Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

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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 "Nicc" Dai
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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
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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.
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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.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

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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...
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

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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!
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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.
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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!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

[Edit: So in the month since ACE occurred, there have been some major adjustments to the official stats, with two teams (Del Norte A and St. Margaret's Episcopal) having been DQ'ed. Updating this post to reflect all the stats changes would be too much of a hassle, so for anyone reading this, keep in mind that analyses for those teams are no longer valid.]

Another tournament has come and gone in SoCal. As ACE was hosted by Arcadia, the field knew that the result would not be a foregone conclusion, as Amogh and Ryan would for once not have the opportunity to stomp over the full field with their 20 powers per game (I may or may not have exaggerated a bit there). The questions going into the tournament were whether it would be Santa Monica A and Westview A, the second- and third-best teams at Triton Fall two weeks ago, to make finals and fight for the title, or whether a sleeper school would pull off an upset and sneak their way into the championship game and go for the win. Notwithstanding the usual pre-tournament trolling on the SoCalQB Discord server, the clear favorites to make finals were indeed Santa Monica and Westview, with neither team having an edge over the other.

Although Nick Dai attempted to pay me off by asking me to staff for $20 instead of play the tournament, with a few exceptions ACE went mostly as expected. Both Samo and Westview cleared their respective prelim brackets with complete ease, and cruised through two more rounds of playoffs to set up the much-anticipated finals match. Both teams knew that the game would ultimately come down to one key statistic: Westview's neg count. Westview got off to a hot start with power-30s on each of the first two cycles to jump out to a 90-0 lead. But then came their first neg, and Samo came back with three straight tossups to go ahead 110-85. From that point on the game was pretty much a back-and-forth until the end, with neither team converting more than two tossups in a row. Samo remained in control for most of the middle of the game, holding the lead after every cycle except one between (and including) tossups 9 and 17. Over that nine-tossup stretch, WV outpowered Samo 4-0, but this came with four critical negs, allowing Samo to retain the lead. Westview, however, would reclaim a 335-320 lead after 18, forcing me to call a timeout to set up Samo's endgame strategy. Knowing we had to convert both of the remaining tossups to win, I wanted to tell my teammates to go all-out and make any reasonable fraud attempt, but I didn't, instead simply informing them which categories the two tossups would most likely be in. Based on how the game to that point had trended thus far and what subjects the remaining tossups would probably be, I was fairly confident I'd be playing the last two cycles 1 v. 4 as me v. Westview. And I was right. I powered both of the final two tossups to escape with a 410-335 victory to secure Santa Monica's first varsity tournament win since November 2013, also marking the first time since September 2018 that a team not from Arcadia, Canyon Crest, or Westview won such a tournament in SoCal. I have to thank Westview for this, as we truly could not have pulled this off without your five negs. In the words of Nick Dai, "we just wanted to improve the diversity of teams that have won tourneys".

Now that I got that out of the way, let's get to some analysis. Since Nick is apparently "to [sic] tilted to play qb ever again", you all will be spared a "[rant] about everything wv a did wrong" (thank you Yusuf for the quote), and will instead be given a strong critique and analysis of their errors.

Tier 1: Arcadia A
Arcadia A hosted this tournament, so nothing has changed since the previous analyses posted in this thread. Everything Nick and I wrote about them two weeks ago still holds. Basically, Arcadia is by far the best team in SoCal this year and will probably win out the rest of the season now that they're done hosting. If not for their house team's 3-6 performance yesterday, they'd have probably been favored to go undefeated for the entire season. One interesting thing I found about their house team was that Michael Kwok did have the fourth-most history points in the entire field, but unfortunately this will probably not make much of a difference if and when he plays on a full A team since Amogh and Ryan are two of the top history players in the circuit.

Tier 2: Santa Monica A, Westview A
Despite Santa Monica A's win yesterday, I continue to stand by my statement that this is a rebuilding year. Our win should be interpreted as an anomaly, as we only won because Arcadia A was not in the field. I'm actually going to defer much of my Samo analysis to the Samo B paragraph, but I do want to point out that our roster change from Triton Fall paid great dividends. We replaced Dashiell Decker (10th; myth/CE/trash/technically hist and geo) on A team with Danny Chmaytelli (10th; physics) in an effort to boost our science production, as our 40% tossup conversion rate and 18.93 PPB on LONE STAR were quite anemic for a team in this tier. Although losing Dashiell meant our stats in CE and myth went down, these losses were more than neutralized by our gains in science. Science shot up to become one of our strongest categories yesterday, as we more than doubled our conversion rate to 82.5% and had our PPB shoot up to 26.90. Part of this is probably because RAFT II's science was easier than LONE STAR's, but I cannot discount the fact that both Danny and Teddy Berger (12th; biology) have been studying and improving. If we can maintain this improvement and show that yesterday was not an aberration, we'll easily become a much better team than we were last year with Josh Kong locking down science by himself.

Overall, our coverage of the big three categories was excellent yesterday. In addition to the aforementioned science, we had an 82.5% conversion rate on history tossups as well (with almost all of the remaining 17.5% being lost buzzer races in power, rip) to go along with >29 PPB. I was, however, extremely surprised to find out that we had an 87.5% conversion rate on literature tossups, as while lit definitely wasn't a weakness for us at Triton Fall, Alexandra Raphling (11th; lit/FA/trash) and I are very, very shaky at locking it down, especially against top-tier teams. Our 19 lit powers ended up being the most of any team in the field (although St. Margaret's Episcopal had more powers per game), with nine of those coming from Alexandra and ten coming from me. I do believe that this was a fluke, as not only was the lit in general on the easier end of the regs spectrum, the answerlines that came up were simply highly favorable for me. Amazingly in the finals game, we beat Westview despite Gary Lin powering three of the history over me. This was almost completely neutralized by my 2/1/0 lit statline, which were basically entirely lucky buzzes. I am quite confident that I would not be able to duplicate those lit stats consistently against good lit players like Alexandra and Nick Dai.

I'm going to try to be objective in analyzing Westview A, but there is one aspect of their gameplay that I cannot overlook. It's the number under the column labeled "-5". Their 34 negs were by far the most in the field, and ultimately their five in finals cost them the title. Nicholas Dai has become one of the best players in SoCal, with 45 powers over 10 games, but his 18 negs were also toward the top of the leaderboard. He actually did manage to get below two negs per game, which was quite an amazing feat. As I said two weeks ago, I believe that if Westview simply stopped making terrible fraud attempts and started listening to the question, they would be a much better team that could demolish Samo and compete with Arcadia, but negging a lot is just too far ingrained into their team identity. Indeed, Westview has been a high-neg school for pretty much its entire existence, but their A team over the last two years could neutralize the effects of their negs because they'd still be able to power everything else. Well Shahar's graduation has left behind a huge hole, and while Nick has succeeded him as their resident neg monster, they haven't been able to reproduce his dominant production. My advice to Westview as a low-neg player myself is to consider game theory—both WV and Samo know that WV knows more than Samo does—just look at power stats, where Westview beat us 96-78; a good chunk of Samo's production thus comes from 10s—we beat WV in that stat 66-33. So there is simply no need for Westview to try to fraud every tossup in power; if WV simply stopped buzzing on first instinct, they would not only reduce their frequent "wait, wait, wait, I know it, hold on, I'm thinking, the answer is, the answer is..." negs, they would more importantly for them also simply convert more tossups. It's usually great to outpower your opponent 8-4, but ultimately it is not powers that win games. A statline of 8/1/5 will almost always lose to a statline of 4/7/0, which is what happened in finals yesterday. As long as you get a good bonus conversion—which Westview is totally capable of doing, as they led the field with 26.43 PPB yesterday, converting more tossups than your opponent is the path to winning games. This is simply a consequence of how the current scoring rules of quiz bowl are designed, and I'm sure that Westview understands this, they just need to put this into practice. Westview at their peak is capable of competing with Arcadia even—they were up by 180 at halftime against them at Triton Fall before faltering in the second half. Yet their 1-2 record against Santa Monica this year comes not because Santa Monica knows more than Westview does, but rather because we have a better and smarter play style. In short, Westview needs to stop trying to emulate Shahar's gameplay. Westview, I played against Shahar Schwartz; I knew Shahar Schwartz; Shahar Schwartz was a formidable opponent of mine; Westview, you're no Shahar Schwartz.

Tier 2.5: Del Norte A, Canyon Crest A
So before I began writing this post, I split the circuit into three tiers—the top tier, the middle tier, and the bottom tier; I ended up making a new tier just for Arcadia, but otherwise I've kept the tier system mostly as I first drew it up. I believe that these two teams, however, are a step below the teams in the top tier and a step above the teams in the middle tier, hence my creation of this half-tier. Also n.b. I did use a tier system in last year's analysis of the SoCal circuit, but this year's system is not the same as last year's so don't compare them.

[Edited to add: Del Norte A was officially disqualified from ACE. The numbers in this paragraph are the scores from the actual games when they were played, not the modified official stats]
Del Norte A has put up great stats this year, coming within two powers of hitting 10 powers per game yesterday. They also became the first SoCal team to get a grail this year. Furthermore, their 26.25 PPB was just barely behind Westview A and Santa Monica A. Although their raw stats would indicate that they're on the same level as WV and Samo, it isn't powers per game or PPB that determines final placement. When the time came for them to play WV and Samo they faltered, going 5/1/6 against Samo in a 540-215 loss and 6/3/2 against WV in a 430-350 loss. Going back to Triton Fall, they lost to Arcadia 590-240, Samo 480-235, and WV 400-310, and even lost to CCA 370-340. I believe Del Norte has the potential to join Samo and WV in tier 2, but they definitely have some glaring holes that they need to fill. While freshmen Rohan Gaikwad and Conner Feng have thus far formed a solid supporting cast for senior Joshua You, they have not matched the production of last year's seniors Kyle Ke, Ajai Banaiah, and Manasvi Vora.

Canyon Crest A is perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far. They were initially ranked about eighth in SoCal before the season, as beyond last year's A team of Jonathan Hsieh, Shreyank Kadadi, Raymond Song, and Wesley Zhang, not much was known about the rest of their roster. Junior Andrew Gao has stepped up to become CCA's top scorer, but he's only played 6.5 games this year. In those 6.5 games, he did record 23 powers and 65.38 PPG, which would make him one of the best players in SoCal. As for the rest of their roster, Leo Gu and Chris Jung form a solid supporting cast, as the two of them led their team to a T-5th place finish at ACE yesterday. At full strength I am confident that CCA can be a sleeper team, as they upset Del Norte at Triton Fall, but they also have a neg problem. Their 25 negs were fourth in the field yesterday, behind only the aforementioned Westview A, San Dieguito A (which was apparently intentionally negging many tossups), and CCA's own C team; ironically, CCA B was fifth in negs. This neg problem manifested in their 405-240 loss to Samo B. They had a 215-100 lead at halftime, only to record four negs in the second half to get outscored 305-25. Like with Westview A, Canyon Crest will have to clean this up if they want to be competitive with higher tier teams. Their team is definitely not as strong as it was last year when they had several high-neg players but could rely on their insane power counts and PPB's to beat everyone; they'll need all the points they can get whenever they can get them.

I also want to highlight the performance of Canyon Crest C's Aaron Combs yesterday. As a freshman, he recorded a very impressive 78.33 PPG and 21 powers over 9 games, both toward the top of the leaderboards. While his PPB was definitely wanting and he led the field in negs, I believe next year's CCA team can easily become a top-three team in SoCal, as Santa Monica, Westview, and Del Norte will all see their best player(s) graduate.

Tier 3: St. Margaret's Episcopal A, Santa Monica B, Westview B, Scripps Ranch A
[Edited to add: St. Margaret's Episcopal was officially disqualified from ACE. The numbers in this paragraph are the scores from the actual games when they were played, not the modified official stats]
St. Margaret's Episcopal A is relatively new to quiz bowl, as they'd only played three tournaments (including a JV tournament win) before yesterday. The team for its entire existence has basically been junior Nate Kang soloing, although he did have a teammate at ACE. Nate ended the tournament with 134.44 PPG and 6 powers per game, both good for best in the entire field. In addition, he was the best individual lit and FA player. But when it came to team performance, he faltered against teams in this tier and higher tiers, losing 485-245 to Del Norte A, 555-185 to Santa Monica A, 395-310 to Scripps Ranch, and 395-275 to Santa Monica B, although he did blow out a shorthanded Westview B 500-230. Results like these with incredible individual stats but poor team performances are quite typical for solo or one-man teams, as I personally experienced several times last year. Normally, individually converting eight or nine tossups in a game puts you in great shape if you have three teammates, as your teammates only need to combine to convert two or three additional tossups to lock up a win. But when you don't have the luxury of teammates, you basically need to convert ten or eleven tossups just by yourself to secure a win, and converting just two more tossups can be a daunting task for non-generalists. Furthermore, non-generalist solo players basically have to sweep all the tossups in their specialties to have a chance because missing even one means you have to make up ground in one of your non-specialties; this can really be a killer, and it definitely was for Nate against Samo B yesterday as he didn't sweep all of his specialties. This truly is the pain of soloing—an 8/1/1 individual statline would normally be considered an exceptional game, but all Nate got out of it was a 120-point loss. On the flip side, soloing does really let you inflate your own PPG, but I'm sure that all serious quiz bowl players will happily trade a PPG title for a tournament win. As an aside—Nate put up 134.44 PPG yesterday as a one-man team; last year I put up 138.33 PPG as a one-man team (with similar team results as St. Margaret's yesterday); at Triton Fall, Amogh put up 138.64 PPG alongside Ryan's 50.48 PPG. That just shows how dominant of a player Amogh is.

As I said in my Santa Monica A paragraphs, I will do most of my general Santa Monica analysis in this paragraph for Santa Monica B. Our A team roster of me, Alexandra Raphling, Teddy Berger, and Danny Chmaytelli turned out to be a great combination, but it is not yet final. While Danny has now become the frontrunner to be our fourth scorer, Dashiell Decker, who filled that role well at Triton Fall, and Kethan Raman (junior; hist/geo/CE/religion/jazz/"Kubla Khan") are still candidates. In regard to Samo B's actual performance yesterday, I was quite pleased and surprised. Kethan came just shy of averaging three powers per game, and he is easily on track to succeed me as top scorer of the A team. Despite covering mostly the same subjects as Kethan, Dashiell had 37.78 PPG on his own (n.b. official stats are wrong) and had some clutch buzzes in playoffs against St. Margaret's. Freshman Delaney O'Dea (FA) has emerged as one of the top FA players in SoCal despite having all of three months of quiz bowl experience, and if she can expand into other categories she has the potential to become a top generalist. Ultimately, these strong performances indicate that our rebuild this year is going very well, much better than I had anticipated even. The fact that the Samo B roster we ran out, which did not even include solid humanities player Natalie Greenfield (junior), was able to finish tied for third in such a crowded field shows that our 2021–2022 and beyond teams will remain contenders far beyond my graduation—my initial goal for this season. I can only speculate as to our roster next year, but a combination of Kethan covering history, geography, CE, religion, jazz, and "Kubla Khan", Alexandra covering literature and trash, Danny covering science, and Delaney covering art could be the second best in SoCal (behind Arcadia of course), especially considering that the top players from Westview and Del Norte are graduating. At the beginning of the year, my hope for this rebuild was just that a couple players would step up and emerge as stars in the making, but I had no expectations that the actual Samo B team would be any good this year—in fact, I projected them to be a step behind our B team last year, whose wild card bid for HSNCT got deferred before the tournament was canceled. I am glad that so many players have stepped up, with many of them well ahead of their schedules.

An interesting note about Santa Monica B's performance yesterday is the dichotomy between their wins and their losses. Of their seven wins, the only one that was a close game was over St. Margaret's, and they converted 15 tossups in five different games. But their two losses were both complete blowouts, losing 675-80 to Westview A (incidentally this was the only game in which Westview A did not record a single neg) and 590-185 to Santa Monica A. Because of this, Samo B achieved the rare feat of both winning and losing at least one game by 500 points in the same tournament, with a 625-(-5) win over Del Norte B and a 535-30 win over San Dieguito A and the aforementioned 675-80 loss to Westview A. If they had only scored five fewer points or if Westview had scored five more points in that game, Samo B would've had both a 600-point win and a 600-point loss. This is a great indicator of the wide gap between the top, middle, and bottom tiers of this circuit—Del Norte B, who lost to Samo B by 630, wound up finishing in 9th place at the top of the consols bracket!

To wrap up the book on Santa Monica, I just want to flex this stat: the three teams with the fewest negs were Santa Monica C, Santa Monica B, and Santa Monica A.

Westview B has not fielded a consistent roster at all this year, as they only played half of a tournament with what I believe was supposed to be their full team. I have no clue as to what their final roster will look like this year, as top sophomores Pramod Shastry and Richard Lin did not play yesterday. I do believe, however, that it is safe to say that they have not at all lived up to their preseason consensus ranking of 5th in SoCal, as they've finished both tournaments at the very bottom of the champs playoff bracket.

Scripps Ranch A is the final team in Tier 3. They placed at the top of the consolation bracket at Triton Fall and snuck into champs yesterday, and actually pulled off an upset over St. Margaret's to claim 5th place. Their 32 powers in 9 games, however, was quite a bit behind the other champs teams, and they did get demolished several times, including a 630-95 loss to Samo A. Senior Freddie O'Hara recorded an impressive 51.67 PPG and I've heard that they were playing shorthanded, so with a full team I believe they could be a sleeper to pull off some upsets. Interestingly, Scripps defeated Santa Monica C 575-80 and lost to Santa Monica A 630-95; if either they had scored five more points against Samo C or if Samo C had scored five fewer points, Scripps would also have achieved the rare feat of both winning and losing a game by 500 points in the same tournament. This is another good example of the huge gap between the tiers in this circuit!

Final Thoughts:
I don't think it's worth the effort writing anything about Tier 4, as that basically consists of every other team in this circuit. The only schools that I am really uncertain about are North Hollywood, which has not played a varsity tournament at all this year, and Mount Everest, which did not play ACE yesterday. I believe NoHo should slide into Tier 3 pretty easily, if not even up to Tier 2.5, as they were ranked 6th in Nick's preseason rankings. As for Mount Everest, I agree with Yusuf Amanullah's assessment of his own team that they are definitely not at the same level as Tier 3 teams but also a step above the run-of-the-mill SoCal teams that typically fill up the bottom of the field.

To conclude, I want to thank everyone who's been involved in the 2020–2021 SoCal Quiz Bowl season so far—all players, coaches, staffers, TD's, etc. This has been the strangest season we've all experienced, and we have been able to adjust to the new online environment without many major issues. Particular shoutouts go to UCSD and Arcadia for stepping up and hosting so far! Since it appears that there won't be anymore SoCal HS tournaments for the rest of 2020, I wish you all well in the month of December and am looking forward to playing you all again come Triton Winter in January.

[Edited to correct a few minor errors]
Last edited by joshxu on Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Josh Xu

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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by natekang »

Great post, Josh!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

joshxu wrote: Mon Nov 30, 2020 2:28 am Westview, I played against Shahar Schwartz; I knew Shahar Schwartz; Shahar Schwartz was a formidable opponent of mine; Westview, you're no Shahar Schwartz.
I-

Anyways, like what Nate said, great post Josh! I'm not actually "too tilted to play qb ever again," that's out of context. What is true is that I'm too tired to properly respond and write a full post-tournament analysis this time. Thanks Arcadia for hosting, and I can't wait to play everyone in 2021! Next high school tournament will be after college apps are due, which allows Joshua You, Josh Xu, and Westview A to start study grinding again, so that's definitely going to be exciting! See you all next year!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by YusAm »

Triton Winter just happened, but Nick and Josh opted against posting a detailed analysis of the tournament since there isn't much else new to take away from it that wasn't covered in the analyses of the first two. Still, this was the region's first NAQT tournament of the year, and there are some other tidbits that may be of interest to the small handful of people that actually look at this thread, so I thought it'd be useful to do a quick recap.

Arcadia is the best team in the nation Groger-rank wise (other metrics not withstanding), and they performed as one would expect as the best team in the nation. Their statline looks marginally worse than it did at Triton Fall but that can be likely attributed to (a) the abnormally short powers on NAQT sets and (b) the Internet issues that Amogh and possibly other players had, which led to poor communication on some bonuses in their match against us and presumably in their other matches (including a bonus that was bageled, and a few that were 10s, that they would've gotten if not for communication issues). Otherwise, Amogh and Ryan dominated as expected. Junior Michael Kwok also had a 3 power game and is a good complementary player to the leading duo.

With Westview once again unable to display their supposed full potential (more on that later), Santa Monica A continues to exceed preseason expectations by pushing for the title of second best team in SoCal. Interestingly enough, coming into the season, SaMo was widely expected to benefit heavily from the NAQT distribution, but their performance on IS 197 was actually on par with or slightly worse than their performance on the equally difficult LONE STAR and the easier RAFT II. Despite surpassing 100 ppg, Josh Xu got fewer powers this tournament than at the previous two, once again presumably due to the shorter powers on NAQT sets. One unique aspect of SaMo's gameplay is its extremely low neg rate, and the team has consistently averaged below a neg a game at every tournament along with its solid power numbers. As the season goes on, this will continue to set it apart from the moderate-to-high negging similarly matched teams of Del Norte and Westview A.

Del Norte A managed to post another strong performance at Triton Winter. The main point of focus here is the emergence of sophomore lit/other categories? player Madhumita Narayan, who has improved rapidly over the year and has now become Del Norte's 2nd scorer. While their PPB took a slight dip from the last few tournaments, they continue to do well despite last year's graduations, and Josh You put another strong performance as leading scorer.

Three players from Westview A decided to staff the tournament, including Nick, leaving Gary Lin as the only A team regular to play today. The supporting trio of Connor Rankin, freshman Maximilian Liu, and sophomore Pramod Shastry would still prove to be a decently strong team at the tournament with 4 powers/game and 23 ppb, although Pramod unexpectedly left halfway through the tournament. Quite notably, missing 3 A teamers did not do much to change Westview's typical high neg approach to games, which makes me wonder about just what exactly goes on at Westview practices that causes these habits get picked up. Either way, not much can be gleaned from this performance by them, and we will have to wait until DNE.

Santa Monica B was the only B team to make the playoff bracket, and they did so with a shorthanded team. Kethan Raman finished third in the field in scoring with 3 p/g, and as Josh mentioned before would be on the A team if not for the near-complete category overlap with Josh. Despite their low PPB they still managed to pull of upsets in playoffs against Westview and Mt. Everest, and I'm interested in seeing what they can do at full strength; Josh has gone into far more detail on their strength in the previous posts than I am capable of here.

Rounding out the playoff bracket is Mt. Everest A. Leading scorer and quasi-generalist Ben Shimabukuro put up a strong performance, and supporting performances by the rest of us helped us finish with 3.4 p/g and 20 ppb. Our extremely conservative playstyle makes us susceptible to both winning and losing in upsets, depending on packet favorability and the other team's playstyle. For example, our playoff match against Del Norte A came down to the last tossup (and we might've won if not for an inexplicable neg on a tossup I had no business negging), but we lost by similar margins to underdogs SaMo B and Del Norte B. Regardless, how our performances in the rest of season play out remains to be seen.

For teams that did not make the playoff bracket, or were otherwise absent at this tournament:
Canyon Crest A was without their top scorer Andrew Gao, and while Scripps Ranch A had their two top scorers for most of the tournament, Freddie O'Hara missed 2 and a half games, and they still had an incomplete A team. Thus, we will have to wait until DNE at least to get any meaningful results.
Francis Parker and Viewpoint A both played their first varsity tournaments of the year and put up very solid statlines-2 p/g and 3.9 p/g respectively, and 18ppb for both. Their teams were composed entirely of sophomores and juniors, so they'll be teams to watch over the coming tournaments this year and in the future.
For teams not at this tournament: North Hollywood has yet to play at a tournament this year, so no midseason update can be made to the preseason predictions for them. St. Margaret's will almost certainly not play any online tournaments in the near future, as long as tournaments will still be held online exclusively. They are still listed on Groger Ranks, but this should be rectified in the next rankings release.

This ended up being longer than expected, but in any case I had a great time in this tournament, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the second half of the season plays out.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

Thanks to UCSD for hosting and all moderators and scorekeepers for making Triton Winter a smooth and fun tournament! We got through 11 rounds in just over eight hours with no major delays, ending at a very solid time for an online tournament. I also want to thank Yusuf for sharing his perspective on the SoCal circuit, as it's nice to hear from someone other than Nick and me. That being said, and while I decided not to write a long and detailed post this time because of a lack of new developments to analyze, I do have some thoughts I want to share, but I'll be brief.

IS #197 is as bad as the reviews have stated (I don't want to elaborate more on this so as not to reveal unclear set content). Coupled with the extremely short powers of all NAQT sets, I think this mostly explains why the stats of several teams such as Arcadia A and Santa Monica A went down noticeably when compared to LONE STAR, which was roughly the same difficulty. Furthermore, there were several instances where I believe I buzzed a couple words before the powermark but either the buzz didn't go through or the moderator didn't see the buzz until they had already read the first word off of power, which further depressed my power count. I've heard that the same thing happened with other players and teams as well, so this might have been another cause of reduced power rates at this tournament. Regardless, this is an unfortunate consequence of having to play online tournaments with such short questions.

As Yusuf stated, there has not been a lot of movement in terms of rankings since the November tournaments, but there were some intriguing points to analyze.
With Westview once again unable to display their supposed full potential (more on that later), Santa Monica A continues to exceed preseason expectations by pushing for the title of second best team in SoCal. Interestingly enough, coming into the season, SaMo was widely expected to benefit heavily from the NAQT distribution, but their performance on IS 197 was actually on par with or slightly worse than their performance on the equally difficult LONE STAR and the easier RAFT II. Despite surpassing 100 ppg, Josh Xu got fewer powers this tournament than at the previous two, once again presumably due to the shorter powers on NAQT sets. One unique aspect of SaMo's gameplay is its extremely low neg rate, and the team has consistently averaged below a neg a game at every tournament along with its solid power numbers. As the season goes on, this will continue to set it apart from the moderate-to-high negging similarly matched teams of Del Norte and Westview A.
Alas, it looks like my streak of succeeding on low-quality NAQT sets has come to an end. While statistically (in terms of powers and PPB) it appears Santa Monica A's performance yesterday was slightly worse than Triton Fall on LONE STAR, I am largely attributing this to getting buzzes one word off of power so many times. And somewhat ironically, I believe that the NAQT distribution actually hurt us more than it helped us yesterday. While more geography and current events questions are normally beneficial for me, I did not do very well on the geography for my standards. Furthermore, the other major addition in the NAQT distribution is trash, and this ended up drastically killing our PPB—filtering trash out, our PPB would've been almost an entire point higher and better than Arcadia's. At the regular HS difficulty, I can honestly no longer call us an NAQT team because my geography is so hit or miss depending on exactly which answerlines come up and because we cover PSS and religion quite well at this level. At higher difficulty, however, I maintain that we're an NAQT team because my geography scales very well while our RPSS does not.
Del Norte A managed to post another strong performance at Triton Winter. The main point of focus here is the emergence of sophomore lit/other categories? player Madhumita Narayan, who has improved rapidly over the year and has now become Del Norte's 2nd scorer. While their PPB took a slight dip from the last few tournaments, they continue to do well despite last year's graduations, and Josh You put another strong performance as leading scorer.
Del Norte A performed very well yesterday, and I want to highlight the emergence of sophomore Madhumita Narayan and freshman Conner Feng as reliable second- and third-scorers to back up senior Joshua You. They even came within 10 points of us in their first game against Santa Monica A and would have tied the game if not for a communication mishap on a late bonus part. On the other hand, they were upset by Westview despite Westview dropping five negs and almost lost to Mt. Everest. To me, these consistency issues are the only thing keeping Del Norte out of the same tier as Santa Monica and Westview, as their raw stats are at a similar level but their actual game results unfortunately are not.
Santa Monica B was the only B team to make the playoff bracket, and they did so with a shorthanded team. Kethan Raman finished third in the field in scoring with 3 p/g, and as Josh mentioned before would be on the A team if not for the near-complete category overlap with Josh. Despite their low PPB they still managed to pull of upsets in playoffs against Westview and Mt. Everest, and I'm interested in seeing what they can do at full strength; Josh has gone into far more detail on their strength in the previous posts than I am capable of here.
Our roster for Santa Monica B yesterday was supposed to be a meme, as the duo of Kethan Raman and Jacob Cohen also duoed Triton Winter last year and went 3-8 en route to finishing tied for 12th. Well Kethan has really improved in the past year, as this year's iteration of Santa Monica B upset Westview A and finished tied for third in a circle of death. This, however, was pretty much just a product of luck, as the circle of death only happened because Westview in turn upset Del Norte A.
Rounding out the playoff bracket is Mt. Everest A. Leading scorer and quasi-generalist Ben Shimabukuro put up a strong performance, and supporting performances by the rest of us helped us finish with 3.4 p/g and 20 ppb. Our extremely conservative playstyle makes us susceptible to both winning and losing in upsets, depending on packet favorability and the other team's playstyle. For example, our playoff match against Del Norte A came down to the last tossup (and we might've won if not for an inexplicable neg on a tossup I had no business negging), but we lost by similar margins to underdogs SaMo B and Del Norte B. Regardless, how our performances in the rest of season play out remains to be seen.
Last season, Mt. Everest A played its first-ever regular SoCal tournament at PPT in October. They went 3-7 in a full round robin and recorded a respectable 16 powers and 17.30 PPB, very solid for a new team. While they posted a 3-7 record again yesterday (with upset losses to Del Norte B and Santa Monica B), they more than doubled their power count to 34 and made their way into the top bracket. As Yusuf wrote, they were quite inconsistent, both being upset and coming close to upsetting teams a few times, but I'm confident that they can be a sleeper team that can win big games in future tournaments. For a team to be playing at this level in only its second year in the circuit is very impressive.

Lastly, the team that exceeded my expectations the most was Francis Parker. They only played one tournament last season, going winless at Triton Fall, but yesterday they swept the bottom playoff bracket to go 7-3 with almost four powers per game. Although their PPB was a bit lacking, if Francis Parker starts playing more tournaments I believe they too can be a sleeper team that can pull off major upsets. As their team consisted entirely of non-seniors, I'm especially looking forward to seeing how well they can do next year when the circuit (aside from Arcadia) is expected to be weaker and more open.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope to see you all again at DNE in two weeks!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

To go off the Francis Parker point, I think it’s worth pointing out that they preformed this well despite not fielding Zach Partnoy or Ari Mazow, who have traditionally been their main scorers. I’m very interested to see what a full Francis Parker A can do!
YusAm wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 pm Quite notably, missing 3 A teamers did not do much to change Westview's typical high neg approach to games, which makes me wonder about just what exactly goes on at Westview practices that causes these habits get picked up.
To be fair, a full Westview A averaged 5 negs per game when full so 3.5 negs per game is still an improvement. But I’m gonna be honest, I actually have no clue how we always manage to neg so much!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by glin »

I think it's worth looking at Westview A's performance this tournament as a continuation of Westview B at Triton Fall. For various reasons Nick Dai, Andrew Jia, and Daniel Shaw staffed this tournament. At first, we decided to do it for the memes (me included). But unfortunately, there were some staff shortages as well due to Cal Cup being on the same day, so in order to field another team for the underclassmen, they ended up staffing. The fact that one person left Westview A after lunch without telling us and another freshman didn't show for two rounds was a bit of a slap in the face, but that's salt we needn't get into here.

Westview A's statline this time around was 42/47/35. With 17 negs, I singlehandedly made nearly half of all the negs at this tournament. All of them (I think) were dumb terrible frauds or indicator negs or something like that, I don't really remember that. With Nicc gone I neg in his place (ok I'll stop simping).

Max (9) and Connor (12) made up the bulk of the remaining stats. Pramod (10) too, but unfortunately he had to leave unexpectedly so yeah. We had practically no lit, sci, or rmpss coverage this tournament. Thus I suppose frauds and risky buzzes were the main strategies to cover the distribution, which worked some games but meant we got pummeled against Samo A and Arcadia, but that was to be expected I guess. Max certainly popped off this tournament, after scoring 36.97 PPG at ACE and generally dominating at MS quizbowl. He picked up quite a few things that Connor and I didn't know, and I think can potentially be a really high-scoring player in the future.
nickdai wrote: Mon Jan 18, 2021 1:49 am
YusAm wrote: Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:33 pm Quite notably, missing 3 A teamers did not do much to change Westview's typical high neg approach to games, which makes me wonder about just what exactly goes on at Westview practices that causes these habits get picked up.
To be fair, a full Westview A averaged 5 negs per game when full so 3.5 negs per game is still an improvement. But I’m gonna be honest, I actually have no clue how we always manage to neg so much!
We went 3.4 negs per game at ACE too. :razz:

Personally, I think Westview's high neg stat comes from the conditioning that early buzzes are good. Nick frauds a lot, but he's also the highest-scoring player right now and is I suppose the best generalist we have so yeah. If anyone wants to beat Nick to a question, they grasp onto a clue that they might know and leap for it. Or at least, that's my line of thinking. I don't really know how much you can glean from Westview practice to how they do in tournaments, because I certainly play differently when I know the outcome doesn't matter. My math teacher did say you perform how you practice, though...

Nick probably won't like me saying this, but I'll expose what's been going on the last few practices. After each first line, Nick buzzes and attempts to fraud the question. I assume he got this tradition from Shahar, who made it a habit to buzz lit first line. Insert mean-spirited Josh Xu quote here. :P Anyway, from my perspective, neg control is definitely a priority, although so is studying in general. Rn I would compare WV A to CCA A last year, kind of burned out from college apps and the like, although we are still motivated. Hopefully we achieve our goals! We'll see.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

Since the previous writeup, there have been two SoCal tournaments, DNE (MCMT) and SRIRACHA! (DART). At DNE, Westview won its first varsity tournament of the season, while Arcadia picked up its circuit-best third win at SRIRACHA! One factor in analyzing these tournaments, however, is that there were very few teams playing with full-strength A teams, which is why nobody from SoCal wrote anything in this thread about DNE. But since SRIRACHA! was an intriguing tournament with several interesting points to analyze, here is a relatively brief write-up on the present state of the SoCal circuit.

Arcadia:
Simply put, this was an absolutely dominating performance by Arcadia at SRIRACHA! yesterday. Their 119 powers in 10 games were more than double the next closest team, and their 25.29 PPB was almost 2 points higher than the second-place team. Frankly, none of their games yesterday were particularly close, with Westview C (Nick Dai solo) being the only team able to take nine tossups off of them. Amogh (11th) has clearly emerged as a player of the year frontrunner, breaking 7 powers per game, but Ryan Sun (11th) came just shy of 4 powers per game himself, good for fourth in the field. I do believe that even if Arcadia had played this tournament without Amogh, they would still have won (although not necessarily gone undefeated), with Ryan putting up a dominant performance.

Del Norte:
By finishing second, SRIRACHA! was Del Norte A's best performance of the season. While their power rate was low compared to the rest of the top bracket, their 23.47 PPB and best-in-the-field 78 10s carried them past other strong teams, such as Santa Monica A and Westview C. This was actually the opposite of their performances at earlier tournaments, where they put up stats comparable to the top of the field but lost most or all of their key games. In upcoming tournaments (all of which will be played on higher difficulties), I'm most interested in seeing how well Del Norte's players not named Josh You (12th) can scale, as he provided the majority of their powers yesterday, but freshman Conner Feng (9th) was right behind him in terms of overall PPG.

Santa Monica:
Because half of our A team couldn't play SRIRACHA! yesterday, we decided to just break up our rosters. Since four players were strongly opposed to playing on the same team as me, I (12th) was ostracized to B team. Our A team roster was composed of half our expected B team and a couple JV players, while our B team roster was composed of half our expected A team and a couple JV players. Theoretically our B team was supposed to be stronger than our A team, and our B team had significantly better stats overall, but it was Samo A that beat Samo B head-to-head and finished tied for second overall. However, I'm attributing Samo A's victory over Samo B to moderator error, as the moderator botched a tossup that I would've converted, and Samo A converted the replacement over me. In any case, this means that Samo A has finished in second place four times this year, and it is now confirmed that Samo A is better without me. In all seriousness though, I think it would be a good idea for me to play on B or lower teams more often, because I'm a graduating senior and it's all but guaranteed that Arcadia will win out the rest of the season anyway, so it would be beneficial for our potential A team next year to start playing together without me. Kethan Raman (11th) has clearly emerged as one of the strongest players in SoCal, and I'm confident he can lead next year's Samo A to consistent second-place finishes (obviously behind Arcadia), especially since many teams are graduating their top players.

Westview:
Like Santa Monica, Westview also sent unconventional rosters yesterday. Half their normal A team played on WV A, while their highest scoring and highest negging player, Nick Dai (12), soloed on WV C. In the end, these two teams had interesting results, as Nick solo got lucky and upset Samo B (he got better bonuses than we did), got unlucky and lost to Samo A (he got worse bonuses than they did), put up 7 powers against Arcadia, and lost his head-to-head matchup against WV A. Meanwhile, WV A managed to put up 5 negs and get upset by Harvard-Westlake and lose by 10 to CCA A to not only miss the champs bracket, but also to finish 5th out of 7 teams in their prelims bracket. It is thus evident that Westview cannot succeed without Nick, and while Nick is a great player alone, he very much needs his teammates to succeed. Furthermore, had Nick been playing with his normal teammates in his game against Arcadia, they quite possibly could have pulled off an upset. As I've written in earlier analyses, success in soloing essentially boils down to getting lucky with exactly which tossup answerlines come up and whether you get bonuses within your specialties. For Nick, this obviously led to wins over teams that were better than him as well as losses to teams that were worse than him (in terms of overall stats and final performance).

Canyon Crest:
The last team to make the champs bracket at SRIRACHA! was Canyon Crest A. While the three-man team of Leo Gu, Chris Jung, and Cade McAllister put up considerably weaker stats than the rest of the top bracket, they did record a 365-355 upset over Westview A. This was done without Andrew Gao (11th) on their roster, as Andrew was only able to play for a couple rounds on CCA B. CCA has not sent a full-strength roster for several tournaments now, but they have nevertheless shown an ability to upset stronger teams.

As for the rest of the field, Harvard-Westlake made its SoCal season debut yesterday, going a very solid 6-4, including a 325-275 upset win over Westview A. It's also nice to see Rancho Bernardo continue to be one of the most active teams in the circuit, despite their top players having graduated in the past couple seasons.

The next "SoCal" tournament on the schedule is West Coast Championships, which will be particularly interesting since the set the competitive division is using, STASH, is of nationals-level difficulty. We'll get to see just how well the top SoCal teams can scale, as well as how we stack up against other circuits on the West Coast. I hope to see you all there, either in competitive or standard, as well as at the many more tournaments still on the schedule!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

I guess it's time for an update regarding SoCal since it has been a long time since our last one. Since Josh addressed most of the important points, I'll only discuss a few things.

Arcadia is definitely the best team here. But I don't think they're unbeatable. I was the closest team to beating them after going 9-11 in tossups while playing solo, and I am sure that if Gary, Andrew, and Daniel were with me, we would have won. That being said, Arcadia is just so good. I keep saying this, but Ryan Sun is so underrated. He only had 2 less powers than Josh, while playing next to Amogh. I think Ryan might have a chance at possibly contesting the spot of the second best player in SoCal. Last year, Arcadia was known for being extremely dominant despite both their two main players doing the exact same categories (literature and history), but I've realized that they've grown to specialize a lot. From my observation, Amogh has also become an extremely solid science and rmpss player, which was their biggest weakness last year. In fact, Amogh is probably the best science player in SoCal, even surpassing people like Andrew and Joshua You. Looking at past tournaments, I think Amogh Kulkarni could also be a top 5 RMPSS player in the whole country, following the footsteps of another Amogh Kulkarni. Most of Ryan's buzzes still seem to be from history, but he has also gotten very good at fine arts. I think Arcadia's biggest weakness is geography, but that's from a limited amount of interaction I've had with their team.

Santa Monica looked really nice yesterday. I beat their A team (playing as B) on bonuses, while losing to their B team (playing as A) on bonuses. I don't know where Josh got the whole "got better bonuses than we did" storyline though. Kethan Raman and Josh Xu are both very good players, and I hope to see both of them play together more often in the future, but frankly, I'm not that confident in their scaling. Most teams have at least some categories where I can consistently see firstlines (Westview religion/biology, Del Norte physics, Arcadia with basically every category), but Santa Monica seems to get most of their powers from relatively later buzzes, and generally wins off just not negging. By no means do I intend on flaming Santa Monica, but I think that it would be nice to see how well they perform at the West Coast Championship, since they have not played sets harder than HS regs in over a year. Josh did mention that he might be willing to give Kethan a shot on playing for the A team, so I'm excited to see how that would work out!

So I think it is time to talk about Westview. Every time I post, I always get accused of making random rants about how Westview didn't perform as well as we should have, while not making any substantial analysis. Well, it's time to do that again. Westview C (me solo) beat both CCA A and Santa Monica A (playing as B), while playing the closest game any team has had against Arcadia in 4-5 months (last time there was a close game, it was also Westview vs Arcadia). I still lost to Santa Monica B (playing as A) on bonuses, and failed a 50/50 fraud on a tossup 20 that could have won the game against Del Norte A, but otherwise, it was fine. Every game I played I got at least 9 tossups, though my literature still isn't nearly as specialized as I hoped it would be, so I have been highly reliant RMPSS for my powers (would like to flex that I powered 19/20). However, the worst game I played happened to be my game against Westview A (2/4 of the real Westview A). Some people said that on any other packet, I would have won, since Gary got 7/19 of his powers in the game against me, but I disagree. Generally, when there's a game Gary really wants to win, he focuses much harder and makes much less avoidable mistakes. Westview A did lose to Santa Monica A, CCA A, and Harvard Westlake A. I think this goes to show how specialized Andrew and Gary are, since way too many tossups went dead without a generalist to help them cover categories they did not do. Hopefully we will be able to play all our future tournaments together.

It probably didn't help either that there was a SoCal Science Olympiad Regionals thing on the exact same day, so all three of us had to splitscreen to take care of both quizbowl and sci-oly things at the same time.

Before I finish this post, I do want to address CCA. For the past 6 months, Josh and I kept talking about just how underrated they are, but to be honest, they have never been able to show off their full potential. The closest they have had to playing as a full team (Andrew Gao, Leo Gu, Chris Jung, Kevin Luo) was during rounds 4 and 5 of Triton Fall. At least, this is what I expect their full team to be. Earlier, I mentioned teams that would always impress me with amazing scaling. CCA A is probably a great example for that. This team would always have an insane amount of firstlines, especially in history and science. Chris Jung and Andrew Gao are also great generalists, and have been able to expand into covering CCA A's weaknesses fairly well. However, this team still definitely lacks coverage in many parts of fine arts and RMPSS, though I do trust them to be a fairly strong team during the West Coast Championship. I do want to point out that if there's one school that multitasks better than Westview, it's CCA. From playing Valorant during questions to actually streaming League of Legends during a round while still answering tossups, CCA has seriously managed to impress me with their multitasking skills.

Anyways, I do want to thank Scripps Ranch a lot for hosting this tournament! It was really fun, and I'm very excited for the West Coast Championship!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by Serpentine284 »

I will give my objective analysis of the SoCal circuit.

I have to say, I am thoroughly disappointed in the strength of the SoCal circuit so far this year. I mean, we're almost done with the season, and yet none of the SoCal teams have beat Wayzata H yet? What a let-down. In fact, none of the teams in SoCal have even defeated Wayzata Z (little known fact). Like, come on.

I've heard a lot about this "Amogh Kulnarni" or "Amargo Kulkarni" or "Aroma Culpable" or whatever his name is, but I have yet to see anything truly outstanding from him yet. He's not even putting up 21 powers per game, and people are treating him like he's the best player in the nation or something. Simps, all of them.

This Westview team seems to have made a lot of attention with their negging habits, but all I'm thinking is why they let some random-ass town from New Jersey play in the SoCal circuit. The town doesn't even have kids! I suspect Nick Dai is actually a 40-year-old man masquerading as a high schooler. We see through your lies.

SaMo seems to be doing pretty well for themselves, although I don't really understand how graffiti can buzz. I suppose if you spray the buzzer on the wall? Del Norte also seems decent, but I can't think straight when it comes to them because I'm always wondering why they are named after the North despite being in Southern California.

I expected Harvard-Westlake to perform better, being the number one ranked university in the nation and all, but I suppose they're pretty decent. I have stronger hope for Canyon Crest C than their A team. After all, historically, CCC has done impressive work.

All in all, this circuit acts all tough until I pull up and sweep the entire field with my hands tied behind my back and my ears plugged. If you disagree with any of my analysis, I dare you to 1v1 me on the middle school Protobowl room.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by Ehtna »

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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

Serpentine284 wrote: Thu Mar 11, 2021 4:17 pm I mean, we're almost done with the season, and yet none of the SoCal teams have beat Wayzata H yet? What a let-down. In fact, none of the teams in SoCal have even defeated Wayzata Z (little known fact). Like, come on.
Yeah that’s enough. Westview would like to formally challenge Wayzata to a pre-HSNCT rap battle for the title of “Best School that Begins with a ‘W’”. Loser has to change their school name to Arcadia or something.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

So the West Coast Championship just happened, and I guess there is some stuff to discuss. I'll only talk about SoCal teams in Competitive here, as NorCal can probably create their own thread.

Arcadia swept the field, to no one's surprise. Amogh Kulkarni and Ryan Sun were the two highest powering players in the entire field, which is quite incredible. I don't think it's far fetched to say that the two of them are the two best high school players in California, if not the entire country. With about 8 powers per game and under 3 negs per game, Arcadia have put up the record highest stats any high school team has ever achieved on a set harder than HSNCT. I don't think there's too much to analyze here other than just how insane their scaling is.

Westview A came in second place, which allowed SoCal to sweep the top two places in the tournament (we were also the only two SoCal teams in the field, but we don't discuss that part). Now, I think Westview had the most peculiar stats of the entire tournament. Our PPB kept up very well, and we surpassed Arcadia on that statistic through every round until finals. However, the power and neg stats are where the issues are. In terms of powers, we were only the 6th highest team in powers per game, but in terms of negs, we had the highest in the entire field. Westview's neg issues have been there for a while, so I won't go too deep into them. I think Justine did once call me the most aggressive player in quizbowl's recent history, which is honestly a pretty cool title. Now, having low powers is not a very common Westview issue. We've averaged around 10 powers per game on every high school regular tournament this year, but we dropped all the way down to 3.5 powers per game on this set, which was disproportionately low. I like to bring out the fact that I only had 12 powers in 8 rounds of STASH, but I had 11 powers in 8 rounds of IKEA. I've always argued that Westview can only perform well on high school regular difficulty and college regular difficulty, but this is the first time my hypothesis has been proven. As Yusuf from Mt. Everest said, "[Westview is] taking the 'we do better at higher difficulties' thing too far". I attribute this to the fact that I am probably the most aggressive frauder in the entire country on high school regular difficulty, while also having a very deep religion knowledge to rely on for hard college tournaments, but nothing in between, as harder high school/easier college sets are too hard to rely on frauds, but not hard enough for my scaling to make a difference. The fact that both PACE and HSNCT are around this difficulty will be very unlucky for our team, and I expect us to struggle quite a bit. If only nationals was run on Chicago Open or something...

Okay, I've talked too long about my own team, so I think it's time for Santa Monica A. Santa Monica's two best players, Josh Xu and Kethan Raman, played on the same team for the first time in their lives. And it was quite interesting. Generally, Josh and Kethan don't play together since there is way too much overlap. But on a harder tournament like STASH, their specialties are able to diverge much more, allowing for much more success. Josh played his first game without powering since Triton Fall 2019, which was more than 1 and a half years ago. Surprisingly, Kethan scaled well enough to tie Josh in powers. After this tournament, I wouldn't be surprised if Kethan is put on A for HSNCT or PACE, since he still scales better than the other Santa Monica players. I still expect Alexandra Raphling to stay on A, as the main lit player, and either Teddy Berger for biochem or Danny Chmaytelli for physics. We'll see I guess, as there are still three regular season tournaments left in the season.

Del Norte and Canyon Crest tied in record, but since Del Norte won the PPG tiebreaker, I'll discuss them first. Del Norte has essentially finalized their roster, which will most likely by a 5-person roster, with Joshua You, Madhumita Narayan and Conner Feng being the core, and Rohan Gaikwad and Hannah Chen alternating for the remaining spot. Hannah was unable to attend today's tournament, so Rohan played the whole time. Joshua You was surprisingly very consistent this tournament, powering almost every math and computer science he heard, and 10ing most of the other content. Conner Feng was able to pull off an insane 0 neg performance. Both Conner and Rohan are two of the top three freshmen in the entire SoCal, while Madhumita has also quietly scaled into a very successful literature and fine arts specialist. This team still suffers with scaling, so it is still uncertain how successful they'll be at HSNCT or PACE.

Canyon Crest Academy also had a very interesting performance. Andrew Gao, Canyon Crest's highest scorer at every tournament the entire year, and the arguably junior in SoCal not from Arcadia and not named Kethan Raman, barely achieved third scorer status on his team. Meanwhile, Leo Gu got 13 powers in 7 games, which was an incredible performance relative to his usual statistics. Chris Jung has also been a very successful generalist, while Kevin Luo has also provided some much needed science specialism. I was very impressed by the fact that Canyon Crest outpowered Santa Monica A. I mentioned in the last post that I always noticed how Canyon Crest would have random extremely deep buzzes, and today's tournament justified that hypothesis. I have high hopes for them at nationals and the next year, and I am very excited to see their performance at PACE this year.

La Jolla is a team that none of us expected to attend. They've attended 0 SoCal tournaments this year, and have only gone to AQBL tournaments this year. Nevertheless, they had extremely impressive statistics, with 20 powers throughout the whole tournament while only maintaining a 14.35 PPB. I'm not familiar with Andrew Park at all, but his 16 powers in 7 rounds was very impressive, and he was the only non Arcadia SoCal player to outpower me this tournament. I'm very unfamiliar with this team so I do not have much to say.

Santa Monica B is also a team that I'm not able to discuss much about. Probably Josh will have more to say when he posts since I'm very unfamiliar with them. This was the first time these players played without either Josh or Kethan, but they were still fairly successful. Most notably, they knocked out Guilder A, the champions of California Cup 4. This was a result that none of us would have ever expected, but this win did save my team from having to face Keshav Kumar in playoffs who is very very good so they have my full gratitude.

Lastly, I get to discuss Westview B. This might have been the most unfortunate tournament for this team in the whole year. Originally, we would have had the full Westview B attend (Daniel Sjoholm, Aakarsh Vermani, Richard Lin, Maximilian Liu), and they could practice for HSNCT/PACE, but changes in the California Vaccination schedule combined with other events led to 3/4ths of the team being unable to attend for half the day. James Ni exited retirement to play prelims for the team, but he had to leave in the afternoon too. Hopefully they will be able to play together for a future tournament.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

Nick addressed all the important points in his post, so I'll just chip in a few miscellaneous thoughts.

Arcadia A:
With about 8 powers per game and under 3 negs per game, Arcadia have put up the record highest stats any high school team has ever achieved on a set harder than HSNCT.
With 44 powers, Amogh alone outpowered every other team in the field, although Stanford Online A played two fewer games and had more powers per game. In SoCal and all-Cal closed HS varsity tournaments this year, Arcadia playing with Amogh and Ryan is now 41-0, and they're 100-14 going back to the start of last year (they also lost each of their first four games played last year, so they're 100-10 in their last 110 games).

Addressing Santa Monica A and Del Norte A together:
Both teams are better than their final finishes would indicate. While neither made the top bracket, I think this can be attributed to poor luck, as Samo lost two prelim games by 10 points and 55 points (only two buzzer races away from 5-0, sigh), and Del Norte was put in the toughest prelims bracket, with both Westview A (CA) and Mira Loma in it. That being said, neither team's stats were great, as we both relied heavily on 10s to win games. I don't know enough about Del Norte to address their team's situation—maybe someone on their team or someone with insider knowledge can—but for Samo, we will definitely make some roster adjustments. Putting Kethan Raman on A was a great move, as he's our only other player who can scale up to nats difficulty comfortably. Earlier this year I said that despite our historical reputation as an NAQT team, that status couldn't hold at the regular HS difficulty anymore because of NAQT's 2/1 or 1/2 trash every game and our ability to get RPSS at that level, but we are definitely still a much better NAQT team at nats.

Santa Monica B:
This was the first time these players played without either Josh or Kethan, but they were still fairly successful. Most notably, they knocked out Guilder A, the champions of California Cup 4. This was a result that none of us would have ever expected, but this win did save my team from having to face Keshav Kumar in playoffs who is very very good so they have my full gratitude.
Samo B's position is really in question now; they've finished as high as T-2nd at tournaments this year (SRIRACHA! while playing as Santa Monica A) with Kethan on their roster, but now that he's moved up to A, I don't expect them to have nearly as great results for the rest of the year. Dashiell Decker (10) played quite well, and he's shown an ability to reliably get points no matter what team he plays on and is still a candidate to move up to A; if that happens, then Samo B is practically doomed....
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

ReKT IV happened today, and it was quite an interesting tournament. Before this tournament, everybody in SoCal would have told you that Arcadia A was going to win out the rest of the regular season in SoCal tourneys, with the possible exception of Westview, who would have told you that they would be the first team to beat Arcadia. Heading into ReKT, certainly nobody would have predicted that Arcadia would go anything other than 9-0 after the single round robin, especially considering that Westview was hosting. But Del Norte threw everything into disarray by dropping one of its varsity teams right before the tournament, forcing Westview to make an open call for a replacement team. In comes Kinkaid, a Groger top-20 team in the country, and well, guess who ends up going 9-0? Frankly, all of SoCal ought to be ashamed that we let a team from Texas invade our tournaments and stomp on all of us. Especially Westview, as by letting Kinkaid into the field, they made it so that they themselves could not become the first team to beat Arcadia in a SoCal tourney.
This Westview team seems to have made a lot of attention with their negging habits, but all I'm thinking is why they let some random-ass town from New Jersey play in the SoCal circuit.
This seems to be the least of our problems now. We let this random-ass town from New Jersey play our tournaments, and they may have won a tournament earlier this year, but they've also lost a lot of pretty big games. Now we let a school from Texas play in the SoCal circuit, and they become the first to beat Arcadia? Yikes. All we need now is for Wayzatamogh to actually pull up and sweep the entire field with his hands tied behind his back and his ears plugged. Hey, Wayzatamogh is currently undefeated in SoCal tournaments this year, while Arcadiamogh has lost a game.

That being said, Kinkaid has clearly established itself as the strongest team in SoCal history, as they have the best winning percentage of any school in this circuit. Kinkaid, however, is not physically located in SoCal, so we can't really proclaim it the best school in SoCal, can we? I guess, then, that the only logical way we can determine the true best team in SoCal is to look for teams that have beaten Kinkaid head-to-head. Since no school has ever beaten Kinkaid head-to-head in a SoCal tournament, we have to look for inter-regional tournaments. And the last SoCal team that's beaten Kinkaid? https://cdn.discordapp.com/attachments/ ... 192158.png
(Image credit goes to Freddie, who also gets credit for discovering this statistical oddity)

So according to the transitive property of quiz bowl, we can all agree that Scripps Ranch is the best team in SoCal.

----

Statistically, Arcadia A was the best team at ReKT, coming only two powers shy of powering half the tossups they heard. Yet they managed to lose their first game of the season in closed HS SoCal tourneys, snapping a 43-game winning streak. So long as we don't get invaded by foreign teams again, we should all still expect Arcadia to win out the regular season.

Santa Monica played pretty well at this tournament. Our roster was essentially the Samo B roster plus me, as none of my projected A team teammates were able to play. Natalie Greenfield (11th) continues to impress, as she still managed to average more than one power per game despite being a hist/geo player like me. While we cover the entire distribution pretty well at HS regs, West Coast Champs showed that we scale to nats difficulty horribly. Accordingly, our rosters will probably look substantially different at HSNCT when compared to what we've typically been sending to SoCal tourneys. We haven't decided who will be on it, but expect to see either Natalie or Dashiell Decker (10th) join me, Kethan Raman (11th), and Alexandra Raphling (11th). I don't know how they do it, but both Natalie and Dashiell always manage to put up good stats no matter who their teammates are and how much they overlap with them.

CCA A had a great performance, both in terms of their overall finish, win-loss record, and stats, with the exception of their PPB. They pulled off an impressive 295-225 upset over Del Norte, and Leo Gu (11th) individually was second in powers to Amogh. Nevertheless, they were not able to compete with better teams like Kinkaid, Arcadia, and Santa Monica, getting demolished by all three. We're all still waiting for Andrew Gao (11th) to play a full tournament with Leo and Chris Jung (10th), as this trio has excellent coverage over the big three. We may have to wait until next year to see whether their full potential can be realized though, as I anticipate CCA, Samo, DN, and WV to be in a tough fight for being the second-best team in SoCal.

Like Samo, Del Norte A has shown some difficulty in scaling to higher difficulties, as they only managed to finish fifth. Joshua You (12th) individually played very well, almost reaching 3 powers per game, but they lost a tight game against Samo and got upset by CCA. Francis Parker A has really impressed me in earlier tournaments this year, but the stat that really jumps out to me from ReKT is their 40 negs, which was most in the field by far. They did have some really nice powers in their game against us though, and they'll be an interesting team to watch next season. Of the remaining four teams in the field, it's already been established that Scripps Ranch is the best team in SoCal right now, and The King's Academy A came down from NorCal and actually dropped more powers as a team than Del Norte did (although I don't really make much of this stat).

Lastly, I just wanted to thank Westview for hosting and all moderators and scorekeepers for staffing! In spite of the great embarrassment for SoCal that was ReKT IV, this was still a really fun tournament, and I hope to see you all (aside from Kinkaid, whom I would be fine never seeing again) one week from today at CHASE (4/17) and then the week after that at PPT (4/24). And special thanks to Freddie for inspiring all the quality content in this post!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by leo.gu84 »

Kincaid is just better?

Amogh us
Last edited by leo.gu84 on Tue Apr 13, 2021 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Leo Gu, Canyon Crest, most five-point penalties at 2021 HSNCT
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

CHASE happened today, and it was an interesting tournament. First off, the set was Prison Bowl, and judging on the historical variability of the set, I don't think any of us could make a serious prediction about the result. Further complicating matters was the makeup of this field, as this was by far the weakest collection of SoCal teams we've had at a varsity local tournament this year—no Arcadia, no Del Norte, no Nick Dai on Westview A, no Westview B, no Santa Monica B, no Mt. Everest, no Francis Parker, and no Westview C; indeed, the only SoCal teams ranked in the most recent Groger top 300 that played at mostly full strength were Santa Monica A and Canyon Crest A. I made sure to stress the "SoCal" there, as like ReKT last Saturday, we got invaded once again by non-SoCal teams. This time, Wilton (CT) and Mira Loma (NorCal) were allowed to play, and while these two teams were not as good as Kinkaid, their presence led many in SoCal to fear that back-to-back SoCal tournaments would be won by non-SoCal teams. Quite ironically, SoCal was so united in its desire to take down Wilton and Mira Loma that even Nick Dai was willing to set aside his long-lasting grudge against Santa Monica and actually rooted for us to win, cheering us on "harder than [he was even] cheering Westview bc [we were] the last hope in preventing two wins in a row by nonsocals".

Since almost no full top SoCal teams played, I don't have much more to say, although I will note that Samo did something today that not even Arcadia could do—beat a non-California team in a SoCal tournament. Hey, maybe we're even as good as Scripps Ranch now? Although Scripps also beat Wilton today.... But let's all just take some time to celebrate the reestablishment of dominance by SoCal teams over SoCal tournaments.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

As HSNCT is only two days away, it's now time for my prenats writeup of the SoCal circuit.

General Remarks:
While in a normal year I would probably have made predictions in this post, I won't be doing so this year because the HSNCT format is nontraditional. That is, I really don't know how many playoff rounds a top-[x] team is supposed to advance through because there aren't any historical HSNCT records to compare with. There are several other factors that make predicting results even more challenging. One of the foremost, of course, is the variability of NAQT sets in general. Furthermore, there was only one varsity NAQT tournament in SoCal (not including San Diego Academic League), Triton Winter.

I'm very curious to see what impact the lack of a clock will have on HSNCT. NAQT sets of course have lower FA/RMPSS and higher geo/CE/trash than housewrites, but their distribution is written over 24 tossups. Playing on normal NAQT rules with clocks, you could normally expect playoff games or prelim games between playoff teams to average more than 20 tossups per round, with only a couple unused tossups left at the end of each game. This meant ~ 4 lit tossups, 5.5 sci tossups, and 4.5 hist tossups per round pretty solidly. Now that rounds are fixed at 20 tossup/bonus cycles, however, adjusting the distribution to reflect that returns ~ 3.4 lit tossups, 4.5 sci tossups, and 3.8 hist tossups per round. While the amount of hist is essentially unchanged from a regular HS distribution and the sci is higher (the difference comes from the absence of pencil-and-paper tossups, which are replaced by real math tossups), the lit is noticeably lower. It's been noted that at past in-person HSNCT's, lit players have already had very low power numbers relative to hist and sci players, and I expect the standardization of rounds at 20 tossups to exacerbate this even more. This also has great potential to be a real killer for some teams with lit as their strongest category if several of their critical games occur in rounds with only three lit tossups.

Groger Ranks released its pre-HSNCT rankings yesterday, and here's where all the SoCal teams stood:
Groger Ranks wrote: 1: Arcadia (2nd)
2: Westview A (17th)
3: Santa Monica A (27th)
4: Del Norte (45th)
5: Westview B (81st)
6: Santa Monica B (83rd)
7: Canyon Crest (92nd)
8: La Jolla (98th)
[Unranked: Francis Parker, Troy, Godinez]
Arcadia:
No surprise that Arcadia is ranked second in the country, and there really isn't much to analyze about their performance this year outside of noting that they've been absolutely dominant (aside from a loss to Kinkaid). Arcadia is a legitimate championship contender and I expect them to be playing deep into the Sunday afternoon rounds.

After Arcadia, this is where things get interesting.

Westview A:
Westview A is generally not an NAQT team, as their top scorer Nick Dai is an RMPSS/lit-based player and the HSNCT distribution is going to hurt him. Nick has also described himself as "the most aggressive frauder in the entire country on regular high school difficulty", and unfortunately for him, HSNCT is too hard to win games off of frauds but too easy for his deep scaling to really make a difference. I could thus see this Westview A team making a deep run or getting knocked out pretty early. As their games against Santa Monica earlier this season have shown, they both have the potential to lose games they really shouldn't have lost by going on a neg storm as well as the potential to win games in clutch situations.

To me, the key player for Westview is Daniel Shaw. I don't know how he does it, but he literally has better stats at higher difficulties; if he pops off this tournament, expect Westview to go far. Unlike their other players, he's an NAQT player.

Santa Monica A:
Like Westview, I believe Santa Monica A's final finish is very unpredictable. We've been quite consistent at HS regs and regs+ this year, but West Coast Champs (STASH, nationals difficulty) was our worst tournament of the year by far, even losing games to NorCal schools Harker and Guilder. Kethan Raman and I both scale our subjects decently well, but whether the remainder of our roster is able to do so is a big question mark. The massive subject overlap between Kethan and me has actually not been an issue at all in the previous tournaments we've played, as both of us have put up excellent individual statlines; furthermore, there have been several instances where the two of us buzzer-raced with at least one other player on the opposing team, and it's much more likely that one of Kethan and me is going to win it if both of us are buzzing. During practice, however, the overlap between Kethan and me has been causing some problems. This is because Kethan is naturally a high-neg player (for Samo's standards), and there have been many occurrences where one of us wins a buzzer race in power against the other and negs it while the other player would've gotten it right. In general, our play style requires not negging, and we've typically done a good job of this at SoCal tournaments; we'll need to keep it up at nats to succeed.

Del Norte:
At HS regs, Del Norte put up great stats but had difficulty in actually winning their big games against other top teams. At regs+ and higher difficulties, however, their power numbers did drop off noticeably, although they had to play shorthanded many times. But then again, I'm a huge proponent of the philosophy that tens win games, and Del Norte has historically been a very low negging team, so this is a team that's still built for success at HSNCT despite having only one regular upperclassman (Josh You). I've played many close games against DN this year, and a very common theme of almost all of them is that they fell behind big very early, came storming back in the middle and toward the end, but couldn't complete the comeback at the very end. So I would say to be successful in big games, DN needs to get the early lead or at least keep it close in the first several cycles.

Westview B:
We haven't seen the complete Westview B this year (Daniel Sjoholm, Aakarsh Vermani, Richard Lin, Maximilian Liu) much/at all. To quote Nick Dai last year: "What is Westview B? What even is Westview in general? This entire year, many people have been speculating on what Westview’s rosters will be, and to be perfectly honest, even I don’t know". Nick or someone else from Westview probably has a lot more to say about them than I ever could.

Santa Monica B:
Santa Monica B was the only SoCal B team in the HSNCT field that legitimately qualified for it. Quite ironically, the team that did it (Kethan/Jacob duo) was the weakest varsity Samo B roster we ran out all season in terms of Groger score. Nevertheless, I do not expect this team to come anywhere near their 83rd-place Groger ranking, because for the first time all season, they will play without Kethan or Dashiell Decker. To top that, they're not playing at full strength and will be using three players who only played two or fewer varsity tournaments this year. I'm hoping though that somebody or several players pop off and this team goes on a run.

Canyon Crest:
If you read up through this thread, Canyon Crest is a team that Nick and I have been saying a lot of good things about, but when they actually play big games, they don't tend to come through. My guess is that I've been overestimating how strong Andrew Gao + Leo Gu + Chris Jung would be if they actually played together, but they play together so rarely and won't be playing together at HSNCT (Andrew's not playing). How well they do will probably depend on "how hard [they] are tilted" (quote from Leo). But quite honestly, I'm not sure whether they would play any better or worse if they stopped playing video games or taking naps during games.

La Jolla:
La Jolla has historically been one of the strongest teams in SoCal, but since the graduation of James Malouf they've largely fallen off the map. Although they're ranked in the Groger top 100, I would still be surprised if they placed that high at HSNCT.

The following teams were not ranked in the pre-HSNCT Groger top 150:
Francis Parker:
Francis Parker has impressed me from the games I've played against them this year, but I'm very unfamiliar with their roster—if anyone reading this has more details about them please post about them. I have noticed, however, that they're one of the highest negging teams in SoCal, which does not bode well for HSNCT. Nevertheless, if there's one sleeper team in SoCal that makes playoffs and wins a game or two, I would predict that it's Francis Parker.

Troy:
Troy attended HSNCT in 2018 and 2019 but they've not had the finest results. This year, they only made one appearance at a regular SoCal tournament that I could find (CHASE) and qualified for HSNCT from a JROTC tournament. I would love to see Troy (and more Orange County teams, for that matter) attending circuit tournaments more regularly.

Godinez:
Godinez appears to have qualified for HSNCT by winning a local Santa Ana tournament. This was actually an upset of sorts, as according to the NAQT results pages, Segerstrom has been dominating the insular Santa Ana Unified School District circuit in the past couple years. I can't find any record of Godinez having played any tournament outside of Santa Ana, so HSNCT will actually be the first time they play at a larger tournament. It would be great if SoCal could reach out to more Orange County teams, as the circuit is currently heavily concentrated in San Diego with a few teams sprinkled in LA County, and almost nothing in the two-hour drive in between. From the perspective of an LA County player, more LA and OC tournaments would be really nice!

Concluding Thoughts:
I would be pleasantly surprised if SoCal can actually get eight teams in the top 100, as that would be even better than 2019. But NAQT and HSNCT are traditionally very variable with many upsets, so a lot can happen. Overall, this will be the strangest HSNCT ever held, but I'm confident that we can all have a fun time. For many seniors including myself, this will be the last closed HS tournament we play, so this will definitely be bittersweet. At least all of us can say that we played in the first [and I hope last] online HSNCT. Lastly, if anyone else has thoughts to share before HSNCT, please post them here!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

Since Josh offered his thoughts, I decided to offer some of mine as well. I'll start off with a HSNCT analysis, followed by a short PACE discussion below.

S Tier Teams - National Contenders
Arcadia: Amogh Kulkarni (11 - literature, history, science, generalism), Ryan Sun (11 - literature, history, fine arts, generalism), Michael Kwok (11 - history), Brian Lam (11 - science)

There really isn't much to say about Arcadia. They've been the most dominating team that isn't TJ A, and Amogh's only loss in the past 12~13 months has been to Kinkaid A in an upset. Arcadia hasn't been the strongest NAQT team, and their main weakness does seem to be in geography and current events, but their prowess in other categories still makes them favored to make finals at HSNCT. While both Amogh and Ryan are literature and history-based generalists, Amogh has also become the strongest science player in SoCal, while Ryan is likely the best fine arts player in the entire west coast. One of the most impressive facts about this roster is that all the players are still juniors, so even if they are unable to win any national titles this year, they can always come back next year (although the core of TJ returns next year too).

A Tier Teams - Dark Horses

Westview A: Nicholas Dai (12 - RMPSS, current events, generalism), Andrew Jia (12 - science), Gary Lin (12 - history, fine arts, current events), Daniel Shaw (12 - social science, current events, geography, "NAQT")

While all players on Arcadia A are juniors, all players on Westview A are seniors. While we have had a Groger Rank fluctuating between 10 to 20 in the past year, I unfortunately do not expect a very good performance from us at HSNCT. Also, to correct Josh, I'm not actually a literature player, but rather a generalist that only gets to buzz on literature (outside of RMPSS, current events and the occasional science) due to how good the rest of my teammates are. I'd argue that outside of "world literature", I'm probably a better science player than any of the other big 4 categories. However, due to our dislike of NAQT-type questions, Andrew and I have not played any recorded NAQT tournaments in 15 months. Additionally, Daniel Shaw hasn't even played NAQT in 18 months, and he's the only player on our team who is good at NAQT questions. Ultimately, our lack of NAQT experience may be our downfall. I would honestly put Westview in B tier, but Daniel Shaw's insane NAQT strength still brings me hope that we can have a deep run at HSNCT (which may or may not be Westview bias).

B Tier Teams - Top Teams to Watch

Santa Monica A: Josh Xu (12 - history, geography, generalism), Kethan Raman (11 - history, geography, generalism), Alexandra Raphling (11 - literature), Dashiell Decker (10 - history, geography, generalism)

I'm not actually familiar with what led to this being the final composition of Santa Monica A's team, but I do think that this team will struggle with NAQT's 5.5 (now 4.5) science tossups per game. However, SaMo has never been a team to play off the full distro of a set, and has always relied on securing a very specific part of the distribution to guarantee wins. As long as Josh, Kethan and Dashiell can guarantee their 5 history and geography tossups, and find at least 5-6 more buzzes in the rest of the distribution, they can pull off some fairly nice wins. As these three players have very low-neg tendencies, they should be able to lock history and geography against most teams outside the very top. Alexandra has also become a very strong literature player, so we will see how well this team will perform at HSNCT. The only reason why I do not put Santa Monica A and Westview A in the same tier is because while NAQT closes the gap between these two teams with only a slight edge to Westview A, Westview A still has a far higher upset potential, unlike Santa Monica A which is mostly unimpressive in their gameplay against top teams. I still expect Santa Monica to make it fairly far into playoffs.

C Tier Teams - Other Playoff Level Teams

Del Norte: Joshua You (12 - science, history, generalism), Hannah Chen (11 - Chinese mythology, generalism), Madhumita Narayan (10 - literature, fine arts, rmpss), Conner Feng (9 - generalism), Rohan Gaikwad (9 - literature, history)

So I basically have the same general idea as Josh about Del Norte A. While their Groger Rank has been consistently fine, they are generally unable to win games against teams of the same caliber. Especially in close games, it feels as though no one wants to buzz the "game deciding" tossups due to the high tension of games. Although Conner and Rohan were originally the highlights of the team, due to being two of the strongest freshmen in California, Madhumita has really stepped up as a very strong humanities support for Josh. Del Norte is also the only true 5 man team attending HSNCT as far as I am aware (Westview is 5 man, but Connor Rankin will only play a few tossups). I regularly attend Del Norte practice, and I am very impressed at how consistent this team is. Del Norte will most likely make playoffs, but I do have doubts about their "upset potential" against teams stronger than them.

Westview B: Daniel Sjoholm (12 - history, current events), Aakarsh Vermani (11 - animal geography, generalism), Richard Lin (10 - history, fine arts, generalism), Max Liu (9 - fine arts, generalism)

Boasting 1 player from each grade, Westview B is perhaps the only SoCal team other than Santa Monica A to be better at NAQT than mACF. Yet, I have no stats to back this up, because 3/4 of this team has not played a recorded NAQT tournament in 15 - 18 months. Yet, I do have some self-recorded stats from North County Academic League (NCAL), which despite not having recorded statistics, is still run on NAQT IS sets. Daniel Sjoholm is the quintessential NAQT player. Not only is he a history and current events player that thrives off short questions, he also is perhaps the only SoCal player attending HSNCT that watches baseball (I may be wrong though). In NCAL, Daniel did appear to score the third most points on the varsity team, above Gary even. Aakarsh Vermani is mostly a generalist with some literature, visual fine arts, and science tendencies, but his best category is animal geography, which NAQT loves for some reason. Richard Lin knows history and fine arts, while Max Liu has been a generalist with very deep pockets in fine arts. Perhaps this team's biggest weakness is the fact that they have never played together. Additionally, all four of these players (with the exception of Aakarsh sometimes) are extremely volatile, and have the potential to absolutely destroy or negstorm any game they play, which may be either an advantage or disadvantage. I would say that this team lacks coverage in many areas of science and the entirety of RMPSS, which could be detrimental.

Canyon Crest
Leo Gu (11 - history, generalism), Chris Jung (10 - literature, generalism), Kevin Luo (11 - biology), Cade McAllister (11 - stuff Cade likes)

CCA was a team that I hyped up a lot, but I do have many doubts about their HSNCT run. First, they are missing their lead scorer, Andrew Gao, who handles a major portion of the team's literature and science coverage. Secondly, this team has not necessarily impressed me on NAQT questions. In fact, a full CCA A almost lost to Westview's JV team at NCAL (which was on NAQT questions), and Westview's JV team is essentially the equivalent of a half/below-half strength Westview B. CCA also had difficulty finding players to play on their nats teams, to the point where they almost fielded my friend David Zhai, a senior who had never played quizbowl in his life. However, both Leo and Chris have been extremely impressive on high difficulty sets, with Leo improving from 1.8 powers/game on DART to 3.3 powers/game on SATURNALIA, with basically the same roster at both tournaments. Leo did say that he was playing League of Legends during DART while only playing Celeste during SATURNALIA. I should honestly do a statistical analysis of Leo Gu powers/game vs what video game he is playing during that tournament. Regardless, CCA might actually not make playoffs at HSNCT just because they are missing Andrew Gao, and Leo Gu negs way too much, so I guess we will see how this team does.

La Jolla A: Andrew Park (11 - ?), Kevin Park (12 - ?), ?

I don't actually know what each player on La Jolla does, but this team definitely scales very well. They should probably make playoffs.

Other Teams

Santa Monica B: Teddy Berger (12 - biology), Danny Chmaytelli (10 - physics), Delaney O'Dea (9 - literature, fine arts), Natalie Greenfield (11 - ?)

I am unfortunately not very familiar with this team. However, since both Kethan Raman and Dashiell Decker were promoted to the A team to replace Teddy and Danny, this team should not have the Groger Rank that it has right now. All four of these players are good, but this team is not nearly the same caliber as it was back when Kethan and Dashiell played on B. However, back when Dashiell was on this roster, they did defeat Homestead A, which was a very impressive upset.

Edit: The roster is actually Casey Feinberg (11 - astrophysics), William Spotts (10 - history, fine arts), Delaney O’Dea (9 - literature, fine arts), and Natalie Greenfield (11 - ?). With neither of the core SaMo science players attending HSNCT, I have no idea what this team will look like.

Francis Parker: Unknown roster

As far as I am aware, Francis Parker will be fielding neither Mark Rifkin (might be wrong about Mark) nor Ari Mazow, which was the main core, so I have absolutely no idea what this team will look like.

Troy: Unknown roster

Troy only attended one standard SoCal tournament this year, but they somehow beat CCA, so I guess that's impressive. Other than that, I know basically nothing about this team.

Godinez: Unknown roster

Godinez is another team that has never attended a standard SoCal tournament, and only plays in the Santa Ana circuit which appears to have little to no contact with the rest of SoCal quizbowl. Otherwise, I basically have no idea about anything regarding this team.

PACE NSC

I did want to give a few thoughts about PACE NSC. I'll probably make another post after HSNCT to update my PACE predictions, but it appears that all the teams attending PACE from California are SoCal teams (Arcadia, Westview, Del Norte, Canyon Crest, Troy).

Arcadia will be fielding the same roster, and will probably make top bracket, if not finals, of PACE NSC. Both Amogh and Ryan scale very well (look at LIT stats), and I have high hopes for this roster. Hopefully, they can bring SoCal our first ever PACE NSC victory.

Westview will also be fielding the same roster. I expect Westview to make second bracket, but making top bracket isn't impossible. PACE scoring heavily favors high neg teams. However, since there are no bouncebacks this year, I can't just casually neg my brains out. Also, a lack of bouncebacks means that Westview unfortunately cannot demonstrate our signature "conferring in Chinese so the opposing team can't understand us due to bouncebacks" strategy.

I will actually rank Canyon Crest in front of Del Norte. CCA's Groger Rank does not seem to reflect their actual skill level, due to them never playing full, but Andrew Gao's presence at PACE should be able to bring a much needed boost. Del Norte isn't a bad team; it's just that CCA is severely underrated and are extremely good at high difficulty mACF tournaments.

I am unfortunately not informed enough to provide an analysis of Troy at PACE.

Conclusion

This won't be my last post, since I expect to make another one post-HSNCT and a final post after PACE. However, the season does seem to come to an end, and so does my high school career. I intend to still compete in college, and Josh and I have agreed to still continue to make these posts in the future as both of us will remain involved in the circuit. But I guess it will all feel different with so many people leaving. It's really sad watching people come and go, but I guess we all have to move on one day. Fortunately, a good portion of the graduating seniors will still be staying here, and all of us intend to stay involved to ensure the longevity of SoCal quizbowl. I really want to thank everyone for an amazing four years, and I wish everyone the best at HSNCT!
Last edited by nickdai on Fri May 28, 2021 12:50 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Nicholas "Nicc" Dai
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by cchiego »

It would be great if SoCal could reach out to more Orange County teams, as the circuit is currently heavily concentrated in San Diego with a few teams sprinkled in LA County, and almost nothing in the two-hour drive in between. From the perspective of an LA County player, more LA and OC tournaments would be really nice!
I'm glad that Josh mentioned this and I wanted to post here to emphasize that there are a number of schools in SoCal that have teams who aren't currently part of the quizbowl circuit. In addition to the five Santa Ana district schools, the Glendale school district runs a yearly quizbowl competition that gets the four high schools in that district to compete every year. Ventura County Knowledge Bowl still exists and has at least 6-8 schools participating in it (it actually is one of the oldest academic competitions in California, having started in 1964); I made contact with a coach this year who was surprised to know quizbowl existed. There are also literally dozens of schools who play pyramidal questions as part of Academic League in San Diego County but rarely, if ever, show up to weekend circuit events.

And we haven't even started on the "Academic Decathlon" issue, which dominates Orange County, much of LA County, and San Bernardino/Riverside/Imperial counties (not to mention the entire Central Valley). That said, each of those schools has a coach with an email and at least one AcaDec school this year was happy to try out quizbowl.

The classic issue in SoCal is that the top of the field in SoCal is extremely strong, those strong schools tend to have deep rosters with strong B and C teams, and field sizes are usually fairly small, so newer schools have a very hard time at these events, with even some of the stronger non-circuit teams often barely able to go .500 over the course of the day. Conducting early outreach and designing the right novice restrictions to get a critical mass of new schools all at once to multiple events throughout the year requires a lot of coordination, but it's fairly low-hanging fruit compared to trying to start teams at completely new schools or get AcaDec schools to try quizbowl.

Also, if people in SoCal are interested in outreach, there is a large spreadsheet of contacts that I and a few other people worked on this year out there on Google Sheets. Let me know if you're interested and I can loop people into that.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

Prelims for HSNCT have concluded for today, and playoffs will begin tomorrow. So here is a post recapping prelim performances by SoCal teams as well as looking ahead to the playoffs.
I would be pleasantly surprised if SoCal can actually get eight teams in the top 100
Unfortunately as I expected, this did not happen.
But NAQT and HSNCT are traditionally very variable with many upsets, so a lot can happen.
But this did happen. There have been several massive upsets today, including La Jolla over Arcadia, Solon B over Wayzata A, St. John's over Solon A, St. John's over Mira Loma, Westview A over Richard Montgomery A, etc. Perhaps even more surprisingly than those upsets, Belmont, which was ranked 13th in the prenats Groger rankings, missed playoffs altogether. If you compare the playoff seeds with the rankings or anyone's initial predictions, I can guarantee that there are many, many major surprises.

I will now run through each SoCal team's performance today, and if applicable, analyze their positioning in the playoff bracket tomorrow. Because there have been so many upsets today, there are surely several instances where teams with lower playoff seeds are going to be better off than those with higher seeds.

I will go in reverse order of finish for non-playoff teams, and reverse order of playoff seed for playoff teams. For the purposes of this post, the "morning" refers to all rounds before lunch, and the "afternoon" refers to all rounds after lunch. Crooked Central Time Zone!

Godinez:
Prelims Record: 0-8
Final Placement: 224th

This was definitely a tough tournament for Godinez, although having a national championship tournament be your team's first experience playing outside of your own school district would be a tough task for anyone. As Chris mentioned in the post preceding this one, we would love to see Godinez and other OC, LA, and Inland Empire teams come to more regular SoCal tournaments.

Troy:
Prelims Record: 1-7
Final Placement: 220th

Although Troy's final placement is also disappointing, Daniel Shin individually had an impressive 39.38 PPG. https://www.naqt.com/stats/tournament/g ... id=1077977 was certainly a funny game though, reminds me of the Westview (CA) v. Westview (OR) match from a few years ago; I don't envy those who had to staff these games!

Santa Monica B:
Prelims Record: 3-5
Final Placement: 175th

As predicted, this was a difficult tournament for Santa Monica B since they were playing without Kethan Raman or Dashiell Decker for the first time this season. I was, however, very encouraged to see that Delaney O'Dea put up 33.75 PPG as a freshman, which was very similar to my PPG at HSNCT in my freshman year.

Francis Parker:
Prelims Record: 3-5
Final Placement: 155th

Francis Parker got off to a very solid 3-2 start but unfortunately ran into some tough competition and lost their last three games. Nevertheless, this is a team of all non-seniors, and I hope they can continue to show up regularly to SoCal tournaments. If they do, then they can be a team to watch for next season.

Westview B:
Prelims Record: 4-4
Final Placement: 98th

Westview B had a disappointing finish as they failed to make playoffs. Three of their four losses came against teams that did not make playoffs either and finished with a lower final ranking than they did. Sophomore Richard Lin, however, had a very impressive 44.38 PPG with almost a power per game, and he definitely has the potential to become the captain of a future great Westview A team, and might I add, become better at quiz bowl than his brother Gary.

Del Norte:
Prelims Record: 4-4
Final Placement: 89th

Of the SoCal teams that did not make playoffs, Del Norte is definitely the most surprising. While they had their struggles at higher difficulties at SoCal tournaments, they were still a very good team with a consistent gameplay that I thought would be beneficial at HSNCT. But if you look at DN's opponents, you can see that they were really hurt by the bracketing. They were 4-2 through six games, which really should mean playoff qualification as you only need to win one of your last two games. But they ended up losing to Russell and had to face 33rd-ranked Strake Jesuit A in their final game because Strake had earlier been upset—and arguably, you could continue this upset chain back to La Jolla upsetting Hoover A in Round 2 (though that might be a slippery slope). In any case, as their 18.97 PPB showed, Del Norte fully deserved to be in the playoffs and were an unfortunate casualty of the tournament format.

Freshman Conner Feng actually managed to outscore senior Joshua You. Although Josh is definitely going to leave behind a big hole when he graduates, Del Norte is built very well for future success. After Amogh and Ryan graduate, I can see them becoming the premier team in SoCal.

Canyon Crest:
Prelims Record: 5-3
Playoff Seed: 83rd

Canyon Crest was just barely able to sneak into playoffs as the 83rd and very last seed, as they had the lowest PPG out of all the playoff teams and failed to even break 200 PPG. Their whopping total of 11 powers was just as uninspiring. CCA played close game after close game today, winning games by 30, 10, 45, and 40 while losing a game by 5. Furthermore, Leo Gu so far has one of the most interesting statlines I've seen this year—5/29/25 over eight games. Having more than triple the negs as powers as a team should really be a recipe for disaster at HSNCT, and only two other playoff teams even have double the negs as powers. But hey, the path to playoffs doesn't have to be pretty! After all, the goal is to score more total points than the other team, not to get as few negs as possible.

But being the very last playoff seed, this means that CCA has to face 11th-ranked Adlai E. Stevenson in their first playoff round. Should they lose (as they should definitely be expected to), they will play the loser of Strake Jesuit A and La Jolla. I'll talk more about La Jolla in their own section, but it looks like we're on a collision course for a really interesting all-SoCal elimination game between two teams who were both incredibly lucky in prelims today. Should CCA advance through this round, they would face either University Lab, Russell, or Latin School (most likely Russell); I think this is as far as they can get, but who knows, we might be watching them shock all of quiz bowl tomorrow!

La Jolla:
Prelims Record: 5-3
Playoff Seed: 62nd

I believe that La Jolla was incredibly lucky today, much like the aforementioned CCA. Their power rate (18 in 8 games) and PPB (15.25) are not very impressive. But through the first five rounds today, they were easily the story of the tournament, pulling off upset after upset against Hoover A, Arcadia, Rockford Auburn, and Adlai E. Stevenson. But when I looked at their game-by-game stats, I saw this as a massive fluke. Arcadia negged 9/20 tossups against them, and even if you're as good as Arcadia it is exceedingly difficult to win when you neg nine tossups. Furthermore, Stevenson negged six tossups against them. What is really shocking though is that La Jolla played as well as 4/6/0 against Rockford Auburn but could only manage 0/11/2 against a Providence team that managed only three powers the whole tournament in going 4-4. After they beat Stevenson, I expressed that they were due for massive regression in the final rounds of prelims and into playoffs, because winning games in this manner is really not sustainable. Indeed, they ended up dropping each of their final three matches of the day to Solon B (who, interestingly, has a higher playoff seed than Solon A), Centennial A, and Cinco Ranch A.

La Jolla holds the 62 card going into playoffs and will face Strake Jesuit A in their first playoff round. If they win, then they will face the winner of Stevenson and CCA. If they lose, then they will face the loser of that game; once again, this could set up a really interesting all-SoCal elimination game between La Jolla and CCA. As I said in my CCA analysis, the winner of this game will face University Lab, Russell, or Latin School should they win. Like with CCA, I believe this is as far as La Jolla can go, but who knows; they already shocked all of quiz bowl today, so I wouldn't be too surprised to see them still playing in the "afternoon".

Santa Monica A:
Prelims Record: 5-3
Playoff Seed: 39th

I could go into extreme detail and write an essay about our prelims performance, but I will spare you all from that lol. I will say that frankly we didn't play that well today. We are below 3 powers per game and our PPB of 20.12 looks very good from an outside perspective, but this was really inflated by our first two games. In our first two games, 45% of our bonuses were history, geography, or current events. This great luck in getting good bonuses was not sustainable, as our PPB over our last six games was only 18.85. Nick Dai wrote in his analysis of our team that as long as we converted all the hist and geo, we would be in decent shape to win. But ironically we've been doing poorly with the history in this set, as we've only gotten 53% of the history tossups we've heard. Our big three coverage just hasn't been good across the board, but hey we've won five games and are in the playoffs.

Samo is the 39th seed in playoffs and we will face Manheim Township A, whom we've already played and beaten, in our first playoff round. If we win, then we will face none other than... Arcadia; assuming we lose to Arcadia, then we would face the loser of Solon v. Northmont; we've already played and beaten Northmont this tournament, while Solon is 10th in Groger Ranks... so I think it's clear whom we'd rather face there lol. But if we lose our first game against Manheim Township, then we will likely have to face either Stanford Online or Solon in our next game... that does not sound good to me. I believe we have the potential to make it through to lunch tomorrow, and reaching the "afternoon" rounds will be difficult but is within reach.

Westview A:
Prelims Record: 6-2
Playoff Seed: 26th

Man, this Westview A team confuses me. They have the worst PPB (17.53) of all the 6-2 teams, and Andrew Jia, who has been vocal in his dislike of NAQT questions, is their top scorer and went 5/0/0 in their win over Stanford Online. Amazingly, they were the last SoCal team to lose their first game, a distinction we all would have thought would have gone to Arcadia; this includes a big upset over Richard Montgomery A. Interestingly, all four of their primary players are within 10 PPG of each other.

Westview A has the 26 card going into playoffs and will face Lowell in their first playoff round in a duel between SoCal and NorCal. With a win, they would face the winner of Carmel A and Hempfield, and if they win that game too, then they would probably face St. Mark's School of Texas A. The 26 card is a good card to have in playoffs, as they should be playing through the entire "morning".

Arcadia:
Prelims Record: 6-2
Playoff Seed: 10th

I am definitely surprised that Arcadia begins playoffs with a double-digit card. Not only have they lost two games, but they also have a lower PPG than fellow 6-2 team Stanford Online because of more negs and a lower PPB. But while their 20.93 PPB is not impressive for Arcadia's lofty standards, they are pacing the field with 8 powers per game, 10 more than second-place Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech A. Looking at their two losses (La Jolla and Richard Montgomery A), they really handed La Jolla a free win by dropping nine negs—with La Jolla thereby becoming the first closed HS team physically located in SoCal to beat Amogh and Ryan this year; who would've predicted this?—but it looks like RM A did play exceptionally well in their own right in their win. In particular, Ryan was held to only 10 points against RM; Ryan's stats in general are quite adventurous, as he's had four or more powers in three games but ten or fewer points in another three.

With the 10 card going into playoffs, Arcadia has a first round bye and will face the winner of Samo A and Manheim Township A in its first playoff game. An Arcadia/Samo game would be a rematch of the finals of Triton Fall and Triton Winter lol, and like those finals games, don't expect it to be close; but who knows, if Arcadia drops 11 negs, we might have a chance.... Assuming Arcadia wins, they would probably face Lambert or Silver Spring Scholars in their next round, which should be a good matchup. If they win that, then they would probably play TJ A in a matchup between the top two Groger teams. That might just be the HSNCT dream matchup if it comes to fruition. I expect Arcadia to be playing deep into the "afternoon" rounds.

To close, I wish the SoCal teams still alive well tomorrow! Let's finish out the tournament strong! But man though, crazy to think tomorrow will be my last day playing a high school quiz bowl tournament.
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

After two long days, Barrington has taken home the trophy for HSNCT. Congratulations! But, PACE NSC is coming up in less than a weak, so I've decided to give a review for the 5 SoCal teams attending PACE NSC, and give my analysis of their HSNCT results alongside a review of their strengths, weaknesses, and changes that should be made going into PACE. I will not be discussing the SoCal teams that are not attending PACE (Westview B, Santa Monica A, Santa Monica B, La Jolla, Godinez, and Francis Parker) since Josh will be making a post soon, and I do not want to be repeating his points. I'm not actually too sure how the PACE brackets will work this year, but I'm assuming it will be similar to previous years.

Arcadia

Arcadia's HSNCT run definitely could not be classified as "bad", but they were upset by multiple teams, most notably, La Jolla. However, the PACE style and distribution should be able to negate the variability commonly seen in NAQT tournaments. Arcadia A had the highest power percentage at HSNCT, and this depth will surely bring them great results at PACE. As long as Amogh doesn't play overly aggressive, they should be able to make top bracket, if not finals of PACE. However, on that topic, it does appear that Arcadia does struggle with a very unique neg problem. Unlike other high neg teams, all of Arcadia's negs are always concentrated in one or two games. Amogh only negged 6 times in his first 5 games at HSNCT, but unfortunately, all 5 of those negs were from the same game, which cost them a game to La Jolla. Regardless, Arcadia is an insanely strong team, and should perform very well at PACE.

It's also very impressive that everyone member on the team is a junior, so they will still be demolishing the circuit next season.

Westview

Westview's run at HSNCT was a bit of an anomaly, and although we did perform better than expected, I still believe that we could have gone further. We did upset Richard Montgomery A and St. Mark's School of Texas A, and had two close games with eventual champion Barrington A, so I am cool with those results. Yet we still ended up getting knocked out by the exact same DCD roster that eliminated Gary and me 2 years ago at 2019 HSNCT. I swear, at this point DCD is going to haunt my dreams even more than Arcadia. Although we are generally categorized as a very high neg and high PPB team, we had relatively fewer negs and a much lower PPB, which I attribute to our inexperience in NAQT questions. After all, three of the four starting players haven't played in a recorded NAQT tournament in 15 months, one of which hasn't played any NAQT in 18 months. Also, the NAQT distribution is just not very good for Westview, as we have basically no geography or trash coverage. Yet, both Andrew and Gary have improved so much in the past month, to the point where I was almost surpassed in PPG by both of them. In fact, their improvement coupled with my NAQT debuff resulted in our team being so balanced, we were all within 2.18 PPG of each other.

However, I do expect PACE to be a bit different for our team. Firstly, the PPB likely will increase, although I'm not exactly sure how. We've just historically had much higher PPBs on mACF questions. Secondly, I expect (hope) my own PPG will increase significantly, since I do happen to be an RMPSS main, and NAQT's lack of RMPSS has been very detrimental. I do pride myself on being the only RMPSS main to serve as the top scorer on a top team. From our experience at STASH, Gary and Andrew have had scaling issues at the PACE difficulty, but their recent improvement may bring about stronger results. Especially Andrew. It's not every day you meet a player that is able to 4-0 Karan Gurazada, the arguably strongest high school science player, in science. And then there's Daniel Shaw, who I have absolutely no idea how he is going to perform, because his playstyle and performance is always so variable, but he has been performing extremely well recently, so I do have high hopes. Personally, I expect Westview to make second bracket at PACE, but anywhere between first and third bracket is possible depending on both the format and the seeding.

Canyon Crest

Back in 2018, Canyon Crest was known for their highly aggressive gameplay. After Jeffrey, Daniel, Boopala, and Alan graduated, Westview took over the role as the highest negging and most aggressive SoCal school. However, it appears that Leo Gu wants to reclaim his title. Boasting almost six times as many negs as powers, Leo was reportedly told by his teammates that they would "never speak to him ever again" after going 1/1/7 against Winston Churchill. However, Andrew Gao's return should prompt some more stable gameplay from CCA at PACE. CCA is a team with incredible depth, but they just occasionally have trouble taking gameplay seriously. I do expect them to have some decent results though. If Leo can bring back the depth that he showed on SATURNALIA to PACE, CCA should be able to make a fairly deep run. In fact, it wouldn't be too big of a surprise if CCA make third bracket.

Andrew Gao is probably the best high school RMPSS player in SoCal that isn't from Westview or Arcadia, and his additional science knowledge should be able to supplement Leo and Chris. However, CCA still has absolutely no coverage in fine arts, which could be a major issue for the team, due to its 3/3 presence at PACE. Additionally, if Leo continues to indicator fraud every literature tossup, CCA could still have issues in their PACE run. Regardless, CCA's problems are fixable, and I do have high hopes for them at PACE.

Del Norte

Other than Belmont, and maybe TJ B/C to an extent, Del Norte was probably the best team to not make playoffs at HSNCT. Rohan Gaikwad ended up not attending HSNCT. However, Josh still had a fairly nice 10/19/9 statline, and Conor Feng was able to outscore Josh as a freshmen. I do find it interesting how the non-Josh Del Norte players were able to combine for only 1 neg. This has to be one of the least aggressive teams in the history of SoCal.

I do expect some improved results from Del Norte at PACE. Although the rest of Del Norte does not seem to have a statistical preference for NAQT or mACF questions, Madhumita has had notably better results on mACF questions. NAQT has always been harsh on literature and fine arts players, but the 7/7 literature and fine arts distribution on PACE should be very beneficial for her. I personally don't expect Del Norte to make third bracket, but if Josh is able to consistently starve the opponent of science, and the rest of his team can back him up, I can see this roster making a fairly deep run.

Troy

Other than Godinez, Troy is the only HSNCT SoCal team that isn't in the SoCal quizbowl discord, so I am unfortunately not very familiar with this team. Speaking of which, if there are any SoCal quizbowl players (high school and college) that want an invite to the server, let me know! I have heard reports that most of Troy's points come from science and history, which I guess makes sense given the fact that Troy has won 13 of the last 23 Science Olympiad national championships. Unfortunately, there really isn't much analysis I can give due to my lack of knowledge regarding this team.

Conclusion

Ultimately, I still believe SoCal had a very good showing at HSNCT. Westview and Arcadia both had deep runs, and Santa Monica and La Jolla pulled off some very nice games too. Yet, apart from Santa Monica A/B and Westview B, SoCal teams are stronger on mACF than NAQT, so we can hope for even more exciting runs at PACE. This will be the last high school tournament for all the seniors who aren't attending NASAT (basically all the seniors other than me), so let's make this final run a good one! It's been a great season, and I wish the best of luck to all the SoCal teams attending PACE NSC!
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by leo.gu84 »

Canyon Crest's HSNCT has to be one of the luckiest ever. However, we were bogged down by certain issues that could have made it potentially better. Here's the basic situation:

Our biggest issue was not Andrew Gao not being there, or the high neg count, it was actually the timing of the event. In this situation, most of our player's had AP tests, final projects, and other events leading up the week before HSNCT. In fact, it is safe to say we decided to just wing the event. On the night before, we had a meeting in which we decided to not hard study or doing any practice despite not really studying for the entire week. I personally had a stats project due the night before, and two AP tests on Wednesday and Thursday, so even making playoffs was a surprise for us. Out of all the issues lack of studying, definitely had the largest effect. We had not gone to a tournament since Prison Bowl where we performed less admirably and the lack of any review was basically a crutch.

The second biggest problem we had was a large section of missing categories. We might have had some good coverage of some subjects, especially literature and most of science, but we were missing large swaths of coverage over history, fine arts, and RMPSS. In fact this showed in our PPB, when we often 10ed and 0ed a lot of history bonuses. This is large part my fault, I have very specialized parts of history down, but it is fact very hard for me to cover all of history without much studying. However, this can be changed with studying and the inclusion of Andrew Gao to cover RMPSS. This problem will still stick with PACE. I believe the inclusion of Andrew Gao is slightly overrated as of right now, because we have not seen him perform recently due to him being busy with other extracurriculars. So at PACE, I do believe that we will be missing parts of RMPSS and large swaths of Fine Arts, as I got more Fine Arts than our designated fine arts player of Cade McAllister.

These two issues contribute to a larger problem with the current CCA roster of inconsistency. This line up is very heavily packet dependent. We can perform at heavy depth and power many questions when the packets have topics we have study intensively, but at higher depths and tournaments with more rounds, these topics slowly start getting exhausted and we will exceedingly play worse. This is why I believe Nick Dai's rating of us at PACE is a little lofty. I believe making playoffs and past the first round robin is possible, but beyond that, I don't know if we will be consistent enough to reach third bracket or whatever high standing he might put for us. Our line up is just too heavily dependent on the packet, and because of this our results are way to variable. I don't believe we have a single player on our team that can consistently put high points and take many tossups against high level teams.

Addressing the negging problem at HSNCT, I largely take responsibility, but I will say this. A large portion of the negs I took on can be attributed to about 3 rounds, in which I dropped more than half my negs on. Adding this to our low power percentage due to hesitation, lack of studying, and nerves, it makes our statistics look even worse. I will say the other negs show weaknesses in our play style. I negged way to much of the big 3, especially Science. Kevin would sometimes buzz and say the most random stuff, and Chris got very unlucky missing tossups often by one word like "the." Our PPB also reflects this problem in which rushing multiple bonuses lost us a close game against Chatham Glenwood and our low PPB throughout the entire tournament, with our PPB in prelims never being more than 20.

As a part of the current CCA roster, I do believe that this roster is not as strong as many say it can be, and I do believe the hype in our roster is a little overrated. I do think these issues can be alleviated or fixed before PACE, but the underlying fundamental reasons behind these issues will still exist and haunt this roster in our run. Some of the changes from this week to last week is the time for actual commitment. We don't have AP tests and to my knowledge, we shouldn't have any serious project or EC conflicts. With this, we should be able to study, and cover the subjects we either inted on or didn't have covered before. I still think I will have a neg problem going into PACE. I often buzz too early and fraud which definitely cause for a loss of points. I do believe I need to manage this and this can be alleviated before PACE. But definitely the biggest issue as of right now is inconsistency. This lineup has shown that it can put up numbers, but our run will definitely be largely plagued by our inconsistency at PACE.

Overall, I hope we can make top 50 percent, but I feel like the Westview Bias has been too positive for CCA. We have a decent amount of depth, we just suck.
Leo Gu, Canyon Crest, most five-point penalties at 2021 HSNCT
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

HSNCT concluded yesterday, and accordingly, this post will recap what happened to SoCal teams in the playoffs.

That being said, I will begin by congratulating Barrington on a well deserved win. Coming in ranked 21st in Groger Ranks and 23rd in the national poll, I'm sure nobody would have predicted this. In particular, the Round 19 semifinal match between Barrington and Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech A has to go down as one of the greatest matches in HSNCT history, if not even all of quiz bowl history. Going into the final tossup, Barrington was down 40 with a 10-point protest pending regarding a moderator error; they proceeded to power the tossup and convert the first two parts of the bonus, but they missed the third to appear to lose by 5 and get eliminated from the tournament. But this meant the protest mattered, and indeed it was upheld, resolved in Barrington's favor. This gave them a second life. Needing to sweep the replacement bonus to win the game, they did just that in dramatic fashion, with senior captain Liam Starnes making an insane third-part pull to come away with the smallest possible margin of victory. They then proceeded to win both legs of a disadvantaged final over fellow-Illinois team University Lab in dominating fashion to come away with their first HSNCT title.

Five SoCal teams qualified for playoffs yesterday (Canyon Crest, La Jolla, Santa Monica A, Westview A, Arcadia). Once again, I will analyze them by reverse order of finish.

Canyon Crest:
Initial Playoff Seed: 83rd
Final Finish: T-73rd

Canyon Crest snuck into playoffs with the very last card, but unfortunately they could not pull off a miracle run today. As expected, they were blown out by Adlai E. Stevenson and got knocked out by La Jolla right after. Nevertheless, this team should be proud of how they finished today. Heading into the season, I don't think very many people would have predicted that they'd be one of the top five finishing SoCal teams at HSNCT. I've praised CCA much in this thread this season, and their entire roster is returning next year, so watch out; they may very well be a top-3 or even top-2 team in SoCal.

La Jolla:
Initial Playoff Seed: 62nd
Finial Finish: T-49th

After their amazing 5-0 start, La Jolla saw themselves fall from the 1 card down to the 62 card at the beginning of playoffs. Indeed, it was clear that they would regress, as their stats were nowhere near as impressive as the other unbeaten teams. After starting 5-0, they went a dismal 1-5 in the rest of the tournament, only defeating the aforementioned CCA in the second round of playoffs. Nevertheless, nobody at the beginning of the year would have thought that La Jolla would be the fourth-highest finishing SoCal team at HSNCT, so this was definitely a great tournament and a great season for them.

Santa Monica A:
Initial Playoff Seed: 39th
Final Finish: T-19th

Ironically, three of Santa Monica A's five games Sunday were rematches from prelims games Saturday, and one of our other opponents was Arcadia, whom we've played many times this year already. We got off to a slow start against Manheim Township A, even trailing after 16, but we closed the game strong to escape with a win. We then lost to Arcadia (as expected) in a relatively close game before decisively defeating and eliminating Northmont and Detroit Catholic Central A in the losers' bracket. Unfortunately, our run ended against Stanford Online in what was really a winnable game for us. We almost erased a 125-point halftime deficit, but we couldn't rebound two of their negs and lost two buzzer races (one of them was really unfortunate that two of us should have gotten) to fall 40 points short. I won't do a detailed analysis of our stats, but I'll note that we didn't play well at all on the big three categories (45.8% tossup conversion), and we barely managed to convert half of the history tossups we heard. Somewhat amazingly though we converted almost 60% of FA tossups....

Nevertheless, I am very satisfied by our final T-19th finish. This was our best finish since 2008 when we finished T-11th and got eliminated in the same round of playoffs. I would call us the second strongest Samo A team ever behind only the 2007 team that finished T-8th.

Westview A:
Initial Playoff Seed: 26th
Final Finish: T-12th

Like they did in prelims, Westview A got off to a fast start in playoffs, defeating Lowell, Carmel A, St. Mark's School of Texas A, and Strake Jesuit A to start 4-0. But like prelims, they finished the day by losing back-to-back games, this time to eventual champion Barrington (for the second time in the tournament) and Detroit Country Day A. While their T-12th place finish matches their Groger ranking, their underlying stats are somewhat surprising, as their 17.52 PPB was more than two points worse than all the other teams in this tier. It appears that negging was not as big of a problem for them as it's sometimes been this year, as they were able to stay below four negs in most of their games and still managed to win two games where they had five or more negs. It was very impressive how all four of their primary players were within 2.2 PPG.

In finishing in the T-12th tier, this is Westview's best finish at HSNCT since 2017 when they finished T-9th during Rahul Keyal's senior year. This was their second-best finish ever, although they probably would've finished in this tier or better in 2020 had HSNCT not been canceled.

Arcadia:
Initial Playoff Seed: 10th
Final Finish: T-5th

Like prelims, Arcadia was upset several times in playoffs, being demolished 475-185 by Silver Spring Scholars and losing a nail-biter 305-295 to eventual champion Barrington. Their four negs really cost them that game, as did their nine negs against La Jolla on Saturday. Just by watching them play in our head-to-head match and in their final loss to Barrington, they definitely did not project the same dominance that they demonstrated at SoCal tournaments. I would expect them to do better at PACE, as they did play substantially better on regs non-NAQT sets than on IS #197.

Nevertheless, a T-5th finish is still amazing, and they led the field with 6.9 powers per game. This was Arcadia's strongest finish since they won it all in 2015. Arcadia's definitely been the most decorated HS team in SoCal history, having attended each of the last 15 HSNCT's and made playoffs at the last 14.

Concluding Thoughts:
All in all, SoCal had one team in the top 5 and two others in the top 20. We had five teams make playoffs and seven teams finish in the top 100, which was the same number we had in 2019. Many teams (Arcadia, Westview A, Santa Monica A, and La Jolla) had their best finishes in several seasons. So I can say confidently that as a circuit we played very well.

Although my high school quiz bowl career is almost certainly over, this will not be my last post of the season. I believe Nick will post stuff about PACE, and after that I will do a full season wrap-up that looks back on our predictions and analysis from before and during the season. Best of luck to all SoCal teams attending PACE, and I hope SoCal will be just as or even more impressive.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who was involved at HSNCT for making it such a fun tournament. Thank you to all the teams, players, coaches, staff, control room people, editors, writers, etc. (too many groups of people to name here lol). Holding any large online tournament is a massive challenge, let alone one of the largest online tournaments in quiz bowl history.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021, Captain, Team President)
UCLA (Class of 2025)
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by nickdai »

Well, now that PACE is over, I guess it is time for my final post of the season. I was actually planning on waiting a bit longer, but it appears Josh wants to make his post soon. Congrats to TJ for an insane victory! It's even more impressive that the top 3 scorers of the team are all juniors, so they'll still be back next year. I'll give a quick recap of what happened with the SoCal teams. I do want to point out that the placements on the current stats seem to be slightly off, but I'm using the standard PACE superplayoff record -> PPG tiebreaker method of determining each team's placement. I was told that it would be fixed tomorrow. I also want to point out that my pre-PACE predictions had some major issues due to my unfamiliarity with how the brackets were working this year. For reference, I originally assumed that top bracket would be top 10, second bracket would be top 20, and third bracket would be top 40.

Troy

Troy has been a team that has attended very few tournaments in the past few years, and have only played one SoCal tournament this entire year. As I mentioned in my post-HSNCT post, I am very unfamiliar with Troy, so there really isn't too much to say. Troy went winless on their first day, but picked up a few nice wins during superplayoffs to place 78th. I do hope Troy (and other LA teams) will be able to attend more SoCal tournaments next season. This roster is very young, so they have a lot of time and potential to grow!

Canyon Crest

Both Josh and I hyped up this team a lot, but I guess they weren't able to live up to the potential we had hoped for. Placing 53rd, this team did not exactly have the best results. I was really hoping Leo Gu would step up and show his improvement after having one of the best statlines in the country on SATURNALIA, but that was unfortunately not the case. Chris Jung did perform very well though, getting 16 powers in 13 rounds. With the departure of many current seniors for college, Chris will likely be the best literature player in SoCal that isn't on Arcadia. Andrew Gao was able to attend this tournament due to the completion of AP testing, but the lack of Kevin Luo meant that we still weren't able to see the full CCA team. I heard that apparently Kevin's room/dorm caught fire, so that was a very unfortunate development. This CCA roster will still be returning next year, so I hope to see how well they improve next season!

Del Norte

Del Norte was perhaps the only SoCal team to outperform expectations. Although they placed 39th in stats, I'm fairly certain they should actually be placed 37th. Rohan Gaikwad and Hannah Chen each played about half the tournament, while Josh, Conner, and Madhumita played the whole tournament. Josh had a very impressive statline of 18/34, which was honestly fairly surprising given the fact that he generally performs better on NAQT sets than on mACF sets. Conner and Madhumita also put up decent stats too, and contributed heavily to the team's upset of Detroit Country Day B. Only Josh graduates, but second scorer Conner Feng is still only a freshmen, and the rest of this roster returns next year too, so this team is also a team to watch for next year.

Westview

Time for my own team, which is probably going to have a fairly large sized rant. Westview probably had one of the most disappointing performances (placing 31st, though it shows 35th in stats). However, unlike HSNCT where we had horrible stats but amazing placement, we had great stats but horrible placement at this tournament. We were unfortunately seeded with TJ and High Tech in our bracket, but what doomed our placement the most was an upset by Wayzata B. The 20 point upset only took place due to two failed vulches and a first line neg on a tossup asking for "this action" with "taking selfies with trees." We did come back the second day with fairly decent results though. Somehow, every player on our team except Andrew had higher powers per game on PACE than on HSNCT, which is the opposite of the majority of other teams, due to PACE's harder difficulty. I was able to power ~80% of religion tossups and as a team converted ~70% of RMPSS tossups, which did help our team a lot. Daniel and Gary together swept history against half the top teams we faced, while Andrew provided a stable source of science points. However, we were still unfortunately not able to obtain a good placement. I would like to flex that Westview was 10th in power percentage and 11th in powers per game despite placing 31st! Our entire A team is graduating (with 4/5 of it attending UCSD to play D2 together!), so it'll be up to the underclassmen to carry on Westview's legacy next year.

Also apparently some of the mods were not happy with the fact that our team decided to confer in Chinese to avoid giving opposing team advantages.

Arcadia

I honestly expected Arcadia to at least make top bracket, if not finals. Not that their final placement of 13th place wasn't impressive, it's just that we had very high hopes for them as the second place Grogerranked team. Michael Kwok and Brian Lam ended up not attending. but Amogh and Ryan still heavily dominated their opponents. A 10 point loss to Chattahoochee A followed by a major loss to St. Mark's led to Arcadia being knocked into the third bracket, before they lost by 1 tossup to both Wayzata A and Detroit Country Day A. However, Arcadia still had the 4th highest power percentage in the entire tournament, with Amogh and Ryan each putting up very impressive statlines. The full Arcadia roster is made up entirely of juniors, so Arcadia still has another year to try and win nationals.

Conclusion

This will be my last post in this thread, signaling an end to my high school quizbowl career. It's been a great 4 years, and although online quizbowl has been a roller coaster, I hope this thread made the SoCal circuit's experiences a bit better. I'll still be around next year, and hopefully another quality thread can be made for next season too! I wish you all the best and I will miss all of you dearly! Goodbye!
Nicholas "Nicc" Dai
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University of California, San Diego '25
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by joshxu »

The 2020–2021 quiz bowl season in SoCal was definitely tough, as all tournaments had to be held online, but there were nevertheless many interesting tournaments and results to look back at and analyze. This post will reflect on how we did in our preseason and midseason predictions. Although I'll mostly save speculation about the circuit next year for next year's thread, I will chip in some predictions here and there.

General Thoughts:
Very, very few tournaments this year saw most strong teams play at or near full strength. The principal exceptions to this trend were the first two varsity tournaments, Triton Fall and ACE. The scheduling was definitely strange, as October, December, February, and May all did not have any local tournaments, while November, January, and April all had two or more. Online quiz bowl does get really exhausting, and I'm sure some teams were burned out by the end of the year; coupled with various other factors including the beginning of reopening in SoCal, this might have greatly dragged down field sizes. As a result, we found ourselves having to let non-SoCal teams into our tournaments just to even have reasonable field sizes, and that did not exactly bode well for the circuit....

Not including nationals and West Coast Champs, there were eight varsity SoCal tournaments, but only one of those eight was on an NAQT set. Since almost no top SoCal teams are stronger on NAQT than housewrites, there definitely weren't a lot of complaints. Among the housewrites mirrored in SoCal (almost all the major ones), there was a good split between regs and regs+, although the regs+ tournaments were generally plagued by low field sizes and several non-SoCal teams.

Although the circuit as a whole this season proved to not be as strong as last season, we still had an intriguing mix of national contenders, high-end nats playoff teams, and mid-tier teams that made the race for second and third (behind Arcadia) very competitive. I will first analyze some of the mid-tier teams this season.

Francis Parker A, Mt. Everest A, North Hollywood A, Santa Monica B, Scripps Ranch A:
Aside from North Hollywood A, none of these teams were expected to do much this season (see the very top post in this thread), but ironically all of these teams aside from NoHo made several tournament appearances and had respectable, if not solid, results.

In the 2018–2019 season, Francis Parker came onto the map by doing extremely well at JV tournaments. After not making much noise in the 2019–2020 season and the early months of this season, they attended several tournaments in 2021 and had respectable results, typically finishing around the very middle of the field. Mark Rifkin (11th) has emerged as a solid top scorer, consistently averaging more than one power per game, but they were plagued by a high neg rate. Although I admittedly am not very familiar with their roster, it appears to be quite deep, as they had six players with at least 10 PPG at HSNCT despite not having either Ari Mazow (11th) or Zachary Partnoy (11th). As their entire team will return next year, they could definitely be a team to watch for that can pull off upsets. After all, they did start 3-2 in prelims at HSNCT.
[Edited to add: I'm hearing that Ari and Zachary are no longer on the team]

Mt. Everest came onto the map last season with a couple decent performances, but this year they really blossomed into a solid team. Ben Shimabukuro (12th) emerged as one of the top individual scorers in the circuit, and his teammates, particularly Yusuf Amanullah (12th), were consistently able to back him up with strong performances of their own; their SSNCT roster had six players with over 10 PPG. Their top achievement this year was definitely starting a very impressive 10-0 at SSNCT, with almost all of those wins coming in dominating fashion. Unfortunately for their future teams though, it looks like their entire SSNCT roster will be graduating.
Nick's preseason post wrote: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.
I think it's safe to say that North Hollywood A did not live up to its preseason ranking of 6th in SoCal. This wasn't because they underperformed at tournaments, but rather because they simply didn't play a whole lot—CHASE being their lone varsity tournament. I'm not sure what grade all their players are in, but it appears that most of their A team is graduating.
Me after ACE wrote:At the beginning of the year, my hope for this rebuild was just that a couple players would step up and emerge as stars in the making, but I had no expectations that the actual Samo B team would be any good this year—in fact, I projected them to be a step behind our B team last year, whose wild card bid for HSNCT got deferred before the tournament was canceled. I am glad that so many players have stepped up, with many of them well ahead of their schedules.
Santa Monica B gets the distinction of being the most inconsistent SoCal team. The most complicating matter for B teams in general is that if their top players start playing exceptionally well, they get moved up to the A team. This definitely happened to Samo B this year with Kethan Raman (11th). Kethan quietly had one of the strongest seasons in SoCal while playing on Samo B, consistently averaging around three powers per game at regs tournaments. They were able to finish third at ACE, Triton Winter, and DNE and even finished tied for second at SRIRACHA! while playing as the A team. His great success ultimately contributed to our decision to elevate him to Samo A, and he continued to thrive playing alongside me despite having a near-complete subject overlap.

I will do most of my general Samo analysis in the Samo A section, but here I will proclaim that our rebuild was a success. Although the B team's production definitely stalled when we took Kethan and Dashiell Decker (10th) off of their roster, we still saw several more young players step up and have solid seasons—namely Delaney O'Dea (9th), who was one of the best freshmen in the circuit this year, and Danny Chmaytelli (10th).

In the past several seasons, Scripps Ranch has pulled off a couple miracle runs at HSNCT to finish T-51st and T-49th in 2018 and 2019, respectively, but the core of those rosters had completely graduated by last season. Accordingly, expectations for Scripps weren't too high going into this year, but they ended up having a very solid season. Freddie O'Hara (12th) and Raymond Sun (12th) quietly formed one of the stronger one-two punches in SoCal, and they showed an ability to pull off some big upsets (e.g. beating a biking St. Margaret's Episcopal at ACE and Del Norte at PPT).

La Jolla A, Westview B, Canyon Crest A, Del Norte A:
These teams were a step above the mid-tier teams, but their stats and overall results were substantially below those of the top two tiers.

The biggest surprise of the season was definitely La Jolla. While I'm putting them in this tier because of their excellent final results, I really don't think they're this good and I believe that their success was at best a fluke. They only made one appearance at a SoCal tournament (CHASE) in addition to playing West Coast Champs and HSNCT, and although they made finals at CHASE thanks to a 405-235 win over Santa Monica A, their PPB was only the seventh best of the ten teams in the field. It's also remarkably strange how they seemingly got better and better when playing against harder teams. They continued this trend at HSNCT, even starting 5-0 with several upsets, but their luck finally wore off and they only managed to make it to the second elimination round in playoffs. Ultimately, La Jolla's stats don't look like they belong at the top of this circuit, and their HSNCT collapse proved it.
Nick's preseason post wrote: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.
Safe to say, this did not happen. In general Westview B was unable to field a consistent roster this year, and when they did play they typically hovered around the middle of the field. Looking back, they were still probably the sixth best team in SoCal and they probably should have made HSNCT playoffs, as three of their four losses were against non-playoff teams. Richard Lin (10th) had a solid individual season, with an impressive 44.38 PPG at HSNCT, but the rest of their roster couldn't quite pick up the slack. Freshman Maximilian Liu (9th), however, did emerge as one of the top freshmen in the circuit, and a core of him, Richard, and Aakarsh Vermani (11th) could form a sneakily strong WV A next year. As of now, I don't expect them to be a contender for second place at tournaments (behind Arcadia of course), but this will still be a pretty good team.
Various wrote: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.

Canyon Crest A is perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far.

At full strength I am confident that CCA can be a sleeper team, as they upset Del Norte at Triton Fall

The last team to make the champs bracket at SRIRACHA! was Canyon Crest A. While the three-man team of Leo Gu, Chris Jung, and Cade McAllister put up considerably weaker stats than the rest of the top bracket, they did record a 365-355 upset over Westview A. This was done without Andrew Gao (11th) on their roster, as Andrew was only able to play for a couple rounds on CCA B. CCA has not sent a full-strength roster for several tournaments now, but they have nevertheless shown an ability to upset stronger teams.

Before I finish this post, I do want to address CCA. For the past 6 months, Josh and I kept talking about just how underrated they are, but to be honest, they have never been able to show off their full potential.

I was very impressed by the fact that Canyon Crest outpowered Santa Monica A. I mentioned in the last post that I always noticed how Canyon Crest would have random extremely deep buzzes, and today's tournament justified that hypothesis. I have high hopes for them at nationals and the next year, and I am very excited to see their performance at PACE this year.

CCA A had a great performance, both in terms of their overall finish, win-loss record, and stats, with the exception of their PPB. They pulled off an impressive 295-225 upset over Del Norte, and Leo Gu (11th) individually was second in powers to Amogh. Nevertheless, they were not able to compete with better teams like Kinkaid, Arcadia, and Santa Monica, getting demolished by all three. We're all still waiting for Andrew Gao (11th) to play a full tournament with Leo and Chris Jung (10th), as this trio has excellent coverage over the big three.
With all the praise Nick and I have given to Canyon Crest this season, you'd think that they were one of the strongest teams in the country. While there's no way that anyone should call their results this year underwhelming, they do probably get the award for most overhyped team in SoCal. This has been somewhat of a trend the past two seasons, as both Raymond Song last year and Leo Gu (11th) this year wrote long rants articulating why CCA just sucks in general. But again, their actual results were not poor at all, as they played most of the year without early breakout star Andrew Gao (11th) and greatly outperformed their preseason expectations, probably more so than every other SoCal team aside from La Jolla. Leo essentially matched Andrew's expected production and had an excellent breakout season of his own, consistently hovering around two powers per game and shooting up to 30 powers at ReKT. Unfortunately we didn't get to see much of Andrew/Leo/Chris Jung (10th) playing together—when they did play together at PACE the result was a decent 53rd-place finish.

There are quite a few things that stand out about CCA's season. First off is their unorthodox gameplay—I'm not sure how many teams in the country are actually able to play better while playing video games in the middle of answering questions. More importantly, their entire roster will be returning next year, and their top scorer at PACE, Chris, is still only a sophomore. Although I'm going to give the preseason edge to Santa Monica (you can accuse me of Samo bias here), CCA is a top contender for second-best team in the circuit next year behind Arcadia. Their general inconsistency and ability to either pop off or negstorm in any given game has the potential to greatly help or hurt them (see their wins over Del Norte and their loss to Troy), but this is definitely an unconventional team so I'm not sure whether cleaning up the dirty parts of their gameplay would actually help them like it would for any other team.
Nick's preseason post wrote: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.
Their results didn't always show it, but Del Norte was a really strong team this year. Going into this season there was some amount of speculation as to whether they would be competitive with teams like Westview A and Santa Monica A. Through the first two tournaments of the year, they put up great stats that were comparable to or even better than those two, but they weren't able to defeat them head-to-head and even got upset by an upstart CCA team (looking back now, I'm not sure if we can still consider it a major upset, but at the time it was a surprising result). This discrepancy was somewhat exposed to be a fraud because of a biking incident, but in 2021 tournaments they still played well (with a second-place finish at SRIRACHA! and a third-place finish at Triton Winter), although they continued to be prone to upsets.

As was predicted at the beginning of the year, Joshua You (12th) had to carry a huge load this year. While Conner Feng (9th) and Madhumita Narayan (10th) have both lightened it when they've played alongside him, his supporting cast has typically accumulated very low power numbers. DN does have a reputation of being very unaggressive at higher difficulties, but looking deeper into stats Josh can definitely not be characterized as a low-power or a low-neg player; it's DN's other players who rarely power and neg.

Despite having a disappointing record down the stretch at SoCal regs+ tournaments, Del Norte was able to cap off a solid season with a really nice 37th-place finish at PACE—indeed, they were probably the lone SoCal team to outperform their expectations there. Josh's 53.85 PPG and 18 powers in 13 rounds were both very impressive, and Conner's 37.69 PPG as a freshman alongside him solidifies his position as the top freshman in SoCal this year.

Looking toward the future, like with Westview I'm not sure whether DN has what it takes to be a top competitive team in SoCal next year. Conner and Madhumita will form a solid core, as both have shown flashes of excellence this year. In order to start beating the other top teams though, I believe they might need to become more aggressive. Although I'm a huge proponent of 10s winning games, early buzzes are still crucial when playing against top competition. DN's players, both current and historic, have shown an ability to get a lot of powers without a lot of negs, which would definitely help them if they can keep it up next year. They also have a large roster with a strong feeder middle school in Oak Valley, so they have a lot of potential there.

Santa Monica A, Westview A:
The next tier of teams—the teams that made strong nats playoff runs—is composed of Santa Monica A and Westview A. When playing at or near full strength, these two teams collectively only dropped one game to a SoCal team below this tier, and along with the teams in the highest tier they combined to win every tournament.
Me at the beginning of the year wrote:Hot take—this will be a rebuilding year for Samo.
Looking back at our season, it really does not look like Santa Monica A had a rebuild this year, considering that we won three SoCal tournaments (the same number of wins as Arcadia! Arcadia also won West Coast Champs though) and had our best nats finish in more than a decade. But in truth our team far exceeded my preseason expectations because many players stepped up ahead of their schedules. I didn't improve that much, but players like Alexandra Raphling (11th) and Dashiell Decker both emerged as excellent A team contributors early this season. Our biggest contributor by the end of the year, however, was Kethan. Coming into this season Kethan was a straight-up hist/geo/CE player who couldn't consistently get other points, meaning he had full overlap with me and was thus relegated to the B team. But through the season he expanded to cover other subjects like science and religion, and he showed enough scaling ability to finally be moved up to A on regs+, even matching my power count at West Coast Champs.
Nick's preseason post wrote: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.
With the exception of West Coast Champs, we did end up doing pretty well at higher difficulties. Ultimately Nick was correct in predicting that our ability to perform well on NAQT sets would propel us to a deep HSNCT run, although I've noted that at lower difficulties we definitely were not an NAQT team this year, nor will they be one next year.
Yusuf after Triton Winter wrote:With Westview once again unable to display their supposed full potential (more on that later), Santa Monica A continues to exceed preseason expectations by pushing for the title of second best team in SoCal. Interestingly enough, coming into the season, SaMo was widely expected to benefit heavily from the NAQT distribution, but their performance on IS 197 was actually on par with or slightly worse than their performance on the equally difficult LONE STAR and the easier RAFT II.
Just like with every other Samo A team I've been on, we didn't come close to covering the full distribution at higher difficulties, but once again we were still able to succeed by generally locking down the hist/geo/CE, getting a few miscellaneous tossups, not negging, and rebounding our opponents' negs. Naturally when we failed to do these against good teams, we would lose. However, I do believe that at regs we were able to cover almost the entire distribution adequately. In particular our religion and PSS were very solid this year, while our trash was horrible, which is why I can no longer call us an NAQT team at that difficulty.

Looking ahead to next year, although I believe Samo will be considerably weaker without me, they ultimately will remain a top-three team in the circuit behind the core of Kethan, Alexandra, and Dashiell. We had a lot of quality depth this year, and I hope our young players can continue to develop into stars.
Nick's preseason post wrote:Although Arcadia will likely still be the top team throughout the regular season, I do predict that this team [Westview A] 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.
Well this definitely didn't happen. Westview proved itself to be an NAQT team when they finished 12th at HSNCT but only 31st at PACE. In the end, this "full distribution coverage" often struggled to materialize, and their "high scaling potential" often remained just that: potential. Nevertheless, they still had solid performances at the tournaments their full team mostly played together (Triton Fall, ACE, DNE, West Coast Champs, both nationals), although two five-neg games against Samo and Nick Dai's (12th) midseason retirement might have prevented this team from really taking off. They were also plagued at times by "major team synergy problems" and trying to be like Shahar.
Nick after Triton Fall wrote: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.
WV played two really close games against Arcadia this year (one at Triton Fall, one with Nick Dai soloing at SRIRACHA!) but were never able to come away with a victory. Unfortunately I just don't think their full potential was realized because of how sporadically their full roster played. If they had had more opportunities against Arcadia (like having the full team play together at SRIRACHA! instead of just Nick solo), they may have been able to come through and win. They also only end the season with one tournament win, which definitely could have been more had they played CHASE and/or PPT with a full team.

The entire WV A team graduates this year, so next year's WV A will probably look a lot like this year's WV B, whom I wrote about earlier in this post. They definitely have the potential to be competitive next year, but in order to do that they'd have to make regular tournament appearances as a mostly full team, something both WV teams struggled with this year.

[Kinkaid], Arcadia:
I'm allowing Kinkaid into this tier lol even though they're not a real SoCal team. These two teams were absolutely dominant, collectively only losing one game to SoCal teams below this tier.
Leo after ReKT wrote:Kincaid is just better?

Amogh us
Kinkaid has the best winning percentage of any school in SoCal history. Enough said.
Nick's preseason post wrote: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.

Yet, it has not been seen whether those two [Amogh and Ryan] 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.
Nick's preseason analysis of Arcadia ended up with mixed results. On one hand, Arcadia did end up having very high expectations at nationals. While they did meet those expectations at HSNCT with a T-5th finish, their 13th place finish at PACE was a bit underwhelming. I didn't watch them at PACE, but from playing against and watching them at HSNCT, they were definitely not as dominant at higher difficulties as they were at regs. This difficulty in scaling prevented them from winning another nats title, but they were still one of the best teams in the country this year. Amogh Kulkarni (11th) is the player of the year frontrunner, and their entire roster will be returning next year, so they will have potentially two more shots at winning nats.

Like this year, Arcadia will absolutely dominate the SoCal circuit next year. Since the season looks like it'll be entirely in-person, Kinkaid or other foreign teams will probably not have the opportunity to come in and beat them, so I think there's a really good chance they sweep the full season. They have shown some vulnerabilities this year though. If a team is able to pull off an upset against them, it would probably be on an IS set.

Concluding Thoughts:
So this wraps up my final writeup of the SoCal circuit. This was a really fun last high school season for me, and it's been a great four years. I do want to give particular shoutouts to everyone who hosted or staffed online tournaments this year, as all of them were well run, smooth, and enjoyable. I hope we can make a smooth transition back to in-person quiz bowl in the 2021–2022 season, and I wish a good season to all those who will be returning.
Last edited by joshxu on Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021, Captain, Team President)
UCLA (Class of 2025)
vedul
Kimahri
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:14 pm

Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by vedul »

I have been, and continue to be, amused by the Arcadia "A" vs. Kinkaid "A" rankings on this site. There seems to be some form of interpretive parallax which makes it possible to view the reality and consistency of one team’s record over another’s. Of course, I’ll be chided (I have been before) by replies that say something to the effect that “this is NOT what we are measuring”. OK, fine! — but reality is a tough thing to fudge.

It seems that “joshxu” (whoever that is) has not only an axe to grind vis a vis Arcadia's loss to Kinkaid "A" but, indeed, some personal knowledge of my actions as a player for the Kinkaid "A" team at that tournament; I have no regrets. I know the rules and use them appropriately, period. Regarding ‘unorthodox upset antics’ I would simply refer everyone to the ACF rules as written; unorthodox is not unethical. And, I do happen to know something about those rules since I’ve become familiar with them ever since the very first ReKT in 2018 in San Diego, CA – we were there. Oh, BTW, since I helped Arcadia get started as a QB school/team back in the dark ages, I think I have some knowledge of how they have played over the years — and that’s perhaps one reason why they had some trouble winning that tournament recently. Their “A” team is a fine group of players — clearly — and I respect them, but they haven’t yet figured out how to consistently beat Kinkaid "A." Perhaps “joshxu” can give them some suggestions, if, indeed, he’s not a member of the team.





(in all seriousness thank you for letting us play a tournament in your region. It was a lot of fun to play some teams we would probably have never played otherwise. I look forward to playing Arcadia, and everyone else from SoCal in the future hopefully)
Vedul Palavajjhala
Kinkaid '22
Houston, TX
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