In what is starting to become a New Year’s tradition, I traveled to Las Vegas on January 2nd to shoot the World Series of Beer Pong V. Being my second year on the job, I sort of knew what to expect, but I would have never guessed that Smashing Time would repeat as champions. Ron and Pop defended their crown, giving official notice to the beer pong community that they are THE team to beat. While watching Smashing Time decimate the competition was enthralling, I also enjoyed getting to meet the 800+ other participants. The Jay Leno Show sent a team; and international representatives from Canada, Japan and Ireland were among the contenders. The event truly is a cross section of life: DJs, frat boys, husbands and wives, teachers and even strippers make the trek to battle the world’s best players. With the tournament in its fifth year, it is obvious that competitive beer pong is just starting to hit its stride.
Mario and Luigi.
Think tossing a ping pong ball into a cup is difficult? Try battling through 14 levels and only being allowed to move in two dimensions. Respect.
In sports, it is often said that defense wins championships. This team appears to have selected the “Oops… I Did It Again” strategy.
In an effort that even Madeline Albright could be proud of, the Garden State and the Empire State decided to put a stop to the bloodshed and join forces for the World Series of Beer Pong.
Scientifically speaking, leaning is the name of the game. Shortening the distance between the point of release and the target makes perfect statistical sense, even when you’ve had four or five pitchers of Bud Light.
Drunks 4 Hire remind us that ‘shit’ and the amount of clothes you’re wearing have an inverse relationship. Party on, Wayne!
Suiting up for a beer pong match is all about comfort and freedom of movement. Choosing clothes that restrict you might cost you the match. The logical progression of this philosophy is to avoid wearing pants… but how to achieve this in public? Simple. The Scots (another nation known for seriously enjoying their libations) figured it out years ago: the kilt.
If there is a competition that involves drinking beer, you can almost certainly count on Wisconsin to send a delegation.
These young ladies are the representatives from Team Sapphire. Ever wondered who might work at 70,000 square foot gentlemen’s club? Look no further. (The place even has skyboxes—what?!).
Being a pro beer ponger means vigilantly defending your rack. Never let your opponent have a free shot. And if you’re girlfriend is available to talk to some smack, hoist her up and let her run her mouth too—all is fair in beer pong (provided you follow the rules).
DJ Whoo Kid.
Having a-list beats to get your pong on is crucial. The folks at BPONG.com recognize this and recruited G-Unit’s official DJ to keep the Flamingo rockin’ during the three days of game play.
One of my favorite aspects of shooting the World Series of Beer Pong IV was meeting all types of colorful characters. For WSOBP V, I wanted to shoot some of these folks on white seamless with quality lighting. I flew from Seattle to Vegas with 130 pounds of gear shoved into three bags and setup shop on Day 2. Check out this photo to see the setup. After getting the lights set with Josh’s help, one of the first teams I photographed were the WSOBP II Champions, We Own Your Face. Despite the menacing graphic on their uniforms, these guys could not have been nicer. I’ve included several more portraits in this post, and the whole project is on Flickr. Also, check out the video below for a quick run down of the gear and a few of my favorite shots.
A big thank you to Josh Weinberg for shooting the video on location.
No one showed more enthusiasm for having his portrait taken than Greenman. No one also smelled quite like Greenman. The suit did little to mask a potent mixture of beer, sweat and God knows what else. Regardless, The Explosion 5000 salutes you, Greenman.
Chauncey and Big Ben.
Even though Joey D couldn’t afford to keep Billups around, Mr. Big Shot and Ben Wallace reunited at the World Series of Beer Pong. Goin’ to work, yall.
Tables, Beer, Balls and Cups.
The more the better.
Ink and Hair-dos.
Nothing says you’re ready to decimate your opponents like a cobra tattoo and a fucked up haircut.
Fellow beer loving nation, Ireland, entered a team into this year’s WSOBP. Despite being nearly impossible to understand (heavy accent + heavy drinking + loud music = mainly communicating with hand gestures), these guys kicked ass. For all the Irish readers of the Explosion, you should be proud of your boys. They very diplomatically demonstrated your county’s ability to pong with the world’s best.
Co-ed competition is one of the best aspects of the WSOBP. These ladies do more than keep the dudes honest and break a few hearts, they also win games. Try explaining to your frat bros that a girl-girl team knocked you out of the WSOBP… ouch.
Rip your sleeves off, ’cause it’s beer pong time.
The Old F U.
They say a picture speaks a thousand words—I happen to think this one clearly conveys at least two.
Jim and Pam.
Beer pong at the office? Great idea. I’m telling my boss tomorrow.
For the first time in WSOBP history, the Japanese made their way from across the Pacific to battle it out on the tables.
Good luck charms.
Whatever works, ladies.
And if you can’t borrow some cleavage, improvise. Just rub, toss, rinse and repeat.
Who can argue with a tank top?
That settles it… I’m wearing my “Sexy Photog” hoodie to WSOBP VI.
A Lifetime Sport.
Just like skiing, tennis and golf… beer pong is something you should be able to enjoy, no matter what decade you were born in.
Peter Rusch and the SoCal Beer Pongers were in full force at this year’s WSOBP.
No look shots.
Some beer pongers are so good, they don’t even need to see it to believe it. Kris Fraser of perennial contenders Not Even Close confidently looks away as he sinks yet another clutch shot.
A Hostess with the Most-ess.
Leah D’Emilio came back to anchor this year’s television coverage of the WSOBP V. Leah’s ability to cut through the the beer breath and get the real story always impresses—a true pro.
The Gangster Lean.
Complete with chalice and corn-rows, SCBP Founder Peter Rusch shows what it takes to be a WSOBP contender. For this year’s tournament, Peter separated from his long time partner (his wife) for a shot at beer pong glory. While the partner switch up did not ultimately lead to the $50k crown, WSOBP fans hoping for a soap opera will be disappointed: the Rusch’s are still happily married.
Defending champ Ron of Smashing Time said that his weird haircut helped him win last year’s tourney. He either had an unfortunate incident with farm equipment between day 2 and day 3, or is carrying on his tradition of doing up the do for the final day.
After their debut on the televised feature table, Ron and Pop were kind enough to sit for me and make a portrait.
It’s the Air Jordan of beer pong.
Especially in New York.
Even though the boys from Iowa were eventually silenced, they put together another respectable WSOBP run.
Three solid days of beer pong can be grueling, not to mention all the distractions of Las Vegas. There’s no shame in catching a quick catnap in between rounds.
Dunking, foot twisting, tossing, fore-head pressing… these are all techniques employed to avoid:
Missing the cup.
It’s something that happens to everyone. If you have trouble consistently hitting the cup, have a talk with you doctor to see if you’re physically capable of engaging in beer pong activity. In the rare case that you and your partner miss the cup for four hours or more, just call it quits. You suck at beer pong.
Show your colors.
The Californian contingent proudly displayed their bear. The Canadians waved their leaf. The Texans brought their star and bar. Even Maryland displayed what is possibly the coolest state flag ever.
For the second year in row, Bruce Buffer of the UFC announced the final round of the World Series of Beer Pong. Bruce is one of the classiest showbiz people I’ve ever met—love that bro.
Ready to strike.
The final round is all about seeing your opening and taking it—something Smashing Time know a little bit about.
After dropping the first game of the final match to Since Sliced Bread, it looked like Smashing might be down and out (literally).
After three games, Ron and Pop closed out Since Sliced Bread and repeated as champions of the World Series of Beer Bong.
BPONG.com and World Series of Beer Pong founders Skinny, Duncan and Billy present Smashing Time with a check for $50,000.