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2016 – 2017 Southern California Nationals Preview

By posted May 2nd, 2017

In just one month, thirteen (13) teams from Southern California will fly across the country to compete at quizbowl’s two premier national championships. They will join a total of twenty-nine (29) teams from California and thirty-eight (38) teams from the Western United States at either the High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) or the National Scholastic Championship (NSC). The two national tournaments have a number of differences in format, structure, and style, which are detailed below.

HSNCT NSC
  • Hosted by NAQT in Atlanta, GA
  • 304 teams, 9 from SoCal
  • Computational math bonuses
  • Timed rounds (two 9-minute halves)
  • 15-point powers and 5-point negs
  • No bouncebacks
  • Ten (10) Swiss-matched preliminary games on Saturday
  • Double-elimination playoffs on Sunday
  • Hosted by PACE in Chicago, IL
  • 96 teams, 5 from SoCal
  • No computational math
  • Untimed rounds
  • 20-point powers and 0-point negs
  • Bouncebacks
  • Seven (7) preliminary games and five (5) playoff games on Saturday
  • Three (3) to seven (7) superplayoff games on Sunday

Arcadia A (HSNCT, Morlan 67)

It took Arcadia just one year of rebuilding to put together a top-tier squad again: Matt Forster (11), Roger Lin (11), and Donna Sayphraraj (12) have all been to the HSNCT in some form or another (with Matt being a part of Arcadia C’s surprise T-21 finish in 2015), and ironically their top scorer Andrew Hoagland (10) is the only rookie. Andrew is a consistent hard-hitter across the humanities; most of the spotlight will sit on Matt and Roger to carry the immense science and NAQT distributions. The team on paper is stronger and deeper than last year, so I do declare a solid foray into the playoffs before returning for one last try at a Double Douglas in 2018.

Prediction: 7 – 3 in prelims, 1 – 2 in playoffs.

Arcadia B (HSNCT, Morlan 90)

There’s not much to say about Arcadia B. Jacob Glass (11), Xiaoke Ying (11), Hamlin Liu (11), William Shue (10), and Michael Huang (10) are essentially miniaturised versions of their A team. Hamlin is the other half of the 2015-era Arcadia C; appropriately, he carries the team on NAQT categories. The team’s success will depend on how well Xiaoke and William’s experience and respective specialties in literature and science can balance out William and Michael’s lack of depth on the HSNCT’s difficult questions.

Prediction: 6 – 4 in prelims, 1 – 1 in playoffs.

Cathedral (NSC, Morlan 149)

Despite putting together the strongest team in the history of their school, Cathedral has been unable finalise a solid roster for some time now. Team captain Keoni Rodriguez (12) the top scorer and a NAQT whiz who nevertheless has no difficulties adjusting to an mACF distribution. Much of the team’s points will come from him and science / literature player Noah Crousore (12), while Jorge Martin (11) and Bradley Sweeney (11) round out the edges.

Prediction: 4 – 3 in prelims.

Canyon Crest (NSC, Morlan 30)

Canyon Crest is stronger than ever, returning three members from their sixth-place finishing squad at the 2016 NSC. Claire Lee (11) joins the cream of the crop in Daniel Wang (11), Boopala Arul (11), and team captain Jeffrey Qiu (11), an all-around generalist and SoCal’s best music player. The team has experience and mighty depth, and the aggressive playstyle that I’ve hammered on all year is mollified by the rest of the top bracket crowd. It’s an objectively stronger team than last year, so I’ll be bold and say that Canyon Crest is fixing for another upset.

Prediction: 7 – 0 in prelims, 5 – 0 in playoffs, 4th finish.

Irvine (HSNCT, Morlan 111)

Irvine retains every member of their 2016 HSNCT squad and adds a new face in Lia Tian (11). The main scorers on the team are generalist Shripad Badithe (11), captain Sun Ah Lee (12), and science player Andy Huang (11). Although the team is a consistent playoff contender, they’ve never been able to consolidate a team of specialists to round out the edges. I predict the team’s two years of HSNCT experience will give them the edge to make playoffs this year, but I don’t see them making a deep playoff run.

Prediction: 6 – 4 in prelims, 0 – 1 in playoffs.

La Jolla (NSC, Morlan 32)

Much like Lake Chad, the La Jolla lineup has progressively concentrated its resources in smaller and smaller areas, from three core scorers in 2015 to two in 2016 to finally one: James Malouf (12). James is the jack of all trades, getting buzzes across every subject and finishing second on Harvard Fall (HFT) while pulling in just one (1) neg per game. I have no doubt that James will clear the prelims, but it’s once in a blue moon that a team with one primary scorer cracks the top superplayoff pool.

Prediction: 6 – 1 in prelims, 3 – 2 in playoffs.

Olympian A (HSNCT, Morlan 110)

Olympian A spent much of the season being perennially underranked due to their mediocre opening performance and subsequent absence from the circuit. The team has made great strides since then; it’s still unknown who they’ll field on each team, but clear A team candidates include NAQT player Zachary Blanton (11) and history specialists James Scherrer (11) and Max Bauer (12). Interestingly, every member of the team excels at literature but struggles with science – a weakness the team will need to mitigate in preparation for the HSNCT’s 5.5 / 5.3 science subdistribution.

Prediction: 7 – 3 in prelims, 0 – 2 in playoffs.

Olympian B (HSNCT, unranked)

Olympians A and B are a rotating crew of just under a dozen folks who swap rosters back and forth from tournament to tournament. I reckon that whichever of James and Max isn’t on the A team will be the lead scorer on the B team. This team will pull off an impressive run for a B team, and then spend the next year regrouping and reloading.

Prediction: 6 – 4 in prelims, 0 – 1 in playoffs.

Rancho Bernardo (NSC, Morlan 71)

The name of Rancho Bernardo’s game this year has been to make up for the graduation of NASAT champion Kion You (’16). Captain Bryan Ugaz (12) and science player Omar El-Sabrout (11) seem to have found a solution with fourth scorers Aaron Applegate (12) and Claire Ahn (10). Nevertheless, the stats don’t lie: this year’s Rancho Bernardo only has about two-thirds of the depth they had with Kion (compare 80 powers to 49 powers, and 82 powers to 59 powers).

Prediction: 6 – 1 in prelims, 2 – 3 in playoffs.

Santa Monica (HSNCT, Morlan 125)

Santa Monica is Southern California’s local recluse from over yonder, making it out to less than a handful of tournaments each year but putting up an impressive showing each time. It’s clear that they have the raw knowledge to be considered the “top half” of the HSNCT field, but I can’t see them making any big surprises.

Prediction: 6 – 4 in prelims, 0 – 1 in playoffs.

Scripps Ranch (HSNCT, unranked)

Like Santa Monica, Scripps Ranch’s performance is difficult to predict due to their seclusion from the circuit. Joon Lee (11) is the team’s lead scorer and a capable generalist across most subjects, but their lack of support players, tournament experience, and scaling don’t suggest that they have what it takes to make a playoff run this year.

Prediction: 4 – 6 in prelims.

Torrey Pines (HSNCT, Morlan 55)

Torrey Pines’s performance is entirely reliant on the performance of hypergeneralist Thomas Freedman (11), who will be absent from the team’s nationals squad. Captain Bruno Ghetti (12) brings NAQT coverage and two years of experience, but Russell Chiang (11), Johnathan Kuo (11), and Jessica Gang (12) haven’t shown that they’ve got what it takes to take on the nation’s other top teams.

Prediction: 4 – 6 in prelims.

Westview (HSNCT, NSC, Morlan 5)

The Westview roster heads into nationals with three of the four members that stormed into third place in their inaugural appearance at the 2013 Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT). Rahul Keyal (12) remains the team’s captain and the region’s undisputed top literature player. Rahul and myth specialist Shiv Nayak (12) fare better on mACF, but the NAQT distribution is kinder to history / NAQT player Chaitanya Kore (12) and science player Kevin Yu (11). However, Rahul and Kevin form a dynamic duo on arts that is rarely matched in SoCal; this plus Rahul’s buzzes on literature are bounds deeper than the NAQT advantage that Chaitanya provides.

Prediction (HSNCT): 9 – 1 in prelims, 5th finish.

Prediction (NSC): 7 – 0 in prelims, 5 – 0 in playoffs, 4th finish.

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