The Andy Aupperlee Explosion 5000

World Series of Beer Pong IV

by on Jan.17, 2009, under Events, Party, Sport

Winning ShotBilly and the guys at BPong.com did a helluva job putting on the World Series of Beer Pong IV. For four days at the beginning of 2009, over 400 teams competed at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for $50,000 and the distinction of being crowned beer pong champs. I was asked to cover the tournament as a publicity photographer. Below are some pictures and thoughts.

UPDATE: 2010 World Series of Beer Pong V coverage is here.

Beer Pong and the Las Vegas StripThe World Series of Beer Pong mixes gaming drunks with the Las Vegas strip. While this is not necessarily a new combination, the resulting ponger/Vegas mashup provides for a highly entertaining weekend. The BPong.com guys impressively fielded nearly 500 teams, yet it takes more than just willing and able drunks/ball throwers to make a tournament happen. Here are a few ingredients you’ll need to throw your very own beer pong spectacle.

Rick Reilly of ESPNFamous Sportswriters.
Rick Reilly was on hand to cover the event for ESPN. His sons also competed in the tournament. Don’t worry, Rick did enjoy a beverage or two while “on assignment.”

Backstage at the WSOB IVBeer.
Obviously you’ll need beer. Lots and lots of beer. PBR was the official beer sponsor of the WSOBP IV. On my way to the airport in Seattle, the cab driver told me his first beer ever was a Pabst Blue Ribbon. He did not know much about alcohol, but as a kid he said he used to watch “Friday Night Fights” where PBR was a main sponsor. When he got to the Air Force, his buddies told him it was time to start drinking. “‘Whadya want?’ They asked me. I said, ‘I dunno, a Pabst Blue Ribbon, I guess?’” God only knows there is a 5 year old boy watching the WSOBP IV who will order a PBR 16 years from now.

PBR SupplyDid I mention beer?
You better have palette after palette of fresh, crisp, refreshing Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap to satisfy the needs of the beer pongers.

Director and his setA Television Set.
Together with several other media companies; my old friend, Alex Chu, executive produced a television series of the WSOBP IV. Alex also acted as director on the project. Teams played on a “Feature Table” off to one corner of the ballroom. The set was complete with four cameras, lights and microphones. There were even PAs to get us coffee (thanks Josh).

Alex and KevinExecutive Producers.
Pictured here is Alex Chu with one of his partners on this project, Kevin Lewis.

The calm before the stormTables.
The beer pong folks set up dozens of official BPong.com tables. One of my favorite touches? The cleverly branded BPong ball.

Hosts Dallas and StarReality TV Celebs.
Amazing Race winner and love interest? Check. Dallas and Star were on hand to act as hosts and compete in the event.

Billy and the crowdStage.
Billy Gaines frequently addressed the throng on a range of topics. Billy is Steve Jobs to beer pongers. Whenever he picked up the microphone, the entire ballroom stopped and listened.

Moby DongCrass Team Names.
My Couch Pulls Out, but I Don’t. We Bone Your Face. Two Balls One Cup. Wet Balls. Wet Ballz. Children of Champion Kingdom (COCK). Zack and Screech. HOGS (Hot Old Guys). Slippery France. The Finger Bangers. Dixie Normous. We Shit On Donkeys! Yeah, we heard your ridiculous team name. Hilarious.

Alex and a FringleDirector.
Someone needs to be in control. I mean, just look at who is playing beer pong these days. Thank goodness Alex had the Feature Table television set on lockdown.

Beer Pong GenerationsYour Mom and Your Grandma.
Shred the Gnar’s mother and grandmother made it out for the tournament. Although she will not admit it, Shred told me his grandma actually plays beer bong.

Two balls, one cup (really)Balls.
About every team maintained a splash cup to dip the balls in before shooting. Even though most players told their opponent about all the foul things they planned to do to his sister/mom/dog, they always made sure to clean their ball before splashing it in his beer. I found this to be extremely thoughtful.

The Fat Kid and Our CameramanCamera guys.
Our camera guys were real pros. During this match, Fat Kid, of Chauffeuring the Fat Kid, was hammered. He even wandered off the set and demanded that I give him back his hat. What? This camera operator had little choice but to console Fat Kid during the round too.

Dallas plays defenseDefense.
Dallas plays defense. Intimidated? Part of the game is psyching out your opponent while they shoot. If you are an attractive girl, you have a pretty obvious weapon in your arsenal: the fact that you are an attractive girl. On average, the typical beer ponger is a bro’d out dude who will not be able to resist the flirtatious defense of a young lady. That said, I’m not sure what angle Dallas is trying to play here.

O Canada!Canadians.
God bless Canada. These guys were ooout and abooout all over the tournament. Even though they were tragically out-________ (numbered/played/gamed/country’d), Canadians never let anyone get them down. Every time there was a big USA vs Canada match, half the province of Alberta showed up and waived that flag.

All about cup differentialCups.
Beer pongers may use only water, or a combination of water and beer. Of course, you have to have a container for the liquid of your choice. The BPong guys have developed a cup with exact specifications to meet the modern demands of the game.

Fringles GirlGirls.
Plenty of dudes play beer pong. Fortunately for them, companies like Fringles.com and After Shot sponsored teams of young ladies to play in the tournament. Within moments of the tournament starting, everyone was buzzing about the Fringles girls. I overheard this exact phrase about 20 times: “there are two girls here from some website that are completely trashy/slutty/hot/naked. Awesome.” As the publicity photographer, I felt compelled (even required) to document the struggles and triumphs of these women in the tournament. View a slideshow of all the beer pong ladies that wandered in front of my lens.

Don PurnellDon Purnell.
Question: What do Nicole Kidman and The Beer Pong Nation have in common? Don Purnell was there to capture their worst (and best) moments.

KissLove.
When it comes down to it, you don’t play beer pong to become rich. You play for the love of the game. Or because you love to get drunk. These two old timers played for both reasons.

Llamas get intenseIntensity.
This bro is Cobra from a team called Llamas. People in the crowd were calling him the zen master during the match.

Beer Pong yeeaaahhhhh!Drunks.
Start serving beer at 10 AM and you’ll wind up with more than one dude who looks like this. I’m not saying he is drunk, but I bet that massive beer stain did not just magically appear.

Leaning is legal... nice stretchThe stretch.
Even though “a player may not place a hand/foot/leg/penis/whatever on the table in order to gain additional reach and/or leverage,” leaning over the table is not illegal. In fact, it makes perfect scientific sense to shorten the distance between the point of release and your target. Beer pongers=physicists? Hmm.

Chest bumpChest bumps.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Despite what Allen Iverson says, nailing the perfect beer pong toss and nailing your buddy in the perfect beer pong chest bump takes practice. If you plan on competing in WSOBP V, do yourself a favor next time you are at the bar. Bump your best bro’s chest in mid air a few times. I promise; it’ll help.

Beer Pong BrosInk.
Are these guys partners because they are both tatted up; or they both tatted up because they are partners?

Trash TalkingTrash talk.
I loved this match. Shred The Gnar incessantly talked trash to this guy about what he was going to do to his sister later. The best part, the sister was his partner.

Great MatchupReconciliation.
At the end of the match, everyone is friends again. Go figure.

Wiping down the feature tableTable cleaners.
Looking good, Josh!

"seriously!"Talented talent.
Leah D’Emilio, of Mahalo Daily, hosted our coverage of WSOBP IV. She’s a real a pro. She maintains perfect composure while Fat Kid drunkenly cautions his partner, Chauffeur, not to “look her in the eyes. Don’t look her in the eyes.”

Billy Gaines of Bpong.comA Ringmaster.
This is Billy Gaines of BPong.com. Along with Skinny, Duncan, and a cadre of college buddies from Carnegie Mellon; Billy put on one hell of an event.

Finals DayThe masses.
On the final day, the top 128 teams competed in a double elimination tournament. Teams were seeded with no, one or two byes based on their win/loss record and cup differential. Due to the limited number of competitors, only one square was used. Bleachers were brought in to line the playing area.

MVPStar shooters.
This guy was lights out. When he shot, the crowd chanted MVP. They only made it as far as the semi-finals, but he was easily the most skilled beer pong player in the whole field. I watched him hit clutch shot after clutch shot to force overtimes and win matches.

Hit the cupAccuracy.
You can get as drunk as you want, but just make sure the little white ball lands in the cup.

Winning ShotWinning shots.
This shot won the match for the team from Central Michigan.

yayCelebration.
Hitting cups is important. Whenever you do, grab the nearest After Shot girl and hug her.

FrustrationDefeat.
We can’t win them all. Iron Wizard Coalition knows this lesson well as they were runners up at WSOBP III.

Shot for the finalsClutch shots.
Beer pong has a redemption rule that allows you to claw your way back into the match. If all your cups are gone (as seen above), you can force an overtime by hitting all of your opponents remaining cups without missing.

Moments Before the Final RoundDramatic entrances.
Smashing Time stand poised as they await their introduction in the final round of the World Series of Beer Pong IV.

We are LIVE!Bruce Buffer.
Bruce Buffer, ring announcer for Ultimate Fighting Championship, introduced Smashing Time and Getcha Popcorn Ready in the final round. Bruce brouht his A-game, including awesome hair, a fresh looking tan and a pure show business smile. In fact, everytime he noticed my camera pointed at him he looked in the lens and gave me that $100,000 grin.

Winning Shot for $50k$50,000 tosses.
With this shot, Smashing Time defeated Getcha Popcorn Ready and became WSOBP IV champions. See more pictures from the WSOBP IV Final Round here.

Smashing Time and $50,000Giant novelty checks.
Ron Hamilton (left) told the press his success came from chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels. “The key today was me getting real drunk.”

Bruce, Billy and SkinnyCurious hand gestures.
Nice Billy. Nice Skinny. Classy.

WSOB IV Staff and TV Production CrewA kick ass crew.
The folk in orange and yellow t-shirts worked for WSOBP. The guys in black are the crew from 702 Productions, which helped us shoot the television coverage. Everyone else worked with Farmer Brown and Recess Media as producers, directors, assistants and talent.

Leah and Me Take 2A lovely host and a badass publicity photographer.
That is me with our host, Leah. Thank you Deb Loftis for taking this picture!

Check out a slide show featuring 290 pictures from the WSOBP IV.

Or watch a highlight reel of my favorite 80 or so shots.

You can also read this post at Sports Pros(e) on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

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11 comments for this entry:

  • Anonymous

    This is a great article. I hope the tv series comes out just as well as this article. Great job.

    - Paul aka Juzam139

  • duncancarroll

    *Incredible* job capturing the event!

    FYI your Feedburner currently won’t let me subscribe…

    I WANT TO SUBSCRIIIIBE ANDY!!!1111@#$@#%$#

  • Anonymous

    what time did you take that first picture in the bestofbeerpong series?

  • Andy

    I took the last picture right before I went to bed on Monday morning… probably about 8 AM. Somehow I stayed up all night in Vegas.

  • piotr

    these pictures are amazing! what camera / lenses did you use for these?

    • Andy

      I used a Nikon D300 with three different lenses. I did not use a flash for action shots; although some portraits are with a Nikon SB-600. The wide angle shots are from a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. I also frequently used a Nikon 50mm f/1.8 during the event. Both of those lenses typically didn’t need more than IS0 1600 to get action-stopping shutter speeds. When I boosted maximum ISO to 3200, I was able to get decent results from my slower Nikon 18-200mm VR.

  • Duncan Carroll

    Happy birthday Andy– hope you can make it out to WSOBP V!

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