2017 NSC Team Qualification Guidelines

What’s New in 2016-17

We have adjusted the ratio for number of teams that qualify from Regular affiliated tournaments. It is now 10% (in the past it was 15%).

For tournaments which segregate teams into divisions from the start, a max of 50% of teams in the top division can qualify. Additionally, the lower division must not be restricted to only JV teams for the entire set of teams to count when determining field size.

Teams in the top 25 of the HSQBRank rankings (newest as of registration day) and who have otherwise qualified at that date have reserved spots in the field for 2 weeks after registration.

Qualification

There are two methods of qualifying for the 2017 NSC:
(1) finishing in a high enough place at a qualifier tournament, and
(2) making a successful application for wild-card status.

The following information explains both of those methods in detail and supersedes all previous announcements on NSC qualification.

A calendar of qualifier events and an index of qualified teams are maintained on our website.

Multiple teams from the same school may qualify for the NSC. Each team qualifying from a school must consist of a unique roster of players in order to obtain a separate bid. For instance, if two teams from the same school both finish in the top 10% at the same tournament, then both of those teams will qualify for the NSC (since they would have to have distinct players). Similarly, if a team from “City High School A” consisting of the players A, B, C and D qualified at the “Fall Invitational Tournament” and if a team from that same school labeled “City High School A” and consisting of the players E, F, G and H qualified at the “Winter Invitational Tournament”, then City High School would qualify two teams since it did so with two distinct rosters. However, City High School would not qualify a third team for the NSC if a team consisting of players A, E, H and I qualified at the “Spring Invitational Tournament” since players A and E had already qualified for the NSC.

Teams attending the NSC do not need to use the same composition of players that they used in the tournament(s) at which they qualified. For instance, using the City High School example above, City High School could send the following two teams to the NSC: One consisting of players A, B, E and F, and one consisting of H, I, J and K (i.e. teams may add players who did not attend the tournament at which they qualified to their rosters).

If you have any specific questions about how many teams your school has qualified for the NSC, please contact PACE Treasurer Mike Bentley at treasurer@pace-nsc.org.

Qualifier Tournaments

Any tournament can become an NSC qualifier event if it uses head-to-head, two-team buzzer competition, in a format which is largely dependent on academic pyramidal tossups, offers all teams at least four games, is not restricted to what can be considered “novice” / “junior varsity” teams, and is not known to have had major problems in the recent past.

Tournament directors whose events meet the above criteria will be offered qualifier status as their events are discovered. Until we hear back from a tournament director, tournaments will be listed as “provisional qualifiers” so long as they meet the above requirements. See below for more information about provisional qualifier tournaments. Tournament directors may opt out of the list of official NSC qualifier tournaments after being contacted by PACE.

Once a tournament is announced as a Regular, Gold, or Platinum qualifier, teams that qualified at that tournament cannot be removed from our list of qualified teams. PACE will remove all references to a given tournament from our site upon request from that event’s tournament director, but PACE will not let teams that have already been announced as qualifying teams lose their status due to such a request.

The above paragraphs imply that you do not need to directly contact PACE to make your event an NSC qualifier if it already meets the standards laid out below. However, should you have any questions about your tournament or team, please contact PACE Treasurer Mike Bentley at treasurer@pace-nsc.org.

Regular, Gold, and Platinum Qualifiers

PACE recognizes three levels of qualifier** events: Regular, Gold, and Platinum.

Regular Qualifier Events: Any tournament which uses head-to-head, two-team buzzer competition, in a format which is largely dependent on academic pyramidal tossups, offers all teams at least four games, is not restricted to what can be considered “novice” / “junior varsity” teams, and is not known to have had major problems in the recent past may become a qualifier event for the 2016 NSC. Teams qualify for the 2017 PACE NSC by finishing in the top 10% of the field at any regular qualifier event. Percentages will be rounded up to the nearest whole number. For instance, at an 11 team tournament, two teams will qualify, since the threshold is 1.1, rounded up the nearest whole number; at a 30 team tournament, three teams will qualify, etc. PACE encourages tournament directors to break ties for the last qualifying space in their tournament for the purposes of determining NSC qualification. If such ties aren’t broken at the tournament, we will break ties based on points per game. All teams that finish in the top 10% at one or more regular qualifiers, and which did not already secure a qualifying finish at a Gold or Platinum-designated event, may register for the NSC beginning on November 1, or as soon as they qualify after that date.

Provisional Qualifier Events: As was the case last year, any tournament that meets the basic requirements described above will automatically be listed as a “provisional” qualifier. These tournaments are considered the same as regular NSC qualifiers (i.e. top 10% qualifies) until more details are available. Because we often lack information about these tournaments, teams are encouraged to send us results for provisional qualifiers on their own initiative so we can get them into our system. Once we hear back from the tournament director, the tournament stops being a provisional qualifier and can become either a regular, Gold, or Platinum qualifier based on the criteria listed below.

Gold Qualifier Events: PACE will recognize tournaments as Gold qualifiers which guarantee all teams in attendance a schedule of at least seven games, use questions deemed acceptable* by the PACE NSC Qualification Committee, and commit to provide statistics detailing, at minimum, the performance of teams at the event (individual player statistics are encouraged but not required). Teams that finish in the top 20% of the field at a Gold qualifier may register for the PACE NSC; such teams may register starting on November 1, or as soon as they qualify if they qualify after that date.

Platinum Qualifier Events: PACE will recognize tournaments as Platinum qualifiers which guarantee all teams in attendance a schedule of at least nine games, use varsity-level (at minimum regular high school difficulty) questions deemed acceptable by the PACE NSC Qualification Committee, do not use single-elimination playoffs, and commit to provide statistics detailing the performances and scores of teams and individual players at the event. Teams that finish in the top 25% of the field at a Platinum qualifier may register for the PACE NSC; such teams may register starting on November 1, or as soon as they qualify if they qualify after that date.

Additionally, schools which qualified their team(s) for the 2017 NSC and host a Gold qualifier during the 2016-17 competition year receive a small discount on their entry fee for the 2017 NSC (-$10). Teams which are eligible to attend the 2017 NSC and which host a Platinum qualifier event during the 2016-17 competition year receive a slightly larger small discount on their entry fee for the 2017 NSC (-$20).

If a tournament uses divisions, the number of qualifiers is based on the total number of teams at the entire tournament. For a tournament to be classified as Platinum, all of the Platinum criteria must be met for all divisions. Similarly, for a tournament to be classified as Gold, all of the Gold criteria must be met for all divisions. Teams can only earn an automatic qualification if they compete in the top division of a tournament. The number of automatic qualifiers for such a tournament is the lesser of the number using the formula for all tournaments or 50% of the teams in the top division.  A bottom division must be a varsity division in order to count against the field cap.

The NSC Qualification Committee will be led by PACE Treasurer Mike Bentley (treasurer@pace-nsc.org), with assistance from PACE President David Reinstein and Tournament Director Gaurav Kandlikar. It is not necessary to submit a request separately to confirm a tournament as Gold or Platinum; all qualifying events for the 2017 NSC will also be examined for potential Gold or Platinum status by us.

Tournaments may become NSC qualifiers irrespective of whether they purchase their question set from vendors, use a set by another independent writing team, or write their own questions. PACE does not consider whether or not a tournament is affiliated with another national championship or organization when offering NSC-qualifier status. In the past, many tournaments have allowed teams to qualify both for PACE and for other nationals without any conflict. We expect and encourage this situation to continue.

*PACE considers all pyramidal sets produced by the vendors NAQT and HSAPQ to be acceptable for qualification purposes. In addition, PACE judges house-written sets or sets from other vendors on a case-by-case basis. In general, though, any all-subject, non-novice question set announced on the Quizbowl Resource Center forums will be presumed acceptable for the purposes of NSC qualification unless clear evidence emerges that a set has unusually major problems with appropriate question length, difficulty, factual accuracy, etc. To be clear, it is not necessary to use an NAQT or HSAPQ question set for a tournament to become a Gold or Platinum qualifier. This determination is unrelated to any past or future question set certifications such as “Exemplary” or “Satisfactory.” A question set need not be certified by PACE at all for said set to be considered acceptable for NSC qualification purposes.

**For the purposes of this post, a “qualifier” is always an event at which quizbowl can be played. Teams which have become eligible to register for the 2016 NSC are referred to in full as “qualified teams.”

State Tournaments

State tournaments without any eligibility restrictions or regional stages feeding into a championship site will be treated as regular tournaments, except that they will not be penalized for restricting the field geographically. State tournaments that have their own qualification systems, regional stages feeding into a state-wide event, or other deviations from standard tournament procedure will be handled on a case-by-case basis. PACE will reach out to the directors of state tournaments to clear up any questions about these tournaments. As in past years, PACE does not reserve specific spots in the NSC field for state champions.

Wild Card Bids

Teams that have not qualified for the NSC through the above system can submit a wild card bid starting on January 1st, 2017. Additionally, a school that has qualified its A Team for the NSC can submit a wildcard bids for additional teams (B team, C team, etc.) if those additional teams from the same school has not qualified through other means.

To submit a wild card bid, email PACE’s Wild Card Coordinator, Ian Drayer, at wildcard@pace-nsc.org with the following: team name, contact information, and a summary of the team’s accomplishments throughout the year.

The PACE Wild Card Committee will then vote on whether to grant this team entry into the NSC and return a decision to the team within seven days of receiving the application.

PACE will automatically approve wild card bids from teams which finished highly enough at events that meet our standards for qualifier status, even if those events are not officially listed as such. (Example: If “City High School A” finished in first, second, third, or fourth place at the “City Invitational Tournament,” a 20-team tournament which was run on an NAQT Invitational Series set, offered eight games to all teams, and kept team statistics – within the 20 percent cutoff of a Gold qualifier – their bid would be automatically approved regardless of whether the “City Invitational Tournament” chose to join the official list of qualifier events.) While this has been implicitly true for wild card bids over the past few years, this is now official PACE policy.

Leagues

In general, teams cannot qualify for the PACE NSC through their performance in leagues or local weekday conferences. However, directors of quizbowl leagues should e-mail PACE Treasurer Mike Bentley at treasurer@pace-nsc.org to discuss any special situations regarding organized quizbowl play of those kinds. The Wild Card Committee may consider performance at local leagues in the event that an applying team has a lack of available opportunities to play quizbowl tournaments in their area.

Subject-Specific Competitions

Teams cannot qualify for the PACE NSC through competitions whose questions focus entirely or predominantly on a single academic subject (e.g. National History Bee and Bowl, National Science Bowl). The Wild Card Committee may consider performance at subject-specific academic competitions in the event that an applying team has a lack of available opportunities to play all-subject quizbowl in their area.

Reserving Spots

Once a team qualifies for the NSC and it is later than November 1st, that team can fill out the registration form.  The team’s spot will be guaranteed when PACE receives the $100 deposit from the team.

For teams ranked in the Top 25 of the most recent HS Quizbowl rankings, these teams will have a guaranteed spot for up to two weeks after filling out the registration form.  If the two weeks passes and the team does not submit a deposit, they will give up their spot and be treated as any other team which has filled out the registration form but not yet submitted a deposit.

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If you have any questions about NSC qualification, feel free to contact PACE Treasurer Mike Bentley at treasurer@pace-nsc.org. The first batch of notices about qualifier status will be going out in mid-September.