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Excel Wizards Battle in Vegas: Spreadsheets Get Wild on The Strip ( Yes.. it’s a Thing!)

In a luxurious hotel on Las Vegas’s famed Strip, Andrew “the Annihilator” Ngai made a grand entrance to a cheering crowd on Saturday night, with his world championship title in competitive Excel at stake. Little did the Australian know, a computer glitch would soon threaten his victory.

Excel, typically seen as a mundane office tool, has become a competitive sport for data enthusiasts, culminating in the Microsoft Excel World Championship at the HyperX Arena Las Vegas in the Luxor Hotel & Casino. This event drew a large crowd of fans, foregoing other Vegas attractions to watch the competition.

Johnnie Thomas from Microsoft opened the event, emphasizing the importance of skills and passion in spreadsheeting. The event, hosted by Stephen Rose, a consultant and former Microsoft employee, also featured commentators Jon Acampora and Oz du Soleil, both known for their expertise in Excel. They introduced various contestants, including Diarmuid Early, a Ph.D. in computer science and a notable competitor in the field.

Brandon “B-Money” Moyer was another contestant, known for his unique entrance. The event highlighted Excel’s unexpected appearances in various contexts, from music videos to financial systems, and its controversial status in some professional circles.

The championship featured intense competition over three 30-minute rounds, with the audience engrossed in the participants’ strategies and skills in managing complex data and formulas.

Ngai, an actuary, faced a challenge when a scoring glitch momentarily eliminated him from the competition, causing confusion among the audience. However, he was later reinstated after the organizers identified the glitch. David Brown, a finance professor, praised Ngai’s skills, likening him to an athlete.

The final match involved complex math problems, with contestants being eliminated progressively. Moyer, one of the participants, was eliminated early in the final round.

Competitive Excel, while a recent phenomenon as an esport, has been part of online financial-modeling contests for years. Andrew Grigolyunovich, a Latvian financial consultant, played a significant role in popularizing these competitions.

Fans showed their support in unique ways, including Jordan Goldmeier with a homemade Clippy sign and Zachary Garippa, who brought a 3D Clippy replica.

In the final moments, Ngai’s strategic approach secured him a comfortable lead, ultimately winning him the championship, a $3,000 prize, and the championship belt, to the excitement of the audience and commentators alike.

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