I’ve covered Taiwan’s NTHU (National Tsing Hua University) team for three years now. And every time I talk to them they’re personable, friendly, and modest. Very modest. Too modest. This is a team with a serious pedigree that’s backed up by the best track record in the game.
First, they’re from the high tech district of Taiwan – almost sharing parking lots with some of the most advanced tech manufacturers in the world. They’ve proven their skills in previous competitions, winning the highest LINPACK score in the early years and taking home the Overall Award in 2010 and 2011. Team Taiwan is the first repeat winner of the SCC and the first team to have a chance to three-peat. Bottom line? They’re formidable.
But when I wander by their booth to get their thoughts on their chances? They smile shyly and give the impression that not only do they believe they can’t win, they think they’ll be lucky even to stay competitive with the other teams. I’ve finally started calling them on this attitude and pointing out how it’s increasingly at odds with history. You can’t be the underdog after you’ve won first prize two years in a row, right?
So what do they say now, on the last day of the SC12 competition? I was surprised when they expressed confidence in their chances of notching their third Overall Award prize. While this is out of character, it reflects reality. They know what they’re doing, they’re one of the most experienced and knowledgeable teams in the competition, and they’ve won the whole enchilada two times running. So why shouldn’t they believe they can do it again?