Don't worry about the late response
Well don't worry about that either, no matter how much experienced we are, we are never satisfied with our work and skills, so that just means you're aware of your actual level, which is really cool
It's perfectly fine to compare your work, that will push you to keep improving, to always get better!!
I have no idea if it's tougher than last year of if it's just because we see things more clearly now x)
It's always baby steps, and no matter how much we improved it always feel like we don't, just take a moment and look at your old work and laugh about it, then go back stronger!
No please so more contest for the moment, I have stuff to do ! XD
With cubebrush's contests and artstation's ones I can't breath xD
But yeah maybe it can be a cool idea to have contest about something else