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 "Nick" 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...
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
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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!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
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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.
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
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2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
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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!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
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Westview High School ‘21 (Treasurer and AL President)
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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

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
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Re: Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

Post by natekang »

Great post, Josh!
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St. Margaret's Episcopal School
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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!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School ‘21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary President of Del Norte Quizbowl
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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.
Yusuf Amanullah
Mt. Everest Academy '21
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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!
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
Quiz Bowl Captain
"Club President"
2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
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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!
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Westview High School ‘21 (Treasurer and AL President)
Honorary President of Del Norte Quizbowl
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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.
Gary Lin
Westview '21
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