FOCAL is the voluntary organisation responsible for organising the vast majority of unofficial Countdown tournaments since 2016. The organisation's name is an acronym for Finals Of the Co-event Annual League. Perhaps coincidentally, "focal" also means "word" in the Irish language.
Players play in events across the British Isles throughout the year, with the top 8 highest ranked players at the end of the year receiving free entry into the finals event in Birmingham, held alongside a normal tournament that is open to everyone. Events are open to all, regardless of experience, level of play or age, and can be set up anywhere and by anyone. Events typically lasts between 6 and 8 hours, followed by a trip to the pub.
Rated events in 2016 are being hosted in Lincoln, Bristol, Leeds, King's Lynn, St Albans, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Dublin, Huddersfield and Glasgow. All events are hosted on a Saturday, with the exception of two 'hangover' events, held on the Sundays in Lincoln and Glasgow as secondary events. Tournament entrance costs between £10 and £16 dependent on event.
The organisation was the brainchild of Series 69 contestant and .co.mk organiser Zarte Siempre in mid-2015. The team is currently chaired by Series 70 champion Mark Murray, organiser of the 2015 and 2016 Countdown in Bristol tournaments.
As of 3rd July, Series 69 contestant and FOCAL creator Zarte Siempre was leading the 2016 rankings after 6 events, having won Countdown in St Albans 2016 after bearing Rob Foster in the final. The other players currently standing to qualify for this year's finals are Series 66 champion Jack Worsley, highest-scoring female octochamp and CoC XIV semi-finalist Jen Steadman, Series 73 semi-finalist Thomas Carey, COHUD and CoStAl organiser James Robinson, Series 68 champion Giles Hutchings, Series 72 champion Tom Cappleman, and Countdown in Dublin 2016 organiser Edward Byrne.
Full current standings for the year, details about events, a FAQs section for newcomers, and pictures from previous tournaments can be found at the FOCAL website .
Events on the 2016 calendar
- Countdown in Lincoln 2016 and The Hangover on January 30th/31st
- Countdown in Bristol 2016 on February 27th
- Countdown in Leeds 2016 on April 30th
- Countdown in King's Lynn 2016 on May 28th
- Countdown in St Albans 2016 on July 2nd
- Countdown in Nottingham 2016 on July 23rd
- Countdown in Milton Keynes 2016 on August 20th
- Countdown in Dublin 2016 on September 10th
- Countdown in Huddersfield 2016 on October 8th
- Countdown in Glasgow 2016 and CoGlasgowOnThen on November 12th/13th
- The FOCAL Finals in Birmingham on December 3rd