Updated: Sep 13
After the general readability of the essay, the next quality that will best distinguish the top essays is the depth of research. If the works cited page contains just a few sources and some of them are Wikipedia, do not expect to go far. If the works cited page is multiple pages long containing respected news sources and academic journals, you are on the right track. The essay should draw from the most important research and most recent news available on the topic.
When it comes to the written debate rounds, expect the details of the research to play an important role. Within the rebuttals, teams will frequently point out cherry-picked quotes and question the reliability of authors. Make sure that all evidence can withstand that level of scrutiny.