Strengths and Weaknesses

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
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Strengths and Weaknesses

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:20 pm

In lieu of writing a full analysis of each ranked college team, I'm going to do something that might provoke discussion/controversy: strength/weakness analysis.

8. Minnesota Golden Gophers: 223, highest #6, lowest #20

Strengths: Subject area depth. Sam and Shan each have pockets of absurd knowledge that can be difficult to predict. This team is overall one of the best Phil/SS teams out there.

Weaknesses: Inconsistency. None of their players are high-level generalists and there are inevitably going to be major gaps - I think these are similar to what previously impeded Minnesota's performances.

7. Cambridge Light Blues: 228, highest #6, lowest #19

Strengths: Science, Anything Middle East/Africa related. Besides a rival with Eric Mukherjee and Chris Ray for quizbowl's best "Islam player" (I'd argue he's better), Jason is able to get late buzzes in a huge range of categories and pull many difficult bonus parts by himself (check out his Nats and CO performances for proof). Ewan legendarily took all the science off UVA at 2015 Nationals, and I imagine he's only gotten better with his continued studies (supposedly he powered 18 of the 20 chemistry tossups he heard at WAO and Terrapin, taken together).

Weaknesses: Lack of high-level experience. These players don't have as much experience under the heat, and probably won't get that much playing in Britain, given that Oxford has lost many of its best players. This will almost certainly be the best team Britain's ever fielded, though.

6. Ohio State Buckeyes: 271, highest #4, lowest #13

Strengths: Unpredictable areas of depth, generalism. Chris Ray is extremely good at the play-related aspects of the game and can buzz on any category, particularly if you give him enough chances to figure out what is going on. Clark Smith is a strong high school humanities generalist and has tons of random pockets that enable him to contribute on high level teams.

Weaknesses: Inconsistency, Science. This team doesn't currently have a science player (though that doesn't mean they can't get science tossups) and heavily relies on its leading scorer.

5. Columbia Lions: 300, highest #3, lowest #7

Strengths: Science, Arts, Myth, generalism. Ben and Rafael are both generalists with random pockets of high-level humanities knowledge. In addition, Rafael is a top tier player on auditory fine arts and physical sciences, and Ben has several years of biology and chemistry studies under his belt now.

Weaknesses: Literature, History. Again, both players have a lot of generalism, experience, and pockets of depth, but this isn't going to get them over the threshold.

4. Chicago Maroons: 312, highest #2, lowest #6

Strengths: Literature, Arts, Philosophy, History. These are John and Jason's best areas, respectively.

Weaknesses: Science, Religion, Myth, Social Science. Max's departure leaves much to be asked for in these areas, and the new squad will need to fill the holes in.

3. California Golden Bears: 317, highest #2, lowest #6

Strengths: None in particular / all subjects. This team is well-rounded and has a specialist working on each area. Likely best on philosophy, since both Aseem and Eric cover it, but not by significantly much.

Weaknesses: Lack of double coverage. If one player on Berkeley has a hole, then the whole team has a hole, because almost no subjects are double-covered. This probably also has a negative effect on their ability to pull bonus parts - though if they get to 12 tossups, this definitely won't matter, and it's probably moot if they get to 11 as well.

2. Pennsylvania Quakers: 321 (1), highest #1, lowest #5

Strengths: History, Science, RMPSS; generalism. Eric is, with Chris Ray, Jason Zhou, and Bruce Lou, one of the best active history players (albeit with major gaps) and is still a science monster. With any sort of studying, he'll be able to get back to 2015 levels of dominance on these areas or (god forbid) more. He's also really experienced and can pull lots of bonus parts thanks to that.

Weaknesses: Lit, Arts. There are no top-tier lit or arts players on this team. There's a lot of potential among the younger players, and with Aidan Mehigan joining this potential is amplified, but this is still a serious hole.

1. Yale Bulldogs: 349 (1), highest #1, lowest #2

Strengths: Arts, Sciences, Phil/SS, and NAQT categories; generalism and consistency / few negs. This team has three science players (Jacob is not a bad science player at all) and Jacob's extremely good at anything fine arts and philosophy related. Isaac is a renowned NAQT monster. Their players also each have some knowledge in several areas, so they're able to cover each other when there's a gap and back each other up on bonuses.

Weaknesses: History and Literature. They're not bad at these categories by any means, but they're certainly a step down on these compared to their strengths. I suspect this is in no small part what has kept this squad from stronger performances in the past.

--- OVERALL FIELD STRENGTHS / WEAKNESSES ---
9
Field Strengths: Arts, Science, Philosophy. Among the top five teams, you have four strong science teams - Berkeley, Penn, Yale, and Columbia - one of which has Eric, and two more of which double-cover science. Also among the top 5 teams, four of them have a lead scorer who is best on arts of some kind. Philosophy is also a strength of Penn, Yale, nad

Field Weaknesses: Literature. There are lots of top history players scattered among the leading teams, but there aren't many super-dominant literature players aside from John Lawrence. A team that really steps up its literature game can really make a lot of gains here.

Here's where I think this year's field represents quite a shift from earlier eras. Not only are top "dinosaur" generalists or "super-players" few and far between, but the common areas of strength for the top teams are a fair bit different. In the 2013-14 era when I started playing, the best teams generally had a leading humanities generalist at their helm, with the exceptions of Penn and 2014 Chicago. Generally, their strengths would be in literature, myth, visual arts, and history. There'd generally be one "science player" per team. A notable exception to this was 2013 Illinois, which had two generalists who could pick up history questions (rather than a top history player, though Aaron did a lot of work to cover some gaps), but three science players. In many ways, this Illinois team was similar in strategy to the 2016 Michigan team that won ACF Nationals, which had three good science players and had one of these (Sid) study to cover history gaps.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Will Alston
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"...should be treated as the non-stakeholding troll he is" -Matt Weiner

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Re: Strengths and Weaknesses

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:44 pm

have any of these teams considered the have jordan brownstein on your team model
Andrew Wang
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Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
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Re: Strengths and Weaknesses

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:09 pm

somehow I never posted the edited OP, that's up now my b
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16
"...should be treated as the non-stakeholding troll he is" -Matt Weiner

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