CWRU Quizbowl team sweeps tournament 9-0 to end season with first win

Left to right: Enina Edosomwan, Sai Subramanian, Director of Print Elie Aoun and Ben Kramer celebrate winning their first quizbowl tournament after defeating Boston University 390-165 to go 9-0 in a round robin.
Left to right: Enina Edosomwan, Sai Subramanian, Director of Print Elie Aoun and Ben Kramer celebrate winning their first quizbowl tournament after defeating Boston University 390-165 to go 9-0 in a round robin.
Elie Aoun/The Observer

Screams erupted in a study room in Village House 7 on April 13 as a team of Case Western Reserve University quizbowl students won the IQBT Novice Online tournament 9-0. A CWRU team consisting of first-year biochemistry major Enina Edosomwan, first-year electrical engineering major Sai Subramanian, second-year math and computer science major Benjamin Kramer and third-year classics and history major Elie Aoun competed against nine teams in their last tournament of the season.

Quizbowl is an intercollegiate competition where teams of up to four students compete against each other in a vast array of subjects, including science, literature, history, fine arts, philosophy, social science, mythology, religion, geography, current events, pop culture and sports. A game consists of 20 tossup questions read aloud to all players; these questions consist of clues that gradually become easier, and any player can buzz in at any time to answer. A correct answer nets 10 points for a team or 15 points if a player buzzes early in the question—This is called getting a “power.” An incorrect answer before the question is fully read results in that team losing five points and being locked out of buzzing for the rest of the question. When a team successfully converts a tossup, they are read a set of bonus questions which only they can answer for up to 30 extra points.

While most quizbowl tournaments are played in-person, a minority of them are held online on Zoom and/or Discord, which is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This particular tournament was held online, so the CWRU Quizbowl team gathered in a study room in Village House 7 and used one laptop to play via Zoom.

Round one began at 10 a.m. against a two-man team from Arizona State University (ASU) C, the third team that ASU fielded for this tournament. CWRU finished a tough first half up 170-120, but after the 15th tossup-bonus cycle, CWRU was leading 305-165. The next four tossups brought the score before the last tossup to 305-300 in favor of CWRU. A clutch pull by Edosomwan allowed CWRU to win the nail-biting first round 335-300.

The next two rounds were not nearly as close. In the second round, CWRU defeated Bryn Mawr College B 460-80; there Aoun converted nine of the 20 tossups for 105 points in his best performance of the day. Round three saw CWRU defeat Rust College 455-40, with Kramer earning 60 points with five tossups in his best round.

Round four against ASU B was not nearly as close as the match against ASU C. CWRU was up 225-70 at the half and won the game 385-195. After that round, the team hoped to sweep the rest of the field in the afternoon.

CWRU achieved two overwhelming victories in rounds five and six, defeating Bryn Mawr A 515-85 and Rowan University 565-70, respectively.

In round seven, CWRU only managed to finish the half 155-145 against ASU A. By the end of the 15th cycle, ASU A had scored three more tossups to bring the score to 245-210 in their favor. Each team then converted two of the next four tossups, leaving the score at 295-270 in favor of ASU A before the last tossup. ASU A’s lead player, Skand Parvatikar, who went on to be the No. 1 individual scorer in the tournament, buzzed in early and got the question wrong, allowing Edosomwan to convert the question and the team to sweep the bonus in order to finish the game 310-290 in favor of CWRU.

CWRU won its most overwhelming victory against The Ohio State University (OSU) in round eight, defeating the longtime rival 625-40. This round saw Subramanian and Edosomwan convert five tossups for 55 points and the eight tossups for 100 points, respectively.

Round nine against Boston University (BU) was a stressful match against a good team. If CWRU won this time, they would win the tournament outright, but a loss would force CWRU to play an advantaged final against ASU A. By the end of the half against BU, CWRU was down 110-140, but CWRU then “locked in” and converted eight of the 10 tossups in the second half, winning the game 390-165.

Since ASU A went 7-2 in the tournament, CWRU won the IQBT Novice Online outright 9-0 with no need for a final. The last time that the CWRU Quizbowl team won first place in a tournament was in September 2017, so this was a particularly exciting achievement for four CWRU players who had never won a college tournament before.

Aoun finished the tournament ranked third place individually, having scored 22 powers and 26 regular tossups for an average of 63.89 points per game (PPG). Edosomwan finished ninth overall with 14 powers and 23 tossups for 43.89 PPG. Kramer earned 30 PPG on the dot from seven powers and 19 tossups. Subramanian scored five powers and 10 tossups for 17.78 PPG.
Kramer’s favorite moment in the tournament was beating OSU by almost 600 points. He said, “I feel that we had our best rhythm that game … It was also our most balanced game, as everybody put solid amounts of points up. I think it showed that when we come together as a team and everybody contributes, we play our best.” In a similar vein Subramanian said, “It was crazy to beat teams by more than 400 points.”

Edosomwan felt that his favorite moment was “beating Arizona State A since it was such a close game, and it was very nerve-wracking and fun [that] it came down to the last tossup.”

Regarding the victory, Edosomwan said, “It’s lovely to win a quizbowl tournament since it shows the hard work that everyone has done to become better.”

The team looks forward to a summer of intense studying and specialization in order to qualify for the two national championship tournaments held every April. Qualification requires a top performance at each national championship’s respective qualifying tournament held at the start of the spring semester, a feat which CWRU Quizbowl has seldom achieved in the past.

Edosomwan said, “Next year, I’m looking forward to playing at nationals.”

Disclaimer: Elie Aoun is the vice president of CWRU Quizbowl.

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