Dylan Taylor was an octochamp in and the runner-up of Series 69, as well as the winner of Championship of Champions XIV. He is one of the most talented contestants ever, due to his exceptional vocabulary, consistent numbers game solutions and lightning fast conundrum spots.
He first appeared on 6 August 2013 as a 17-year-old against future Series 78 and Championship of Champions XV winner Zarte Siempre, and showed strong word knowledge with findings of SARDIUS and PATRONNE. He was one point off the perfect game in his impressive debut. In an octochamp run that never looked in doubt, he continued to show his strong word knowledge with AMORETTI, ELASIPOD and SEPTARIUM and solved difficult numbers games (particularly in 6-small number selections) in spectacular fashion to seal crushing victories. Remarkably, all his wins but one were 120 or above.
He returned to the show for quarter-finals as number 1 seed against Gemma Church. He faced difficult letter selections, but maxed every round except the conundrum to win with a series low of 108. His semi-final against Bradley Cates was a tougher battle but he came through and earned a place in the grand final with a score of 121 against Cates's 103 despite missing another conundrum.
He has set numerous records on the programme. His cumulative octochamp total was a record 974 points, beating the previous record set by the Series 68 champion Giles Hutchings by 9 points. He also recorded the highest number of maxes during an octorun with 101 out of 120 maxes, beating the Series 64 champion Edward McCullagh's best by 5 maxes. His aggregate winning margin over his 8 preliminary games was 628, an improvement on the previous record held by Andy Platt. His score of 124 against Mike Thompson is also the highest ever without a 9-letter word. He is also the show’s highest scoring numbers player based on preliminary games, scoring 311 points in 32 numbers games during his octorun.
Despite his records, he lost the grand final 116 (the then highest losing score in a series final) to non-octochamp Callum Todd's 126 (the then highest winning score in a series final) in what was also the then highest combined score in a series final (excluding the 30th Birthday Championship). During what was arguably the most thrilling final in the history of Countdown, Taylor maxed the first round with TERATOMA then Todd immediately equalised with SOUVENIR, giving them one max each. Both went on the max every round prior to a crucial conundrum. This time, the conundrum proved to be Taylor's downfall, as Todd solved IHURTPALM in 5 seconds to become the first non-octochamp to win a series since viscount Ben Wilson won Series 46. Nonetheless Taylor totalled an outstanding 1,319 over his 11 appearances, the then highest ever achieved in a single series.
Taylor made his return to the show as one of 16 participants in Championship of Champions XIV, facing off against Tracey Mills in the preliminaries. Here, he proved to have lost none of his edge; Taylor maxed all but one of the letters rounds (putting in such impressive spots as PARIETAL and MOUTHER), beat Mills on a tricky four-large numbers round, and wrapped up by solving the conundrum SURLYVICE in just over one second to net 120 points out of a possible 124. Taylor's next opponent, in the quarter-finals, was Series 68 runner-up Andy Platt. In this episode, both players were dead level on the max score up until the third numbers game, when Taylor made a 10-point breakaway after an error by Platt. Platt regained the lead three rounds later by way of the nine URNFIELDS, but Taylor remained in contention with the score standing 125 – 117 to Platt going into the crucial conundrum. Taylor then solved MINUTEPUN in three-quarters of a second, relegating Platt to the show's highest-ever losing score and also setting up the highest joint score ever achieved in the new 15-round format. Taylor hereby advanced to a semi-final against Giles Hutchings, setting up a clash between the two highest-scoring octochamps by heat game totals in the show's history.
In the semi-final, Hutchings and Taylor matched each other in all the first 14 rounds (a first in Countdown history), before Taylor solved the conundrum TEARCLOTH to win the match 118 – 108. In the grand final, he played Series 71 champion Dan McColm, and after establishing a 25 point lead after 6 rounds, McColm pegged him back thanks to the nine METACONID. They would remain 7 points apart up until the crucial conundrum, where after 1.5 seconds, Taylor unravelled NICETASTY to become the fourteenth Champion of Champions.
Away from Countdown, Taylor likes to keep fit and trains for half marathons. He and his mother are from Honduras but moved with his family to the UK in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch devastated the nation. This also likely makes him the first Championship of Champions winner born outside the British Isles.
|Champion of Champions
Championship of Champions XIV
|#||Date||Type||Contestant 1||Score||Contestant 2||Guest||Lex||Max|
|5744||6/08/2013||P||Zarte Siempre||81 – 120||Dylan Taylor||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||121|
|5745||7/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||124 – 30||David Howard||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||146|
|5746||8/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||121 – 67||Tony Izzard||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||132|
|5747||9/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||113 – 47||Dominic James||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||122|
|5748||12/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||122 – 55||Mark O'Regan||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||135|
|5749||13/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||129 – 22||Leone Mitchell||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||143|
|5750||14/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||124 – 27||Mike Thompson||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||126|
|5751||15/08/2013||P||Dylan Taylor||121 – 17||Russ Millhouse||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||125|
|5833||12/12/2013||QF||Dylan Taylor||108 – 76||Gemma Church||Dan Walker||Susie Dent||118|
|5837||18/12/2013||SF||Dylan Taylor||121 – 103||Bradley Cates||Richard Madeley||Susie Dent||133|
|5839||20/12/2013||GF||Dylan Taylor||116 – 126||Callum Todd||Richard Madeley||Susie Dent||134|
|6281||7/01/2016||CP||Dylan Taylor||120 – 73||Tracey Mills||Gloria Hunniford||Susie Dent||124|
|6287||15/01/2016||CQF||Andy Platt||125 – 127||Dylan Taylor||John Inverdale||Susie Dent||145|
|6290||20/01/2016||CSF||Giles Hutchings||108 – 118||Dylan Taylor||Naga Munchetty||Susie Dent||122|
|6292||22/01/2016||CGF||Dylan Taylor||121 – 104||Dan McColm||Naga Munchetty||Susie Dent||154|
|Championship of Champions Winners|
I : Mark Nyman | II : Clive Freedman | III : Harvey Freeman | IV : Nic Brown | V : Tim Morrissey | VI : Wayne Summers | VII : Don Reid | VIII : Chris Rogers | IX : Natascha Kearsey | X : Scott Mearns | XI : Graham Nash | XII : Paul Gallen | XIII : Steve Briers | XIV : Dylan Taylor | XV : Zarte Siempre