34 teams gathered at the University of Pennsylvania last Saturday, December 5th to compete at the Quaker Fall Open. The tournament featured two divisions of 17 teams each: a novice division designed for the six new-to-quizbowl schools and other new players, and an open division for more experienced teams to compete in. Friends Select A won the novice division while Wilmington Charter A won the open division.
Full stats are available here.
Friends Select A, playing in their first quizbowl tournament ever (and having only apparently practiced on buzzers once before), blew away the competition by going undefeated, with an impressive 24.27 PPB average over the course of the tournament and multiple 500+ point games. Though the novice division played on the relatively easy SCOP novice set, this is still a very strong first-time performance and speaks to a strong raw knowledge base that could translate well to higher difficulties.
Central Bucks East B used a balanced scoring attack to claim 2nd place in the novice division. Though they never had major blowout wins, they also were quite competitive in their losses and won a 3-team circle-of-death by statistical tiebreak to finish in 2nd. While many of the other Bucks County teams were eventually unable to make it, it was great to see Central Bucks East do so well.
Carver HSES A won 3rd place behind another relatively balanced scoring ensemble. This team has improved an incredible amount in less than a month thanks to an enthusiastic and experienced coach, and a large amount of interest from students that led to two full teams, plus spectators at QFO. Friends Select B finished in 4th, followed by a game Delaware Valley D team.
Among some of the other newcomers, Philadelphia Central High School‘s two teams were quite competitive, but both barely missed out on the championship bracket. They seemed to have a ton of interest and potential, so I hope to see them back at more tournaments as they build up their program. Science Leadership Academy rode the 55 PPG of 4th-leading-scorer Chucky to an up-and-down series of 3 wins and 5 losses, many of them quite close (note their solid 16.49 PPB). Norristown also notched 3 wins and Franklin Towne Charter got a win over Carver B.
The Open division saw the continued dominance of the High Tech, Wilmington Charter, and East Brunswick trio, and the rise of a new regional contender, Great Valley A. While the results mostly played out according to seedings and the national rankings, the process of generating those results led to some incredible matches.
In perhaps the match of the semester in the Mid-Atlantic, Great Valley A played neg-free to take a strong 255 to 85 lead after 12 TUs over Charter A in the semifinal matchup. Charter battled back, but GV responded with a couple powers of their own (including a daring power-vulch on TU 18) to maintain a lead. Going into TU 19, GV clung to an 85 point lead. This meant that the only way for Charter to win outright would be to power both TUs and 30 both bonuses.
And they did. After negging TU 18, Rohan (the #2 overall scorer in the open division) powered the last two TUs and the team 30’d the last two bonuses to emerge with a 340-335 win. It was an instant classic and probably drained Charter A, as they then lost the tournament final to a dominant High Tech Team (who got revenge on Charter A beating them earlier in the day) with a 535-205 win for the championship. Great Valley continued their strong play in the 3rd place game, beating East Brunswick A to claim 3rd.
Carlisle High, making their Saturday tournament (though not pyramidal, as their league uses NAQT questions) debut, chose to compete in the Open division and played quite well against the regional powerhouses. The Gunston School, out of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, got several wins and lost a few other close matches.
Overall, this tournament seemed to be a positive introduction to quizbowl for many new teams and a competitive opportunity for more established programs. Much will depend on how some of the newer schools follow-up on this tournament–hopefully they will continue to attend Saturday tournaments and work to keep learning! There’s much untapped talent yet in Pennsylvania and more tournaments like this plus the Nittany Lion Novice will help encourage the spread of good quizbowl in the state.