The ERChamp 2021 qualifying round is over and… We didn’t make it. 🙁
I still had a great time, though. Aside from one major delay at about the 10% mark, we made quick progress through the game. The puzzle count was high, and the variety was good. Everyone on the team had a lot to do, and each team member had at least a few key contributions throughout the event. I really enjoyed it and wish there were more events like this one.
We were expecting to do really well. We placed around 40th in the qualifiers and 30th in the finals last year despite costly avoidable delays in both, so we figured this was our year to move up to at least the 20s. We ended up at #205. The delay at the 10% mark dropped us to #470 in the rankings, and it was a little satisfying climbing back up the rankings for the rest of the event (Christina kept an eye on our progress in this regard), but in the end it was too little too late.
It was a big shakeup year. I saw the team that took #1 overall last year ended up at #165 this time, also missing out on the finals. I’d guess they got stuck exactly where we did, but it’d be interesting to hear from them on it!
That big delay was super painful this year for a few different reasons:
The first- our team had a little powwow before the games started and we all agreed to rule out a specific type of puzzle we didn’t expect to show up in this event. The puzzle we got stuck on ended up being that kind of puzzle. (I’m being a little coy about specifics because the event rules call out avoiding sharing anything that could function as a hint- when I’m sure the round is over, I can be more specific)
The second- by eliminating the correct path from the pool of what we could look at, we were left with a small pool of options to examine. One of them was a deep rabbit hole, and I spent nearly an hour on frustrating experimentation and data collection, creating a spreadsheet documenting how the game reacted to various inputs. It was EXTREMELY tedious, and it ended up having no reward, aside from that I eventually got enough data to rule out that path. But only after a VERY long time.
The third- the clue that hinted at the correct path coincidentally matched up to an in-joke a few close friends and I share. Three members of my team know that in joke, and we chuckled about it together every time we saw the clue. A really stupid reason, but painful nonetheless.
I’m glad that we persisted through that part- as painful as it was not finishing in the top 100, it would have been dramatically more painful to have had to give up and walk away.
Our team agreed that we all want to still play along at home on the championship round and time ourselves to race against our own clock. It’s such an enjoyable challenge that the ERChamp team is putting together, and I can’t wait for more. Who do I have to pay to make these quarterly instead of annually??? 🙂
This year’s challenge was similar to last year’s puzzle-wise. The biggest difference we noticed was that the puzzles this year had less numeric sequences and numeric relationships. I’m indifferent about the change, but Christina liked it a lot. I imagine this change made the contest feel more accessible, and that a number of teams would hit a wall when faced with a challenging numeric sequence puzzle (1, 47, 235, 2643, ?). And that isn’t a real sequence, so don’t bother trying to solve it. I like numeric puzzles, but I also like the verbal/visual/spatial puzzles that replaced them, so I’m not heartbroken about it.
I hate being one and done and having no guarantees on when I’ll be able to play this year’s ERChamp finals game, but such is life. I feel like we continued to improve our organization and communications and picked up a few techniques that will help us for the next go-around. Good luck to all the finalists!