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Championship of Champions XV

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A hug between Tom Carey and Zarte Siempre ends a record-breaking game.

Championship of Champions XV ran from 2 January 2019 to 22 January 2019 just before the start of Series 80, with FOCAL innovator Zarte Siempre emerging victorious and becoming the first grand slam winner of Countdown since Richard Whiteley's passing.

The tournament was announced in the summer of 2018, with the draw being announced on the c4c forum and Apterous on 18 July 2018. Filming of the episodes took place from 1 to 3 October 2018. It featured sixteen contestants – including fourteen octochamps, six of whom were series winners – this time drawn from Series 73 through 78. Similar to Championship of Champions XIV, contestants from the most recent series, Series 79, were not invited and instead will qualify for a potential CoC XVI.

The draw proved to be interesting in that four of the six series winners played against each other in the first round, unlike the previous CoC where all but two of the six series winners were kept apart at that stage. Paul Erdunast and Zarte Siempre – the two contestants in this tournament with the highest aggregate scores across their eleven wins in their respective series (1,273 and 1,331 respectively) – went head-to-head in the first round, with the latter just edging it 113 – 105 after an unsolved crucial conundrum, the solution to which is no longer valid due to an amendment since made to the Lexico dictionary.

From then on, Siempre asserted his authority in the rest of the tournament; he made history by setting the then highest ever score in the history of Countdown with a score of 150 to Tom Carey's 122, in which Siempre missed Carey's TIRAMISUS to be denied a maximum score of 168. The match also saw Siempre and Carey break the record for the highest combined score in a televised game of Countdown with a total of 272. Siempre's 150 was eventually beaten four months later by Elliott Mellor, who scored 152 in his second heat game in May 2019. In the first semi-final, Philip Aston was beaten by Siempre for the third time, marking the first time in Countdown history that a contestant had lost to the same opponent thrice. In the Grand Final, Siempre avoided a crucial conundrum for the third consecutive time in the tournament with victory over Bradley Horrocks, in which Siempre spotted that the conundrum OOHSONUMB became BONHOMOUS; a clip of this solve can be seen on TV's Greatest Gameshows on Challenge, in which Siempre was credited for his appearance on the programme. Siempre never fell behind in any of his four victories in this tournament, and averaged 121.25 points per game.

Due to filming of Countdown being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the series was repeated from 20 July to 7 August 2020. Series 82 resumed after these repeats.

Draw and bracket

The bracket structure and first-round pairings for this Championship of Champions were announced on the C4Countdown forum and Apterous on 18 July 2018. The bracket will run as follows:

Jonathan Wynn (73) vs Phil Davies (78) Jonathan Wynn vs Philip Aston Philip Aston
vs
Zarte Siempre
Zarte Siempre
vs
Bradley Horrocks
Philip Aston (78) vs Noel McIlvenny (77)
Tom Carey (73) vs Stephen Read (76) Tom Carey vs Zarte Siempre
Paul Erdunast (74) vs Zarte Siempre (78)
Ann Dibben (74) vs John Cowen (77) John Cowen vs Bradley Horrocks Bradley Horrocks
vs
Tom Chafer-Cook
Bradley Horrocks (77) vs Andrew Macleod (75)
Matthew Tassier (73) vs Dougie Mackay (78) Matthew Tassier vs Tom Chafer-Cook
Tom Chafer-Cook (77) vs Martin Hurst (75)
The winner of each game is displayed in bold.
The numbers refer to the series in which each contestant originally played in the finals.

Episodes

# Date Type Contestant 1 Score Contestant 2 Guest Lex Max
6980 2/01/2019 CP Jonathan Wynn 103 – 68 Phil Davies Kate Humble Susie Dent 116
6981 3/01/2019 CP Ann Dibben 94 – 97 John Cowen Kate Humble Susie Dent 129
6982 4/01/2019 CP Matthew Tassier 96 – 78 Dougie Mackay Kate Humble Susie Dent 135
6983 7/01/2019 CP Tom Carey 106 – 87 Stephen Read Kate Humble Susie Dent 131
6984 8/01/2019 CP Paul Erdunast 105 – 113 Zarte Siempre Kate Humble Susie Dent 131
6985 9/01/2019 CP Tom Chafer-Cook 129 – 89 Martin Hurst Dr Linda Papadopoulos Susie Dent 142
6986 10/01/2019 CP Bradley Horrocks 128 – 104 Andrew Macleod Dr Linda Papadopoulos Susie Dent 133
6987 11/01/2019 CP Philip Aston 103 – 89 Noel McIlvenny Dr Linda Papadopoulos Susie Dent 122
6988 14/01/2019 CQF Jonathan Wynn 92 – 110 Philip Aston Dr Linda Papadopoulos Susie Dent 132
6989 15/01/2019 CQF John Cowen 96 – 99 Bradley Horrocks Dr Linda Papadopoulos Susie Dent 136
6990 16/01/2019 CQF Matthew Tassier 62 – 111 Tom Chafer-Cook Jon Culshaw Susie Dent 128
6991 17/01/2019 CQF Tom Carey 122 – 150 Zarte Siempre Jon Culshaw Susie Dent 168
6992 18/01/2019 CSF Philip Aston 73 – 106 Zarte Siempre Jon Culshaw Susie Dent 129
6993 21/01/2019 CSF Bradley Horrocks 111 – 110 Tom Chafer-Cook Jon Culshaw Susie Dent 128
6994 22/01/2019 CGF Zarte Siempre 116 – 83 Bradley Horrocks Jon Culshaw Susie Dent 123

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