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!

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 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!

2017 Ottawa Regionals Preview

Where do the Gatineau teams go?

Ottawa SchoolReach league competition starts tomorrow. It is probably due for a preview.

The Ottawa league has been around since the early 1990s, and has historically fielded strong competition. Six national titles have come out of the league, more than any other (though Toronto is split into multiple leagues). Ottawa schools also took two titles in the CBC era. The league’s heyday was probably the turn of the millennium, when veteran Bell and Gloucester teams would take on the new challengers in Merivale and Lisgar.

Competition has dwindled somewhat today. Past champions Bell, Gloucester, Hillcrest, and Rideau no longer compete. Former league winners Ridgemont and Colonel By are also gone. Attendance has also dropped since the mid-2000s peak, which threatens the number of qualification spots.

One of those provincial qualification spots will likely go to Lisgar. It has since 2001, an active qualification streak longer than any other Ontario team. Don’t count chickens before they hatch, however – 2016 title favourite UTS failed to get out of their region last year.

The remaining spot (or spots, the number changes each year) will probably see the most competition. Glebe, Merivale, and Nepean have all qualified in recent years. Mother Teresa has almost always been in the city playoffs since the school was built. St. Paul and Sir Wilfrid Laurier have also just been within reach recently.

I will be at the competition. Unfortunately, arrangements will not be made for recording audio, but I will still have written updates. A lot of other Ontario regions are underway or will start soon; any results I can get will also be published.

Reach champion rankings, 2015

In 2015, I ranked all of the “Reach for the Top” national championship-winning programs. The ranks were sent out on my personal Twitter account and can probably be found with the hashtag #reachrank. These rankings are from summer 2015, but I may revisit them in the future.

It is a bit unfair to compare the CBC “Reach for the Top” and modern “SchoolReach” eras. Gameplay and preparation was different and availability of results is worse the farther back in time you go. I split the rankings into one list for each era. Cobequid Education Centre, so far the only champion in both eras, appears on both lists.

The CBC “Reach for the Top” era

  1. Lorne Jenken (AB)
  2. Gonzaga (NL)
  3. O’Leary (AB)
  4. Vincent Massey (Etobicoke, ON)
  5. Oak Bay (BC)
  6. Glenlawn (MB)
  7. Hillcrest (ON)
  8. Cobequid (NS)
  9. Roland Michener (ON)
  10. Kelvin (MB)
  11. Dakota (MB)
  12. Banting Memorial (ON)
  13. Central Peel (ON)
  14. Queen Elizabeth (NS)
  15. Deloraine (MB)
  16. Neil McNeil (ON)
  17. River East (MB)
  18. Kate Andrews (AB)
  19. Rideau (ON)

The modern “SchoolReach” era

  1. UTS (ON)
  2. Kennebecasis Valley (NB)
  3. St. George’s (BC)
  4. London Central (ON)
  5. Gloucester (ON)
  6. Martingrove (ON)
  7. Lisgar (ON)
  8. Cobequid (NS)
  9. Merivale (ON)
  10. Fredericton (NB)
  11. Woburn (ON)
  12. Saunders (ON)
  13. Bell (ON)
  14. St. Joseph’s (ON)
  15. Earl Haig (ON)
  16. Frontenac (ON)
  17. Memorial Composite (NS)
  18. Tagwi (ON)

Since those lists were written, KVHS gained another title (though still below UTS’ count of 4) and I found results from the 1990s that show more previously-unknown-to-me nationals appearances for Fredericton and Saunders. These and other factors would be taken into consideration for another ranking.