I started participating in Techgig CodeGladiator since last year (2015) to test out my skills & competence as a coder at a national platform. Although, last year I ranked among the Top 100 (Exactly 100th rank) in Semi-Final which technically made me eligible for the Grand Finale but only Techgig knows why I wasn’t called for the finale. I had mailed this query to all the contact people & mail accounts mentioned in the “Contact Us” page but to no avail. Anyway, I will share more about that experience in some other post.
This year again I participated in the Techgig CodeGladiator 2016. But unlike last year, I went on till the finale. Although I didn’t win the title this year but, I won Top Rank for PHP Language in the open competition(round 1). This post is to share my experience of finale event of “India’s Biggest Coding Arena” (as quoted by the website) with an aim to provide insight into the Contest process from a participant’s view.
About Techgig Code Gladiators
This is a coding contest organized at national level & as per the website, saw a whopping 1,40,000 registrations this year. It consists of 3 stages. In all the stages, we had a maximum of 2 attempts for each of problem & higher score of the two attempts was considered as final score. Once the participant completes writing the code, a set of default test cases checks the code. Each test case carries equal marks with equal weight-age adding to 100 marks in total.
Stage 1: Online Open Competition – The slot for this stage was open from 28th March 2016 to 4th May 2016.It had 3 coding problems. .
Stage 2: Semi-final – This was done with Online Webcam Proctoring. As per the guidelines, the screen freezes if participant moves during the online webcam proctoring & unfreezes only when he/she comes to a still position(although it kept on showing warnings like “Right Arm Movement detected” but the screen never froze ). The slot for this stage was open from 12:00 PM 8th May 2016 to 23:59 PM 10th May 2016. There were 2 coding problems of 4-hour duration each. The result of was declared in about 3 days.
Stage 3: Grand Finale – Reducing the number from 150k to only 150 when it enters the finale.
The Grand Finale was held on 27th of May, 2016 at Radission Blu Noida. Participants from all over India came over for the final show down (although their travel and stay expenses weren’t paid or compensated by the organizers). The contest timings were 10 AM to 4 PM & the award ceremony timings were 6.30 PM. There were arrangements for lunch & dinner.
I traveled to the venue via metro and the hotel was at the walking distance from the metro station. We were supposed to reach the venue between 8am to 9am for registrations. I reached there at around 8.30 AM. While entering the Hotel’s premises, I noticed direction boards for the area where the event was going to take place. At the entry of the event area, there were two stalls for providing the contestants with their registration cards, Wi-Fi passwords and seat numbers.
Once you register you get an SMS with the seat number and Wi-Fi details using which you can setup Internet access onto your laptop (yes, you have to bring your own laptop, which I guess would be the case with most hackathons).
They had reserved a hall with seating arrangements for the contestants.
I took my seat based on the information provided. I checked time & it was still 8.50 AM and there was plenty of time from the event commencement. So I decided to have a look around. There was provision of light snacks but I didn’t have any because I was already stuffed with my breakfast. An event coordinator was repeating information regarding the contest & the guidelines of do’s and don’ts.
During the Main Event
The contest commenced at 10 AM sharp. The solution code was to be written & submitted through the same Live Coding Environment that was used in the earlier rounds as well. But unlike the earlier rounds, the interface could be accessed only with the Internet connection in the hotel premises.
Along with start of the event, a constant music (similar to what you hear in elevators) had started playing in the background.
There were 2 coding problems & as expected the level of difficulty was good. I started with the first question which was very interesting and started out with writing the possible algorithms on paper that I can use for solving the problem. Sadly, I lost track of time while solving the first problem & gave it much more time than I initially planned to. Even after that, I wasn’t confident about the solution’s correctness. Since I had 2 attempts for each of the problems, I went ahead and submitted the solution that I had written so far. But it failed majority of test cases and got a low score. Obviously, this deteriorated my morale & made me more nervous. To overcome this, I decided to move on to the next question but this question was even tougher than the previous one.
By now I had lost my hopes of getting any kind of prize, but still didn’t give up and carried on working on the problems, until that emcee made the announcement that the food is ready and is available from 1 to 3 pm. Now this was strange, they had given us 6 hours for two problems and there was lunch in between!
I had two problems with the lunch timings:
- This was going to take up some considerable time off from coding. (although by this time I was already out of the race so didn’t matter to me)
- As per the guidelines, participants would have been disqualified if found discussing or interacting during coding However, during lunch, people were free to interact with each other in the lunch area. They could possibly have discussed the problems among each other or through other means. Even if everybody might be honest, why give them a chance to cheat?
So now, I went ahead and had the lunch. As expected from a good hotel, the food was great.
I came back from the lunch and started working through the questions once again. Although there was a small voice in my head that was saying that the contest is over for me, I still carried on.
While we were coding, we were showered with a lot of great goodies from the sponsors(Here, GE Digital, Gilbarco Veeder Root). We were also served with some energy drinks and chocolates.
End of the event
Finally, it was 4 PM & the submissions were closed. Based on my overall low score, I had no hopes of winning anything. The emcee informed that we will be meeting again for the award ceremony at 6.30 PM.
So now from 4 PM to 6.30 PM you were own your own. I spent some time here and there and went back there at 6.30 PM. Although I knew there was nothing in it for me, but still I wanted to see who was the winner and how the Award Ceremony was organized.
The Award Ceremony
A very cool emcee (different from the one in the morning) gave this event a go ahead. He made us dance to Gangnam Style and the Champion Song. It was good fun. There were speeches from the sponsors’ representatives. For cheering up the crowd, there were some dance performances like the laser dance show and the dancers in the glow suits which was pretty good. (I had never seen such performances)
By that time, I was checking Techgig’s website, thinking maybe they had released the winners list online. But instead of that, I found my name in one of the side contents, Language Winner in PHP, this was a consolation for me and now I was happy.
Winners of the different categories were one by one awarded & felicitated and the ceremony was concluded after the top winner’s declaration. The crowd was now happy and cheering, one reason was that the food and booze was ready. I ate to my heart’s content and quickly left the hotel before the people went crazy after cracking up for booze like there is no tomorrow.
The event was well-organized & coordinated. The experience & exposure was really great. I got to learn a lot. I got to meet & interact with coders from all over India, of varying experience and ages. I enjoyed the finale event. I would sum up & say that Techgig lived up to the hype that it had created about the event. You should also give it a shot next year! I certainly will.
This is all for now folks, see you later!