One Swill Game

The long and tipsy road to the World Series of Beer Pong

Some 160 players from across the United States and Canada have amassed in the Oasis' convention center, where 14 Bing Bong tables sit at the ready amid a row of bleachers and an attached beer garden. Sponsors like Chaser (which sells anti-hangover pills) and (which dispenses advice for gambling on sports) have set up shop, while teams like Cleveland Steamers, Back Door Equals No Babies and the Eh? Teams show off custom-made shirts with messages such as "For Every Animal You Don't Eat, I'm Gonna Eat Three."

Although nearly everyone is jug-bitten, the event feels like a high school swim meet. Anxious contestants pace nervously as they prepare for upcoming qualifying matches.

The Jolly Bastards are without Adam Schaeffer, who couldn't get the week off. He's been replaced with Edward Rhee, a 24-year-old financial planner from Chicago and Frack's former beer-pong partner at Theta Xi. In their first match, the Bastards are roughed up by New York's The Nutty Irishman Champions. Frack blames sleep deprivation resulting from a late flight, and the team finishes the day with three wins and three losses.

Jennifer Silverberg
Mike Filanowski, one half of team Dominance
Vince Kaminski
Mike Filanowski, one half of team Dominance

A particularly besotted participant decides to take up a collection to hire prostitutes. "We can't spend four days without any 'tang," shouts Jason Coben, a member of Team France who, in real life, works as a legal administrator in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Following a night at the blackjack tables, Rhee and Frack dismantle a team called Off with Your Mom the next morning. Later, they'll lose a pivotal match to a team wearing shirts that say "Bouncing and Blowing Is for Bitches."

While Frack hits cups with dead-on accuracy, Rhee appears out of whack. They win their final match by default, as the sauced Team France sleeps through the game. Still, the Bastards' 5-6 record isn't good enough to qualify for the tournament's final day.

To "celebrate" losing every single match, Dominance's Ramsey climbs aboard her teammate's shoulders and unfurls her bosoms. "One more time, one more time!" chants the encouraging crowd.

Some considered New Jersey's Team Hoff favorites, based on their success at hometown bar Fatso Fogarty's weekly tournaments, where they've won $15,000. Team member Aniello Guerriero says he started playing pong after an injury cut short his baseball career.

"I don't want to say pong is the same, but, like baseball, you want to prove you're the best," says Guerriero, a 23-year-old Rutgers University criminal justice major. "I'm a very competitive person. I don't care what it is, I hate to lose. The people who don't think [pong] is a real sport probably aren't good."

When Team Hoff is eliminated the next day, Guerriero says he was too damn sober to compete. "I was so nervous," he says. "The more you drink, the more calm you get, the more flow you get."

The World Series finals feature Team France and Long Island's Slippery Fetus. Team France's Jason Coben claims to have put away six cocktails and four beers by mid-afternoon, a figure hard to dispute since his shirt is missing a sleeve and drenched in slobber. Still, Team France rallies to win the tournament.

"We're the fucking champs, baby!" roars Coben, embracing teammate Nicholas Velissaris before the two accept their ceremonial, oversize $10,000 check. Later, Coben admits he failed to procure any hookers and tells contributors he'll return their money.

World Series organizers Duncan Carroll and Billy Gaines, who each fronted thousands of dollars for the tournament, say afterward that they believe the tournament was a success. But they didn't achieve one pre-tournament goal: finding the nation's "Michael Jordan of beer pong."

"In order to do that, I think we'll have to track stats a lot closer," says Gaines. "Ideally, we'd love to take stats on every single shot that's thrown. Did it hit a cup but not go in? Did it bounce off the table? Did it miss the table? How many shots did you hit in a row? We'd have to have one staff member per table, and we just didn't have enough money to hire them. Maybe next year."


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