Most formats allow four players to play at once - there may also be substitutes, but for simplicity most tournaments will limit teams to either six or eight. In some places (like Illinois), a fifth player can be active.
In Knowledge Master Open format, there does not appear to be a limit on the number of players that can be on a team at once, so long as they are all students at the same school.
Types of Teams
While the knowledge base and composition of each team is different, there are general archetypes that teams follow. Coaches and other people who determine team composition for tournaments are encouraged to look at the personnel available to them and decide which archetype best suits their players' strengths.
- See: One-person teams
A one-person team (or one-man team) is a team with multiple players on it whose fate is perceived to be entirely tied to the scoring abilities of a single player. Literal one-person teams (i.e. those with only a single individual on them) are sometimes called "one-person teams", but are typically referred to as playing solo instead.
The term is both laudatory and derisive - while it celebrates the skill of the "one-person" in question, it minimizes the contributions of their teammates (which are often significant) and carries with it the implication that the "one-person" is succeeding in part because of their lack of support. Because of the derogatory connotations, and especially the implied insult to the teammates of the "one-person," it is not a good idea to use this term in reference to any team in your tournament when you are the TD or moderator.
Generalist + Specialists
This is the most successful team archetype at the college level, with virtually every modern champion fitting this description to some degree. At the high school level, this type of team also meets with success with the generalist and top-scorer often being the team's captain.
Historically, the most common type of generalist has specialized in humanities (Andrew Yaphe, Matt Bollinger, Matt Jackson, Jordan Brownstein), and so many of the top teams have had a skilled science specialist. There have, however, also been science-oriented generalists (Mike Sorice, Seth Teitler, Auroni Gupta).
Extremely common among top-tier high school teams, less common in college. Three of the four specialists are almost always a literature specialist, and history specialist, and a science specialist. The fourth specialist is often a computation specialist in high school formats that place emphasis on computation questions. Other common specialties for the fourth specialist are arts, pop culture/current events, or providing overlap in literature, history, or science.
Whoever Shows Up
This team is made up of whoever can come to a particular tournament, without regard for balancing team strengths. Team members may significantly overlap in their strengths and lack knowledge in one or more major categories, leading to an imbalanced and often weak team.