Revisiting the Southern California Circuit: An Analysis

The following article was a guest contribution by Nicholas Dai.

Recently, on February 15th, 18 teams competed in one of the largest Quizbowl tournaments in Southern California, the SoCal State Championships. Originally, I was going to only discuss the most recent tournament, but the past few weeks have seen 4 tournaments take place, and 2 more are coming up. Due to a lack of writeups for a while, I decided to combine the past few tournaments and discuss the teams that have qualified for nationals. This writeup is unneededly long, but it should contain most of the important information about the Southern California circuit. Credit goes to Rohan Venkateswaran, Kyle Ke, Manasvi Vora, and Hannah Chen for their help with a few of the parts.

Qualified Teams:

Westview A:

After achieving a top 12 placement in the most recent GrogerRanks rankings, Westview’s A team looked ready to win SoCal States and add another win to their impressive record this year. After already winning 5 tournaments (PPT III, Oasis III, Triton Fall VIII, ACE, DNE III) and having impressive placements in their other 2 tournaments (Triton Winter VIII, MWT), Westview appeared somewhat unstoppable. Yet, that proved untrue at their most recent tournament, where a loss to Arcadia B threw Westview into a three-way-tie that they lost. Westview has instituted a new policy of not choosing teams for Nationals until 5 minutes before round 8 of HSNCT, which has led to the school not being able to finalize a roster for their teams. However, given prior tournaments, Westview’s A team will likely be centered around literature/science/trash/fine arts/mythology-based generalist Shahar Schwartz (12) and train specialist Junu Song (12). Westview has been rotating many players to play on the A team in order to figure out synergy, including literature/visarts-based generalist Rohan Venkateswaran (12), history/music/CE-based generalist Gary Lin (11), fine-arts specialist Daniel Jung (12), economics/CE/history-based generalist Daniel Shaw (11), and RMPSS specialist Nicholas Dai (11). The team will likely be using different players for the HSNCT and PACE teams, as certain players have shown much prowess in NAQT while failing to achieve much on Housewrites, such as Daniel Shaw benefiting from NAQT’s high current events, and vice versa. Westview’s biggest weakness has always been their high quantity of negs, such as averaging 3.8 negs per game at SoCal States (IS 192) and 3.9 negs per game on Michigan Winter. However, at the same time, Westview A has been carried by their extremely high power percentages and PPB, as they achieved 7.55 powers per game and 22.19 PPB on BLAST, and 10.3 powers per game with 24.89 PPB at ACE XIII (IS 188). This team seems to have the highest potential at nationals out of all SoCal teams, yet it may also be one of the easiest teams to upset due to its major neg problems. Whether Westview can continue to dominate this circuit remains to be seen.

Arcadia A:

Arcadia A may have been the most underrated team going into this current season. Although Arcadia A placed 8th at HSNCT last year, the highest of any west coast team, expectations were extremely low for this year’s Arcadia team due to the fact that all of last year’s A team roster had graduated. However, this was not the case. Although their ranking on GrogerRanks has not been the highest, this is justified by the fact that the team has not played a single tournament with their full team. Arcadia has not specifically chosen an A team yet, but the team will likely revolve around history/lit-based generalist Amogh Kulkarni (10) and Ryan Sun (10) who complements him with his history/poetry/ce. Other players that may be on the A team include history-based generalist Spencer Cheng (12), science specialist Brian Lam (10) or science specialist Bryan Hsu (12). After winning SoCal States (IS 192) and Triton Winter VIII (LOGIC), Arcadia has been the only non-Westview high school team that has been able to win a Southern California tournament this year so far. Arcadia has been able to put up very strong stats also, as their team’s top scorer, Amogh Kulkarni, has been able to maintain a personal power rate of 4.55 powers per game, with only a little over 1 neg per game on IS 192. This team has been one of the strongest teams in Southern California, and as the roster is still relatively very young, they have much room to grow in the next two years.

Del Norte A:

Del Norte was another team with high expectations going into this year. After finishing tied for 73rd at HSNCT with a young roster, this team was expected to have much potential going into this year. As no one from the previous year’s A team graduated, this team was expected to keep the same A team roster from last year. Unfortunately, Del Norte A seems to be cursed with forever getting second place, as they have obtained 3 2rd place finishes in local tournaments, the most out of any team in Southern California. Yet, although this team has had unfortunate placings, they still have been able to achieve remarkable statistics. This team’s roster will consist of fine arts-based generalist Kyle Ske (12), literature/trash/myth/riverdale and pop music trash specialist Manasvi Vora (12), science/history specialist Joshua You (11), and history/soda specialist Ajai Banaiah (12) (the soda part isn’t even a meme, he’s literally just so good at questions about soda). While Southern California has notably struggled with a problem of having high negs in the circuit as a whole (with Westview A and Canyon Crest A taking it to a whole new level), Del Norte has consistently had the lowest amount of negs out of all top teams in Southern California, as they put up only 1 neg per game at SoCal States (IS 192). Del Norte was also the second-highest placed high school team at Michigan Winter, with an impressive 13.33 PPB and 1.6 powers per game. With 3 out of 4 of this team’s roster being seniors, this team is looking to make one more deep run at nationals.

Santa Monica A:

After a tied-49th place run at HSNCT last year, Santa Monica looked as if it needed rebuilding, as 3 out of the 4 of the A team members had graduated. However, the one player that remained was their top scorer, history/current events/geo-based generalist Josh Xu (11), who put up an impressive 31 powers at HSNCT last year. Accompanying Josh Xu will likely be literature/myth specialist Alexandra Raphling (10), science specialist Josh Kong (12), and science specialist Teddy Berger (11). At least to the best of my knowledge, the exact roster is not confirmed yet. This team has had much success in this season, as they achieved 2nd place with 5.8 powers per game and 23.53 PPB at the first tournament of the year, PPT III (IS 186). Josh Xu has played the most tournaments as a solo player this year in Southern California, and has been able to have the highest PPG at 3 out of the 4 tournaments he has played this year. This team has only played one tournament with a full roster, so the actual full potential of this team has yet to be seen. Santa Monica A also has one of the youngest rosters of Southern California teams, which gives them much time to grow and improve together.

Westview B:

What is Westview B? What even is Westview in general? This entire year, many people have been speculating on what Westview’s rosters will be, and to be perfectly honest, even I don’t know. Even Rohan Venkateswaran, our club president who creates the teams, doesn’t know. Last year’s Westview B placed tied-97th at HSNCT, the highest out of all B teams from Southern California, and did not have any team members graduate. However, this year’s Westview B will probably not be the same team as the B team from last year, as some members will likely be moved around. Westview was able to qualify its B team after splitting at PPT III (IS 186). If an estimate of who would be on that team could be made, it would likely be vaguely similar to Westview’s Triton Winter VIII (LOGIC) B Team. Yet, even that estimate is a wild guess, as who would be on the actual B team will not be decided for a long while. Given the results from last year, and Westview’s relatively deep bench, this team will likely have a successful run at HSNCT.

Del Norte B:

For the first time in the history of Del Norte (which is not very long, as the school is an extremely new school), two teams are intended to be sent to HSNCT. In recent years, Del Norte has had the largest Quizbowl club in the entire circuit, which has allowed for many teams to be sent to tournaments. Del Norte was able to qualify its B team after splitting at PPT III (IS 186). Del Norte B’s roster has not been chosen either, and a few anonymous individuals have requested for names of potential B team members not to be leaked. However, although neither nameless advocate has allowed me to share any specifics, the one spoiler that I am allowed to say is that the team will likely be led by an unnamed anime specialist and Lil Nas X fangirl. Due to Del Norte’s massive and deep bench, they have a huge amount of players to choose from for their B team, so the actual lineup will not be determined until much later into the season, but this team likely could handle a number of strong teams at HSNCT.

Scripps Ranch:

Scripps Ranch qualified for HSNCT through JROTC and will likely be sending a roster that will contain remnants of last year’s HSNCT team, centered around RMPSS-based generalist Freddie O’Hara (11), who has achieved significant achievement this past year with the amount that he has studied. Unfortunately, due to the fact that this team has played so few games this season, there is not much I am able to discuss, and there are no guarantees on who will be on the main roster and how well that roster will perform.

Other Teams:

There are a few other teams that deserve some recognition also. Not all teams that have expressed interest in going to nationals have qualified yet, namely Canyon Crest A, Canyon Crest B, Westview C, Arcadia B and Santa Monica B. Southern California has always struggled with a very small but top-heavy field, making it very hard for many teams to qualify for nationals. Tournament sizes average around 12 teams, which makes it so that only about 2-3 teams can qualify for HSNCT at each NAQT tournament.

Canyon Crest Academy A:

Canyon Crest’s A team will likely be the exact same roster as their nationals team last year, which tied for 19th place, but they have not seen significant achievement this year. They have not been able to send a full A team to any tournament yet, which resulted in their inability to qualify for HSNCT as the field size in Southern California is especially small. However, even still, they have maintained impressive statistics, as Wesley by himself was able to defeat a near-full Westview A on BLAST, and they have had a few upsets in the past against other teams. Yet still, Canyon Crest Academy has not been able to field a single full team to any tournament, which not only forces them to wildcard, but also brings skepticism to how well they could actually perform as a team. Canyon Crest appears to plan on keeping together their lineup of history-based generalist Wesley Zhang (12), fine arts/literature-based generalist Raymond Song (12), science specialist Jonathan Hsieh (12), and Kpop-based generalist Shreyank Kadadi (12). Canyon Crest has been a team that is able to maintain very high power numbers, as seen by their 5.44 powers per game at OASIS III (SSNCT), but like teams such as Westview A, they also have a neg problem, as they put up 4.1 negs per game on SSNCT. This team still has extreme potential, and will likely be able to accomplish one final deep run at both nationals (assuming they are able to qualify).

Westview C:

Westview intends on wildcarding an HSNCT C team, which will very likely be centered around the roster that played on the B team at SoCal States, which went tied into tossup 20 with Del Norte’s full A team and Santa Monica’s near-full A team, while also defeating most of Canyon Crest Academy’s A team by over 250 points. Players on Westview’s C team at states, which lost to Canyon Crest Academy A by only 1 tossup, will likely round out that roster. However, as mentioned before, Westview does not intend on finalizing rosters for nationals until 5 minutes before round 8 of HSNCT, so there are no guarantees on who will be on that team. The impressive results from SoCal States do bring confidence that this team may perhaps find success at HSNCT.

Canyon Crest Academy B:

Canyon Crest has expressed interest in sending a B team to nationals, but that team has also yet to play a single game, as the only player from last year’s B team to have played this year is Andrew Gao. After placing 181st at HSNCT last year, and losing their top scorer Alan Zhu, Canyon Crest’s B team looks to need to rebuild. Likely it will retain geography-based generalist Andrew Gao (10), and generalist Brian Zhu (12), but the other spots could be filled by a variety of potential players from Canyon Crest’s deep pool.

Arcadia B:

The final team that has expressed interest in going to nationals is Arcadia’s B team. The exact roster of Arcadia B is undermined, as the school has seldom sent more than 1 team to any tournament, but it will be centered around the players not on the A team (that’s self-explanatory). There is little to no information on the nature of this team, so nothing much more can be said.

Santa Monica B:

The actual status of Santa Monica’s B team is still unknown. They have expressed interest in possibly attempting to qualify for HSNCT, but whether they will be sending a team is still yet to be seen. This B team will likely be built around history specialist Kethan Raman (10), but what the roster will actually be is not known.

Final Thoughts:

It should be specified that it is possible that not all teams with intentions of going to either nationals have been mentioned. I have not talked to enough people to know the actual specifics of all the teams that are going. Mt. Everest has qualified for SSNCT and may be going, and like previous years, Troy High School may be going to HSNCT through the JROTC qualifier. 

Due to Southern California’s Academic League competition, many non-Quizbowl schools in the southern parts of the circuit are able to qualify for HSNCT. In the past, those teams have chosen not to go, but things may change in the future.

Meanwhile, some other teams mentioned above may end up not going to either nationals after all. The status of many teams are not known yet.

Southern California has had the honor of having many out of states teams compete in our circuit too. Ed W Clark achieved 24.05 PPB at Triton Winter VIII (LOGIC), the highest out of any team in the circuit, while Kris Noori as a solo player on Brophy College Prep came over to play Michigan Winter and put up 2.2 powers per game, the highest out of any high school player and second highest out of all players, including college players, in Southern California.

Lastly, I would like to thank all the schools in SoCal for hosting such amazing tournaments, especially UCSD, which just hosted 3 tournaments in the span of 1 month! The large amount of tournaments has led to success in the circuit, and it has greatly benefited all of SoCal!

Nicholas Dai is currently a junior at Westview High School in San Diego, California.

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