There was face-slapping, some pushing, kicking and even a table flipping at the seventh annual World Series of Beer Pong on Wednesday night.
And that was just the semifinals.
By the time the final two teams faced off at the Flamingo for the chance to win $50,000, beer pong was all business. Seek N Destroy, a pair of new college grads from Edwardsville, Ill., defeated Georgia's Boozin Gear, besting them two out of three rounds. They are the 2012 champs of throwing pingpong balls into plastic cups full of beer.
The final match was surprisingly short and sedate compared with earlier play. The most intense moment came during the prize check presentation when the crowd surged backward to avoid the champagne shower unleashed by winners Matthew White and Ross Hampton.
Beer pong, a college drinking game, is played on a slim folding table. Two teams stand at opposite ends and attempt to toss a pingpong ball into one of 10 cups full of beer. Usually, the opponent must then drink the contents of the cup, but that rule is waived during the World Series of Beer Pong. Players can instead drink water or nothing. The round is over when one team eliminates their opponents' cups.
This year's event, the fourth to take place at the Flamingo, drew 450 teams from around the world, co-founder Billy Gaines said. Play started Monday and ended Wednesday.
This year was by far the most tumultuous in the World Series history, attendees said.
"There's been a lot more controversy than usual," said Matt Perry, a beer pong enthusiast from upstate New York who has attended all seven events. "The table flipping, that was kind of disgraceful. It gives people the impression that all of the players involved are like that. There are definitely a few, but most of us are here to have a good time."
Perry was referring to the incident in which local Sam Henshaw lost his cool after losing a match.
Nearly two dozen locals were in attendance at the final event to support Henshaw and his team, Kick Rocks' Chosen One. Eleven teams from the Kick Rocks league competed in this year's World Series of Beer Pong. Of those, nine made it to the final day of play. No local team has ever won the championship.
If table-flipping had been part of the competition, Henshaw would have placed high. He flipped a beer pong table over like it wasn't much heavier than a coin. The shot clock, which gives players 30 seconds to complete a shot, ran out on Henshaw. It was the final play of the match and knocked his team out of the tournament. After flipping the table over, a sea of security guards in yellow shirts surrounded him and escorted him from the room.
Only a few minutes before, Thomas Reap, a member of the team Bangarang, slapped his friend and opponent Sean Foster, half of team Ready to Steamroll. Foster didn't blame him, as he had pushed Reap and kicked him after Reap crossed over into verboten territory: the other side of the table.
That is expressly against the rules, Foster said after being eliminated from the tournament. Usually, a team will lose a cup for violating a rule, but in this case, no penalties were assessed.
Foster, from Towson, Md., was involved in a few heated exchanges during the final day of play. He vowed never to return. But he may feel differently in a few days, Foster said.
Organizers were happy with the turnout but identified a need for stricter rules. This year seemed more intense than previous events, Gaines said. He attributed that to an increase in strong competition.
In past years, the best teams didn't always face stiff competition. Now, thanks to the proliferation of beer pong, people across the country not only play, they're good at it, Gaines said.
Players have always been responsible for policing their own behavior, but that may need to change.
"We need to seriously consider a code of conduct," Gaines said. "Now, we have 35 pages of rules, but those are for the games. Next year, I'm going to suggest to the team that we implement a code of conduct for everyone to sign."
Contact Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564.