Championship of Champions XV
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the first round, with the latter just edging it 113 – 105 after an unsolved crucial conundrum, the solution to which is no longer valid due to an amendment since made to the Lexico dictionary.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.
Draw and bracket
|Jonathan Wynn (73) vs Phil Davies (78)||Jonathan Wynn vs Philip Aston|| Philip Aston |
| Zarte Siempre |
|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 |
|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 numbers refer to the series in which each contestant originally played in the finals.
|#||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|