Written with Jeff Rosenberg

If you want people to respect you for your beer pong skills, the World Series of Beer Pong is your only option. It's the most prestigious beer pong competition in the world. People fly in from all over the country to compete in the three day event in Las Vegas. We were offered the chance to compete this year. We promptly said no, we didn't want to go to Las Vegas, play pong and drink beer. Just kidding. We packed our bags and hopped on a plane. Vegas baby!

The tournament is divided into two rounds. Every team is guaranteed 12 games in the preliminary round, six Saturday, six Sunday. The top 128 teams then move onto the playoffs, which are a bracket-style double elimination tournament. During the finals, random teams get to play in the "featured arena," surrounded by bleachers and under the surveillance of a legit camera crew. It's just like a real professional sporting event.

We arrived ready to drink at 11 am for our first match. The pressure was on. We needed to start with a win or our resolve and determination would be lost like a swatted bounce (note: you're NOT allowed to swat bounces, BUT they only count as one cup anyway, BUT… still).

The preliminary rounds are laid back and friendly. Add the DJ blasting hip hop at full volume, and you're basically in a frat house basement. The only difference is that you're surrounded by elegant carpeting and chandeliers instead of concrete and the smell of pee. The room would be more fit for a fancy ball.

Our opponents showed up just in time to avoid disqualification. The game began. Back and forth, back and forth, make, miss, swish, etc. Balls were literally flying everywhere. Trash talk and psych outs were being shot left and right until it came to the last cup. Back and forth, back and forth, miss, miss, miss, miss. Why is it so hard to hit the last cup?

As a crowd gathered, the pressure grew. Miraculously, we hit the last cup. The crowd went silent as our opponents geared up for their rebuttal. He shoots. He misses! We win. Game over! We're 1-0 baby, our only winning record for the entire 12 game series.

Of course, Beer Pong is a game of gentlemen, so special thanks to our round one opponents for making that first win possible: Team We're Not Dead Yet, comprised of a guy and his wife. Oh, and they were probably in their fifties. GO COLLEGEHUMOR!

Our victory was short lived. After five matches we were in 413th place. We'd finish the preliminary round with a 3-9 record. Collegehumor would not be represented in the playoffs.

If the preliminary matches were a party, the playoffs were a battlefield. Gone was the small talk and hand shakes. The $50,000 prize was in site. The two out of three format led to a major increase in beer consumption. People screamed and cursed at their opponents. The audience started getting involved. Things got rowdy.

The most exciting match of the night was between Team God Given from the NY/NJ area and Team Gossip Girl from California. God Given's Nick Fredo spent the match talking trash hard. He singled out Gary of Team Gossip Girl, screaming at him constantly and referring to him as his son. God Given sank their last cup. They were one miss away from victory when, in an act of extreme arrogance, Fredo smacked Gary's ball out of the air before it touched a cup (which is illegal). From there, Gossip Girl sank 5 consecutive cups, won the game, and went on to beat God Given. The audience went nuts, cheering for Gary and chanting "Guido" at God Given.

"It was going in," said Fredo. "100% I would do it again. It was going in."

By the finals, the room had cleared out significantly. The only people left were people who really cared about beer pong. They crowded around the feature table, waiting to see history.

The finals were announced by a surprise visit from the UFC's Bruce Buffer. Playing would be Smashing Time from Long Island, NY and Since Sliced Bread from California. Since Sliced Bread was indistinguishable from any other college guys. Smashing Time, the 2008 champions, had character. Mike "Pop" Pielarski was tall and skinny, wearing all black and a chin strap beard. Ron Hamilton looked like a wild animal. He was stocky. He had randomly shave spots on his head. He had a mysterious gash on his forehead.

I always imagined that everyone was about as good as everyone else in beer pong (except for girls). The finals proved me wrong. Smashing Time and Since Sliced Bread sank more cups than they missed. Sometimes they hit them in order from the front cup back, like they were doing it on purpose. They were legitimately good. We were no longer watching guys playing a drinking game. We were watching real athletes compete for glory.

The first game ended in favor of Since Sliced Bread by one cup. Hamilton was going crazy the whole time. He spent the finals pacing behind the table like a guy with his kid in the hospital, waving his arms around like Chris Farley during his wildest tirade. Sometimes he did jigs. Sometimes he struck football poses. Sometimes he did summersaults. When things got heated he would pull at his shirt until his neckline plunged below his chest, or he ripped the whole thing off. You would assume that the pressure of the finals was getting to him, but he'd been like this the whole tournament. The officials had to give him a shirt so he'd be wearing one in the finals.

Smashing Time stopped messing around after their first loss. They crushed the second game with a six-cup lead. The final game came down to the wire, with each team left with one cup on the table. In the end, it was Smashing Time, the returning champions, who would claim the title for a second time. They couldn't believe it. Hamilton was so happy he sounded like he would cry. They posed for press photos with Bruce Buffer and the giant novelty check as the crowd cheered. Smashing Time left as heroes, with $50,000 to their name.

The next morning, hungover college guys filtered out of the hotel for their long flights or drives home. Many of them were already planning their return trip for their second, third or sometimes fourth attempt at the title. Even if they were leaving without glory, it was clear that everyone had a good time. They had just spent the weekend at the largest, most extravagant frat party in the world.



Check out The World Series of Beer Pong for more info on the tournament, and to sign up for next year's tournament (eventually).