As pong players from across the country have begun arriving in sunny San Diego, the 2nd annual Pongstars.net Spring Classic is officially under way. With every passing minute we inch closer to the over-consumption of cheap shots and the eventual crowning of mid-major champions. The big checks are ready to be claimed, but who will do so is always a heated debate. As usual, we here at Pongstars.net have a few predictions in mind and have laid them out for you below. Much of the countries best will be in attendance and any region could be taking home the grand prize. Will the West Coast add to their recently claimed World Series title? Will the East Coast reclaim what they feel is rightfully theirs? Will the Midwest do what they do best, and get in both of their ways? Or, perhaps, can the South grab a title of their own? As we eluded to earlier, this field will be filled to the brim with top end talent. There are several teams that could stand victorious, here is what we see happening.
1. “SHOOT TO KILL”
Michael Popielarski/Joeseph Giamarino:
The number one seed may come as a surprise to some readers, but the talent of this team is undeniable. Headed by one of the best players in our game’s short history, Pop, is looking for some early redemption to a rare final table loss at the last World Series. With him, however, is not Ron or Basile. In this case it will be up and comer Joe G. Joe doesn’t just bring a high level of skill, but also a tenacity that is unmatched as of late. Seemingly always out to prove himself, Joe has produced back to back 2nd place finishes in WS singles and a deep run in doubles as well. With that said, he still shows disapproval of his level of outside respect. This will be his way of showing that he isn’t just a one trick (singles) pony. With Pop’s proven success and Joe’s will to win, this team should march through the tournament without an ounce of remorse for the casualties they leave behind.
2. “WHITE GIRL WASTED”
Mark Pimentel/Aaron Smith
Perhaps one of the tallest teams at the Cali 10k, Aaron Smith and Big Mark aim to add to the West Coasts’ recent beer pong success. Big Mark is a well known name in the community as he can be found both on the final table, as well as riddled throughout Facebook. His fun-loving personality could easily be seen as weakness through the untrained eye, but anyone who has played him knows he has none. Aaron Smith on the other hand has shockingly flown under the radar despite a great 2012 season that included 7 WSOBP satellite wins and a high finish under the big lights of Vegas. Opportunity is knocking for this tandem and we fully expect a breakout performance, and maybe a big check to hang on the wall.
3. “FLAWLESS VICTORY”
Ross Hampton/Nick Syrigos:
Flawless Victory returns to the Spring Classic in hopes of revenging a tough 3rd place finish from last year’s inaugural event. Nick and Ross came one table away from the finals and that table only saw 2 misses entirely, both off the hand of Syrigos. Losing to a perfect game is nothing to be upset about, but these two settle for nothing less than tournament victories, made quite clear by last year’s immense success for both. Ross had easily the greatest single year in history in 2012 as he racked up over 20 bids, multiple cash events (often sitting out) and, of course, he was the first player to ever with doubles and singles at the World Series. 2013 has seen less tournaments thus far, so a repeat of 2012 is unlikely, but Ross is still one of the best and his track record with fellow World Series Champion, Nick, is immaculate. Ranking them 3rd may be a little low, as they are just as likely to win as anyone.
4. “DRINKIN’ SMOKIN’ STRAIGHT WEST COASTIN’”
Michael Seivert/Byron Findley:
Perhaps the most surprising of these rankings, the reigning World Series Champs come in at number 4. Despite being one of the best teams competitive pong has ever seen, we feel as if there may be somewhat of a hangover from grasping the $50,000 check. This team has accomplished everything that we all dream about and done so by beating the very best of the worlds competitors. Can they still be motivated enough to perform to their potential come the 13th? Talent alone will get this team far, but in order for them to collect another victory they will have to rekindle the flame that drove them to two previous major titles and a litany of other resume stuffers. The target will be painted in dark red on their back, making sure they get the best possible effort out of every team they face. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Right now….that’s them.
5. “JUST LIKE BETTY CROCKER”
Matt White/Johnny Fourdyce:
A new combination out of the Midwest, Johnny Fourdyce and Matt White are partnering for the first time come Saturday. Yet another crack at combining two of a regions best players, Matt and Johnny will certainly bring a lot to the table, both vocally and statistically. These two can dish out made shots and banter with the best of them. This will be yet another attempt at redemption for Matt as he continues to make his stamp on this game clear. Though a former World Series Champ, the win has brought more bad than good as he has had to continuously prove over and over that his name deserves to be placed along side the greats of today’s pong scene. Fourdyce is always out to prove the same, but is still seeking that first signature victory. With the proven skills of Matt at his side that accomplishment is well in sight, with only a lack of playing time together holding them back.
6. “STRANGER DANGER”
Brandon Marx/Tyler Cotton: With Kessler unavailable to travel this weekend, only Marx has a shot at repeating his title from last year’s Spring Classic. Despite running the site that promotes the games newest annual mid-major, he still found a way to run the table last year and claim his own big check. This year, unfortunately, the best in the universe will not be by his side. That void has been filled by Tyler Cotton, Brandon’s emergency pick up. A local juggernaut that has spent his career focusing more on the fun of pong than the competitive side. Despite his lack of a competitive spirit, this religious fellow has still earned the respect of his peers and is considered one of the best players in Arizona. Armed with a mechanical shot that rarely mis-fires, Tyler will have his best chance to date at claiming a true title. Despite the loss of Kessler, Marx will likely find himself in the mix as usual, aiming for the coveted repeat.
7. “SWEET TAP DANCING JESUS”
Arnold Colella/Rickey Shepard:
Arnold and Rickey are the West coast’s attempt at combining talent towards the common goal of a mid-major title. Like all teams based on talent the question arises of the players meshing well on the table, especially when facing a do-or-die situation. Luckily, both players have such impressive track records that trust should not be an issue. Many have questioned if Arnold’s game has wavered since slicing off his once illustrious locks. This will be a perfect chance to show that his short comings at the world series were a fluke and he is still a name to be reckoned with on the table. As for Rickey, you always know what to expect, a crooked hat and a consistent game. Together they have the capability to go far, they just need to find the right groove early.
8. “REMEMBER THE NAME”
Kenny Jennings/Paul Bashaw:
In a Sea of new teams, Remember the Name has kept their name in tact. Kenny and Bashaw realize that all talent and no chemistry makes for early slips ups and disappointing finishes. This team has certainly had its ups and downs over the past year, but no matter how they fared in their previous tournament they are always a threat to take home the grand prize. These two play as a team and bring a one of a kind swagger to the table that few can keep up with. The team did take a hit when Paul moved, but absence makes the heart grow fonder and we expect a monumental come back from this team. Some opponents may take this team lighter than they should, and be assured that this mistake will have the worst kind of consequences.
9. “ROOSTER SEQUENCE”
Nathan Cunningham/Edan Hemphill:
After a few flip floppings of partners, Nate and Edan are now bringing their talents to the Spring Classic. With wing spans that allow them to seemingly grab the front cup, these lanky shooters make triples look effortless. Edan in particular shows no hesitation in shooting and often has made his shot before the other team even has a chance to celebrate their own success. Both have always claimed not having that “ELITE” player to help them capture a title and now it seems as if they consider one another that “ELITE” player they were looking for. In a few days we will see if their assumptions are at all accurate or if they will each still be on the hunt for that winning partner.
10. “THEY GOOGLE ME”
Gabriel Montoya/David Glaser:
Easily the shortest team in the top 10, Gabe and Glaser often feast upon the naive thoughts of unaware opponents. Many may say that height is king in the world of lean beer pong, but these two prove that it doesn’t matter how tall you are, as long as the ball goes in the cup. Compensating for shorter statures with an over the head shot style, these guys make cups in bunches let their below average pong height eat away at your brain as the cups in front of you quickly vanish. Southwest beer pong, and New Mexico in particular will be behind these two all the way as they look to climb the ladder to greatness and enjoy the spoils of victory.