Southern California 2020-21 Discussion

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nickdai
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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
戴若涵

Black Mountain Middle School '17
Westview High School '21
Honorary Member of Del Norte High School's Quizbowl Team

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natekang
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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
Nathaniel Kang
St. Margaret's Episcopal School, Class of '22
:chip: :cowboy:

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nickdai
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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.
Nicholas "Nick" Dai
戴若涵

Black Mountain Middle School '17
Westview High School '21
Honorary Member of Del Norte High School's Quizbowl Team

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