Anticipation

World Series of Beer Pong IX Anticipation

Can you feel it? Are you ready? In less than seven weeks, hundreds of teams will descend upon Vegas, many with hangovers from the revelry of the night before. Right now, everyone has that tingle. Everyone is undefeated. Everyone can dream of that glorious moment when Billy shakes you and your partner’s hand and presents you with a giant check. Whether it’s your first World Series or your ninth, those butterflies are in your stomach and you can’t wait to find out what the pong gods will bring your way on January 1st.

But hold up. Do you really think you’re going to win WSOBP 9? The answer might very well be a “HELL YEAH!” The answer you’d give could also be “Of course not.” That’s the point. This game is for the so-called “pros” that travel across the country routinely to compete. This game is also for the husband and wife who are at the WSOBP as part of their New Year’s vacation. Or for the friends who haven’t seen each other in a while but used to run the plywood tables together in college. This game is for everyone. The enjoyment that is provided by the game we all love is evident in both victory and defeat. We’re all lucky to be able to experience it, especially on as grand a scale as the World Series of Beer Pong.

It’s true, however, that the only constant is change. This year, while the Center of the Beer Pong Universe will once again have a latitude and longitude that leads you to the familiar Flamingo Hotel, some things will be different. No beer in the cups this year. It’s a logistical nightmare, and takes way too much time and coordination by WSOBP staff. Time better served to make sure that dude mean mugging you doesn’t cross the plane while you’re shooting, or move past his side of the table to get in your face.

We’ve compiled a general list of reasons why we have decided to forego beer in the cups this year.

1. Eventual TV rights.
2. Liability/over consumption of alcohol.
3. Pong Flu/health concerns.
4. Consistency – many major and weekly tournaments use water only.
5. Drink of choice – as opposed to a flat, indistinguishable product.

You may not see all the events you’re used to this year. You may see new ones you’ll come to love just as much, if not more.

All we ask is that you remain patient as we try to create the best experience possible while not over-extending the company’s future growth potential. Television deals, major cross promotion agreements, and bigger and better events are all within reach. We need our foundation to be rock solid as those next great steps are taken.

Organizers throughout the country have seriously stepped up. We have Skype tournaments, local satellite events and a multitude of weekly tournaments that continue to bring new players into the beer pong community. We’re encouraged by the continued growth of pong in new areas, and the veterans who are willing to provide guidance to the others willing to be tournament organizers. New initiatives like BPONG’s tournament software and national program structure will make it much easier for brackets to be run well, and run quickly.

Before you arrive in Vegas this year, take a minute to reflect on the work so many did before you (or with you) that has enabled a record ninth World Series of Beer Pong. It’s a significant achievement that can and should be appreciated by all. It’s up to every one of us to keep the game going. As a community, we want a 10th WSOBP and many more after that.

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!

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?










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?










Is Beer Pong Becoming Too Easy?

Is beer pong becoming too easy?

I know it’s a silly question, coming from someone as terrible as me. But as the sport continues to evolve, at some point do we need to go back to the drawing board and re-examine things?

I’m not going to make this into an elbow rule debate. That topic alone is enough for its own blog post and then some. We can look at that at a later time.

For anyone who has played in a major tournament like the World Series of Beer Pong over the course of several years, it’s pretty clear how much the average player has improved, and how much the better even the elite players have become. We’ve reached the point where you go into a game against a Kessler or a Ross Hampton expecting them to shoot 100%. And I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

I’ve been playing using WSOBP rules for the greater part of the last decade. In Maryland, before adapting to the current WSOBP rules, we used to play unlimited bring-backs and each player shoot-until-you-miss rebuttal shots. Even then, a few of the better players were already taking the “next step.” It wasn’t uncommon starting a game down 6 cups before you even shot against a great team.

If we want to take beer pong seriously, as a sport, then it is only fair to compare beer pong to other sports. And you’d be hard-pressed to find another sport that demands near-perfection to win games.

In baseball, you are considered an above-average to great hitter if you hit above .300. In 1941, Ted Williams posted a .406 batting average, considered by most to be the greatest statistical batting season of all time. Yet in that magical season, Williams got out nearly 60% of the time.

In football, the career leader in quarterback completion percentage is Chad Pennington with a 66% over the course of 10 seasons. Ignoring the fact that Pennington is a terrible QB (sorry Jets fans) even his record-breaking noodle arm threw incompletions almost 35% of the time.

Finally, in the NBA, Carmelo Anthony won the scoring title this year averaging 28.7 points per game, notching a .449 field goal percentage. The league leader in field goal percentage, center DeAndre Jordan, had a .643%.

Enough with the Moneyball stats, you say. What’s the point? The point is that in any given major tournament, if you shoot about 60% you’re not guaranteed to win, not even close to it. I’d say the top players average out closer to an 80%, give or take. That may be generous, but I think we can all agree that maybe beer pong has become a little too easy at its current state.

So what’s the answer? Elbow rule? Longer tables? No bring-backs? No rebuttals? Or are things fine the way they are? Every major sport has gone through numerous rule changes to balance things out.

How about beer pong?








Beer Pong Strategery

beer-pong-strategy

You wouldn’t guess there would be much strategy involved in a game of beer pong. It’s just the first team to hit ten cups first, right? How much strategy could you possibly need except to hit more cups?

To answer the question: There is a lot of strategy that goes on into a typical game of beer pong. And there are some big decisions to make even before the first ball is thrown.

When we arrive at a beer pong tournament, we usually find an empty table and start shooting around. Depending on how the venue is set up, you may develop a “comfort level” with a certain side of the table. Maybe there is more space to move around, maybe it’s less congested and there is less of a chance of being bumped into while you shoot, but some sides of the table offer a distinct advantage to a team. A lot of teams will get so used to playing on one side of the table, that when they are put into the position of playing on the other side, it throws them off a bit.

Usually, we use rock, paper, scissors or a coin flip to determine who shoots one ball first or two balls second. A forgotten option is to also choose sides instead of choosing shots. It’s kind of like deferring a kickoff in the NFL. I will almost always choose balls if I win, sometimes when I lose I will ask the team if they want balls or sides. A team that you know doesn’t want to switch sides will sometimes give you the balls and keep the side they are on, which allows you to have balls first even though you lost the toss. Sometimes, getting to the table first and taking the preferred side will help increase your chances of earning balls first.

Another element of strategy is choosing one ball first or two balls second. To me, it’s a no brainer to choose two balls second. You can start the game off 3-1 and can immediately back your opponent into a corner. But especially this past year at the World Series of Beer Pong, I noticed more and more teams choosing the one ball first. I don’t know why someone would choose this except if they know they will be shooting 100% and ending the game first, but to each their own. For those of you who choose to shoot one ball first, why do you prefer that?

Another big decision to think about is who shoots third shots? Some teams like to give these shots to the “hot” player or the one who just shot, but others like to play the percentages and give it to the better player. When I play with a player better than me (almost all the time since I’m terrible) I always let them take the third shot. Even if I am having a better game, the odds still favor him making the cup more than me.

Lastly, a decision needs to be made when shooting rebuttals. Do you organize rebuttals so a certain player will be shooting at final cup? Do you let a specific player shoot at a specific rack? There’s a lot to think about.

What are some of the strategic moves you make on the beer pong table?










Can’t We All Just Get Along?

get-along

One of the best parts of playing beer pong is the trash talk. It’s something that draws us to the game time and time again, keeps it interesting and fun, and provides an extra element of intensity that most of us don’t experience in our daily lives.

When I first started playing, I loved talking trash to people. I think I enjoyed the trash talk more than the beer pong itself. I tried to be as funny and clever as I could, with my main goal trying to get the other team to miss. Sure, I got branded as an asshole by most people, but those who knew me off the table knew it was all in good fun and didn’t take it seriously.

Somewhere along the line, however, the line between acceptable trash talk and getting too personal became blurred. Now, it seems like there is nothing sacred on the beer pong table. You can talk about someone’s wife, child, girlfriend, etc. all in hopes of them getting to miss one shot in a game of beer pong.

I realize that, as a society, we have become desensitized to what is considered right and what is considered wrong. It’s easy to spew a bunch of foul shit off on Twitter and Facebook and act like a complete asshole and troll everyone because there are no repercussions. It’s the reason why horror movies have become more graphic, and movies like “The Hangover II” were terrible, because everyone is trying to “one up” everyone else. So your opponent didn’t miss his shot when you made fun of his haircut, so why not make fun of his girlfriend and see if you can get a reaction?

At what point do we say, “Enough is enough?” I mean, we are mostly all grown men and women. Most of us have careers, families, and lives outside of major beer pong tournaments to think about. Aren’t we all past the point where we have to prove our toughness to each other? I mean, people still do that? I’ve been punched, slapped and spit on, and I have just stood there and laughed because I am not going to jeopardize getting arrested or going to jail over a, in the long run, meaningless game of beer pong. Not to mention, I would probably get my ass kicked.

Someone made a Facebook post this weekend about how the crazy beer pong drama and trash talk doesn’t occur as much on the West Coast. I don’t know for certain, but it makes sense. You see those guys at the World Series of Beer Pong and it really looks like everyone is just having fun and getting along. Sure, there are always exceptions, but why is everyone else so damn mad?

I’ll be the first to admit that I am certainly being a hypocrite. I have crossed the line more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve said some things in the heat of competition I certainly regret and am embarrassed of to this day. I’m sure I’ve lost some friendships and people look at me differently as a result, and I understand those are the consequences of my actions.

At the end of the day, though, it’s just beer pong guys. One of the reasons we are all here is because we like competition, we like drinking, and we enjoy the community we’ve all helped build. Can’t we all just get along?










Getting Better at Beer Pong

getting-better-at-beer-pong

Once upon a time in the competitive beer pong community, you could count the elite players in the country on two hands. Whether you’re located on the West Coast or the East Coast, the same names would come up in every conversation. As the community grew and more and more players were exposed to the competitive levels of the game, something happened: Everyone got good.

The first World Series of Beer Pong I played in was WSOBP III. My partner at the time had made his debut the year prior and he told me we would be a cinch to make Day Three. He told me that players in our region played the best competition throughout the year and we would be so much better than everyone else. Our first opponent on the first day was a guy he had won a lot of money from off of cash games the year before. Those guys that apparently “sucked” beat us by 4 or 5 cups. It was more of the same for the rest of the tournament and we ended up NOT making Day Three, the first and last time I would miss Day Three.

It used to be that you could look at your preliminary schedule and figure out who the “easy wins” would be and what the “touch matchups” would be. You’d ask your friends if they knew any of the teams or players. Not anymore. You can’t underestimate anyone these days. Just because a player isn’t well-known or just because they don’t make a million posts a day in the National Beer Pong Facebook group doesn’t mean anything. Almost everyone who is signing up to play competitively at the WSOBP or Masters of Beer Pong can play and hang with the best.

So how do players become great players? I think there are three ways:

1. Natural Ability

As shitty as it is for the rest of us, some guys are just naturally good. The first organized tournament I ever played in also happened to be the first organized tournament that Sean Foster played in. My friend and I looked at the team Sean ^2 and, given our background in partying, figured it to be an easy win. Well, they smoked us. They finished 2-2 but went on to take second place in their very next tournament a couple of weeks later. Granted, Foster has become a much better player since then, but even from the beginning he was hanging with the best.

2. Practice

Practice anything and you’ll get better at it, right? In the case of Sean Foster, he took beer pong practice to the next level. He invented the “Pong Shot” ball return device. Basically, he’d shoot a ball at cups and it would roll back to him. Rumor has it he would take hundreds of shots a night. We know this because his ex-girlfriend would tell everyone how much he would play with his Pong Shot. While not everyone has a pong shot, we’ve all shot cups by ourselves from one side of the table, retrieve the balls, and shoot from the other side. Some practice with their partners, etc. While practice can’t replace real game experience, it can certainly take a player to the next level.

3. Experience

Neither the highest amounts of natural ability or practice can substitute for true game experience. There’s no preparation for how you’ll feel the first time you make the finals of a tournament. Almost all of us go through the “happy to be here” phase of a beer pong career. You’re in the finals, you’re guaranteed a prize of some kind, and you are just happy to be there. Once you get a taste of victory or defeat you’re left wanting more, but those first couple of times, it’s all good win or lose. But for most of us, it takes a while to get rid of the nerves you’ll experience shooting a big rebuttal shot, or coming back from a deficit with our backs against the wall. It takes a while to learn how to deal with distractions, and on the opposite end, how to get in your opponent’s head as well. In the end, you need to learn from experience how to get better.

There are no easy wins in competitive beer pong anymore. One day soon, if not already, a miss or two will cost you the win. Everyone will keep getting better.

What’s on your beer pong playlist?

beer-pong-playlist

It’s Day Three of the World Series of Beer Pong. The field is narrowing down, every shot is becoming more and more important. The DJ is spinning onstage and the music is shaking the entire ballroom. You’re watching the teams left in it play under the lights in the center of the room. Some of the guys are feeding off the energy, talking shit to the crowd and the other team. But there’s always that one guy, seemingly as calm as can be, standing at the table with his ear buds in.

I still don’t understand it, to be honest. For me, the greatest part about making Day 3 is feeding off the energy of the players or crowd as the field dwindles. Trash talk doesn’t really affect me, so it’s not like I need something to tune it out. I tend to like the music being played, and even if I don’t, anything sounds great with the alcohol in my system and the adrenaline flowing. I’ve never even tried to shoot with headphones on. I would guess that the wires would bother me too much.

So for the guys who are listening to the ear buds, I’m just curious why? Does it help your focus? Does it drown out the trash talk from your opponent or crowd? Is the music calming your nerves or getting you more amped up? Do you feel like you’re missing out on anything?

I’ve always wondered what you guys are listening to. Hip-hop? Rock? Country? At a World Series of Beer Pong a few years ago, I was curious what someone was listening to so I grabbed his iPod. I looked at the screen and Tool’s “Hooker With A Penis” was playing. Yes, apparently that is a real song and apparently that is what this particular player was listening to. This player may have also dressed up for the WSOBP as a female on several occasions. Not naming names. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.

So what makes a great beer pong playlist? At most of our major events, hip-hop tends to be the music of choice. Every now and again something like Carly Rae Jebsen’s undeniable “Call Me Maybe” will sweep in and captivate the beer pong community. For me, whenever Bubba Sparxx’s “Deliverance” comes on, I feel like I can’t miss. I’ve thought of playing with an iPod just so I can listen to that song on repeat all day.

What are some of your favorite songs to shoot to? Let’s build the greatest beer pong playlist ever.










Winning with momentum

momentum

You just hit last cup and your opponent has four cups to rebuttal. You’re already thinking about how you’re going to spend that prize money. You and your partner are both relaxed. All smiles.

Your opponent makes the first rebuttal shot, leaving three on the table. You quickly re-rack and roll the ball back. No biggie, no way they hit three more, right?

They make the front cup on the three-rack and just like that, there’s two cups left. A feeling of uneasiness sets in, but you guys aren’t completely worried yet. The other team takes their time shooting at the two. Many players consider two side-by-side cups the hardest rack to hit in beer pong. Usually, it separates the pretenders from the contenders. You’ve been quiet for the last half of the game, but desperation is starting to sink in. You talk a little trash and maybe try a distraction to throw them off. No luck, they sink the left cup and there’s only one left.

The trash talking gets ramped up a little bit now. The crowd is into it, hoping they see overtime. If you’re one of those guys that like to throw cups and smash them and pour water over yourself, now’s the time to do it. All you need is one big miss. You take your time centering the cup and your opponent takes their time preparing to shoot. Everyone is yelling and you are a bit nervous. You thought this game was over a few minutes ago and now you’re helpless. They shoot.

Overtime.

A few moments later, your opponents are now spending that prize money you could have sworn was yours. You didn’t shoot terrible, but once they hit those four rebuttal shots, you didn’t stand a chance.

I don’t have any mathematical data to back up my theory, but in most cases, I believe the team that successfully sinks a series of rebuttal shots goes on to win the game. Momentum and confidence is everything in beer pong. Once you sink four, you know in the worst case, you can sink the three in overtime. Overtime becomes an exercise in jockeying for cup position. The team originally shooting the rebuttals becomes the aggressors, and once they sink the final cup first, it’s usually a losing proposition for the other team.

If you’ve been paying any attention to competitive beer pong, you’re most likely familiar with the finals of the World Series of Beer Pong III. Iron Wizard Coalition hit the final cup with four left for Chauffeuring the Fat Kid to rebuttal. The rest is history. Sorry Baker, I know you’re still haunted by this.

Obviously, there are exceptions to this, but I think in most cases the rebuttaling team uses that momentum to earn the victory. They put the other team back in the spot of making a big shot, and in many cases, once they sink the final cup and think victory is theirs, they lose that intensity needed to battle back in overtime. They get shook and it’s a helpless feeling when you see your opponent continually sink multiple rebuttal shots.

The same theory applies for the team that emerges from the loser’s bracket to earn a place in the finals. This team has already experienced adversity in the tournament. They’ve been playing more and are on a roll. The winner’s bracket finalist likely has been waiting a while to play, and if the loser’s bracket team can win the first game of the finals they normally go on to win the second.

Like in any sport, it’s the “hottest” team, not the “best” team, that usually takes home the trophy.










WSOBP 8 Recap Video

wsobp8recap

Here is a little recap from January’s major Beer Pong event, the WSOBP 8. Those that attended had a blast and we can’t wait for our next major beer pong tournament, The Masters of Beer Pong (MOBP) coming this July. Get ready for even more fun, more prizes, and the craziest Beer Pong spectacle to date.