PPT 3: Shorthanded Westview A Wins PPT After Tense Final Against Santa Monica, Westview C Clears JV Field.

Teams Individuals
Rank Team PPB Record Rank Player Team  PPG
1 WV A 21.95 10-1 1 Shahar WV A 100.91
2 SanMo A 23.53 8-3 2 Josh X. SanMo A 96.36
T3 DN A 21.71 8-2 3 Amogh Arcadia 86.50
T3 WV B 19.74 8-2 4 Kyle DN B 77.00

 

Lots of questions were still in the air going into PPT, the first competition of the year in SoCal. Westview and Del Norte would both try to double qualify while Santa Monica and Arcadia would fight to stay in contention. There’s a lot to unpack from our most recent tournament, so let’s go down the list of teams and try to make sense of the initial results.

Westview A: As with last year, Westview looked to double qualify at SoCal’s first tournament. In contrast to last year’s successful qualification, which relied on an unresolved tiebreaker to barely squeeze both teams in, Westview managed to double qualify for HSNCT and PACE by a much more comfortable margin at this year’s PPT. Despite losing history and geography player Daniel Shaw (11) for the last four games of the day and current events / American history specialist Daniel Sjoholm (11) for the last two, literature and science centered generalist Shahar Schwartz (12) and math/physics specialist David Huang (12) managed to beat Santa Monica A in a close match to finish the day in first place with a 10-1 record. The main concern for Westview will be their neg problem, as yours truly negged more than any other team in the field on my own. If I can get that under control in the coming months, I think Westview is going to be able to keep the streak alive going forward.

Santa Monica A: There were a lot of questions going into this year for SanMo. They kept their extremely strong history player Josh Xu (11) but lost the other 3/4 of their A team to graduation. Luckily, it seems that SanMo’s roster expanded massively over the summer, as they ended up sending four teams to the competition. Not only did Josh improve significantly, but it also appears that the team has managed to find support in the form of literature player Alexandra Raphling (10) and science players Josh Kong (12) and Teddy Berger (11).  It’s due in large part to these support players that Santa Monica A was able to top the field with a very impressive 23.5 PPB. Santa Monica also has the advantage of having a carry with both a high power rate and a very low neg rate, which is fairly rare in SoCal. SanMo is in a position to make serious marks on a circuit that already contains national contenders Westview and CCA, as well as powerhouses Del Norte and Arcadia. If yesterday was any indication, Santa Monica should join that top tier soon if they keep making impact at competitions.

Del Norte A: Like Westview, Del Norte successfully qualified both of their teams for HSNCT, with their A team tying with Westview B for third place and their B tying with Arcadia for fifth. DN A had three of it’s A team members from last year on it, literature and myth specialist Manasvi Vora (12), science player Joshua You (11), and history main Ajai Banaiah (12). All three managed to crack one powers a game, while the team collectively managed to keep it’s negs under 2 per game. This “let the other team make the mistakes” has been successful for Del Norte in the past, but they’ve now added more depth, getting one more power per game with a split team at this year’s PPT than they did with a full A team last year. I want to see how well these stats line up when Kyle plays alongside the other three, but if Del Norte can continue to build depth without sacrificing their accuracy, they’re going to be one hell of a scary team going forward.

Westview B: PPT was a good chance for some of Westview’s juniors to show what they can do ahead of the next year, which is important because Westview’s “official” A team hasn’t actually been determined fully yet. A team featured solid performances by both Daniel S’s, and B team gave exposure to history and general NAQT player Gary Lin (11), myth and science main Andrew Jia (11), and the endlessly undefinable maverick Connor Rankin (11). The three of them were led by Westview’s chief history player Junu Song (12), who put up predictably stellar stats with nearly 3 powers a round and over 70 points per game. Andrew and Connor also came into their own, each getting over 1 power a round, while Gary had to leave prematurely. The team ended up preforming solidly, finishing in a tie for third place, and with relatively little negs, which was a concern going into the competition. The one point of concern for the group may be their PPB, which was the only one in the top 6 of teams not to crack 20. However, considering that they were dealing with holes in subjects that would normally be covered by Rohan or myself, I wouldn’t consider that a big issue going forward.

Arcadia: I don’t really understand how Arcadia finished as low as they did. They put up incredible stats the whole day only to lose game after game by minute margins in the morning. Luckily, their annihilation of Westview A in their last game managed to push them into a tie for 5th place with Del Norte B, allowing them to qualify for HSNCT yet again. Their high scoring history player, Amogh Kulkarni (10), put up one of the most dominant breakout sophomore performances I’ve seen at a SoCal tournament in a long time, nearly cracking 4 powers a game. What’s even scarier is that Arcadia managed to break 21 PPB and 6 powers a round without a full team, making them yet another seriously scary contender in the circuit going into this year. I don’t think they’ll match the dominance Arcadia did last year, but I see a lot of the same enthusiasm and passion in this team as I did in the A team last year. The entire team is going places, fast. Mark my words, they will dominate one day.

Del Norte B: Del Norte also managed to qualify both teams for nationals thanks primarily to the leadership of Kyle Ke (12). It was the first time the fine arts centered generalist managed to break three powers a game at an NAQT competition, and he chose a good competition to do it. Del Norte B was actually the only team to qualify for nats at PPT that didn’t break 5 powers per game (they were painfully close, 49 powers in 10 games). However, considering the teams were split and the “A” team did manage to (barely) meet that benchmark, I don’t foresee lack of powers/depth being as much of an issue for Del Norte this year as it was last.

Returning teams Rancho Bernardo and Bonita also attended yesterday’s tournament in the varsity division, as well as newcomers to the circuit Our Lady of Peace and Mt. Everest. It was a blast getting to meet and play against all of these wonderful teams, and we look forward to seeing you all again soon!

JV was also interesting in terms of new teams emerging. The tournament was swept by Westview’s C team, with Del Norte E, Scripps Ranch, and Westview D taking the next three spots respectively.

This year’s circuit looks to be one of the most competitive in SoCal yet, and we haven’t even gotten to see Westview, CCA, Del Norte, or Arcadia at full force yet. I have confidence that we’ll get a chance to see some next level gameplay in a few weeks time, but for now we can only wait for the next bout.

Finally I wanted to thank CCA for doing such a great job hosting this tournament, and to say thank you to all the teams that played yesterday. I look forward to playing you all again soon!

-Shahar Schwartz, Westview Class of 2020

Westview Wins SoCal States 2019, Santa Monica Qualifies for Nationals as Runner Up

Teams Individuals
Rank Team Record  PPB Rank Player Team  PPG
1 WV A 9-1 21.03 1 Sam K. La Jolla 78.5
2 SanMo “B” 7-3 23.49 2 Shahar S. WV A 74.0
3 DN A 7-3 19.45 3 Alan Z. CCA A 69.5
4 Scripps Ranch A 7-3 19.25 4 Rohan V. WV C 64.5

As usual, I’d like to thank UCSD for hosting a very well run competition last Saturday, as this year’s iteration of States ran incredibly smoothly. The quality of staff which UCSD was able to put together on such short notice was extremely high, and it made the competition flow near-flawlessly from start to finish.

There are, however, many factors which make this tournament somewhat tricky to analyze. For starters, because of some tomfoolery on the part of Santa Monica where the A and B teams were reversed, bracket B in prelims became crazily overpowered, and knocked a handicapped (but still effective) CCA out of contention for playoffs. Another oddity was the sheer number of teams that were missing players in some capacity. Arcadia was playing without both Andrew and Michael, Del Norte split their teams in an effort to double qualify for nationals, Olympian had a rare absence from an NAQT event, and 3/4 of CCA’s regular A team decided that they would rather mod than compete. Even the teams that did have the majority of their players on A were restricted in some regard, as Westview A was missing both Daniel Shaw and Rohan V. (Who decided instead to relegate himself to C) and Scripps Ranch A had to play without a fourth. Ironically enough, the only full strength A team was on Santa Monica B, which worked out for them as their silver medal would be enough to qualify for nationals. That being said, there are still many things to be learned, so let’s dig in.

I’ve joked about derping to victory before, but this time more than ever, it is literally the most accurate way to describe how Westview won on Saturday. The morning was a complete joke, with more negs than any other team and both Junu and I failing to make the top 5 individually. It was… how do I say this gently… an absolute garbage performance. But, despite our worst efforts, we went 4-1, which was enough to make playoffs. After that, Westview A managed to pull itself together to go 5-0 and keep under 2 negs a game. One of the more interesting things I noticed about this particular set was the disparity between the kind of gameplay that was rewarded in the morning vs. in the afternoon. Morning IS 183 rewarded patience and punished any and all frauds, whereas the afternoon rounds heavily favored hyper-aggressive gameplay and straight up denounced conservatism of any kind. Naturally, team power cult did better in the afternoon, much to the chagrin of anyone unlucky enough to face the reverse derp head on. What’s interesting is, despite our solid performance, we still had a relatively low power rate and PPB. However, I’m willing to attribute this to the fact that Junu and I have holes in our knowledge that are simply covered better by other players on the team who weren’t there on February 2nd, and that our coverage of the big three categories is good enough to succeed in most high-pressure situations even if we don’t have expertise of 100% of questions asked.

Santa Monica had a really impressive showing last week, taking the highest PPB prize by almost 2.5 points at the end of the day. These results are indicative of the somewhat absurd breadth of categories covered by the team. Santa Monica “B” was led by Sophmore and history specialist Josh Xu, who ended the day with 27 powers and over 60 PPG. SanMo’s other players were also extremely important to the success of the team, with the other three players putting up an average of over 20 PPG. These efforts resulted in a second place finish and, perhaps more importantly, a return to nationals. Undoubtedly, Santa Monica will want to improve on their performance at HSNCT last year and make it to playoffs, but there are some barriers they’ll have to cross first, the most important is a seeming lack of depth in categories that don’t begin in H and end in I-S-T-O-R-Y. If they can figure out a way to increase their depth on other categories before nationals, I can see SanMo easily going 7-3 or better in the morning rounds at nats.

Despite not directly qualifying their target two teams for nationals (which was admittedly a near impossible feat with only three slots available), Del Norte was still able to put up a solid fight and may have done well enough to earn a wildcard slot through the performance of their B team. One of Del Norte’s strengths is just how well everyone on the A team synergizes with each other, and their deep understanding of what their fellow teammates do and do not know in-game. The problem here is that, if the team does need to split, they are hit particularly hard by the holes in knowledge left by absent players. However, what I have seen from nearly every A team regular is a significant increase in depth of knowledge since the beginning of the year. Whether or not that depth will translate to nats level questions remains to be seen, but based on what we’ve seen from them at the past couple of competitions, Del Norte definitely seems to be on the track to success.

Obviously, the absence of arguably the best player in SoCal from Arcadia’s roster was bound to be a hit to their overall performance. However, Arcadia A still put up some very, very solid stats last week, leading the field in powers and coming only 0.03 PPB away from taking the silver in the stat at the end of the day with exactly 21. If this is the kind of breadth that a team led by William and Sean (two science specialists) can do, they pose a serious threat to almost everyone when at full strength. Normally, if a clue that is considered “common” is dropped in a tossup, there is generally one person on each team racing for it. What Arcadia proved last week is that everyone on the team is actually fairly likely to know an answer at the cliff, indicating that buzzer races between Arcadia and their opponents are actually consistently 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 on average, rather than the 1 to 1 showcased by most games. This means that Arcadia has a much higher chance of getting a tossup on a cliff probability-wise than almost every other team when they’re at full capacity and on a set like HSNCT, where difficulty cliffs are extremely commonplace, Arcadia could go very, very far.

Scripps Ranch had arguably their best performance so far this year at States, being the only team to successfully take down Westview all day, and putting some solid numbers up while doing so. Jack and Michelle complement each other really well on NAQT, with Jack handling most of the History/Geo/Ce/Trash and Michelle proving her ruthless efficiency on Literature and Science. One thing I’m still not 100% sure about is how well the team will scale up come nationals season. Jack and Michelle have depth, but the question now is whether or not that will hold when the questions get to HSNCT levels of difficulty.

Individually, the stats from the morning and afternoon seemed to shift around… a lot. In the morning, the top five players were, in order, Sam K (with 21 more points per game than his closest competitor), Alan Z, Rohan V, Jack I, and Kyle K. Weirdly enough, only Sam and Alan managed to stay in the top five in the afternoon, as monsieur derp returned with a vengence in the afternoon to get over 27 PPG more than the next closest player in Alan. (Yes I’m flexing, no you can’t stop me.) Rounding up the top five was Josh X in third, along with Sam in fourth and Jonathan H in fifth. At the end of the day, Sam took the first prize individually, but Rohan probably gets some kind of bonus points from being the first C team player to make the top five in this circuit individually… so there’s probably some memetic pride that goes along with that.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who came to States, and I hope to see you all again very soon.

– Written by Shahar Schwartz

Arcadia Sweeps Triton Winter with Perfect Record, Beats CCA in Finals

Teams Individuals
Rank Team Record  PPB Rank Player Team Prelim PPG
1 Arc A 11-0 21.47 1 Shahar S. WV A 78.5
2 CCA 9-2 20.85 2 Andrew H. Arc A 74.5
3 DN A 8-2 19.84 3 Raymond S. CCA 65.67
4 WV A 6-4 20.76 4 Wesley Z. CCA 57.71

 

First off, I want to thank all the teams who came to this tournament despite the last minute schedule changes, and UCSD for running a really smooth and fun tournament. I also want to thank the writers of HFT, who I felt produced a fun, challenging, and yet accessible set for us to play on Saturday.

Now, to the analysis…

I feel like what this tournament proved more than anything is that SoCal hosts two different fundamental mentalities when it comes to how quiz bowl is played. The first is a strategy centered on conservative, yet extremely consistent gameplay, which leads to consistently low powers and negs, and a ton of tens. The other strategy, which is somewhat unique to SoCal, is the affectionately nicknamed “power cult” mentality, where the goal of a tossup seems to be “BUZZ BEFORE THEM AT ALL COSTS.” As you could probably guess, this leads to a super high power rate, but also a somewhat atrocious neg rate, and can result in some pretty hilarious upsets and comebacks on special occasions.

However, Arcadia A proved that aggressive play can net great results, when their high risk, high reward attitude translated to a dominant performance. The team managed a final stat line of 60/90/28, which was the most powers per game of any team in the field, as well as a PPB of 21.47, which was, again, best in the field. I honestly have very few comments other than just great job to Arcadia. Andrew was dominant on history as usual, Michael Huang is delivering consistently on literature, and Sean put up some seriously impressive stats on science. (Keep in mind this was all done without the help of one of, if not the best, science players in SoCal in William Shue.) If I had one comment, it would probably be that Arcadia needs a little bit more depth on fine arts, but it’s a minor setback for what is otherwise one of California’s most complete teams. With no exaggeration, if Arcadia plays like they did on this set at HSNCT, I think they can make the top ten, but they have to keep their momentum in order to pull that off. In addition to their dominant A team, Arcadia has some solid talent in their underclassmen to back up the seniors, with Ajay Manneth leading their C team to a solid sixth place finish.

This tournament really highlighted what the core of CCA has to bring to the table. Despite missing a fourth, they managed to claw their way into the finals with a 9-1 record. However, their display was far from the dominant performance we saw at triton fall a few months ago. CCA barely managed to squeak by Del Norte after a tiebreaker in round 2 and could have very easily lost to Westview if yours truly didn’t have such a massive neg problem (more on that later). They aren’t entirely clear right now, but there are definitely problems that need fixing on CCA’s side. It may be hyper-aggression, high neg rates, the lack of a unifying fourth scorer at the tournament, or most likely some combination of all three, but there are some obstacles that CCA has to overcome if they want to improve on their nationals performance from last year.

I think the secret to Del Norte’s success has largely been the discovery and subsequent embrace of their identity as a team. They are playing consistent, low neg, and just plain smart quizbowl by minimizing errors and mercilessly capitalizing on mistakes made by the opposition. Sure, their power rate isn’t great, but this is a young team with a lot of potentials and half a year to prepare for nationals. Del Norte has proven that they can fight alongside the best of them (they were just one tiebreaker away from finals, after all), and I’m excited to see how they finish the year off.

When it comes to Westview, and how we did at the last tournament, my feelings are… somewhat mixed. On the one hand, our pure stats were extremely good, with an excellent power rate and PPB in spite of missing two of our best in Junu and Rohan. On the other hand… 4 negs a round. Even considering the fact that we weren’t at full strength, there just isn’t any way a team can neg 39 times in 10 games and still expect to make finals. Once that particular issue gets fixed (and if I can help it, it will be) I think Westview will really start excelling.

Scripps Ranch is doing a lot of things right as of right now. Michelle and Jack are proving to be a solid double threat, and the team is proving they can excel by capitalizing on mistakes the same way that Del Norte is. My one concern is that Scripps Ranch lacks the breadth that they need in order to really stand out by playing that kind of quizbowl. There are noticeable holes in literature and science that need to get patched up before nationals, but if Scripps can find a way to cover those areas before HSNCT comes around, I have a lot of faith in their ability to make playoffs.

On the individual side of things, Westview’s derpiest derp to ever derp managed to take first prize (at the expense of an absolutely disgusting 2.5 negs per round, mind you), with Andrew Hoagland of Arcadia taking a close second and the CCA core Raymond and Wesley taking third and fourth respectively.

Thanks again to everyone who came, and I hope to see you all at SoCal states, which will be held on February 2nd at UCSD.

Written by Shahar Schwartz

WV wins ACE XII, North Hollywood Qualifies for Nationals

 

Teams (Playoff Record in Parentheses) Individuals
Rank Team Record  PPB Rank Player Team Prelim PPG
1 WV 10-2 (4-1) 20.7 1 Shahar S. WV 83.57
2 NoHo A 8-4 (3-2) 21.6 2 Kaia Y. Oly A 63.57
3 Oly A 8-2 (1-2) 22.6 3 Raymond S. CCA A 58.57
4 CCA A 4-6 (0-3) 21.3 4 Brandon H. NoHo A 48.57

Arcadia hosted one of the more interesting tournaments of the season so far, as the varsity competition saw West….. I mean WV win in a disadvantaged final against North Hollywood. However, North Hollywood’s second-place finish ensured that they would qualify a team for nationals for the second year in a row.

WV’s victory solidly places them as a threat to win future competitions. However, the win doesn’t alleviate WV from their problems going forward. While the team led by yours truly did lead the field in powers, with a fairly solid 6.4 powers per game, they also came last in the playoffs in PPB, and had more negs per game (3.2) than everyone in the field except for CCA A. Hopefully, the addition of other strong players like Junu (11) and Rohan (11) can fix some of these issues, but WV still has a way to go before they become a top tier team.

Kinda like CCA, North Hollywood was somewhat infamous for their performance being much better on mACF than on NAQT style questions. Luckily, whatever problems they had last year seem to be dealt with, as the Brandon (11) and Ronen (11) led team put up some impressive stats in their HSNCT qualification run. The team did very well in most areas, but fell slightly short in powers, as the team only managed 4.4 per game. NoHo is a good team, but if they want to improve on their results at nationals from last year, they’ll have to gain depth in order to deal with the upgrade in difficulty they’ll face there.

Olympian dominated the prelims, winning seven in a row and leading the field in PPB, coming in a close third in powers, and having fewer negs than every team in the field except for their own B team. Olympian should be very proud of how they performed, but unfortunately, they were taken down by WV and NoHo, both games coming down to the last tossup. My only concern with Olympian is that they could fall victim to these “pop off” rounds very easily, and could end up getting knocked out of contention due to their unwaveringly consistent gameplay.

CCA is a very strong team. With a full team on mACF, they can obliterate national set records for powers and put most teams’ PPBs to shame. These conditions were not met last Saturday. The absence of Wesley Zhang (11) and Jonothan Hsieh (11) meant that the team was sorely lacking on NAQT core categories science and history. CCA A’s aggressive play also meant that, while they were second in powers per game, they were also first in negs per game, as they were the only team with more than 3 per game in the field. However, one shouldn’t make the mistake of discounting CCA A for next time. With a full team, the already solid core of Raymond (11), Alan (12), and Shreyank (11) can easily threaten a local NAQT victory this year.

While Santa Monica failed to make playoffs, they still had an incredibly strong showing. History specialist Josh Xu (10) in particular had a solid performance in playoffs, as he actually led the field in PPG while in the consolation bracket. We hope to see more of Santa Monica and wish them luck at future tournaments.

As for individuals, the dead weight from WV (11) somehow snuck back into the number one spot again, as the lit/sci specialist derped his way to over four powers per round. The runner-up was blossoming generalist Kaia Yager (12) of Olympian A, who led humanities specialist Raymond Song (11) from CCA A and generalist Brandon Hong (12) of NoHo A.

Thanks to Arcadia for hosting this tournament, and thanks to everyone who came to play. We hope to see you all at the next SoCal tournament at Del Norte High School on December 8th.

Written by Shahar Schwartz

 

CCA Wins Triton Fall in Disadvantaged Final Against Arcadia

 

Teams Individuals
Rank Team Record PPB Rank Player Team  PPG
1 CCA B 10 – 1 23.91 1 Shahar S. Westview 108.46
2 Arcadia A 8 – 3 21.82 2 Andrew H. Arcadia A 96.36
3 Scripps Ranch 6 – 3 17.59 3 Raymond S. CCA B 87.27
4 Del Norte A 5 – 4 19.40 4 Jack I. Scripps Ranch 62.22

With Triton Fall 2018 in the books, the players of SoCal got their first taste of mACF style questions, with exciting results. Of course, none of this would be possible without the wonderful people at UCSD, who I would like to thank for running the tournament this Saturday.

CCA B (which was made up of quite a few players expected to start on A team at nationals this year) won the day with an astounding 9.5 powers per game. The team was led by humanities specialist Raymond Song (11), with significant support from history and geo man Wesley Zhang (11), and a formidable science player in Jonothan Hsieh (11). If this is

Arcadia A came in at second despite beating CCA 440-230 earlier in the playoffs, which they managed to do with only two A team players from PPT. History main Andrew Hoagland (12) managed to lead the team to a solid finish even with half the normal A team being MIA. With a complete team, Arcadia has the ability to get revenge on CCA, but that will have to wait for another day.

Del Norte continues to show off just how much they’ve improved over the summer, with fine arts-centered generalist Kyle Ke (11) and science player Josh You (10) leading the charge. Even without core lit player Sofia Luengo (11), Del Norte A was able to make playoffs by pulling upsets (?) against Arcadia A and Westview. Del Norte’s main problem going forward is that while they hardly neg, which they did less than once per game, they also power somewhat rarely. If they can fix this, I can see Del Norte becoming a top-tier team by the time next year rolls around.

Scripps Ranch was led by generalist Jack Izzo (12), who carried the team to a third-place finish by upsetting Del Norte in the playoffs. While Scripps did play very well in the wake of the graduation of longtime captain Joon Lee, they still have some problems to deal with, as they were the only team in playoffs with more negs than powers. If Jack and company can figure out a way to transform those negs into consistent early powers, Scripps Ranch could emerge as a dark horse in this year’s tournaments.

It was also great to see teams from Mission Bay, Cathedral Catholic, and University City come to compete, and we look forward to competing with you more in the future!

In terms of individual awards, Scripps’ Jack barely missed the podium, with CCA’s Raymond taking third place, Arcadia’s Andrew taking second, and some random guy from Westview (11) getting first. The SoCal field is looking stronger than ever, with several young teams putting numbers similar to those of the top teams in the nation. With CCA, Arcadia, and Westview still yet to have a complete tournament with a full A team roster, I predict that the level of play from here on out is only going to go up.