Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

The comparisons and discussion forum for North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii and California.
Post Reply
User avatar
nickdai
Lulu
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 pm

Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

With the near-conclusion of the 2019-20 high school Quizbowl season, it looks as if it is time to make predictions for the next season and to present my vision for what next year's SoCal will be like. If you haven't read Josh Xu's post wrapping up the current season, please read it first. In this post, I will look into the potential top teams and top players of Southern California for the 2020 - 2021 season. All grades detailed below are the grades that the players will be in during the 2020 - 2021 school year.

General Thoughts:

SoCal next year will not be as good as it was in previous years. Two years ago CCA's A team were favorites to win nats. Last year Arcadia A was predicted to be one of the top teams in the nation and placed top 8 at HSNCT. This year Westview was an extremely impressive team and was predicted by many to make the top bracket at PACE. But no team in SoCal is heavily favored next year to make an especially notable achievement. I am not saying that it cannot happen, as I believe that SoCal is still reasonably strong, but for players not in the circuit, they will likely not have very high expectations for SoCal.

Team Rankings:

These are the top three teams of next year in SoCal. I personally doubt that these top three teams can be usurped next year by any other teams, due to how good they are. In my personal opinion, all three of these teams will probably be in the top 30 - 40 teams in the nation next year.

1. Arcadia A - Many thought that Arcadia would slowly die off after their incredibly successful 8th place run in 2019 HSNCT. However, that was not the case. Arcadia’s Amogh Kulkarni (11) and Ryan Sun (11) improved incredibly over the past year. Amogh Kulkarni may be one of, if not the best history and lit player in the nation, while Ryan Sun, who also happens to be a history and lit player complements him well by filling his holles. Both have been proven to be able to scale to very high difficulties. Amogh Kulkarni put up 2.1 powers per game on Michigan Winter and 4.54 powers per game on IS 192, while Ryan Sun put up 1.8 powers per game on IS 192 next to him. Likely their support will be Brian Lam (11) and Michael Kwok (11), both being science players. Yet, it has not been seen whether those two will be able to scale their science up to harder difficulties. Arcadia does have many other holes, mainly fine arts and RMPSS. This will likely lead to a weakness at higher difficulties, as even though this team can generalize on those categories at lower difficulties, they may not be able to do so well at nats level. Although for most tournaments Arcadia should win, I am still uncertain how well this team will do at HSNCT and PACE. This team is incredibly young, as they all still have two more years remaining in their high school career, and will be an incredibly scary team both this year, next year, and the year after.

2. Westview A - This year, Westview A was considered to be one of the best teams in the nation. Although we were not favorites to win nats this year, they were believed to be able to rival all the top teams in the country. Many predicted them to make the top bracket at PACE due to their extremely highly aggressive playstyle. Westview A graduates top literature player Shahar Schwartz and history player Junu Song, but still retains a few members. Gary Lin (12) will take over as the main history, current events, geography, and music player, while Andrew Jia (12) will be the team’s science, visarts and mythology player. Likely, I, Nicholas Dai (12) will be on the team as a religion, philosophy, and social science player, while also taking over the categories of literature and other fine arts. Together, the three of us make up for a full 20/20 of the PACE distribution. Our fourth player is undecided, but will likely be Daniel Shaw (12) for HSNCT for his high scaling history and current events support, while the fourth for PACE will be decided throughout the year. Although Arcadia will likely still be the top team throughout the regular season, I do predict that this team will likely do better at PACE, due to the full distribution coverage that the team possesses and the extremely high scaling potential in many categories. Westview will likely scale harder than any other team. However, Westview does have a major weakness in its neg problem. I was the highest negging player at WAIT, with almost 2 negs a game. There is one other player in SoCal who can occasionally match my neg numbers, but unfortunately, that player happens to be my teammate Gary Lin, and normally having two high neg players is not a good thing. Andrew Jia and the rest of Westview are not low negging players either, which will likely lead to major issues next year.

3. Santa Monica A - Santa Monica may be one of the oldest teams in Southern California. Year after year, they graduate many players, but they have always been able to be a relatively top team in Southern California. Since the 2018 - 2019 season, history and geography player Josh Xu (12) has been the top scorer of Santa Monica A. Throughout the years, he has successfully improved into becoming the consistent top scorer at SoCal tournaments, as he has been able to generalize into many other categories. His support is largely undetermined, as every year Santa Monica recruits many non-Quizbowl players into their club. Similarly to Arcadia, due to a lack of coverage of many categories, Santa Monica A might not be able to succeed as well in higher difficulties. Yet, I still predict that this team will not only still succeed at nats, but may have a chance to be the highest placing SoCal team at HSNCT, due to this team’s success ability to perform well on NAQT sets. Santa Monica has proven to be able to scale incredibly well on history and geography, but on other categories, it remains to be seen whether Josh Xu is able to learn those categories well enough or find enough support to aid him in them.

The remaining 4 teams that I will discuss may place in any order. They are close enough to each other that any of them can beat another. I will still place them based off of where I believe they will place in the end.

4. Del Norte A - Del Norte was cursed with placing second at 5 varsity tournaments this year, yet never winning a single tournament. Yet no one doubted that they were an impressive team. Unfortunately, they lose 3/4ths of their roster next year. Only science and history specialist Joshua You (12) remains, and although he may be the best science player of the region, it is uncertain whether he has enough support to aid him. Supporting him will likely be pure generalist Hannah Chen (11), history player Kumail Afshar (12) and generalist Connor Feng (9). Connor Feng was the top scorer on Oak Valley A, which averaged the third highest PPB out of all middle school teams on most MS sets this year. However, this roster is only my prediction, and it may be possible that players such as Kinish Sathish (10), Madhumita Narayan (10) or Allie Xiao (10) will be promoted to the A team.

5. Westview B - This may appear to be a hot take, but Westview B is certainly not a team to be underestimated. Only 3/4th of Westview C itself was able to maintain a PPB above 20 on IS 192 this year. Westview B will likely be composed of 4 of the remaining Westview B and C players from this year, but who those players are will not be determined yet. Players of note that may be on this roster include fine arts based generalist Aakarsh Vermani (11), history specialist Pramod Shastry (10), history specialist Richard Lin (10), current events and history specialist Daniel Sjoholm (12), and trash based generalist Connor Rankin (12). Who will make up this team is undetermined, yet regardless, it will likely be a formidable team in SoCal.

6. North Hollywood A - North Hollywood A has played very few tournaments this year. However their core of history and science players Heather Young (12) and Albert Zhang (12) have been very stable this year. Supporting them will likely be Shion Murakawa (12) and an undetermined fourth, but this team should still be a successful team next year. How well this team will actually perform is unknown, as there is such a small sample size to look at, but given the minimal data that we have, it is safe to say that they will be above the lower teams this year.

7. Saint Margaret’s Episcopal A - Saint Margaret Episcopal was initially a team that came out of nowhere last year, where history one trick Nate Kang (11) soloed occasional tournaments. This year, Nate Kang only played one tournament in person, where he put up 2.1 powers per game on HFT IX. However, over the current year, Nate Kang improved in both fine arts and literature, and ended up putting up 2.18 powers per game on Michigan Winter, a very hard set. Nate Kang also claims to have finally found supporting players, which will likely aid him in finding success in the circuit.

Individual Players:

Literature - Arcadia’s Amogh Kulkarni is the only current literature player that will not graduate this year, and likely, literature will be dominated by him. He will probably be the best literature player going into next year. The remaining literature placements are yet to be seen. I personally have been studying literature extremely hard over the past months, and will likely be able to rival a few literature players, although it is uncertain how good I will actually be. Arcadia’s Ryan Sun has also notably been able to convert a significant amount of literature off of Amogh Kulkarni. Santa Monica’s Josh Xu and Saint Margaret Episcopal’s Nate Kang have also both been able to generalize into converting a certain amount of literature, yet it is also yet to be seen how well they will actually perform.

History - History is likely the most stacked subject in SoCal, and I am actually unable to choose a top history player between Arcadia’s Amogh Kulkarni and Santa Monica’s Josh Xu. Amogh and Josh have been successful in both NHBB and Quizbowl, and their history skills rival the top Quizbowlers around the nation. It is very hard to determine who is actually the better history player, as both of them appear to have consistency issues which leads to actual results being difficult to analyze. History is definitely the strongest subject of SoCal, as there are so many other top history players who can consistently convert stuff off of Josh and Amogh, such as Gary Lin, Nate Kang, Josh You and Ryan Sun.

Science - I’d argue that science also has two top players, Westview’s Andrew Jia and Del Norte’s Josh You. Andrew Jia has been by far one of the most improved players this year, with his science skills rivaling those of Shahar Schwartz. However, Josh You has been a top science player since his freshman year, with basically a guaranteed lock on physics and computer science. At the moment, the matchup is still very heavily dependent on packet variability. Josh You’s major weakness is an inability to do biology, so he loses biology in the matchup, but he wins physics. Chemistry is 50/50 and “other science” depends entirely on which “other science” is played, as Josh You is the superior player in computer science and mathematics, but Andrew Jia is better at earth science and astronomy. Regardless, both of these players are at the very top of the SoCal ladder, and are one of the best in the entire nation.

Fine Arts - Unfortunately, there are no standout Fine Arts players next year. While teams like Arcadia A and Westview A divide up the fine arts amongst the core players, none of the players actually specialize in fine arts all around, which leads to a lack of fine arts players in the circuit.

RMPSS - At the moment, I believe that I am the only RMPSS player in SoCal. I do possess a near full coverage of RMPSS (except economics), as I needed to study those categories to fill the rest of Westview’s holes this year. Personally, I do believe religion to be my strongest category, but we will see.

Geography - Josh Xu from Santa Monica has been a phenomenal geography player this year, with geography almost never getting past him. Alongside history, it has been his strongest category. Very few geography gets past him, although I will say that I believe his city geography is his weakest category.

Trash - Trash is honestly a very subjective category so it’s very hard to determine who the top players are.

Current Events - I honestly think that current events are very heavily dominated by Westview. Gary Lin from Westview is probably the best current events player in the circuit, and maybe even the nation, as he spends hours each day reading the news. Almost no current events tossups ever go past the first line against him. Yet Daniel Shaw from Westview is likely the second best current events player. Like Gary Lin, Daniel Shaw spends hours each day doing nothing but read new article after new article. Daniel Shaw would likely also be a top current events player in the nation, but is unfortunately shadowed way too hard by Gary Lin. Other top current events players in my opinion include myself and Richard Lin (Gary’s brother) which leads to a complete domination by Westview in Current Events.

Well, this incredibly long post is my rundown of SoCal next year. I hope all of you who read this enjoyed it, and feel free to ask questions and discuss.

Edit: Many people asked me why I did not rank CCA A on the list. I originally intended them to be at #8, but I still saw them at a tier below teams ranked #4 - #7. I’d predict their A team to be Andrew Gao (11), Chris Jung (10), Leo Gu (11) and Kevin Luo (11), which are definitively top players in CCA and deserve recognition, but from what my other friends in CCA quizbowl tell me, there is little to no motivation to keep trying anymore. Their stats at SoCal states were not bad, but were not good enough to shoot them up into the top 7. I am actually very unsure how well this team will do. Maybe CCA will study very hard and make a resurgence and come out on top, but until I see solid evidence of them being a successful team, I will keep them at this place. Once upon a time CCA was one of the strongest teams in the world, and it would be very sad if they actually died out.

Edit #2: I was just informed of some “questionable info” in my post.
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School '21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary Member of Del Norte Quizbowl
User avatar
natekang
Kimahri
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:16 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by natekang »

Edit #2: I was just informed of some “questionable info” in my post.
Can you elaborate on that Nicc
Nathaniel Kang
강태호

St. Margaret's Episcopal School
Class of 2022
Club President, 2018-present
:cowboy:
socal LUL
User avatar
nickdai
Lulu
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 pm

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

natekang wrote: Sat Apr 25, 2020 1:58 am
Edit #2: I was just informed of some “questionable info” in my post.
Can you elaborate on that Nicc
It was some inaccurate information about the grades of players that I fixed.
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School '21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary Member of Del Norte Quizbowl
joshxu
Lulu
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:25 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

I generally agree with Nick's analysis of the SoCal circuit this year, although I believe that the season beginning online will be a major factor that can lead to some major changes in these rankings (because of poor Internet, lack of motivation, people refusing to play, people being more eager to play because they have more time, etc.). In particular, Arcadia A is by far the best team in SoCal right now, as I can easily see them matching or surpassing their 2019 T-8th place finish at HSNCT. By this time next year, the core duo of Amogh Kulkarni and Ryan Sun will likely be one of the favorites to win nats.

The team that brings me the most uncertainty is Santa Monica A, my own team.
3. Santa Monica A - Santa Monica may be one of the oldest teams in Southern California. Year after year, they graduate many players, but they have always been able to be a relatively top team in Southern California. Since the 2018 - 2019 season, history and geography player Josh Xu (12) has been the top scorer of Santa Monica A. Throughout the years, he has successfully improved into becoming the consistent top scorer at SoCal tournaments, as he has been able to generalize into many other categories. His support is largely undetermined, as every year Santa Monica recruits many non-Quizbowl players into their club. Similarly to Arcadia, due to a lack of coverage of many categories, Santa Monica A might not be able to succeed as well in higher difficulties. Yet, I still predict that this team will not only still succeed at nats, but may have a chance to be the highest placing SoCal team at HSNCT, due to this team’s success ability to perform well on NAQT sets. Santa Monica has proven to be able to scale incredibly well on history and geography, but on other categories, it remains to be seen whether Josh Xu is able to learn those categories well enough or find enough support to aid him in them.
Hot take—this will be a rebuilding year for Samo. Last year, our team was extremely young, with only two seniors graduating. Unfortunately, those two seniors, Josh Kong and Matt Sasaki, were by far our two best science players. This year, our team remains dominated in numbers by non-seniors with potential, but an extreme downside of this is that we lack the skill and experience required to compete with top teams. The only player on our entire squad who has played more than two tournaments on the A team is I. Last year, I had one of the best individual seasons in SoCal, winning the top scorer award at the last five tournaments I played and finishing first in powers/game at most tournaments as well. This year, I do not expect myself to come anywhere close to matching those statistics. I have not gotten much better at all since February, and if anything, I may have gotten worse. In intrasquad Samo practices, I have been performing substantially worse at the beginning of this year compared to the beginning of last year, and I believe this is indicative of my washed-up status. While one would normally expect a team with its best player in school history in their senior year to actively do whatever it takes to compete for tournament titles and a high finish at nationals, I do not foresee this happening at Samo. For SoCal standards, Samo A this year will probably not be any higher than an average top-bracket team, if we're even able to get that high (a complicating factor is uncertainty about field sizes). This is basically where we were last year, but although our team this year is substantially worse than last year the circuit as a whole has gotten substantially worse as well, so I believe we still have a chance to maintain this status.

But while I am past the peak of my high school quiz bowl career, I believe that Samo will remain relevant well beyond my graduation. My intrasquad practice performances have been extremely subpar for my lofty standards, but my squadmates have been playing extremely well. Junior Kethan Raman has stepped up to become a star history/geo/CE/eastern religion/myth player in his own right, and he is on track to succeed me as our top player in 2021–2022. Sophomore Dashiell Decker (history/geo/CE/myth/trash) is rapidly improving and reminds me of myself back at the beginning of my sophomore year (wow, time flies, that was two years ago!), and I can easily see him becoming a dominant superstar in SoCal, especially if he branches off into literature or science. Juniors Alexandra Raphling and Maya Barrett (both literature/FA/trash players) are developing into valuable role players who are totally capable of competing with the top lit players in SoCal (because there aren't that many, lol) for powers. We also have a few wild cards who I believe can also have great potential, namely junior Natalie Greenfield (history/geo/lit/FA/trash) and sophomore Tomás Rodríguez (lit/FA), but I am not sure how much they intend to study, or (particularly in Natalie's case, as she has yet to play an all-subject quiz bowl tournament) whether they'll be able to regularly attend tournaments. It's notable that I didn't list any science players on here, and that shows science will continue to be our greatest weakness beyond my graduation. Our top science player, Teddy Berger, is a senior this year, and beyond that our depth is seriously lacking. Alas, our luck in converting Science Bowl players to quizbowlers is running out. Jake Kim will probably succeed Teddy on the A team next year, unless one of the aforementioned players decides to expand into science. Finally, although our current class of freshmen definitely isn't the finest I've seen in the past four years, Delaney O'Dea (FA/lit right now, hoping she will expand!) is looking like a young superstar in the making, and like Dashiell, greatly reminds me of myself in my freshman year.

So to conclude, don't expect much out of Samo this year, but at the same time, don't completely count us out. Who knows, with the surprising amount of quality depth we have this year (this is the most we've had in my four years!), we might see a breakout star. Coupled with the relatively weak state of the circuit as a whole right now, this does give me some reason to believe we might actually be competitive. The A team this year will probably consist of me, Alexandra Raphling, Teddy Berger, and one of {Dashiell Decker, Natalie Greenfield, Kethan Raman}, and the B team will probably be Jake Kim, whichever two of {Dashiell, Natalie, Kethan} are not on the A team, and one of {Maya Barrett, Delaney O'Dea, Tomás Rodríguez}, but this is definitely subject to change. But the 2020–2021 quiz bowl season for Santa Monica will definitely be more focused on the future, as my era is coming to its end.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
Quiz Bowl Captain
"Club President"
2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
User avatar
nickdai
Lulu
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 pm

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

Have enough tourneys happened for me to accurately look at teams again? No. Am I trying to find new reasons to procrastinate from college apps by doing a small writeup? Definitely.

Basically, LIT happened today. Only four SoCal teams played but given the fact that these 4 teams consist of some of the stronger teams of the circuit, we can get a relatively decent look into summer improvement.

Del Norte A was the one team that didn’t play in the West Coast mirror and chose to play in the general high school mirror. As the rest of Del Norte A graduated, Joshua You (12) has taken on the role of main scorer. However, he has spent considerable time on side quizbowl projects such as creating a new PK bot and building his own buzzers that are much cheaper and effective, but that has taken time away from his studying, which mostly consists of reading math and physics textbooks and playing EU4 and CK2 (now CK3). The rest of Del Norte’s team isn’t decided yet, but Hannah Chen (11), who didn’t play today would likely be the other main player, taking on a role as a Chinese myth specialist and all-around generalist. Connor Feng (9), Rohan Gaikwad (9), Madhumita Narayan (10), and Allie Xiao (10) would likely contest for the remaining spots. I regularly attend and read for Del Norte as an outsider, and I can guarantee that the school has a lot of young talent ready for development.

Arcadia A absolutely dominated the West Coast mirror today. Amogh Kulkarni (11) has cemented himself as a top-3 generalist in high school, and quite possible the best history player. Ryan Sun (11), who often goes under the radar, has also set himself up as one of the best specialists, especially in poetry and Chinese content, and was able to put up 13 LIT powers next to Amogh’s 15. Arcadia defeated USC, UC Davis, Oregon, and UCSD A, and was within one tossup of Claremont and Berkeley B. I made a hot take and ranked Arcadia in top 5 during the preseason Grogerranks polls, and I do not regret it. Also, today was Amogh‘s birthday!

Westview B unfortunately did not have the most successful performance, as most of the players have other commitments and are not studying much. However, they still did put up some decent stats, and hopefully have much room for improvement, and we will be able to develop a strong B team.

I’m probably gonna have much more to discuss about Westview A, mainly because it’s my own team. Our results were... unfortunate. I would argue we’re the one team that doesn’t have issues in knowledge, but we have major team synergy problems. We get along well, and we’re all close friends in real life, but our Quizbowl habits do not get along. I (Nicholas Dai (12)) am far too aggressive for my own good. Andrew Jia (12) is far too passive for his own good. Gary Lin (12) doesn’t listen to indicators. Daniel Shaw (12) doesn’t know how to figure out when someone else is joking so he left the tournament in the middle due to another teammate messing with him. And all of us never hear the first part of bonuses because we can’t pay attention for our own good (possibly because I slept past 7 AM to watch League of Legends Worlds so I played with one hour of sleep and ended up falling asleep for one or two tossups in my match against UCSD A). Honestly, we have a lot to work on. None of our “big 4” categories scale, and the one category we were supposed to lock, my religion, I kept negging firstline because I kept trying to half-fraud and flex. I ended up 3/1/5 on religion which is not where I wanted. Daniel Shaw surprised us with some very solid scaling, with 8 powers in the 6 rounds he did play before getting baited by a teammate into leaving the tournament. Honestly, in the 6 rounds we did have a full team, we had 12 powers and ~16.6 PPB, so I think it’s a decent place to start with (though far below peers like Arcadia). We did have some success though. I’d like to flex the fact that we almost beat Berkeley (lost by 70), and probably would’ve won if it wasn’t for a certain client side that I experienced. It was a power too...
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School '21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary Member of Del Norte Quizbowl
User avatar
nickdai
Lulu
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 pm

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

Time for another update on my favorite circuit! Today was the first closed high school tournament of the season in SoCal, so this is a great time for a post-summer update!

Firstly, I want to thank UCSD and all the other mods for staffing this tournament. This tournament went extremely fast with basically no delays and finished extremely soon.

Arcadia A
I don't think anyone is willing to argue that Arcadia isn't the strongest team in SoCal, which is even more unbelievable given the fact that they are all juniors. Amogh Kulkarni (11) had 138.64 PPG and a 108/8/14 statline, which is more than enough to prove that he may as well be one of the best quizbowl players in the entire nation. They swept the entire field, and although having some close games, proved their dominance. I think Ryan Sun is often a forgotten member of this roster, who is incredibly shadowed by Amogh. Ryan put up a 33/7/8 statline, which is even more impressive given the fact that Amogh covers the same exact categories as him. In my personal opinion, even if Arcadia did not have Amogh, Ryan could still be able to lead the school to sweep the field.

Westview A
This is my team, so I'm probably gonna have more to say. Westview A is probably the most inconsistent team in the field, or possibly maybe even in the country, which I attribute to our exceedingly high power rate and neg rate. Last year's Westview was famous for going 3.5 negs a game. This year, we're averaging 5 negs a game, and actually accumulated 20 negs during 3 prelim rounds today. In the same way Westview was losing extremely hard to other teams at LIT while taking Berkeley A to splitting tossups, Westview once again lost to Santa Monica in playoffs by a tossup when we threw a 170 point halftime lead after beating them decently hard in prelims, which forfeited our spot in the finals. We even had to resort to a protest on tossup 20 to allow us to beat Canyon Crest A. However, we still succeeded in almost beating Arcadia A, winning in points until tossup 17, and then negging almost every single tossup after. After leading them by 180 points at halftime, we proceeded to lose 9/10 of the remaining tossups. I did have a protest which I believe would've been accepted, but it did not affect the score, although it would probably make the game even closer. I think my literature and RMPSS have improved decently, even though I may neg a bit too much, while Andrew Jia (12) has been an extremely strong supporting player on our team with his very broad science knowledge, seen through his 18/3/5 statline. Gary Lin (12) provides breadth on history, geography, and current events, while Daniel Shaw (12) provides very solid depth in the most random of categories. Hopefully we can study grind for Nationals once college application season is over, but overall, I think we have improved a good amount. I'm satisfied by our close match against Arcadia, though I am disappointed in myself for negging so much in our games. Though I am proud of our 26.25 PPB, which was much higher than I expected.

Santa Monica A
Santa Monica performance surprised me a lot today. Josh Xu (12) has developed into a very strong specialist with scorelines resembling that of generalists, and Alexandra Raphling (11) has been extremely successful on covering literature for him. Josh's geography is probably unparalleled in the entire circuit. Teddy Berger (12) and Dashiell Decker (10) are relatively newer players but still put up considerable support for Josh. I was honestly surprised when I noticed that Kethan Raman was playing on the B team, as Kethan Raman is an incredible player, but I have been informed that Josh and Kethan's overlap is large enough to warrant putting Kethan on B instead of A. Regardless Santa Monica was extremely good this tournament, and defeated my team (unfortunately) and took Arcadia to a relatively close finals game.

Canyon Crest A
If one team surprised me the most today, it would be Canyon Crest A. Everyone's heard of CCA in the past few years, from their dominant 2018 run to the B team that placed 20th at HSNCT as an all-sophomore team. That team entirely graduated last year, leaving behind many holes that needed to be filled. However, Andrew Gao (11) has taken over the role of CCA's main generalist extremely well, with his extremely deep knowledge in science and other categories. His teammates have supported him well too, with Leo Gu (11) on history and Chris Jung (10) on literature. Canyon Crest almost beat Westview A if it were not for a protest on tossup 20, and given how young this roster is, they can develop into a very strong team.

Del Norte A
Del Norte A graduated 3/4 of their core last year, leaving behind only Joshua You (12) to rebuild the team. However, they gain freshmen Conner Feng (9) and Rohan Gaikwad (9), who were probably the strongest freshmen in SoCal. I'm really unsure what direction Del Norte A takes with their roster. While Joshua You (12) will no doubt remain as the core on the A team, with his solid science and history core, the rest of the roster could be filled up by Conner and Rohan, but also Madhumita Narayan (10) has been a very solid backup too at this tourney. Yet, Chinese mythology specialist Hannah Chen (11) and history specialist Kumail Afshar (12) still have not played this season yet, so we have yet to see how much they have improved. Conner was extremely key to Oak Valley A's dominance last year, but Rohan Gaikwad was always relegated to the B team due to Oak Valley's policy of balancing out their A and B teams, so he was not able to properly showcase his strength last year. Most likely, this freshmen duo will be extremely key to assisting Josh in leading Del Norte to dominance this year.

Westview B
I do have to flex that Westview B was the only B team to make playoffs at this tournament. Westview B is currently a 5 man team, as we still have not figured out who will remain on the team. Aakarsh Vermani (11) is probably the only stable member, as he is the only member covering literature and fine arts, while the other players are all either science or history specialists. Two of the members left early due to Diwali today, so we were not able to see the full strength of the team in playoffs. Richard Lin (10), Pramod Shastry (10), Daniel Sjoholm (12) and Connor Rankin (12) have all supported Aakarsh in various ways today, and the rest of the season will provide a good indicator as to the composition of this team.

Concluding Thoughts
This has been a really great tournament, and once again I would like to thank UCSD and the other staffers for running this tournament. Additionally, I would also like to thank the LONE STAR writers for writing this great set. The next high school tournament in SoCal, RAFT II, is being held by Arcadia, and is another tournament that we are all heavily looking forward to! I know online quizbowl isn't ideal, but thanks to the community here, it has still been a blast!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School '21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary Member of Del Norte Quizbowl
joshxu
Lulu
Posts: 65
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:25 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

I second Nick in thanking UCSD and everyone who staffed Triton Fall yesterday—this tournament was very smooth and we finished 11 rounds in 8 hours. I would also like to thank the writers and editors of LONE STAR, as in my opinion this was the best regs set that I've ever played.

Yesterday, we saw Arcadia A clearly establish itself as the dominant team in SoCal this year, and quite possibly one of the strongest teams in SoCal history. The fact that they powered 61.8% of all the tossups they heard speaks for itself. They recorded more than 10 powers in all but two games and broke 500 points in all but three. While Amogh broke 9 powers per game and had 138.64 PPG by himself (assuming these stats are correct, although I cannot ensure that they are, this would be the best individual performance by a SoCal player in the past several years), I would like to highlight Ryan Sun's performance here. As he contributed >50 PPG and >3 powers per game (again, assuming stats are correct) despite having nearly complete subject overlap with Amogh, I believe Ryan is a strong contender for being the second-best player in SoCal this year. I agree with Nick that if Ryan were to have played without Amogh, he could potentially have swept the field as well, although not with 10 powers per game. I think it's safe to say that Arcadia is one of the early favorites for nats titles in 2022, if not 2021 even.

I won't go into too much depth analyzing Westview A since Nick gave a long rant about his own team up above. Negging is, as it's been for pretty much Westview's entire existence, their main issue. They were shut out of finals since they blew a 170-point halftime lead over Santa Monica A and a 180-point halftime lead over Arcadia A in playoffs, and nearly lost to a shorthanded Canyon Crest A. I don't know too much about the details of the Arcadia game, but in the Samo game they had a streak of three consecutive negs to turn a 340-230 lead into a 325-335 deficit. I can't leak unclear set content, but one of those negs was particularly egregious, and if any of their four in the entire game were switched to a correct answer they probably would've won the game/forced an overtime, depending on bonus conversion. I would say that if Westview simply stopped making terrible fraud attempts or started listening to the question they could become a strong contender with Arcadia, but now I'm starting to think that negging and "major team synergy problems" are so deeply ingrained into their team DNA and culture that they are simply unavoidable.

While Del Norte A finished with an impressive 24.60 PPB and 6.5 powers per game, their performances against the other top contenders were definitely wanting, including a loss to Canyon Crest A. Rohan Gaikwad and Joshua You formed a strong duo, but they are definitely feeling the loss of Kyle Ke to graduation last year. I am not sure what their full A team roster will look like this year, but they have an extremely large roster in terms of numbers (see the seven teams they sent to PPT last year), so they have many players to choose from.

Westview B and Canyon Crest A are both wild cards in my opinion. Westview B's roster isn't set, and since they had to play shorthanded during playoffs I don't know how well they'd fare at full strength against top-tier teams. As for CCA, they're definitely not nearly as strong as the Raymond/Wesley/Jonathan/Shreyank team that was ranked top-30 last year, but they have a young roster and I'm confident they'll be a sleeper team that can pull off great upsets throughout the year.

And lastly, addressing Santa Monica A and Santa Monica B: (and apologies that half of this entire post is about Santa Monica A)
Santa Monica performance surprised me a lot today. Josh Xu (12) has developed into a very strong specialist with scorelines resembling that of generalists, and Alexandra Raphling (11) has been extremely successful on covering literature for him. Josh's geography is probably unparalleled in the entire circuit. Teddy Berger (12) and Dashiell Decker (10) are relatively newer players but still put up considerable support for Josh. I was honestly surprised when I noticed that Kethan Raman was playing on the B team, as Kethan Raman is an incredible player, but I have been informed that Josh and Kethan's overlap is large enough to warrant putting Kethan on B instead of A. Regardless Santa Monica was extremely good this tournament, and defeated my team (unfortunately) and took Arcadia to a relatively close finals game.
Santa Monica A's performance surprised me a lot too. Considering that I'm really washed, that 3/4 of our players (including me) had never played an online tournament before, and that this tournament was played on a non-NAQT set with an unfavorable distribution for me, I was not expecting us to make finals or get much more than 6 powers per game. Well we ended with close to 6.75 powers per game (and if you ignore our finals game against Arcadia, we'd have had over 7 powers per game) and 24.42 PPB, which was better than our peak 2019–2020 performance. This indicates that not only has our team not gotten much worse this year versus last year, but possibly even better, although I can't say this for certain since we only played one tournament as a full team last year.

Although we played really well, however, I still stand by my earlier statement that this year is a rebuilding year for Samo. My stats were basically the same as they were last year, so it's thus evident that Samo A's overperformance of our expectations did not come from me. So where did it come from? The answer is lit/trash player Alexandra Raphling. Last year, Samo's gameplay strategy was essentially just "get all the history and geography tossups, get two or three other random tossups, don't neg, win all the buzzer races, feast on the other team's negs, and get a decent PPB" because our depth was really lacking in every major/mid-major subject outside of history and geography, especially on lit and especially on tossups. While I was our best lit player last year despite barely ever having studied it, Alexandra studied a lot over the summer and has now easily solidified herself as the second scorer on Samo A. Lit is definitely still a weakness for us, as we only converted 47.7% of all lit tossups and powered only 15.9%, but I'm confident that our knowledge in this subject is sufficient for us to remain a very strong team.

While our lit has improved from last year, it's been replaced as our weakest subject by science. Josh Kong was an insanely valuable science player (especially considering that that was his first year playing quiz bowl), and we are really suffering from his graduation. Our overall PPB yesterday was 24.42, and our PPB was at least 24.00 in every subject except for science, where it was a whopping 18.93. We're definitely going to need to improve our science knowledge if we want to be more competitive, especially against Arcadia and Westview, but I don't have too much hope of this happening. Senior Teddy Berger has taken over as our main science player, but he only covers biology, and since he's already a senior I'm not sure how much he intends on expanding into the other subcategories. I don't expect to study science myself anytime soon, so we're looking into potentially making a roster change. This would probably be a converted Science Bowl player like Josh K. last year. Overall, I think our strategy last year of "get all the history and geography tossups, get two or three other random tossups, don't neg, win all the buzzer races, feast on the other team's negs, and get a decent PPB" still holds quite well, as our knowledge is definitely not as deep as that of Arcadia or Westview, but as our win over Westview yesterday showed, we can still compete if we only cover a third of the distribution.

Our final A team roster is still undetermined. I would say the current combination of me (hist/geo/CE/RPSS/FA/sports), Alexandra (lit/trash), Teddy (sci), and Dashiell (myth/CE/trash and technically hist and geo too) is the most likely final combo, but only Alexandra and I have locked spots up. We really need to improve our gameplay, as although we only had 8 negs total on the whole tournament, we also had two failed vulches and some of those negs were really terrible (including one where we had a grail going through 19 cycles, but we negged tossup 20 with an incorrect answer that had already come up earlier in the same packet; that game still really pisses me off, but sigh). With more in regard to rosters, I was hoping that our B team's performance could be a good indicator of which players could potentially be moved up to A team, but unfortunately only one of the four players on it was able to stay for the entire tournament. Junior Kethan Raman (hist/geo/CE/religion/jazz/"Kubla Khan"), the top scorer on the B team, is easily the second-best player on our entire roster, but it's not likely he'll move up to A team since he and I have almost complete subject overlap and since he negs way too much to be a good fourth scorer. This is a similar situation to Westview last year with Shahar and Rohan. Junior Natalie Greenfield (humanities) played well in the four games she played in (including 45 points against Arcadia, although I'm not sure how many of those were rebounds from negs) and freshman Delaney O'Dea (FA) is developing into a potential superstar (she had the second-best PPG among freshmen behind Rohan G.), but their subjects are already covered well by A team players.

Final Thoughts
While this year's circuit is evidently not as strong as it was last year, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as outside of Arcadia bulldozing everybody it's become less top-heavy. We saw a young CCA A team pull off an upset over Del Norte and a near-upset over Westview A, and a lot of parity in the bottom bracket. I would also say that the medium tier of the circuit this year (including teams like Scripps Ranch, Mount Everest, and Santa Monica B) has improved substantially.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
Quiz Bowl Captain
"Club President"
2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
User avatar
nickdai
Lulu
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:36 pm

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

A few months ago, SoCal migrated to a new discord server, where we discuss everything from quizbowl to playing regular amongus games. I realized that the other link is outdated, so I made this post to publicize the server. If you're a quizbowl player in SoCal, feel free to DM me here, on Facebook messenger, or Discord @哎呀#7421 for an invite link!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School '21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary Member of Del Norte Quizbowl
Post Reply