Well, to begin things with, we aren't geniuses. We are people just like you with a little bit of luck and a little bit of hard work. That's all it takes.
To introduce ourselves, we are a team of 3 - Anupam Kumar Singh (Final year EE), Shubhadeep Chandra (Final year IT) and Sparsh Kedia(Final Year IT). It's a bit difficult to explain how we came together as a team but things happened and we are glad they did. We formed our team in the 3rd year, a few months before the ICPC online round in November.
Since the start of our journey, we had one aim in mind - crack the online round and get through to the regionals. We were never looking very far away as coders. We took things step by step and always made sure that we get our basics right. Individually, we all had our strengths and weaknesses but to get the right balance and synchronization is what makes a team. Throughout this journey, one thing was clear that if we could get our strategy right - we have a good shot at regionals. So after 1-2 months of daily contests, practice sessions, problem solving sessions and multiple team meetings, the online round had arrived. A lot of teams (around 70) were participating from college and there was a lot of buzz around. There were 3 teams taking part from our hostel wing only so it was natural for us to be psyched about it from the start.
There were 8 questions to be solved in 3 hours. We had a poor start to the contest since we had already made two wrong submissions(20 mins time penalty per each wrong submission) inside the first twenty minutes. Meanwhile, some of the other teams had solved two questions with no wrong submissions and since they had applied to the same regional, our chances of qualifying only depended on us solving one question more than them. After 2 hours, 8-10 teams had solved 3 questions each and it was all about solving the 4th question on time. Upon intense brainstorming between the three of us, we were able to arrive at the solution with 30 mins remaining. Since the time was extremely less, we had to make sure that our intended solution is correct. One of us began typing frantically and after 10 mins we were able to compile our code. At this point of time, we were in 3rd position with almost zero chances of qualifying because of a team above us that had applied to the same 2 regions. We checked it against a few sample cases and against a few of our own edge cases. Then, we said "Jai Bhole" and submitted our code. Codechef's servers meanwhile were only adding to our frustration because of a huge submission queue. After 2 minutes of patience testing and screen staring , a green tick emerged. Our happiness knew no bounds, we were screaming and running across the corridor. We had now climbed to the top and we were now going to the regionals - Amritapuri and Kanpur.
The experience of regionals is nothing short of fascinating. It's like going on a paid expense trip to a conference full of intelligent folks. We were able to meet some of the best minds across the country - coders we only see on codeforces and codechef. Those 7 stars and grandmaster/master tags we could only dream of. It all felt like we are a part of it. To be able to meet and see the way they think and perform is truly fasnicating and inspiring.
Since we had chosen Coimbatore as the city for our Amritapuri regionals, we were able to travel a bit too. We could see the magical hills of coimbatore. We were also fortunate to have witnessed Adiyogi which is the tallest Shiva statue in the world. Trips like these not only bring with them loads of learning but also some fun as well. Though we couldn't perform well at Amritapuri site, we were able to learn and improve on our mistakes in the Kanpur Site. We were able to secure a decent rank of 46 in Kanpur.
All things considering, it was truly a memorable experience. If one has a passion for competitive programming, if those green ticks really mean something to you, if they drive you forward then you should really try and experience this competition. There's a reason why it's called the "Olympics of Coding" and that's because of the competition, history and reputation of the event. Some of the best coders in the world have been champions here and it's really really inspiring. But all good things are short and so was this - so here's a message to anyone who's reading this and aiming to crack ICPC - "Don't give up, if you fall down 7 times, stand up 8 because in the end, it's all worth it."