Finalist Interviews

Raffi Piliero (Harrison RP)

Question: What is the main difference, if any, between a round robin and a tournament in your opinion?
Raffi Piliero: Round robins are much shorter, and much more difficult to clear at than tournaments, so it’s even more important to be on your game each round than in tournaments. It’s not the end of the world to blow a preset at a tournament, since you can go 5-1 and clear. At a RR, if you get swept, you could be out. This makes it more important to go in ready and warmed up for each debate.

Q: What did you find the hardest case to answer at this tournament?
RP: I actually debated quite a few Affs this weekend that I thought were difficult to deal with and required some thought. The one that I probably found most difficult was Greenhill’s Marketplace of Ideas Aff that I debated in semis. The position itself is very simple and straightforward, with stock arguments like reverse enforcement/counterspeech/underground harms of hate, but it effectively preempts a lot of neg arguments and has high quality empirics, which made it tougher to maneuver around it without dealing head on with a lot of the Aff.

Q: With TOC coming up, as somebody who has gone to TOC before, what can debaters going for the first time expect about TOC that’s different than a regular season tournament?
RP: The important thing about TOC is being able to bounce back quickly. Each round is such high stakes (both for judges and debaters) and frustrating results will happen. The worst thing that can happen is to lose a difficult round and then debate badly the subsequent round because of the previous one lingering. It’s important to just look forwards, and not backwards. At regular tournaments, people often just assume they can recover the next weekend, but at TOC, people don’t/can’t really assume that which makes it a lot more stressful. Honestly, though, TOC is an incredible experience, and taking time to enjoy it is also key.

Main Tournament


Harrison RP def. Cambridge Rindge & Latin OS (Castillo, Sharma, Sims)
Greenhill SK def. Harvard-Westlake IP (Alston, Kukreja, Vincent)
Success Academy SC def. Westwood RM (Fife, McConway, Randall)
Science BA def. Dulles AW (Hertzig, Hunt, Melin)


Success Academy (Aff) def. Science BA (Neg) (Sims, Melin, Koshak)
Harrison RP def. Greenhill SK (Vincent, Kukreja, Castillo)


Success Academy SC (Aff) def. Harrison RP (Neg) (Sims, Melin, Alston)


Sekou Cisse (Success Academy SC)

Shailja Somani