The first day of spring is only days away. Soon enough, birds will be chirping, the sun will come out, the flowers will bloom, but most importantly, beer pong season will go into full swing. With the year-long wait to the World Series of Beer Pong cut in half by this year’s $100,000 Masters of Beer Pong tournament, things are kicking into high gear even sooner this year.
Springtime beer pong wouldn’t be complete without the annual dramafest on the East Coast, otherwise known as the Beast of the East tournament. Nothing will change your opinion of a beer pong player quicker than seeing how petty, childish, ridiculous and egotistical some of us can be during the Beast of the East team selection process.
For those of you who don’t know, the Beast of the East was the first of the “Best of” tournaments, pitting the best players from each state or region against one another in the battle of world supremacy. While other parts of the United States have adopted the format, the Beast of the East is the granddaddy of them all.
In a perfect world, each region picks its 10 best players and thus forms its “A” squad. A deep state or region likely has enough players for multiple teams, in a perfect world forming “B,” “C,” and “D” teams, etc. But in the simple game of beer pong, nothing is that easy.
So what’s the problem? I think, in a nutshell, everyone has gotten too good. In most places, there are probably a clear five or six guys that are head and shoulders above everyone else. Take my state, Maryland, for example. Austin, Jordan, Foster, Deryck, Moose and Mantis are, in my opinion, the top six players if we are referring to shooting ability and nothing else. The five or ten guys behind them are close, but not quite on their level. But on any given day, they can beat one of those top players.
So when the “selection committee” convenes and chooses the ten best players, what criteria do they use? Do they base their decision purely on 1-on-1 skill? Do they take into account performances in major tournaments and the final days of those tournaments? Do they base their decisions on who has the hot hand at the time of the tournament? There’s a lot to consider when choosing the 10 best players from a region and I’m not sure what the correct way is, if there is one.
The common sense thing to do would be for all players to “play in” to their respective teams. The problem with that, though, is if one of the “elite” players from your region has a rare off day and a Cinderella story knocks him out. Who do you want shooting the rebuttal shot of the big tournament? The guy who pulled the upset, or the guy who has made that big shot hundreds of times?
Not to mention, several of the “elite” players from around the country have yet to win a major, even when teaming up and forming “dream” teams.
Outside the sport of beer pong, the New York Yankees have only won one World Series since 2000. The Boston Red Sox haven’t won a World Series since 2007. In the NFL, between the two perennial offseason champion Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, there have been zero Super Bowl titles since 1995. There are exceptions, but in most cases, the sports teams with the best players usually don’t win championships.
The most decorated beer pong of all team, Smashing Time, has two World Series of Beer Pong titles and the final table of another. Right or wrong, most players consider Michael “Pop” Popielarski the “better” player of the two, yet his teammate, Ron Hamilton, has more final table appearances than Pop, while arguably playing with “lesser” players. This doesn’t make any sense.
Does your head hurt yet? Mine does. Clearly, no one is discounting the fact that Ron can make shots. For the sake of argument, let’s say Pop is the better 1-on-1 player. But Ron is clearly bringing something else to the table in those tournaments, making him more successful. So who is the better player, the guy who everyone thinks is better or the guy who has the better resume?
So in picking 10 players, do you want to pick the 10 guys who will form the best teams, or strictly the 10 best players? And what do you use for your criteria as best?