Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009 | 1:55 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
The smell of Pabst Blue Ribbon filled the air the past two days at the Flamingo as mostly college-age competitors whittled their challengers down in the opening rounds of the fourth-annual World Series of Beer Pong.
A grand prize of $50,000 drew nearly 800 participants from 45 states to Las Vegas to play in a game made famous by college students. The winners of the prize money will be determined today -- the final day of the three-day competition.
Beer pong is played on an 8-foot-long table with two team members on each side. The objective is to sink ping pong balls into the 10 beer-filled cups before the opponent does. When a player gets a ball into the cup, the losing team must drink to the loss.
“This is the largest beer pong tournament in the world and this is the culminating event of the whole year to satellite tournaments, though you can buy your way in (for $500 per person),” World Series of Beer Pong co-founder Duncan Carroll said. “There are a lot of satellite winners here, but also a lot of regular Joe’s that just decided to sign up and see how it goes.”
In the World Series competition, six games are played during the two days of preliminary rounds. At the end of the game a player from each team must sign a score card and determine who won the match and by how many cups. Then, the highest-ranked 128 teams move on to the finals, where teams are eliminated until a winner is named.
“Usually in college, when you play, it’s in conjunction with a party and you’re playing more to get drunk, but out here it’s a whole different angle,” Carroll said. “The people who are in it to win it will regulate their drinking.”
Carroll, 27, said there are several ways the rules regulate drinking. First, there are only two beers per side, so each player only drinks one beer per game, but in the official game it's not mandatory to drink the beer. Also, the last four cups contain only water.
Aside from alcohol fogging up concentration, teams’ distraction tactics seemed effective, too. Teams used everything from sexual to comedic costumes and bloated belly rolls to distract the opposing team from hitting a cup.
Las Vegas resident Shane O’Keefe, whose team made it to the quarter semifinals last year, beating out 270 teams, said this year doesn't seem as big of a challenge.
“Last year, I would’ve put money on it that we’d win, and this year there is less talent and we’re pretty sure we’re going all the way,” O’Keefe said.