The relevant part of the TopCoder Open has been announced. I think it is worth blogging this time because it really needs to be pointed out that the contest structure is drastically different this time. see this thread for more info. In short, the post-qualification rounds will no longer instantly take you out of the tournament after a bad day. There are three round 2s and two round 3s, if you fail one or can't participate, you can do the next.
I was planning to problem set this year like last year. The decision I made last year was very good for me money-wise. However, these changes are making me rethink that position.
For example, getting a t-shirt this year sounds very viable. I think that as long as you get 116-th in one of the three round 2s, you will be very likely to get a t-shirt. In fact, it may happen that you can get a t-shirt with a higher rank if there are many coders who get positions between 1 and 111 in more than one round.
Even qualification to round 3 seems possible. You "only" need position 50 in one round 2. I think that it is possible for me to get such position depending of how lucky I am.
Of course, qualifying to the on site is a much less viable possibility. Top 12 in a TC match still sounds insanely high. Speaking of insanely hard objectives, let's talk about the new marathon rules. They are a lot more extreme than SRM rules. There are three rounds, no qualification and if you get 4 place in any of the rounds, you advance.
That's quite a twist. I think a good thing about this is that this greatly reduces the chances of qualification to on site depending solely on one very annoying problem. It used to be a case that the third marathon round is always a very boring problem that is a torture to solve so only coders with enough patience can participate in it. But now, since each Marathon has to host all coders, at least one round will have to be a fun enough round to make it worth it to work in it with the objective of reaching top 4.
Finally, Google (GOOG) will be sponsoring the TCO. This does not seem to have any effect on the prizes but it probably means on site advancers will have chances to get interviews.