin Liu, history player Paul Kasinski, and Chris Sims. It remains to be seen, however, whether this team can improve on its disappointing ACF Nationals finish without Aayush Rajasekaran’s literature coverage or its ICT finish without history elder statesman Jay Misuk, both of whom will play this year on lower Toronto teams.


  1. Texas Longhorns (Jaskaran Singh, Ryan Humphrey, Graham Stockton, Ashwath Seetharaman) 60, highest #11, ranked by 12 voters

The University of Texas gains an excellent team almost ex nihilo this coming year, with science-focused graduate student Ryan Humphrey arriving from Duke and a trio of good high school players converging on Austin. The biggest addition of the three is likely Jas Singh, who was very close to the best, if not the best, high school history player of the last season, and who has a proven ability to improve meteorically. This team is rounded out by science and mythology player Ashwath Seetharaman from Katy Taylor and an as yet undetermined fourth, possibly Graham Stockton of LASA. Uncertainty around how this team will gel and a near-complete lack of literature coverage keep it from attaining a higher ranking, but Texas remains a team to watch as the year progresses.


  1. Maryland Terrapins B (Four of: Vishwa Shanmugam, Jack Lewis, Jack Nolan, Adam Howlett, Jakob Boeye, Noah Chen, Ani Perumalla, Alex Echikson), 54, highest #19, ranked by 11 voters

Maryland has a multitude of options for its B team in the coming year, all of them excellent. Those options include several strong high school players, most notably Vishwa Shanmugam, a top 3 high school science player, Jakob Boeye, a literature specialist who took his Centennial team to a 5th place finish at HSNCT, Richard Montgomery top scorer and history specialist Adam Howlett, and IPNCT champion Jack Lewis, an exceptional history player. Other options include NAQT-eligible science specialist Noah Chen, formerly of Michigan, generalist Ani Perumalla, history and geography specialist Alex Echikson, and math and music player Jack Nolan. It remains to be seen how well the high school players especially will adjust to no longer needing to generalize, how well its younger players will scale, and how well this team will come together, but the amount of raw talent going into Maryland B is impossible to ignore.


  1. Duke Blue Devils (Lucian Li, Gabe Guedes, Annabelle Yang) , 42, highest #20, ranked by 10 voters

The loss of Ryan Humphrey will hurt Duke, especially with regard to science coverage, but Duke retains a solid team with history specialist Lucian Li, generalist Gabe Guedes, and extraordinarily deep art and classics specialist Annabelle Yang. After disappointing performances at both nationals in 2018, it remains to be seen how well Duke will recover, but all the ingredients are in place for the Blue Devils to be a serious threat if a player to fill the science gap left by Humphrey’s departure can be found.


  1. Harvard Crimson (Alex Cohen, Michael Yue, Luke Minton, Jon Suh), 33, highest #18, ranked by 9 voters

Harvard loses the top scorer of its 2nd-place D2 team, Nathaniel Brodsky, and A-teamer Jiho Park, but retains history and religion player Jon Suh and literature specialist Alex Cohen. The team is rounded out by generalist Luke Minton and music specialist Michael Yue.


  1. Michigan Wolverines (Austin Foos, Conor Thompson, Daniel Guo, Rudra Ranganathan), 28, highest #17, ranked by 7 voters

Michigan graduates ¾ of the A team that took them to an extraordinary 4th-place finish at ICT last year, retaining only history specialist Austin Foos. Kenji Shimizu’s departure should give the categorization-defying multiple-things specialist Conor Thompson’s geography knowledge a chance to shine, especially at ICT, and Rudra Ranganathan and arts specialist Daniel Guo fill out the team. This team may not be able to repeat last year’s stunning success, but, especially at ICT, they’re not entirely out of the picture.