2018-19 Preview

Do UTS titles come in pairs?

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Welcome to the 2018-19 season! 2018 was a very competitive year with several strong teams and players, and hopefully we’re in for another treat this year. I don’t have all the insights or predictions, but let’s take a look at the different regions of Canada.

British Columbia

I am still mostly in the dark about the west coast. I can rarely notice strong teams from there, yet they can still easily make quarterfinals or higher at Nationals. Last year, those teams gave a scare to the Ontario powerhouses, and if any of them have a good chunk of returning players, they might snap up a semifinal spot or two. The three most frequent competitors are St. George’s, Sir Winston Churchill, and Eric Hamber.

Alberta

The Renert School is the little school that could, pulling off the provincial title last year over Old Scona. Expect these two to be the front-runners again. Old Scona has made it as far as the national semifinals before, while Renert will hope to use their returning talent and crack the quarterfinals after three straight years of consolation runs.

Manitoba

Kelvin HS has carried the banner for Manitoba for several years, and another national playoff run should be in the cards. St. Paul and St. John-Ravenscourt are other regulars, but we may catch a surprise from some of the revived clubs from the CBC championship days (River East or Dakota, for example).

Ontario

Ontario will probably be UTS’ to lose, even after the graduation of talent. They had a strong group of junior players split amongst the “A”, “B”, and “C” teams at independent tournaments, and will surely coalesce into a strong senior squad this year. In London, Central is expected to yet again take the city crown, while Banting is probably going to drop off after their star player’s departure. In Hamilton, Westmount will easily take the city and assemble a good mix of returning players in an attempt to do better than their somewhat premature playoff exit last May. Whether it’s White Oaks, OTHS, Abbey Park, or Assumption, the Halton region will be solid contenders for provincial playoffs again and many of them will be on preview at independent events this year. In Toronto, UTS and Martingrove will continue to be national contenders, while RSGC will be in tough against local competitors after the departure of their cohort that gave four great years of growth. In Ottawa, both Lisgar and Glebe will return the majority of their players – they will surely lock the city finals and could both reach at least the second round of provincial playoffs. For the province on the whole, though, Ontario will probably not be as strong as in 2018. The representatives will all be in the mix for national semifinals, but they could be vulnerable to a strong squad from another province.

Quebec

Quebec is always impossible to predict. A CEGEP will likely claim the provincial title, but CEGEP team composition, by rule, changes every year. It’s hard to preview them during the year as well, because CEGEPs would be excluded from Montreal History Bowl and most events in other provinces.

New Brunswick

This is probably the easiest provincial title to pick. Kennebecasis Valley barely faced any other schools en route to their senior title last year, and while those other schools will have 2018 juniors come up to senior competition, so too will the KV club that picked up several junior division titles along the way. KV will be focusing on the out-of-province events to keep pace for their nationals run.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia was down to five teams last year, and I don’t think the prospects for improvement are very good for 2019. Nova Scotia (and to some extent, New Brunswick) did much better back when Dalhousie ran independent tournaments; now the university takes the role of sponsoring the official SchoolReach tournament with much less publicity and prizes. Any ambitious teams in the province should consider tapping into the New Brunswick “regular season” events that run separate from provincials.

As the season progresses, we’ll get a clearer picture of the contenders. UTS’ event in October and Lisgar’s event in February will be the big results haul. Teams would do well to try to play on these sets, either at the main site or a satellite tournament run in another region. UTS tends to be a good preview for Ontario Provincials, while Lisgar gives the Nationals snapshot (with its incredible coincidence of the runner-up school getting the national title). Not only are these independent events good tournament preparation, but for Ontario teams, the results can help your cause for better pool placements at provincials.

Good luck to all the teams this year, and don’t be too inflated or discouraged by this preview. The year has only just begun, and everything is still to be played for. Have a great season!

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.

After the deadline

I wonder who won Toronto?

Ontario SchoolReach regions had to determine qualifiers by April 13, so almost everything is wrapped up. There are a few more regions sorted out.

Cobourg CI won the Northumberland region this week. They regularly represent their region at provincials, but are not expected to break out of the bottom half of the field.

UTS won their downtown Toronto region. This is not a surprise; they will be heading to provincials as the favourites.

Royal St George’s College won their downtown Toronto region (separate from UTS and UCC) in a final over Bloor. RSGC has been more successful in History Bowl than SchoolReach; they are almost equal to UTS in the former but struggle in the provincials of the latter. I have been guilty of hyping them in previous years, yet now that the main players are in their senior year, I have lower expectations. The Toronto region of History Bowl this weekend will give some more insight.

York (South) region finished on Thursday with Toronto Montessori Schools taking the title over St. Theresa CSS. This is TMS’ first provincials qualification, and have been quickly improving after embracing the independent circuit a few years ago. If the second invite is offered, St. Theresa will probably finish in the bottom half.

Despite the deadline, the Ottawa region is not finished. In fact, it only just started on Thursday. Because of scheduling problems, Ottawa will finish late and will have three invites set aside. Lisgar CI went undefeated in their pool with 406 PPG but a paltry 0.73 strength of schedule (the lowest of any Regional team so far). Glebe CI also went undefeated with 374 PPG and a much tougher 1.07 SOS. The pools were not well-balanced, but it was fairly split amongst the known teams – it was the surprise strength of the lower teams in one pool that made it lopsided. Nepean, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Blyth Academy, and St. Paul round out the upcoming top bracket. Ottawa convenors will be updating scores here.

Regionals will conclude eventually, then I can start previewing the Ontario provincial field.

 

More scores

Filling up the provincial fields.

Since my last post, we’ve had a bunch of results leading up to provincials.

Bernice McNaughton hosted the last New Brunswick regional tournament before provincials. Kennebecasis Valley HS won all their matches again to take the victory. Oromocto and Bernice McNaughton were the other schools in the senior division. Hopefully, the provincial tournament will bring out all the other New Brunswick teams; even if a KV title is a foregone conclusion, there is still another nationals spot for the province.

Almonte DHS got through the TV playoffs of Valley Reach and qualified for Ontario provincials again. They have done so several times this decade, but have usually finished mid-field. Despite low finishes when they come to Ottawa, they are taking the time this year to get the extra competition in against strong teams, and this group is one of their best.

Vincent Massey SS won the Windsor-Essex region. Massey is no stranger to provincials, and made the playoffs during the TVO years, but they are probably looking at a midfield finish.

The Halton mega-region wrapped up this week. White Oaks SS and Abbey Park HS (both from the Oakville sub-region) made it through the top 16 elimination playoffs. The summary with playoff scores is found here. Despite their large size, the Halton region still depends on waiting lists to get more teams in; Oakville Trafalgar HS and T.A. Blakelock HS are the semifinalists hoping for some declined provincial invites. White Oaks is a regular attendee at provincials, but has not yet made it to the playoffs despite several finishes in the 11-20 range. They will be knocking on the door this year. Abbey Park has earned their first qualification.

Hamilton also finished with a rare, but statistically valuable, bracketed playoff. Westmount SS built on their good performances throughout the year and handily swept the region with almost double the PPG of any other team. Results are here. There will be further adjustments after results from late regions, but Westmount’s R-value of 196% sits as the third best regional result (after Lisgar 2017 and 2007). Westmount will be neck-and-neck with Martingrove CI (updated to 195%) and will be vying for a nationals qualification.

Most regions are finished, but Ottawa hasn’t even started yet. Ottawa’s schedule and invitations will be a bit of a mess as it leads up to provincial qualifications, but that will be the primary coverage of Reach Scores in this lull before provincials.

Congratulations to all the qualified teams and good luck in your provincial tournaments!

Return of the contenders

Familiar faces in action

All of the top four teams from Reach Nationals last year were in action this week.

First up, the regional tournament for Etobicoke was settled. Martingrove CI handily beat the field to take yet another local title, with Michael Power-St. Joseph HS making a steady habit of finishing second over the years and getting the other qualifying spot. The Chaminade team, which is becoming quite active after a long dormancy, only managed third and did not qualify. The results are posted on the database. Martingrove’s 182% R-value (on small sample size) is similar to the 190% they put up in last year’s regional, and, along with a good win at UTS’ fall tournament, they are in good position for another nationals run.

New Brunswick held their last regional tournament before provincials. Only four teams from three schools (Kennebecasis Valley HS, Bernice McNaughton HS, and Fredericton HS) participated in the senior division, though. KV took another undefeated run and will be the favourites for the provincial title, but the second representative from New Brunswick seems very much up for grabs.

While not expected to be a contender, Lockerby Composite School won the Sudbury region this week. Sudbury has seen quite a variety of teams representing the city this decade, and Lockerby will make their first appearance since 2010.

The Ontario Quizbowl Association held their provincial championships on Saturday. Chaminade, Lisgar, UTS, White Oaks, and certain teams from Hamilton and Richmond Hill attended. Stats are here. UTS A won every match except one against their junior team, reminiscent of the Lisgar tournament. Their victory gives them the first ONQBA title awarded to a team outside Ottawa. The Hamilton contender put up surprisingly close numbers to UTS, and beat Lisgar twice to earn a solid second place and consideration for a strong run at SchoolReach provincials. Lisgar is definitely noticing the absence of last year’s players, but they should be good enough to make playoffs in May. White Oaks, the other team yesterday that could be in the Reach provincials field, is a step down and once again looks like they’ll be stuck a win or two below playoffs. Impressively, though, White Oaks gave UTS A their closest match that didn’t involve their own school.

Lots of regions are wrapping up (though Ottawa hasn’t even started yet…), and I’ll try to put up whatever results I am provided. I’ll be off next weekend but should return with hopefully a clearer picture of the remaining events of the year.

Ontario goings-on

Qualifiers!

Here are some SchoolReach regional updates as leagues start determining who gets to move on to provincials.

I know of four qualifiers so far. Cameron Heights CI (Waterloo), Glenforest SS and St. Joseph CSS (Peel) and Stratford Central SS (Huron) have earned their invites. Other than St. Joseph – though even then, I may be confusing them with the dozens of “St. Joe’s” in Ontario – the remaining schools will be attending for the first time in my records (mostly back to 1999). Waterloo CI, Heart Lake and Mayfield, and F.E. Madill, respectively, had been the “usual suspects” of those regions.

Valley Reach has Carleton Place HS, Almonte DHS, Renfrew CI, and another school (unknown to me) in their top four. Games will start being televised this week, so please don’t phone up your grandmother in Pembroke for answers!

The Windsor-Essex region has Assumption at 9-0 and Vincent Massey at 11-1 with results still to come, though the qualifier will likely be one of these two with a large gap back to third place St. Joseph’s (11th at 2017 provincials).

The ONQBA provincial championship will also be held next weekend. Chaminade, Lisgar, the anonymous Richmond Hill school, UTS, Westmount and White Oaks will be sending teams to Toronto for the quizbowl title. UTS A is the favourite and will be looking to take the title away from Ottawa for the first time ever. Lisgar and Westmount should be close and act as a preview of how well they can do at Reach provincials. White Oaks had a high R-value at UTS’ fall event despite a low placement, and while they probably won’t be at the strength of those top 3, it will be a measuring stick to see if they’re good enough to make their first jump into Ontario Reach playoffs, after years of finishing in the 11-20 range.

Congratulations to the Ontario qualifiers so far, and good luck to the remaining teams!

Quick updates

NB & IHBB

Here are some quick updates for the week:

Kennebecasis Valley HS continued their lengthy run of success on the New Brunswick circuit, with their senior team sweeping the field to victory at the Nackawic leg of their regional tournaments. Fredericton HS came second, while KVHS also won in the junior division.

From a few weeks ago, Royal St. George’s College comfortably won the southern Ontario site of History Bowl. Their closest margin of victory was 70 points, and they swept the field of “Central Richmond Hill”, Westmount, and Chaminade. A member of RSGC also won the individual History Bee at that event. Ottawa’s site will be next on the agenda on March 3.

If anyone was curious about the recordings from Lisgar’s Reach tournament, they won’t be released until at least after Westmount uses the questions. The questions may possibly be used elsewhere as well.