Yeah, I have found that it really does change not only year to year, but site to site as well. Some sites will have more entries making it more difficult to get through to the final round. Some sites will have higher numbers of entries in random categories and lower numbers in others. It really is a crap shoot. You just hope to send your best work in and cross your fingers.
So from what I gathered by most responses, for the most part, the various NHC 1st round regions, will vary in number of entries in each styles from year to year. Which then led me to look randomly look at 1st,2nd, & 3rd place 1st round results from 2013-2015 and I came to the following conclusions:
1. The majority of entrants submit to the nearest region site.
2. BJCP 2008 styles 10,13,14 & 16 get the most entries. (You better bring your A game, don't just grab some bottles from the back of the fridge)
3. Other styles seem to be random.
My original post was really only trying to find out if #1 above, really has any effect on results. Is UPS or FedEx a factor? There is not many brewers in Chicago area placing in say San Diego or Seattle. California brewers are not winning in New York. I think that stat result is statistically base on shipping cost. I do see that some brewers outside a local region "do win in a remote region" .... so yes, this is a brewing competition and brewing skills do/must seem to count for something, right??? It can't be a total crap shoot?