Monthly Archives: May 2013

Quality or Quantity?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of playing beer pong for big money. With prize pools of $65,000 and $100,000 for the World Series of Beer Pong and the Masters of Beer Pong, respectively, there are some amazing opportunities to win some big money playing pong.

I may be in the minority, but I think that these big beer pong tournaments should be the exception, not the norm. Somewhere along the line, tournament organizers throughout the country decided that we needed big money tournaments and big money tournaments only. It’s as if someone decided that if we weren’t playing for at least $1,000, there’s no point.

I can understand why the top players want big money tournaments. They’ve got a chance to win. For someone like a Pop or a Kessler or a Ross Hampton, flying across the country for a weekend of pong is a sound investment. They’ve likely already won a bid, and whether they win or lose the big tournament, they’ll probably at least make enough to recoup their investment. But for others like myself, what’s the point?

When I first started playing beer pong, it wasn’t the money that attracted me to the game. I’m sure I’m not alone, because a lot of the players that started around the time that I did are still playing, too, and there wasn’t any money to be made back then. It was the community and the aspect of competition that drew us in and kept us engaged. Sure, we all get older and priorities and responsibilities change, but none of us picked up a pong ball for the first time with the hopes of cashing in for big money. We wanted to drink and have fun with our friends.

It seems that throughout the country, beer pong tournaments need to be a “Best Of” or take place in a ballroom to be worth our while. I’m tired of playing beer pong in the same ballrooms with the same overpriced drinks, stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing else to do.

I’ve been saying for years that tournament and league organizers need to cater to the new players, not the “elite” players to survive. Sure, $5,000 prize pools are awesome, but you’re also charging quadruple the entry fee plus travel expenses for multiple-day tournaments. The new, casual player isn’t going to make that investment, and if he does he will likely get throttled so badly in competition he won’t be coming back.

I can only speak for my local area, but at least in Maryland, it seemed that as the prize money increased over the last few years, the tournaments became fewer and fewer in between and the loyal players stopped coming. A big prize isn’t worth it to someone who knows they have no chance of winning. It’s no fun to come to a tournament and go 0-2.

Having more tournaments with less prize money is a win-win. More people get to play, and even if those top players decide that a $100 isn’t worth their time, the five casual teams that sign up knowing they have a better chance to have fun and win something will more than cover the cost of losing those top teams. Parity is rampant in professional sports because it works, beer pong is no different.

If you look at the beer pong communities that are thriving, it’s no surprise. Places like Lehigh Valley are attracting over 100 teams a week by having several small tournaments. They aren’t holding them in small hotel ballrooms, but in local bars, with local players, for modest cash prizes and drink specials. These are the players that are going to keep playing and become the next great players.

Cup Check

Four drinking straws together weigh .28 ounces. One and a half wooden pencils weigh .28 ounces. A plastic spoon and a plastic fork together weigh .28 ounces.

If you were playing an intense game of beer pong, would you be distracted by someone throwing drinking straws at themselves? Would you be distracted by someone hitting themselves in the head with a plastic spoon and fork? Probably not.

So, what’s your point, you ask? Well, a regulation BPONG plastic cup weighs .28 ounces. And for some strange reason, countless beer pong players have convinced themselves that taking a BPONG beer pong cup, smashing it against their own head and throwing the cup onto the ground is an amazing distraction technique. This folks, is why the media portrays beer pong players to be a community of alcoholic douchebags.

We are all adults. We may not act like it from time to time, but by definition we are adults. I would hope that we could get past certain childish thingslike smashing beer pong cups over our heads, but I’m not so confident that we can. Newsflash: We are not impressed.

Have you ever walked into the practice area at the World Series of Beer Pong, hoping to get a few shots in before your next round? You finally find an open table to play on, except all that’s left is a an empty rack and a few overturned cups on the table. You try and gather the cups that you can off the ground, finally find ten and then fill them up with water. Except most of the cups start leaking out because some tough guy thought they would impress someone by smashing the cups.

This is why we can’t have nice things, guys.

Do you ever wonder why some tournaments drag on and on and you can’t figure out why? Because half the tables don’t have enough cups or water left to play a game. You shouldn’t have to hunt and gather enough cups and water to play a game of beer pong in a tournament.

And let’s be honest. BPONG cups aren’t exactly expensive, but they aren’t cheap either. When you play at home do you smash cups and throw water around like a gorilla? No, you don’t. You probably use the same cups you have been using for the last couple of years. We’ve all been there. You wash a few dozen of your BPONG cups and then stack them up like a pyramid on the kitchen counter to dry out. Just because you are in Vegas or in some ballroom of whatever hotel agreed to hold a beer pong tournament, you should have a certain amount of respect.

I know it’s easy to get into the emotion of the moment after hitting or missing a big shot (I have more experience with the latter, personally) but enough is enough. People need to stop smashing cups, literally.

In football, if a player kicks or throws the ball away like a dickhead it’s a penalty. The same in basketball. In baseball, if a player throws his helmet like an asshole onto the field of play he’s likely going to get tossed. If you guys ever want beer pong to be taken seriously, smashing cups isn’t helping.

Save our cups!

So, Who’s Winning the Masters?

Time sure flies when you’re having fun. It seems like only yesterday we were crowning a new World Series of Beer Pong champion and handing out a giant check for $50,000. Now, we’re less than two months away from handing out an even larger check for the first ever Masters of Beer Pong champion. And there’s one question everyone keeps asking.

Who’s going to win it?whos-winning-masters

In beer pong time, two months is an eternity. There’s still way too much time for players to find partners, change plans, flake out at the last moment or backstab a good friend. We’ve come to expect these things from our close-knit beer pong community. I wouldn’t expect anything less. But, like the NFL “experts” who have spent the last few months posting mock drafts that made them look like idiots this past week, it’s still fun to guess how things will pan out.

Right now, is there a better player in the world than Ross Hampton?

The name should sound familiar if you have spent any time in the competitive beer pong circuits the past two years. Hampton won the prestigious World Series of Beer Pong VII singles title last year, and followed it up with an even more impressive victory, winning the World Series of Beer Pong VII doubles title. In the World Series of Beer Pong VIII, he was a part of the winning East vs. West tournament team, and then followed it up by winning the 2nd Annual Spring Classic a few weeks ago. In between, he’s won dozens of other tournaments. Not a bad resume, and I’m sure I’m leaving some stuff out.

People love to debate who the best players are, and several can make a case as the world’s best. Players like Michael “Pop” Popielarski and Ron Hamilton are no stranger to taking home the big checks, and guys like Kevin Kessler, Brandon Marx and Nick Syrigos are also considered some of the world’s best. But in the “what have you won lately” world of competitive beer pong, it’s hard to top what Ross Hampton is doing.

It’s still early, but who’s your pick to win the first ever Masters of Beer Pong tournament. Be sure you register soon before entry fees go up. You won’t want to miss this one.

Drunk or Sober?

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of “organized” beer pong tournaments are now played with water in the cups, not beer. In the case of the World Series of Beer Pong, there’s a mixture of both water and beer cups on the table, although no player is required to drink beer. There’s a variety of reasons why organizers have adapted this practice, but mostly it’s because local laws and regulations restrict bars from playing with beer in cups.

Outsiders like to dismiss competitive beer pong because they see us playing with water cups and assume we aren’t drinking. While it’s few and far between when I actually have beer in my cups when I am playing, unless I am driving or it’s a work night I’m usually drinking while I play. And if I have a ride, I’m drinking a lot more. I know it’s childish to compare drinking abilities, but I’d take a Masters of Beer Pong participant over some YouTube troll any day of the week when it comes to drinking.

That said, do you play better buzzed, or sober?

The popular opinion is that the player who can manage to stay sober longer wins, but I disagree. I think it’s much harder to play sober or with minimal drinking. While I have played well and won tournaments without taking even a sip of beer, it’s no coincidence that normally, the deeper I go into a tournament the bigger my hangover will be the next day.

Playing beer pong well, for me, is finding a perfect balance between being too drunk and being sober. It’s the mental aspect of the game that separates the winners from the losers, not shooting percentages. A headcase who can go 10/10 in practice is usually going to miss a rebuttal shot if his mind isn’t right. Maybe it’s a sign of weakness, but I feel like having a few beers in my system allows me to calm down, keep the butterflies away, and shoot well regardless of the situation.

Some people like to get completely trashed before a tournament, and some people drink too much that they can’t hit the table by the end of the day. For me, the days are too long to get completely hammered first thing in the morning and try to make it through the night. But it works for some people, just not me.

For those who don’t drink, I’ve seen several times when players get called out deep into Day 3 for not drinking. It’s easy to talk shit from the railing. I think those guys deserve extra props. I couldn’t imagine playing a best-of-three series for $50,000 dead sober. My arms would be shaking worse than Michael J. Fox. If they can do it, good for them.

What works best for you?


Pabst Blue Ribbon: Official Beer of the Masters of Beer Pong

The biggest beer pong event in the history of the world just got a little bit better.

BPONG is proud to announce that Pabst Blue Ribbon will be the official beer sponsor of the first-ever Masters of Beer Pong tournament. As if a few days of summer sun in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a $100,000 minimum prize pool and pool parties weren’t enough, there will be plenty of ice-cold Pabst Blue Ribbon to keep us hydrated. What else could one ask for?

Pabst Blue Ribbon is no stranger to the biggest beer pong tournaments in the world. You may recall the tasty lager at previous BPONG events, including the World Series of Beer Pong III, WSOBP IV, and this past WSOBP VIII. The only complaint the world’s best beer pong players have about PBR is when there isn’t enough.

The World Series of Beer Pong has come a long way since its first days in Mesquite. Although I did not attend my first WSOBP until WSOBP III, the horror stories about the Sin City beer live on to this day. Ask anyone who attended one of those first tournaments and you’re guaranteed to get a less-than-fond memory about the choice of beer.

It’s only fitting that that the biggest beer pong tournament known to man will serve an award-winning beer. PBR, after all, was selected as “America’s Best” beer at the World’s Columbian Exposition back in 1893, some 120 years ago. While a lot of things have changed in the world since then, America’s thirst for delicious beer has not. Pabst Blue Ribbon still stands tall among its peers.

I’m sure the announcement of PBR is just one of the many surprises Billy, Reed and company have in store for us in July. If this doesn’t convince you to sign up for the MOBP, I don’t know what will. It’s not going to get any cheaper, so what are you waiting for?

This Post is Sponsored By…

With its unique characters, soap opera storylines, and high stakes competition, it seems only a matter of time before beer pong becomes a popular televised event. Even the lamest weekly tourney has better storylines than some of the crap that runs on cable television.

So what’s the hold up?

Many players feel that with the focus on beer, it’s a tough sell to advertisers. I can kind of buy that. I know that several major beer companies have steered clear of local beer pong events due to the association with binge drinking. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering that most television shows use sex and violence to earn better ratings.

An argument can also be made that the heated trash talk may scare potential advertisers or networks. Since trash talk is such a big part of beer pong, it would be a shame to deny that to the viewer. Some of our most beloved players are just that because of their trash talk. Sure, you can bleep out the F word a dozen times, but where’s the fun in that?

In my opinion, beer pong will only become as big as its sponsors. Bottom line, we need more companies involved to help grow the sport and get it on television. Most TV networks would air footage of sleeping cows if it made money. For some reason or another, beer pong organizers around the country have had a difficult time locking in event sponsors.

The real question is, what kind of sponsors make sense for beer pong? You won’t find a more hardcore group of (mostly) 21-34 males that spend money than a major beer pong event. Most players spend upwards of $1,000 just to travel and play in the World Series of Beer Pong, not including the food, beer and money they gamble away. Seems like a pretty solid market if I’m an advertiser looking at that demographic. And buying into an event sponsorship such as the World Series of Beer Pong is far cheaper than a traditional advertising campaign.

I’m also surprised that no major companies have stepped up to sponsor individual players. There are certainly a few that are “household” names in the beer pong world that would be great for a cutting-edge advertiser. I recently watched “Lords of Dogtown” (great flick, by the way) and it reminded me a little of the beer pong scene. In that movie, you could see how several skateboard companies fought over signing the hippest young skaters.

We’ve seen some small-scale sponsorships before, but nothing from a big company. Who will be the first? In the grand scheme of things, giving a top player $10,000 a year for pushing its name/product is a great deal. The player could enter and travel to every major during the year, proudly pimping the product or its name, or both. In return, that sponsor gets all the name recognition that goes along with associating itself with a top player. Tons of social media exposure, interviews, photos, etc. It makes so much sense to me, but maybe I’m just taking crazy pills.

What kind of companies do you think would be great beer pong sponsors? What would you be willing to do as a player to be sponsored?

Beer Pong’s Bro Factor

I think we can all agree that beer pong has a perception problem.

Whenever some high school or college kid has one too many drinks and makes a bad decision, the first culprit is always the game of beer pong. It’s never the parents who allowed the party to happen, the liquor store which sold the alcohol, or the person who should have been more responsible and know his or her limits. Nope, it’s all beer pong’s fault when someone drinks in excess and makes bad decisions.

If it’s not the excessive drinking that’s giving beer pong a bad reputation, it’s the “bro factor.” For some reason, millions of people think beer pong is the official sport of fraternities in colleges across the United States. To them, we are all just a bunch of guys in pastel-colored Polo shirts with popped collars and too much hair gel. In between games of beer pong, we go to the gym, hold keggers, and all the other stuff frat guys do. We refer to each other as “bro” and only “bro.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I was not a member of any fraternity in college. And while it has been over a decade since I enjoyed the lifestyle of a young college student, I can’t say that any of the fraternity parties I went to were centered around beer pong. Obviously, the sport has grown quite a bit in recent years, and I have no doubt that frat guys love to play them some beer pong (who doesn’t). But the stereotype isn’t exactly fair.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing fraternities at all. I chose to spend my time at the student newspaper in college instead, but that’s just me. I have plenty of great friends who belong to fraternities and only speak of them highly. Very few people fit the negative stereotype of a frat guy, and most people fail to acknowledge that fraternity members tend to earn better grades and a more well-rounded college experience.

I just don’t like the idea people have that we are all just a bunch of guys playing beer pong in someone’s basement or frat house waiting in line for the next kegstand. The truth is, and this has been mentioned time and time again, the majority of us who play competitively live in the professional world, we have real careers, families, interests and hobbies. Beer pong is an outlet for us, not something we center our life around.

While I’m sure there are plenty of members of our beer pong community who belong to fraternities, I can probably only name two or three that I know for sure. Which shows me that beer pong isn’t just a game for fraternity guys, because let’s face it, none of them are winning our tournaments.