Click here to see the latest FOCAL standings after eight events
(Lincoln x2, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds, London, Waterford and Cambridge).
The Cambridge podium: James (2nd), Callum (winner) and Jen (3rd) with their medals, under the Grand Final scoreboard showing the day’s last conundrum.
Our resident statistician, Zarte Siempre, has filed the below summary.
FOCAL standings for 2018 after Event 8
Ranking – Name – Points – Number of Events – Last Event – Movement
1 – Zarte Siempre – 6 – 5th – 382 – 0
2 – James Robinson – 6 – 2nd – 372 – Up 2
3 – Thomas Cappleman – 4 – N/A – 332 – Down 1
4 – Edward Byrne – 5 – N/A – 330 – Down 1
5 – Tracey Mills – 6 – N/A – 320 – 0
6 – Graeme Cole – 5 – 6th – 299 – Up 1
7 – Bradley Horrocks – 5 – N/A – 278 – Down 1
8 – Jonathan Wynn – 5 – 4th – 265 – Up 4
Mike Brown’s been a regular host in Countdown’s travelling circus for years, but his efforts have often returned turnouts lower than deserved. But thankfully, a move to the beautiful city of Cambridge has seen his numbers start to grow – and if word gets around about how magnificently organised this event was, then perhaps Year 2 will come with an even bigger crowd — and why not?
As it is, if Mike’s done no harm to his reputation as host, then someone who’s done no harm to their own as a player is first time co-event winner Callum Todd! Whilst he continues the unusual pattern of winners not reaching the Top Eight — as things stand, for now — he does finally get rid of the monkey on his back as he defeated fellow White Rose, James Robinson by 102 points to 94 in a close-run final. A crucial conundrum flummoxed them both, and the entirety of the room, with the exception of George Armstrong – who, we think, was as surprised as the rest of us!
A bigger event has also delivered more big movers and shakers on our list. In 3rd place in the elevator this time around, with a 30 place rise from 97th to 67th is Neil Collins.
Next, Philip Wilson rose by 33 places from 126th to 93rd position.
And finally, with a jump of 36 places, this event’s vertigo award is the aforementioned Mr. Armstrong who has soared from 131st to 95th. He’s really dragged himself onto the next page!
Our highest new entries now: Of those just entering the league for the first time this year, Robin McKay’s respectable placing sees him enter this year at 87th. Whilst there’s only one complete newbie to report on, Jon Collins came in last position, but he certainly played better than that placing would suggest in what was undoubtedly a tough field for its size. Jon — great to have you with us, and we hope to see you back again soon.
For Callum, it may have taken him until the 6th attempt to win a final, but finals are winnable. It may have taken him until the 29th participation, but tournaments are winnable! This was the longest run ever of second places without a first place, and it came in a year where one of the other perennial bridesmaids of Countdown, Dan McColm, took his first title too. Maybe it’s a year for it!
Now for the FOCAL yearly figures.
So far this year there have been 277 separate entries by 147 different individuals. In comparison to the same number of events last year, this leaves us 6 ahead on individuals but 8 behind on total entries. We have also stayed steady on the average attendance of 35 that we had last year. Where we COULD do with some improvement, is on the newbie front. Whilst it’s great that so many people are choosing to come back whether to more, new events or just to their local ones year in, year out, we do have to keep thinking about bringing in the next wave of player. So next time you’re going to one – especially your local one – try convincing every Tom, Dick and Harry you know with an interest in the game, and try to get them as hooked as you are.
The top eight ranked players at the end of the year will qualify for the FOCAL Finals in Birmingham in late November.