2018 Ontario Provincials preview

Lisgar’s attendance streak is old enough to vote.

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Roughly 40 teams from across Ontario will gather next week to determine the provincial SchoolReach champion. It is the most-attended Reach tournament of the year and is usually a springboard for the eventual national champions.

The format should still be similar to that of previous years. Five pools of eight teams will run a round robin to produce ten playoff teams. The pool winners will go through, followed by the best winning records and point totals. The ten playoff teams then play a modified elimination bracket to qualify the three Ontario teams heading to Nationals.

Like last year (see the 2017 preview post), I will give an assessment of the contenders. I group them into tiers of five; it is difficult to give a clear single rank to teams with most data unavailable, and the tiers would suggest that each pool should have one team from each tier. There is likely some bias towards teams that have reported results – I couldn’t predict the 11th place team from Windsor last year, for example.

Here are the contenders, listed only in alphabetical order within tiers:

Tier 1 (should win pool)

London Central SS

  • 2017 provincials result: 5th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2007, 2009, 2014)

Central has results from the UTS fall tournament (2nd, 149%) and a mirror of the Lisgar tournament (1st, 115%). They may have lost to Martingrove in the fall, but have handily got past any other contenders they have faced. They haven’t faced the main UTS team, though, and that will probably stop them from claiming another provincial title. They are in a good spot for a Nationals qualification.

Martingrove CI

  • 2017 provincials result: 3rd
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2013, 2015-16)

Martingrove will be vying for an incredible (for Ontario) sixth consecutive Nationals qualification. They won the “provincials preview” UTS tournament (1st, 123%) and breezed through their region (1st, 183%). Their underlying numbers are not as strong as some earlier years, though, and they may be vulnerable in the playoffs.

University of Toronto Schools

  • 2017 provincials result: 1st
  • Best provincial result (on file): 1st (2001-04, 2008, 2012, 2017)

There’s no skirting around it, UTS is the favourite. In Reach and quizbowl, they haven’t lost to another school, and their only statistically measured result with the main team, the Lisgar tournament (1st, 144%), is miles ahead of anyone else. They will have a heavy dose of substitutions during the prelims and early playoffs, but the B team’s equally impressive results during the year will keep the wins coming.

Upper Canada College

  • 2017 provincials result: 4th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2016)

UCC has quietly grown to a semifinal lock in recent years. I only have their UTS tournament (17th, 144%), but I think they were victims of the very unbalanced morning pool situation – they got the points, but had to face all the contenders. Hopefully, the provincial pools will be more stable and give them another high seed.

Westmount SS

  • 2017 provincials result: 8th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 7th (2004)

Westmount has been the busiest team all year, playing any tournament they can find. They did well at the UTS tournament (4th, 179%) and regionals (1st, 184%) but got four losses to Central at the Lisgar mirror (2nd, 104%). In quizbowl, they were regularly second to UTS, but didn’t do well in History Bowl. Westmount will be hoping that all this practice makes perfect, and they have an outside chance of being the first Hamilton team at Nationals since the early 1990s.

Tier 2 (should make playoffs)

The Academy for Gifted Children (PACE)

  • 2017 provincials result: 7th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2013)

I actually don’t know if PACE qualified, and have no results for them. This is entirely a rank based on their reputation; the years they make provincials, they almost always make the playoffs. In the event that PACE didn’t qualify, the regional representative (such as Newmarket) would probably take their place in the tiers.

Glebe CI

  • 2017 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 8th (2015)

Glebe has never been eliminated in the provincial prelims, therefore, they will make playoffs. More seriously, they have been somewhat of a middling team all year, including at the Lisgar tournament (9th, 83%), but produced a surprise at regionals (1st, 192%) with the best R-value of the year that has been collected. Glebe’s other provincial runs were surprisingly good compared to their regular season performances, so perhaps they are attuned to pure SchoolReach format.

Lisgar CI

  • 2017 provincials result: 2nd
  • Best provincial result (on file): 2nd (2008, 2015, 2017)

Lisgar’s lineup is entirely different from last year’s national champions. They have been active this year as usual, but fall short to other busy contenders like UTS and Westmount. Their lineup appeared at UTS (7th, 135%) and regionals (2nd, 180%), but was split over the B and C teams at their hosted tournament. Lisgar has enough strength to get through the first day, but they will likely have to meet a team in the playoffs they have lost to earlier in the year.

Royal St. George’s College

  • 2017 provincials result: 9th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 9th (2017)

RSGC predictions always burn me. They have not yet been able to convert their dominance of History Bowl into Reach success. I’ve had them as potential national qualifiers in the past two years, but they only made playoffs once in that time. This year, I am putting them in the second tier range; they still have their best player, but a lot of his supporting cast from previous years have graduated. RSGC could also desperately use a provincials set that isn’t relying on recycled material from past years.

White Oaks SS

  • 2017 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 11th (2015)

White Oaks has never made provincial playoffs before, but they look like the best of the midfield. At the UTS tournament (13th, 120%), the only teams with better R-values than them are already higher on this list. They pulled off an impressive 390PPG during their regional playoffs, but I don’t count elimination playoffs in R-value calculations (it messes up strength of schedule – they would be listed at 221% otherwise!).

Tier 3 (could make playoffs)

Abbey Park HS

  • 2017 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): no appearance

Abbey Park beat OTHS to be the other Halton representative. They put up higher scores than White Oaks in the regional playoffs, but lost the final. Abbey Park has never been to provincials (the school is younger than my records), but the good regional run and some History Bowl preparation could lead to a nice provincial debut for the team.

Michael Power – St. Joseph HS

  • 2017 provincials result: 26th
  • Best provincial result (on file): 15th (2013)

MPSJ once again got through regionals (2nd, 131%) ahead of other teams with higher R-values, but their result at UTS (15th, 95%) still suggests they could pull off a top 15 finish. They haven’t made it to the playoffs before, however, so they will need to give their best performances of the year during the prelims to achieve that.

Nepean HS

  • 2017 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): 23rd (2016)

Nepean should do better than their single previous appearance, when they were thrown into the 2016 pool of death. While they finished behind Glebe and Lisgar at regionals (3rd, 159%), they will still put up competitive numbers to justify Ottawa’s three qualification spots. Nepean was probably equal with Glebe up until the regional tournament, and could be a worthy opponent to a team in a higher tier.

The Scarborough winner

  • 2017 provincials result: N/A (Neil McNeil was 14th)
  • Best provincial result (on file): N/A

I don’t know who won Scarborough, but the region should produce a team in these tiers. Agincourt at UTS (10th, 102%) gives the best estimate of where a Scarborough team might finish.

Toronto Montessori Schools

  • 2017 provincials result: DNQ
  • Best provincial result (on file): no appearance

TMS is another first-timer that could make a good provincial debut. This team has grown quickly from an exploratory visit at Lisgar two years ago to a regional winner. They put up mid-tier numbers at UTS (11th, 82%) and the Lisgar set mirror (3rd, 84%), but winning the York region over traditional favourites like CHAT and Bayview should now put them on other teams’ radar. They have demonstrated an ability to get wins even with lower PPGs, but I don’t think they’ll make it to playoffs.


There is a fair bit of stability at the top, with the only teams from last year’s playoffs not mentioned being Assumption (did not qualify out of Halton) and Merivale (did not participate in Ottawa).

Some other teams I considered, but didn’t select, are Centennial CVI (12th and 77% at UTS), Glenforest SS (the Peel winner over teams like Heart Lake and Mayfield), Almonte DHS (10th and 69% at Lisgar), and teams from Waterloo or Niagara. I don’t want to place them in a fourth tier, though, because at that level you run into lots of teams with no results to use.

Overall, UTS, London Central, and Martingrove look like the contenders for the three Nationals spots. There could be a surprise playoff appearance by a team not on my radar, but as last year’s preview showed, provincial results are becoming more forecastable.

I will be at provincials this year without attachment to any team. This will give me some flexibility to find games I want to see. This blog will not be updated with any results until I return, but I will try to give some reports on my Twitter feed.

Good luck to all the provincial competitors!

Surprise results

UTS takes a loss?

The last regional tournament, Ottawa, finally concluded this week. After a final round robin between the top 4 of Lisgar CI, Glebe CI, Nepean HS, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier SS, Glebe won all three matches and won the region. This is Glebe’s first regional title in the SchoolReach era. Glebe, Lisgar, and Nepean were invited to provincials.

The results are found here. Additionally, the table kept by the coordinators is found here. The Ottawa results boosted the set PPG overall for regionals, making Glebe’s 192% R-value the new overall leader of reported results. Glebe “benefited” from a very tough strength of schedule where they faced top teams over and over again, but they managed to earn lots of points in those matches, including a sweep in the final round robin. There has only been one instance so far of a team reaching 190% in regionals and not making it to Nationals, but calling Glebe “nationals-bound” would be an unexpected surprise. Nevertheless, Glebe has made Ontario playoffs in all of their provincial appearances (a better record than UTS, Lisgar, Martingrove, et al), and even before regionals I considered them provincial playoff level.

Lisgar and Nepean put up R-values of 180% and 159%, which feel more reasonable. Lisgar will probably be a second-tier playoff team, while Nepean seems just outside the playoffs in the 11-20 range.

For the Ottawa region, there is definitely concern about attendance. While many signed up at the start of the year (perhaps automatically by school secretaries), the final day ended with ten teams. Three provincial invites is quite rich for that level of participation, even with the historically strong record of Ottawa teams. Considering that there are more populous regions out there with fewer invites, I would not be surprised to see future cuts to the Ottawa portion of the provincials field.

Last week also saw the downtown Toronto History Bowl qualifier. Results are in this PDF. UTS A won the senior final over Royal St. George’s College, though earlier in the day, RSGC handed UTS their first competitive loss this season (from a team other than UTS B). History Bowl is definitely RSGC’s forte, and a back-of-napkin calculation has RSGC at 145% “R-value” in the field compared to 139% for UTS A. History Bowl is not SchoolReach, however, and UTS is probably more well-rounded in the other subjects. At the other end of this spectrum, Westmount is not as strong in History Bowl, but an 89% R-value is surprising. One of Westmount’s losses was to Abbey Park, so perhaps keep an eye out for them at provincials.

Almost all the useful information I can expect to get before provincials has been gathered. All that is left is the Hamilton mirror of Lisgar’s independent tournament, which can be used to measure some GTA teams against provincials-bound UTS, Lisgar, Glebe, and Almonte. I have pretty much settled on my Ontario playoff predictions, but the release will wait until early May.

Super Saturday

Three events to wrap up 2017

Yesterday saw a small flurry of tournaments to end the 2017 calendar year. Teams got one more chance to test their skill before most circuits start their SchoolReach regionals in late January and February.

In actual SchoolReach, Kennebecasis Valley HS hosted their leg of the New Brunswick tour. Younger divisions were well-populated, but the senior level drew just 5 teams. Oromocto HS and Bernice McNaughton HS made their first senior appearances of the year. KV’s “A” team once again swept the field, and they finished with a 260-220 final over Bernice McNaughton. The New Brunswick circuit reconvenes in February.

U of T’s “novice” NAQT event was the big draw of the day. Despite the title, all levels of teams participated. Chaminade, UTS, Westmount, White Oaks, and several anonymized clubs made up the 12-team field. UTS A handily won the tournament, with their closest match coming against their own B team, who finished tied for second. An anonymous school from Richmond Hill (they have a lengthy tenure in GTA tournaments), Westmount, and a solo player from upstate New York rounded out the top five. Stats from the Toronto event are here.

Carleton also hosted an event using the question set from Toronto. Seven teams from Almonte, Ashbury, Colonel By, Lisgar, and Nepean participated. This was Ashbury’s first appearance in true quizbowl, though in the past they had played SchoolReach and History Bowl. I had to leave early, but Lisgar’s MVP made his first appearance this year and helped the A team to convincing wins. Stats from Carleton are now available here.

Hamilton is also starting up their SchoolReach regional league, but the championship won’t be decided until spring.

Now that there is a competition down-time for holidays and/or exams, I will again go on a short hiatus. I will probably get one post each in December and January before the season restarts.

Local introductions

Getting to know you…

The big UTS tournament introduced the contenders, but now the local events have started up.

New Brunswick had its first SchoolReach tournament on Saturday, held at Sugarloaf Senior HS. There were four teams at the senior level and ten in the intermediate level. Kennebecasis Valley HS “A” went undefeated in their double round-robin and won the tournament. Fredericton HS was the only other representation at the senior level, but hopefully there will be more variety of schools as the regional tournaments move on to other parts of the province.

On the quizbowl front, McMaster hosted “MacIntro III” last week. UTS, Westmount, and a team that needs anonymity were in attendance. UTS was still not at full strength, but convincingly swept the field and answered roughly 80% of the questions they heard. Westmount and the “A” team from the other school also put up strong numbers that could have won in a different field. Stats for the tournament are here.

The following weekend, Lisgar hosted with that set of questions. This brought out local teams, including some that don’t play in the Ottawa SchoolReach league. Ten teams from seven schools participated, with Colonel By SS going undefeated. Stats for the tournament are here. Colonel By and Lisgar did not run their true “A” teams out of respect for the “novice” spirit of the tournament. I think Glebe was missing one of their “A” players, but they and Nepean are close to what to expect for regional competition later this year. With Colonel By not in the SchoolReach league, those two will be in a tight fight for the provincial qualifications (assuming Lisgar is already in the mix for one of the spots).

U of Toronto and Carleton U will run quizbowl tournaments on December 2 that will bring out more “A” teams. New Brunswick also continues their SchoolReach regionals that day.

If tournaments are starting up in your part of Canada, I’d be happy to share it. Local tournaments are a great way to warm up before the official events in the spring.

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!

2017 Ottawa Regionals, Day 1

Fastest results in Canada!

15 senior teams gathered for the first day of the 2017 Ottawa SchoolReach League. Two pools, seeded by last year’s rankings, played a round-robin among themselves. The top four teams of each pool will proceed to the upper bracket on the second day for another round-robin to determine the final league standings.

The league coordinators, with a refreshing air of transparency, kept live results and scores. I have converted those results to a database table with my enigmatic R-value.

The upper bracket will have Lisgar, Earl of March, St. Pius X, and St. Paul from Group A and Glebe, Merivale, Osgoode, and Nepean from Group B. Group A was fairly easy for Lisgar, who handily put up another >190% R-value, while St. Pius X was a surprise good result. Group B was very tight between the top four, as shown by some game results:

  • Osgoode 270, Nepean 250
  • Nepean 270, Glebe 260 (after tiebreakers)
  • Glebe 280, Merivale 270 (with a blank shootout- 80 “missing” points that could have been used to shape the game)

Those four teams and Earl of March all have R-values over 100% and should have a chance at a provincials qualification. Of them, only Osgoode has never qualified before.

All will be known next week. Expect more razor-edge games!