Here's my ballot with brief commentary. I tried to make this about 1/3 "hypothetical performance on a regular-difficulty packet solo," 1/3 "performance at the two nationals," and 1/3 "performance in the regular season." When I give scoring slash numbers, I mean rank in ACF prelims/ACF playoffs/ICT.
1. Bollinger. Two finals, one championship, 2/4/7 in scoring. Strong performances in the regular season. Scored most of the points for the most consistently good team in quizbowl this year.
2. Mukherjee. Locks down his categories, led ICT in powers, most prolific scorer (3/2/4). Only blemish is second-bracket finish at a stacked ICT.
3. me. Well, someone has to counterbalance Marnold's criminal under-ranking. 7/7/8 in scoring with 6th and 8th place finishes puts me as one of only three players who finished in the single digits in all five of those measures, along with Matt B. and Ike. I do predictably well on my own measures for generalist ability and regular-season performance.
4. Ray. 4/8/6 scoring, 10th at ICT and 4th at Nats. Led one of the strongest regular-season teams to respectable finishes at both nationals. We all know what he can do.
5. Jackson. 6/11/10 in scoring. The strongest player on what may be the best m/ACF team this year, but had a lot of help. I think he's probably the best generalist on his team, so he gets a boost for that.
6. Jose. 1/5/9 in scoring. He led his team to lofty finishes at both nationals, making a surprise final at ICT, but his team's finishes outpaced their scoring numbers, so you wonder if some of this is unsustainable. Had a good regular season, but maybe not up to the standards of the guys in front of him. Clearly an emerging force, and I may be underrating him.
7. Lawrence. 19/12/15 in scoring. He got better as Nationals went on, and is clearly one of the best specialists-with-generalist-knowledge in the game. Had the best teammates of any top-ten player this year, but we might get to see what he can do as a #1 guy if he moves on to a new school after graduating. I have faith in his team-leading generalist ability.
8. Gupta. The #1 scorer at ICT couldn't make the top bracket, but was in what may have been the most brutal prelim bracket in the tournament. Either way, finishing #9 in the ICT field is quite an accomplishment. Still, it's hard to rank him higher than this because he's in an isolated circuit and only played one of the national tourneys.
9. Butler. Showed he could be a #1 player on a meaningful team this year, but didn't have enough teammate firepower to make a serious top-bracket challenge. Also plays in a relatively isolated circuit and only played one national, so it's hard to rank him higher. Regardless, science knowledge + generalist knowledge will do well in my rankings.
10. Nediger. 9/16/16 in scoring on teams that took 3rd and 9th. Will is Michigan's top player on hard questions, but Kurtis is sometimes their best regular-season player. His team didn't make the top bracket at ICT, but they did make a run at the Nationals title and took third in a stacked field.
11. Simons. 17/19/11 in scoring on a team that took 5th and 6th. Beat out Ted in scoring at both nationals but Ted seemed to outscore him in the regular season. Probably the better generalist of the two top Harvard players, and imposing on classics and many other pockets of the distribution, especially in history.
12. Gioia. 25/21/13 in scoring on a team that took 5th and 6th. Ted is one of the best humanities players out there and was consistently Harvard's best or second-best player all year long (if I remember correctly, he was more often than not their best scorer in the regular season). You could make the argument that he belongs in the top-ten depending on how you value deep knowledge of a few subjects vs. contributions in many subjects.
13. Droge. Kurtis was often Michigan's top regular-season player, and is a very good hard-question player in his own right, especially considering how much Libo overlaps with him in his primary area, history. A player with his kind of generalist knowledge who finishes 3rd and 9th at the nationals will do well in these rankings.
14. Adams. Evan has perhaps the largest shadow effect of anyone in the top fifteen. On pure generalist ability, he could rank as high as 8th, but individual performance is a consideration too.
15. Davis. People sleep on Trevor too often, but he is one of the game's best history specialists and has top-ten generalist knowledge. As I learned at VCU Open, he's an incredibly good team player as well, so watch out if he gets teammate help when he goes to grad school next year. A top-20 solo finish at ICT coupled with his generalist knowledge gets him to here.
16. Cheyne. A top history/social sciences/literature specialist with random pockets of knowledge everywhere and vastly underrated generalist/team-leading ability.
17. Tabachnick. Guy and Mike are very similar players. I get to see Mike a lot more, but I'm always impressed by the deep pockets of knowledge that Guy possesses in seemingly every category. And, of course, who isn't impressed with his game-best linguistic fraud ability? If he played more tournaments, he'd vault up these rankings.
18. Gorman. Another case of isolated circuit and limited knowledge on my part. I haven't played Henry in a while, but his numbers are always impressive and his team manages respectable finishes with him doing most of the heavy lifting. Winning the second bracket at Nationals was a nice accomplishment; let's see if this team can build on it.
19. Arnold. Benefits from some name recognition on his team, which is also led by the capable Rafael Krichevsky, who seems to know things about Judaism and music. Michael is a good generalist who also has areas of specialty in philosophy and other humanities that can help a good team at higher-difficulty levels.
20. Koai. One of the game's best specialists. Kevin gets winning buzzes in literature (poetry especially), visual arts, and, of course, music. He gets a similar PPG at every tournament, but you know with him that you're getting one or two of the earliest buzzes in the tournament at some point during each packet. That has extremely high value, even for what would probably already be the best music team in the country without him.
21. S. Liu. If this year's nationals season is any indication, Stephen is quickly emerging as one of the best science players in the country, and he also has a wealth of generalist knowledge. He seems poised to rocket up these rankings if he can fill some of the scoring void that Dallas will leave at Harvard next year. We got a preview when he led Harvard in scoring in the ACF Nats prelims.
22. Graebner. Doug's scoring, at 10/20/40, puts him as one of the 15 or so players who made the top bracket at both nationals while scoring in the top 40 at both. He might be the most dominant visual arts player right now, and he has random pockets of deep knowledge throughout the history and literature distributions. This makes him an extremely dangerous player at the nationals level, and an emerging threat at regular difficulty.
23. Steinbaum. Marshall (11/29/30) was also one of those players to make both top brackets while scoring in the top 40. His knowledge in European history, social sciences, and current events runs deep, and he's consistently the highest scorer on a successful Chicago A team.
24. Chonai. Arun looks like a future star to me. His buzzes come from all over the distribution and he's learning from (and getting shadowed out by) one of the best generalists in the game in Chris Ray.
25. Zeng. Libo (29/29/27) is a fearsome history player with some primary science knowledge who consistently scores similar points to his teammates Kurtis and Will.
Honorable mention (in no particular order): Neil Gurram, Sean Smiley, Kevin Malis, Rafael Krichevsky, Ashvin Srivatsa, Carsten Gehring, Frank Firke, Gordon Arsenoff, Jarret Greene, Jasper Lee.
Apologies if I missed anyone glaring.