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THE GUIDE : NIGHT LIFE

Beer pong's big-league bounce

Sure the rules are loose and the players often looser, but why not have a World Series?

September 26, 2008|Jessica Gelt | Times Staff Writer

Beer Pong: oafish drinking game or noble lesser sport? If the San Bernardino World Series of Beer Pong Satellite Tournament was any indication, the answer is both.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 contestants (forming 62 two-person teams) showed up at Stinger's nightclub in a bleak office park to vie for a shot at winning the entry fees for the World Series of Beer Pong IV, slated for Jan. 1-5 at the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas.

Beer pong is still in its fledgling stages as a sport and is mostly played at college parties and in home garages. The World Series, which offers a grand prize of $50,000, is the closest the game has come to being organized. That being said, you don't have to qualify to enter; you can just buy your way in.

Though the game is finding its way into bars via independent tournaments and World Series satellite events (including dates next month in Westminster and Huntington Beach), Peter Rusch, who co-founded Southern California Beer Pong, the group that hosted the San Bernardino event, describes the national beer pong landscape as "a bunch of different groups doing their own thing."

The game looks simple on the surface: Two teams face off across a small pingpong table; 10 cups of beer or water are placed in a triangle at each end of the table, and contestants try to clear the opposing team's cups off the table by throwing their balls in that team's cups.

Still, as anyone who has ever lost $10 trying to win a sickly goldfish at a state fair knows, tossing pingpong balls into small openings is deceptively hard. The difficulty is upped, in the case of beer pong, by prodigious quaffing of cheap beer.

"We play with water in the cups," says Rusch, 27. "Using beer is too much of a legal liability to get into, but some people take the competition really seriously and drink after every cup."

Judging from the prolific shouts of "Yah, trick, yah" (the triumphant cry from a popular Soulja Boy song) and cups littering just about every surface of the bar, most contestants were taking the competition seriously. The room buzzed as Rusch announced matchups over a loudspeaker ("Dillweed versus the Lone Rangers . . . M.C. Hammered versus Fully Sloshed"). Results were tracked in double-elimination brackets -- teams that lost twice were out.

One such team was a rare all-girl combo called the Milkmaids who made it into a nail-biting overtime against two big guys on a team whose name is too risque to print. When one cup remained at each end of the table, a crowd gathered, groaning with every missed shot. When the guys finally scored, cheers erupted.

The Milkmaids giggled and walked away. "All of our best guy friends play," said 23-year-old Milkmaid team member Deanna Schweitzer. "So we decided to become a distraction. A little cleavage here, a little chest bump there; every little bit helps. But we still lost."

Still, when victory is within sight of two final teams, in this case MyWicky versus Team America, only those who possess a surgeon's steadiness of hand, a race car driver's depth perception and a physicist's grasp of the trajectory of objects in motion will prevail.

So it was with MyWicky, which emerged victorious after nearly seven hours of battle. It was a coup, proving that in beer pong, as 24-year-old Jesse Vasquez of team Ruination said, "There's no limits to glory."

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jessica.gelt@latimes.com

A non-World Series-related beer pong tournament will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday at El Guapo Cantina, 7250 Melrose Ave., Hollywood. $20 per team. (323) 297-0471. Go to www.socalbeerpong.com and www.bpong.com for more events and World Series info. And for video of beer pong, go to theguide.latimes.com.

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