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2020 OLT Analysis Empty 2020 OLT Analysis

Tue Jul 28, 2020 4:41 pm
Message reputation : 100% (3 votes)
The official final tournament of the 2019-20 season is just around the corner! All of our graduated seniors have an opportunity to compete in mock with the One Last Time tournament. OLT has a lot of interesting new features that haven’t been tried in AMTA before. It’s 4v4 mock trial, instead of 6v6. The teams will have 10 days to prepare the case, instead of the typical 3.5 weeks for NCT and 1 day for TBC. And OLT will be the first team competition hosted in the online format (after Top Gun/TBC/Gladiator).

But as you all know, one of the most exciting features of OLT is that for the first time, competitors can team up with people from different schools. We of course wanted to provide some analysis of this tournament. Each of our members ranked each of the 20 OLT teams, and then we averaged those rankings to create a full MAIMD list. We’ve written an analysis below of our predicted top 5 teams.

Best of luck to all of the teams competing!!!


Team 59 (Matt Besman, Anna Defendiefer, Maddie Driscoll, Drew Rossi Schroeder): Starting off with our prohibitive favorite in the OLT field, we have the team full of competitors from Ohio State University. Let’s begin with the team accolades - every single competitor on this team has competed at NCT (some more than once), and every single one has placed in the top 5 in their NCT division. As members of OSU A this year, they placed highly at invite after invite, rounding it off with a second place division finish at GCF (after a crushing -1 -1 loss to Tufts in Round 4). They finished it up with a very strong 7-1 showing at ORCS, earning an easy bid to the National Championship Tournament. Each of these players is strong individually in their own right as well. Matt Besman is competing here after his 3rd place finish at TBC, and we’re eager to see if we can get a Mehta-Besman semi final rematch in OLT. Besman’s co-captain, Maddie Driscoll, rounds out what is perhaps the strongest attorney bench in this field. Besman is primarily a closer, but Driscoll is known as a strong one as well so we will be interested to see whether Besman double closes and Driscoll double opens, or whether they both split O/C. As witnesses, this team boasts the winner of UCLA Law’s best witness competition in Anna Defendiefer. Both Defendiefer and Drew Rossi Schroeder are known for playing compelling and real party witnesses. One possible Achilles heel of this team is if the case is written such that the witnesses don’t play to Defendiefer and Schroeder’s strengths, but that is both unpredictable and probably unlikely. All in all, this team is strong across the board and has the star power necessary to win the whole thing. No one should want to hit Ohio State.

Team 36 (Steven Becker, Georgia Lala, Sonali Mehta, Elias Neibart, Isabel Pentland): As the OLT team with the highest number of TBC competitors (3), this squad is stacked with individual talent. Sonali Mehta is going for the clean sweep of summer online mock trial tournaments, after taking the best opening in UCLA Law’s online competition and winning the 2020 Trial by Combat. After an incredible TBC showing, which included competing against 3 of the other top 5 competitors, Mehta has shown a mastery of online competition that should make anyone scared to face her. Also joining her from TBC are Steven Becker from Tufts and Elias Neibart from Emory. Both had stellar senior seasons as well, highlighted by Becker competing in the GCF Final Round and Neibart finishing as the runner-up in the online closing competition. One of the most interesting things we’re excited to see from this team is how the attorney roles are allocated. Mehta, Becker, and Neibart have very limited witness experience. Becker and Neibart are closers by trade, but after Mehta won the best closing award at TBC (including after closing against Regina Campbell) we will be very interested to see how the statements are allocated among these benches—especially given that simple math can tell us that 2 of 3 TBC competitors on the team will end up as single-sided attorneys. Rounding out this team are Georgia Lala from Duke and Isabel Pentland from Tufts. Lala is known for playing more lay witnesses and Pentland more professional ones, so between them they should be able to fill out almost any witness combination. Both also have former teammates who are also competing on this OLT team, so some of that AMTA season chemistry could translate to this tournament. And that is actually the thing we are most interested to see about this team—this is the highest ranked team that’s an amalgamation of competitors from different schools, and the onus will be on these competitors to bridge the chemistry gap that might exist between this team and the teams that all come from one school.

Team 40 (Ilana Goldberg, Léo Mandani, Kai Nugent, Daniel Peale): Another team that combines competitors from different schools, this team is one of the more interesting combinations in the entire OLT field. First, we have Daniel Peale from UVA, fresh off his 5th place finish at Trial by Combat. Both Peale and UVA are known for being able to turn around super clean and compelling content in a short timeframe. This was borne out by Peale winning the best Theme/Theory award at TBC, so he should thrive in the 10 day prep period. Joining him from Tufts University are Léo Mandani and Ilana Goldberg. Mandani is as smart and technical an attorney as they come, and Goldberg earned a handful of awards this year—one of which was All-National—for her emotional portrayal of Jordan Ryder. Both Mandani and Goldberg were key members of Tufts B, which went 6-2 in Lancaster and came within just a couple CS points of earning a bid to the 2020 NCT. This team is rounded out by Kai Nugent from Yale. A professional actor, Nugent has witnessed on Yale A every year since joining the program, and was our pick this preseason as the best witness on the circuit. Notably, Nugent won the award for the best portrayal of Harper Villafana at last year’s Shutdown Showdown, so this team is stacked with emotional witnesses. But the reason we find this combination of people so interesting is that the schools these competitors tend to play with very different styles: Tufts and Yale are both known for being pretty aggressive and going for very creative case theories, whereas UVA is known for prioritizing likability and trying not to push the envelope too much. While we are intrigued to see how the team will reconcile these two styles of competition, we are confident that this team’s content will be pretty high level. Only five schools have made the NCT final round since the inception of the new NCT case, showing a true mastery of a case on short prep (Yale, Rhodes, Miami, UVA, Harvard). The only player from any of those schools who is not on this team is Remy Hill from Harvard (Team 61). Therefore, this team has a leg up on prepping a team in a short timeframe that so many others of these teams simply don’t.

Team 74 (Baylee Brown, Philip Germain, Shant Eulmessekian, John Ulysses Keevan-Lynch): Coming in as one of two UCLA teams, Team 74 is one to be feared in this tournament. This team features mostly people from UCLA B including All-National attorney John Ulysses Keevan-Lynch and All-Regional Witnesses Baylee Brown. It also features two time All-Regional witness Phillip Germain from UCLA A. This team will thrive in a place that some other teams might not and that is witnessing. With three members of their team winning witness awards in the 2019-2020 year, this team will have a lot of flexibility to adapt to whatever witnesses are thrown into this year's case, and then will excel at them. In addition, this is one of the few teams with nationals level experience as they have either competed at nationals before, or they competed at U Chicago’s Great Chicago Fire this year. The first question some might be asking is why is this UCLA team higher ranked than Team 31 when Team 31 has people from UCLA A. First, UCLA B actually did better than UCLA A at both regionals and ORCS this year. Another element we looked at was team cohesion and since Team 31 has two members from UC San Diego, we weren’t sure how that would impact their team and Team 74 edged out Team 31.


Team 55 (Katie Burdette, Jessica Copenhaver, Pranav Gandham, Harsha Sridhar): Rounding out our top 5 teams is the squad from Georgia Tech. Tech has risen to national prominence over the past 5-7 years, including a few NCT finishes very close to the top of their division. First we have TBC competitor Harsha Sridhar. Sridhar is the only All-American competitor in this top 5 team list and one of only two All-Americans in the entire field, so he has proven individual success at the top level. Sridhar is known primarily as a witness, both for portraying eminently credible experts but also occasionally some wacky characters, so we will be interested to see what roles he ends up playing at OLT. Joining Sridhar is his TBC second chair, Pranav Gandham. Having worked together on an even shorter turnaround before will help this GT team churn out high level content more quickly, especially if TBC and GT coach Will Warihay is helping out as well. Rounding out the squad are Katie Burdette and Jessica Copenhaver, both of whom were double sided competitors from GT A this year. With an ironclad MRE knowledge base, Burdette is a no nonsense attorney who can beat your defendant into submission with ease. Copenhaver is a clear and compelling expert witness who has more range than most expert-specialists do. This team has no distinct weak spots but by the same token there aren’t really spots where there is real star power, which could hold them back from winning the whole thing. But regardless, we expect a very strong showing from the Yellow Jackets at OLT.
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