2017 Ontario Provincials preview

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It’s a Mother’s Day tradition: 40 teams from across Ontario assemble in Scarborough for the largest gathering of Reach players of the year. Some are there for the first time; others attended back in the Kingston or London days. Everyone is there for one purpose: to determine the 3 Ontario representatives at Nationals.

The tournament format has been roughly the same since 2005. Five pools of eight teams play a round-robin on Sunday. The pool winners take the first five seeds in the playoffs, while the next top five teams fill out the remainder for ten playoff teams in total. Teams are sorted first by wins, then by points earned. In the playoffs, there are five first-round games; the winners proceed and the highest-scoring loser is reprieved and faces the highest remaining seed in round 2. Six teams play in round 2, with three winners and another highest-scoring loser (although twice a single team has been the highest-scoring loser both times). The final four then have semifinals and finals to determine the top three teams.

Last year’s provincials (database entry here) was marred by unbalanced pools. It’s no secret that all this tracking of results and development of statistical rankings is a consequence of that bad tournament, and to that end, I have submitted projections for the top teams at this year’s tournament. I have no expectation that they will be followed exactly, but I set it up for flexibility because there are more considerations than just making a snake draft for pools (not having teams from the same region together; minimizing matchups from last year, accounting for drops, etc).

Here are my recommendations for the top three “tiers” of teams (15 teams in total). Within each tier, teams are listed alphabetically, not by my judgment of precise rank. Ideally, each pool would have one team from each tier, then sort the remaining teams for the geographic diversity.

Tier 1 (should win pool)

Lisgar CI

  • 2016 provincials result: 3rd
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2015)

Lisgar is the strongest team for which we have statistical evidence, thanks to an R-value of 216% at Regionals. They’ve been prepping through quizbowl events in Ontario and New York and writing the Lisgar independent tournament. The entire team that finished third at the 2016 Nationals will return for their senior year. They did have a reality check with only a 4th place finish at the single-subject History Bowl last month, though.

London Central SS

  • 2016 provincials result: 4th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2007, 2009, 2014)

I have no statistical information on Central this year. Unfortunately, I can only place them here based on their consistent track record of finishing highly at provincials.

Martingrove CI

  • 2016 provincials result: 1st
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2013, 2015-16)

Martingrove has been in the Ontario final for four straight years. What UTS was for this tournament in the 2000s, MCI has assumed for the 2010s. Their regional R-value of 190% is also very high, and they will definitely be a deep playoff threat.

Royal St. George’s College

  • 2016 provincials result: 26th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 14th (2015)

RSGC is the biggest leap of faith for me; I was burned last year when an unexpected team composition showed up to provincials. This year, the group of grade 11 students should be present, the group who last year finished third at UTS’ independent tournament behind UTS and KVHS and ahead of Nationals qualifiers UCC and Central. I saw this team back as grade 9 players at the first History Bowl, and predicted “the next Colonel By” (a single-year cohort that gels together for eventual dominance). I think they will do well in the round-robin, but could stumble from first-year jitters in the playoffs. It’s all a warm-up for 2018, though.

University of Toronto Schools

  • 2016 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2001-04, 2008, 2012)

UTS is coming hot off of History Bowl success, and their performance at Lisgar’s independent tournament showed they aren’t limited to one subject. This year, there were no surprises for them in the Toronto region, and they’re back at provincials to restart their attendance streak. A few players are still in grade 11, so expect fireworks to continue next year as well.

Tier 2 (should make playoffs)

The Academy for Gifted Children (PACE)

  • 2016 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2013)

PACE is a strange case: they don’t always qualify/attend, but when they do, they usually make playoffs. This could be a consequence of competing in the somewhat-strong York/Richmond Hill region. With regional winner Bayview not likely to attend, they will be the standard-bearer for the north Toronto suburbs.

Centennial CVI

  • 2016 provincials result: 9th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2011)

Centennial usually makes the playoffs, but they do it with relatively weak R-values. This can be a sign that they pull out wins by punching above their weight, so stronger teams should watch out for team. CCVI also has a great attendance streak stretching back to 2005.

Merivale HS

  • 2016 provincials result: 8th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2000)

Like PACE, Merivale is stuck in a tough region and just getting to provincials is usually a sign that they will make the playoffs. Their regional R-value of 148% should be enough background for a playoff appearance. Once in, they have been known for upsets…

Upper Canada College

  • 2016 provincials result: 2nd
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2016)

UCC is finally getting through the Toronto region regularly to reach provincials, with a second-round appearance in 2015 and a great run out of the tough pool to second place last year. They probably aren’t quite tier 1, but they should be a credible threat to knock off a top seed in the first round.

Westmount SS

  • 2016 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 7th (2004)

Westmount has been on the wrong side of the playoff bubble a few times, and their regional R-value of 130% may be pushing it to make the top 10 this year. However, they have a good quizbowl season behind them, and the slow shift to that kind of content in Reach questions could benefit them over other teams that still depend on reading old packs for practice material.

Tier 3 (could make playoffs)

Assumption CSS

  • 2016 provincials result: 29th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2010)

Assumption’s record at provincials is all over the map. They could go to Nationals one year and finish bottom half at provincials the next. It’s impossible to predict for this team, but good coaching makes them a serious-effort team, and writing a (middle school level) tournament is a good way to practice. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Michael Power – St. Joseph HS

  • 2016 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 15th (2013)

MPSJ’s regional R-value of 135% is higher than Tier 2 team Westmount, but I have them ranked lower for two reasons. 1: historically, they finish in the teens and haven’t made playoffs; and 2: the R-value benefited from finishing ahead of a stronger team (Bishop Allen). They could get their best-ever result this year, though.

Neil McNeil HS

  • 2016 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): no appearance

Woburn’s run at provincials has apparently ended, with Neil McNeil taking the Scarborough region that has usually been dominated by Woburn and Agincourt (who both regularly finish in the top half). I have no record of Neil McNeil at provincials in the modern era – in fact, I only know of their 1969 title!

The Oakville winner (possibly White Oaks SS or Oakville-Trafalgar HS)

  • 2016 provincials result: 15th (WOSS) or 13th (OTHS)
  • Best provincial result (on file): 11th (WOSS; 2015) or 4th (OTHS; 2003-04)

I don’t know who won Oakville, but White Oaks has decent results this year. I figure it will be either them or a team that performed better than them at regionals, maybe OTHS. Both teams have been in the teens in recent provincials.

Edited to add: as seen in the comments, OTHS has qualified for provincials.

Waterloo CI

  • 2016 provincials result: 5th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 5th (2016)

I’m actually only assuming Waterloo CI won their region (if they didn’t, I gave a note to elevate Peel winner Heart Lake SS). Waterloo had a good run the last few years, but graduations are taking their toll and they have lost ground to some other teams, as seen at McMaster’s quizbowl tournament. They should still be a top half team, though, especially with a background of quizbowl practice.

And there are my top 15. I have assumed no attendance for Bayview, CHAT, and appeals by other Scarborough/York/Ottawa/Toronto teams. There are still some potential surprises, though, thanks to my complete lack of knowledge on some teams and regions. Is first-time provincial attendee Monarch Park, runner-up to RSGC, a threat? How about Brampton or Pickering winners? All those Niagara peninsula reps? Can a Northern Ontario team make playoffs for the first time since Manitoulin in 2003? Does Kingston even exist? Will there still be traffic light trivia at the gala dinner? How many slices of pizza will players get at lunch? All these important questions and more will be answered next week at the 2017 Ontario SchoolReach provincial championship!

Views from IHBB Nationals

This tournament is history!

The Canadian History Bee and Bowl happened today at Lisgar CI. I don’t participate in IHBB events any longer, but I decided to drop by for some observations.

This event was probably the only real chance to preview Ontario teams before Ontario Reach provincials. It’s not the best comparison because the tournament is single-subject and uses a different question style, but there is enough to give qualitative impressions of teams.

In the senior division, UTS defeated Bayview SS in the final, and Royal St. George’s College beat Lisgar for third place. As far as I could tell, these were “A” teams, though UTS rotated through substitutes regularly. Bayview’s appearance in the final was quite a surprise after upsetting the #1 seeded RSGC in the semifinal.

RSGC earned that #1 seed, though. The competition was strong and they earned an important win over Lisgar in the round-robin. I was uncertain about the team going in, having no information available, but RSG proved themselves and should be a formidable opponent in the SchoolReach season. A drawback is that they are very dependent on a single player, so an off-game from that player can lead to upsets like the one seen today. Nevertheless, RSG deserves a good seed for Reach (I said that last year, but that’s another story…).

UTS thoroughly earned that championship, too. Their route to victory required beating Lisgar twice, who would have been entering the tournament as favourites. I am not sure if the UTS team prefers history and that gave them the edge, or whether they have improved in all subjects since Lisgar’s February tournament. I would consider UTS the #1 pre-provincials team.

Westmount was the other Ontario school in the senior field. They have a good knowledge base and they surprised me with some difficult answers they earned, but they are just a tier down from the top teams that participated today. I still think they would be on the bubble for Ontario Reach playoffs, like most past Hamilton representatives.

Finally, another impressive characteristic of the senior field was the performance of grade 11 players. If the teams were that good this year, imagine 2018!

2017 Windsor/Essex Regionals results

So many St. Joe’s!

The results from the Windsor/Essex County SchoolReach league have been collected. I have put the results in the database. St. Joseph’s CHS from Windsor won the title in a best-of-three final over Assumption College CHS.

Windsor has historically been dominated by Vincent Massey SS, though the other schools have made it to provincials in recent years. Massey has made it twice to the Ontario semifinals in the past, but Windsor teams have struggled to make playoffs since. 2017 will be, I believe, St. Joseph’s second time at provincials (it’s hard to keep track with so many schools having a St. Joseph namesake).

There are no scores available for this league. The round-robin consisted of 3-game series being held between two schools at one site, and a representative at the site reported the wins and losses to the league coordinator. The lack of scores means, unfortunately, no R-values are available and I cannot objectively measure their strength against other Ontario teams.

2017 Etobicoke Regionals results

Small but powerful

Thanks to Isaac’s contribution, I have the Etobicoke league results. I have uploaded them to the database, and have also updated the set PPG for the other regions, which slightly affects R-values.

Etobicoke is a small league, but it is the toughest so far with the highest average scores. This is partly attributed to Martingrove CI having a larger footprint than Lisgar CI in Ottawa or Westmount SS in Hamilton, but the other teams in Etobicoke also put up strong numbers. In the end, Martingrove won and Michael Power-St. Joseph HS finished second and qualified for provincials.

Martingrove’s R-value of 190% is pretty good. In a fair provincial tournament, it should be a Nationals-bound value, unless some other teams like UTS or London Central SS also put up amazing numbers. Martingrove is definitely within striking distance of Lisgar, and could beat them if they met in the playoffs (or heaven forbid, a pool).

Michael Power’s R-value of 129% is on par with about the lower limit of provincial qualifications that aren’t awarded simply by winning a region. It would be a struggle to make Ontario playoffs at that level, but if they get themselves in an easy pool with only one team stronger than them, they might get the needed 6-1 record. In recent history, they have finished with a rank in the teens.

A little bit of history: Michael Power occupies the building that used to house Vincent Massey CI. That was the team that won the title twice in the CBC era. Their first title was the first national season of Reach for the Top, and their second was in the 1978 national championship. The 1978 team played still-participating Richview CI in the first regional round, and that Richview team featured a young Stephen Harper.

Once again, thanks for the results, and I’ll be on the lookout for more!

2017 Hamilton Regionals results

Double the elimination, double the stats, double the fun!

Hamilton wrapped up its SchoolReach league earlier this year. Thanks to the coordinator, I have the tournament results, conveniently placed here on the database. Westmount SS beat Hillfield Strathallan College in a final after a lengthy double-elimination playoff and qualified for provincials.

This tournament gives another data set for the 2017 Regionals set. I updated the set’s average PPG to include both sites so that R-values are comparable. Westmount’s R-value of 134% would roughly place them third at the Ottawa site, which feels appropriate for a cut-off point for provincial qualifications.

Hamilton has had decent results at provincials over the years. Their representatives recently have been Westmount, Westdale, and HSC, and those teams usually finish in the 7-12 range in the rankings for a 10-team playoff. Since 2010 (the point where I have every consecutive year), the Hamilton representative has averaged a rank of 11.0.

Then I remembered that the Hamilton representative usually gets a tough ride at provincials. 2016 had HSC lumped in a pool with the Ottawa, Toronto, and London champions, but they got through a tough SOS to the playoffs. In 2013, Westdale was in the toughest pool ever (UTS & PACE went to nationals, Brother André also made playoffs) and still finished 11th.

This inspired me to do some investigating. I looked at teams that attended each year since 2010 and averaged their final ranks and strengths of schedule. In theory, an average team should rank 20th and have an SOS of 1, with SOS getting lower as ranks get better (a higher-ranked team faced competition weaker than them). How does Hamilton compare?

Team Average rank Average SOS
Martingrove CI 2.6 0.944
London Central SS 5.6 0.956
Lisgar CI 6.1 0.941
Centennial CVI 9.4 0.959
Woburn CI 10.1 0.981
Hamilton rep 11.0 1.007
Assumption CSS 15.7 0.964

Sorry Hamilton. Martingrove, Central, and Lisgar get lower SOS because they finish so highly, but comparable teams like Centennial, Woburn, and Assumption get an easier schedule. Hamilton is the Rodney Dangerfield of Ontario provincials.

Edited to add: I must correct myself. Upon an analysis comparing rank and strength of schedule over all the provincials teams, the difference between Hamilton’s and other teams’ schedules is not statistically significant. Hamilton is higher than expected, but not by a standard deviation from the others. There are teams that had statistically significant uphill battles, but I’ll leave that for an off-season downtime post.

Anyway, once again thanks for the Hamilton regional stats, and hopefully I can get some more tournaments to further determine the strength of the teams playing this set, some of whom are qualified for a provincials pool.

2017 Ottawa Regionals results

Record-breaking!

The 2017 Ottawa SchoolReach league wrapped up today. 15 teams sorted out their year-end placements in the senior division. Lisgar CI ended as champion in a placement final over Merivale HS, with both qualifying for provincials.

I have completed the result table here. The database page also has a link to the original results document from the coordinators. Some results highlights:

  • Lisgar’s win was expected, but it was dominant. Their R-value of 210% is the highest I have on record, even higher than the low 190s Lisgar pulled in regionals during their championship years. Even more incredibly, they didn’t benefit from a high strength of schedule that helps boost most good R-values – they did it with an SOS of less than 1.
  • Merivale stepped it up on the second day. They were statistically behind Glebe after the first day, but clearly earned their second place (and qualification) today. Nepean also made a marked improvement to climb from seventh to third place.
  • St. Pius X pulled off their best-ever result with a 7th place.

I read in the lower bracket. The games were lower-scoring, but they were usually close. The 9th-place match between Mother Teresa and Cairine Wilson in particular had constant back-and-forth in answering and saw tie scores at each break.

I also, obviously, can’t discuss question content, but questions I wrote way back in 2014 started appearing. Unfortunately, I feel that the subject matter is better suited for provincials/nationals level, rather than the regional set. Then again, the regional set also had very obscure material (that I had never heard of in my years of experience), so maybe my stuff didn’t stand out too much. I’d estimate the equivalent of 25 questions across 16 rounds that were read came from my hand, so there’s still plenty more in Reach’s arsenal.

The day went smoothly. I played no part in organization other than providing a reading voice and some buzzers, so all credit goes to the coordinators that make Ottawa one of the best-run, strongest, and most transparent leagues in Canada. Also, kudos to the teams for being good sports and keeping good behaviour, even when a lower bracket match feels like an ideal time to goof off.

Now, some rest.

2017 Ottawa Regionals, Day 2 preview

Comparing results from before players were born.

The 2017 Ottawa SchoolReach league wraps up tomorrow. The top 8 teams will play a round-robin, followed by a one-game match between consecutive-ranked teams (1 vs 2, 3 vs 4, etc). The same holds true for the lower flight of seven teams.

Some teams will have a chance at their best result ever. Here’s a look at the top flight’s previous best local results, at least as far back as 1999 for the most part:

  • #1 Lisgar: 1st outright nine times (2001, 2004, 2006-07, 2010-12, 2015-16)
  • #2 Glebe: 2nd once (2015)
  • #3 Merivale: 1st outright four times (1999, 2002-03, 2013); Lisgar and Merivale had unresolved ties for 1st in 2008 and 2009
  • #4 Osgoode: 5th once (1999), but that was out of six teams; they got 7th in 2012
  • #5 Earl of March: 2nd once (2012)
  • #6 St. Pius X: 15th twice (2015, 2016); this year will be their best result
  • #7 Nepean: 1st once (1996), but I don’t have tournament details; they got 3rd in 2016
  • #8 St. Paul: 4th once (2016)

I will live-tweet results from my room as I finish them. Hopefully, a live results table will continue to be available here.

Good luck to the teams!