This may sound silly, but I think Troy was not very active in invitationals and it may make them more likely to fail in some events. I would not be shocked if they don't get in top 3 this time.
Hmm, hard to say on this. Troy has never attended more than 4 invites a year (5 if you include Iolani Online Invite) and probably will never attend more than 1 non-Cali invite. The cost/time/effort trade-off also isn't as worth it for them, since they need to travel for the the better part of a day to get to most bigger-name invites. They didn't attend GGSO this year, but their invite attendance this year is similar to what it usually is. Sure, maybe that makes them less "competition-ready", but between A-B team competition (rivalry is too strong of a word, though I'm sure there are individual rivalries), mock invites (not sure if they still do those), and the number of good test-takers they have, they're generally able to stay on top of their stuff. A lot of it also comes down to tryouts; in order to be competitive at school tryouts, you need to have mastered all the Nationals topics or have a high-functioning build.
I have no idea about the state of Troy builds, but I've been told they have some "big brains" on the study events. My one experience with them in this regards last week leads me to agree overwhelmingly with that statement. Bombs are certainly possible, though.
That said, losing SOUP may be good for Troy in the long-run. Troy tends to do well after they lose catastrophically (read: anything under 3rd). The sophomores of the devastating Nationals 2016 graduated last year, so institutional memory of loss has faded.
Div D! I really like chem, oceanography, and nail polish--not in that order.
Troy HS, co2016.
Feel free to PM me about SciOly or college or whatever! I really enjoy making online friends.