2021 Middle School National Championship Tournament Logistics Information

The 2021 Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT) will be held online on May 1–2, 2021.

The MSNCT is NAQT’s championship tournament for middle school teams. There is also a Middle School Individual Player National Championship Tournament for individuals on Sunday, April 25.

Waitlist registration is now open, as the field is full.

Register for the Waitlist



    May 1–2, 2021 (Saturday–Sunday).

    The tournament’s preliminary games will take place on Saturday, and the playoff games will take place on Sunday.


    Online, via Zoom and in accordance with the rest of NAQT’s Online Tournament Guide.

    To promote confidence in the integrity of online competition, NAQT has established an Integrity Policy for Online National Championships that establishes requirements for players while they are active. All players and coaches should read the policy, and all players should be prepared to comply with it during gameplay.

    Technical Requirements

    Players should read and must follow the rules and procedures in NAQT’s Online Tournament Guide. This includes, but is not limited to, the requirements that players must…

    Furthermore, we very strongly recommend that players…

    In addition to the requirements of the Online Tournament Guide, for this tournament:


    This schedule is final.

    All times are listed in Central time.

    Saturday (Preliminary Rounds)

    Time Event
    8:20 – 8:50 a.m. Staff meeting
    8:30 – 8:50 a.m. Team meeting
    8:55 a.m. Be in your Round 1 Zoom room
    9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Rounds 1–4
    12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
    1:00 – 5:30 p.m. Rounds 5–10

    Sunday (Playoff Rounds)

    Time Event
    8:30 – 8:50 a.m. Staff meeting
    8:55 a.m. Be in your Round 11 Zoom room
    9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Rounds 11–14
    12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
    1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Rounds 15–18
    4:00 – 4:15 p.m. Break
    4:15 p.m. Finals

    Frequently Asked Questions

    NAQT has prepared answers to frequently asked questions about its national championships.

    Rules and Eligibility

    This tournament will use NAQT’s Official Gameplay Rules as modified for online play. Player eligibility is governed by the Middle School Eligibility Rules.

    Qualification and Registration

    Registration is limited to invited teams through Sunday, March 21. Beginning Monday, March 22 at midnight Central time, any middle school may register, with a limit of two teams per school. Beginning Monday, March 29 at midnight Central time, the two-teams-per-school limit will be lifted and any middle school may register any number of teams (subject to a cap on the total field size).

    Because of the open registration window, there is no wildcard process for this tournament. Teams who do not receive invitations based on their performance may register on or after March 22.


    The field is limited to 112 teams; these teams have registered. NAQT may expand the field depending on the level of interest and the availability of resources.


    The preliminary rounds (Rounds 1–10, the entirety of Saturday) will take place using power-matching, also known as “the card system.” That is, each team’s opponents (after Round 1) will depend on their performance in previous rounds, and teams will always face opponents with the same record or as near to the same record as possible. In the preliminary rounds, each team will play eight games and have two byes. Because of the card system, it is not possible to know each team’s opponents or Zoom rooms in advance.

    Teams who finish with a winning record in the preliminary rounds (5–3 or better) will make double-elimination playoffs, which occur on Sunday. The playoff bracket will be seeded by win-loss record followed by points per tossup heard. Depending on how many teams make the playoffs, some teams may receive byes.

    In the Traditional Public Schools Division, there is a small chance that 16 or fewer teams will finish with a winning record. If that happens, one playoff round will be entirely unnecessary and some parts of the Sunday schedule will be earlier than the listed times in that division.

    In the Open Division, there is a very small chance that more than 32 teams will finish with a winning record. If that happens, the top 32 teams (by record followed by points per tossup heard) will make the playoffs, and the remaining team(s) will be omitted.

    For the finals, there are two possible cases depending on the results of the semifinal round. In the semifinal round, the last team who has not lost in the playoffs will play a team who has taken one loss in the playoffs, while the other game will involve two teams who have each taken one loss in the playoffs. If the team who has not lost in the playoffs wins its semifinal game, then it will have the advantage in a final against the winner of the other semifinal game, that is, the former team need only win one of two games to claim the championship, while the latter team must win two games to claim the championship; meanwhile, the teams who lost the semifinal games will play for third place. If the team who had not yet lost in the playoffs loses its semifinal game, then the final will be a three-team, two-game procedure: the two semifinal winners will play each other, and the winner of that game will play the team who had not lost before the semifinals in a one-game final, while the team eliminated in the semifinal round will finish in fourth place.

    All teams eliminated in the same round of the playoffs will be considered tied. Teams who did not make the playoffs will be ranked (behind teams who made the playoffs) by win-loss record followed by points per tossup heard.

    Registration and Fees

    Waitlist registration is now open, as the field is full.

    Register for the Waitlist

    The registration fee is $615 per team.

    The registration fee only covers participation in the tournament. It does not cover equipment or other expenses.


    Once you have entered all the information that can affect costs (but not necessarily entered your roster), at the bottom of your registration page or the field page (while you’re logged in), click “View Cost.” Verify that the listed information is correct. If it is, follow the page’s instructions to request an invoice (so we have the proper billing information), and you will be offered the opportunity to pay by credit card.

    You can also pay by sending a check, payable to “NAQT,” to

    National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC
    11521 W 69th St
    Shawnee, KS 66203–3749

    Please send questions about billing to billing@naqt.com.


    Teams who cancel their registration on or before April 21 will owe a cancellation fee of $307.50. Teams who cancel on or after April 22 (including no-shows) will owe a cancellation fee of $461.25. These deadlines notwithstanding, teams will always have a seven-day grace period after registering during which they can cancel without incurring a fee.

    Failure to submit participation releases on time may be treated as a cancellation, including incurring a cancellation fee, at NAQT’s discretion.

    Participation Releases

    Every player’s parent or legal guardian will be required to sign a participation release covering expectations, media coverage, etc. All releases must be submitted to release@naqt.com by Saturday, April 24, 2021. Release forms will be made available via the registration process.

    If you’re not sure of your roster in advance, enter everyone who might play and submit releases for all of them. It’s fine to drop players, but if a player’s release is not submitted on time, they may not play. For the purposes of participation releases, it doesn’t matter which team from your school they’re on (if you enter multiple teams).

    Please be sure that the signer initials the first page in the lower-right corner!

    An example participation release is available.


    Every team must have a chaperone, subject to the following rules:

    Teams who wish to request a variance from the chaperone policy should write to NAQT at msnct@naqt.com well in advance of the tournament to discuss their situation.


    The teams who finish in thirteenth place or higher will each receive one plaque, one medal for each player, and one medal for the coach. These will be sent to one address specified by the team.

    The top 20 scorers (by points per tossup heard in the preliminary rounds) will each receive a medal. For players on teams that receive plaques, the medals will be sent with the team awards. For players not on such teams, the medals will be shipped to the players.

    Advocate Program

    Because NAQT believes that quiz bowl is an activity for everybody, and in which all participants should feel welcome and respected, we have established the Advocate Program to make sure select tournament staff are available to hear reports about problematic behavior and comments by anyone at the tournament.

    Please send concerns to advocate@naqt.com, ideally as soon as practical after any incident.

    There are other suitable channels for reporting concerns, such as the Misconduct Reporting Form, but the Advocate Program is intended to allow for immediate reporting of sensitive complaints so they can be handled during the tournament.

    Reports are confidential to the extent permitted by law and NAQT’s agreements to share critical information with other quiz bowl organizations.

    Practice Material

    Participants may be interested in purchasing questions from previous years to prepare for the event. All of NAQT’s past regular-season sets are available, as are the sets from previous championships.

    Participants may also want to purchase frequency lists, Power Up study guides, and/or Thumbs Up! question anthologies. These are also available on our practice materials page.

    Finally, participants may want to look at the information contained in NAQT’s free You Gotta Know articles before the tournament. These detail the most frequently asked-about question topics in a wide variety of areas.


    Spectators are welcome to attend any and all parts of the tournament. No registration or tickets are required.

    Prospective spectators should read NAQT’s advice for spectators of online tournaments. To ensure the quality of the tournament experience for players, spectators may be removed from games if they are disruptive or if the moderator believes that their presence is degrading audio or video quality.

    Social Media

    The official hashtag for the tournament is msnct; please use this tag for all posts about the tournament.

    Remember that question content for the championship cannot be posted online (or shared through other channels)! This means that players, coaches, spectators, and moderators should not discuss clues, answers, or even overall themes (e.g., “Lots of opera”) with people on other teams (even those from the same school).

    NAQT Nationals app logo

    Companion Mobile App

    NAQT has created a companion mobile app for attendees. The app includes the tournament schedule (with the ability to set reminders for various events), links to results, connections to social media, and other important documents related to the tournament.

    Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play

    Further Questions

    To ask specific questions about the MSNCT, write to msnct@naqt.com.

    We look forward to answering any and all questions, no matter how expansive or trivial, in the hopes of eliminating any possible confusion or mistakes in participants’ plans. If something’s not clear, let us know!

    2021 Middle School National Championship Tournament

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