I want to try to answer two questions:
1. Of the quartets who have won gold, how much did their score improve each contest from their first appearance in the top-ten to their winning year? This will tell us how many points (on average) a top-ten quartet needs to add to their score each year in order to be on track to eventually win gold.
2. Based on the results of question #1, which current top-ten quartet is most on track to win gold?
Looking at the chart below, you’ll see all the quartets who have placed in the top ten since 1996 along with their scores. Blue represents their winning year, red is a second place year, and yellow is third. The quartet names in gold are Queens. (You can click on the photo to enlarge it)
Now here is the same chart with placements instead of scores:
Let’s now just look at the queens:
You’ll see that there is an extra column on the far right. This is the average number of points that quartet improved from their first year in the top ten until their winning year. The highest average is A Cappella Gold‘s. The lowest is Swinglish Mix. Their two winning scores are very close, but notice that A Cappella Gold’s first year was the lowest of any quartet’s first year score and Swinglish Mix had the highest of any first year score.
A couple of notes here - Zing!, SPOTLIGHT, and Martini added a new member the year in which they won gold. This may explain the rather large jump in score that final year. I did not include Brava‘s 1996 score since they then took three years off. Also, I did not include Rumors or Classic Edition in the average because I do not have stats for their first year of competition.
If we take the average of all the gold medal winning quartets, we’ll see that over the last 15 years or so they have added around 85 points per year to their score. This could be considered the goal for all quartets who find themselves in the top-ten for the first time.
Here is the chart that shows how many points each year those quartets raised or lowered their scores. Green indicates a rising score, red a lowering one. The zero is not a score of zero, just a marker for their first score.
There seems to be a big boost for scores in between the first and second contests and also between the penultimate and gold medal winning years with years in between showing milder improvement.
The averages suggest a progression such as the following example:
A quartet who scores 2400 in their first year in the top-ten could expect to follow up that score with:
Year 2 – 2477
Year 3 – 2534
Year 4 – 2591
Year 5 – 2648
Year 6 – 2764
The chart below shows us another interesting statistic – the change of improvement needed over the years. From 1996 – 2003, the average first year score of a top-ten quartet was 2531 (blue scores), and from 2004-2012 it was 2582 (green)
From 1996 – 2003, the average gold medal winning year score of a quartet was 2718 (yellow), and from 2004 – 2012 it was 2816 (orange).
That means that a quartet who entered the top-ten in 1996 would need to improve, on average, 187 points to win gold. Whereas today a quartet would need to add 234 points to win. That’s a 47 point difference, or about six months of extra training if we assume 85 points per year.
I think our first question has been answered.
To answer the second one we need to look at the current top-ten quartets (nine now that Touche has won) and see what we can predict:
Needless to say, there’s not an abundance of data to work with here. Many of the quartets are relatively new to the top-ten scene. I only counted the current era of Remix as they took a number of years off. Dolce and Lustre have only had one appearance each.
It is clear that Love Notes and Bling! are most on track with Bling! adding 110 points their second year and following it up by piling on another 148 in Denver. Love Notes has averaged an improvement of 86 points, almost exactly where they need to be to soon wear a crown. Frenzy quartet is not far behind after adding almost 40 points to their 2011 score.
If you are interested in having all these charts in one small, easy Excel file, just click here.