ModelOff: Finalists were fast, but versions behind

December 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm 2 comments

All this week, I’ve been featuring podcasts with tips from some finalists from the ModelOff World Excel Championships held December 2, 2012 in New York City.

Some observations:

  • They are fast. Reaching for the mouse is a sin. To hear the click-click-click of the keyboard is like hearing a freight train bearing down on you. Alt+ESV for paste values, Alt+ESW for paste column widths, Alt+ESF for paste formats, Alt+ESF for formulas.
  • They are young. Average age is 25.
  • 15 males, 1 female.
  • They are multi-national. 7 from USA, 1 Canada, 4 from Australia/New Zealand, and 4 from Europe. The top team prize went to the team from Europe. All of the winners were from outside the USA.
  • F2-Esc is almost like a tic. F2 shows you the formula, Esc goes back to the value. Some finalists would do this almost constantly… moving the cell pointer using the right hand on the arrows and pressing F2/Esc several times a second.
  • They use the PC. There was only 1 Mac user in the group of 16.

They mostly work for large financial firms. In my casual survey of what version of Excel they used, it was almost universally Excel 2007 with one Excel 2003. This is the nature of the large financial firms. They have add-ins and macros, and they have to test everything before moving up a version. I just spent the last four months writing 2100+ pages about Excel 2013, and apparently none of this group will be buying those books anytime soon.

The down side of this is that they are stuck with a very buggy version of Excel. They don’t have PowerPivot, Power View, sparklines. They don’t have the new flashy chart styles from Excel 2013. They don’t have Slicers or Timelines. One of the sections that I judged involved the finalists building a dashboard. All of the “dashboards” looked dated. Not  a slicer in the bunch. Only one offered interactivity, and that was through a Data Validation list. Obviously no sparklines (since none were used to Excel 2010), but also no Data Bars, Icon Sets, or Color Scales.


One statistic that I heard is that 80% of the finalists were trained by AdkinsMatchett&Toy. I picked up one of their $5 Excel tip cards. They are big on keyboard use, but don’t spend a lot of time on style. If you could marry all of this raw Excel skill with the techniques that you see in dashboards from PivotStream or PowerPivotPro, you would create some super-human Excellers.

If you are interested in competing for the $25K grand prize in the 2013 ModelOff, drop your e-mail at


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: .

MrExcel At The ModelOff Championships – “Shuffle A Deck of Cards”: Podcast #1610 MrExcel At The ModelOff Championships – “Dates To Quarters”: Podcast #1611

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tickc  |  December 5, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    The standard of the Excel financial modelers looks absolutely amazing. What a great event. Next year they will all improve and be better (love “super human” Excel users)

  • 2. Joe Marten  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Should be Alt+EST for paste formats, or Alt+HVT


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