New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Maryland
“Moment of Truth”
Kevin Kessler and Vince Catizone
After a controversy filled end to their Day 3 run last year that had Kessler and Vince placing 5th, they decided to take another shot at $50K. On almost any other team, Vince would be the clear cut #1, but in this case he takes a backseat to the self proclaimed “best in the universe”. Although he doesn’t play as frequently as other players, Vince is no stranger to the big stage. Kessler has had a hell of a year, taking down a couple mid majors. Look for this team to make a serious run at the final table and don’t be surprised to see Kessler holding up the giant check… while on Vince’s back of course.
Kris Fraser and Thomas Reap
Last year was a disappointing one for the 2011 ECBPC champions in Las Vegas. To you, that might mean missing Day 3. For Bangarang, disappointing meant a 5th place finish. Fraser, a World Series veteran has been shooting very well since returning from his yearly pong vacation. As long a Reap can remain focused on beer pong and not promoting his website (virginiabeerpongdotcom), there is no reason he and Fraser can’t repeat their performance and even surpass it this year.
Mike Pop and Ron Hamilton
This is one team that needs no introduction. Anyone in the beer pong world knows Ron and Pop are the only back to back champions in WSOBP history. This year, they reunite, after playing with Foster and Basile respectively, for another chance at the big check. Pop has had a somewhat down year as far as his satellite count is concerned, but that was mostly due to a low number of satellites in general on the East Coast. Ron’s pre-Vegas performance has almost become irrelevant. It seems as though every year, people doubt him, yet every single year he makes a run deep into day 3. There isn’t going to be a team in Vegas that will be happy to find Smashing Time on their schedule, especially on Day 3.
“Hall of Fame”
Deep Chakrabarty and Sean Foster
After an early Day 3 exit to WSOBP VI, Deep took a break from Vegas last year. This year he returns with the enigmatic Sean Foster (7th place WSOBP VII). Foster may be the only player this year to be able to legitimately compete deep into Day 3 while also seriously contending in this year’s costume contest. Foster is coming off one of the best seasons of his pong career. He finally took home the Maryland State doubles title he has coveted for so long. With that weight off his shoulders and Deep by his side, he has a very good chance to leave Vegas $25K richer.
“Young and the Restless”
Jason Chichester and Jonathan Basile
The list of proven East Coast teams rolls along with this heavyweight pairing. They split up for World Series VII after finishing 5th the year before. They have shown they have what it takes to win on a national stage by securing an East vs West tournament victory prior to WSOBP VI. Both Basile and Chichester have made final table appearances in singles competition, with Chichester besting Kessler in the finals at WSOBP V. As well as being talented, Young and the Restless is one of the most intimidating teams to play against. There is little doubt they can recapture the chemistry that carried them to a top 5 finish.
Jordan McAllister and Austin Lanham
Rounding out the list of East Coast players that finished in last year’s top ten is Carroll County. Austin and Jordan are arguably Maryland’s best chance to finally capture a major victory. They had a very good showing at last year’s World Series, taking down the East vs West tournament and finishing 7th in the main event. They may not shit talk like some of the other East Coast teams, but you should definitely be just as afraid of them.
“East Coast Domination”
Mike Vit and Joe Giammarino
WSOBPVII singles runner up decided team up with the player that knocked him out of the main event. Joe G has spent the last year dominating most of the tournaments he has entered. While Vit is usually spending most of his time running tournaments, rather than playing in them, he is no stranger to big tournament success. Earlier this year, he and Vince C won the pre Beast of the East tournament that featured one of the largest and deepest fields of the year. Vit also has a Top 10 World Series finish to his credit. The determining factor of how deep they will go on Day 3 will be whether or not Joe and Vit can be on the same page despite not having much experience playing with one another.
“Fox and the Hound”
Lenny O’Rourke and David “Sanchez” Zajac
Fox and the Hound is one of the top sleeper picks for a very deep Vegas run. Lenny and Sanchez are a staple at most satellites and big cash tournaments on the East Coast. They have a ton of experience playing together and will prove to be a very tough out for anyone that has the displeasure of having to play them on Day 3.
“Substance Over Style”
James Riebl and Nick Barbera
Long Island has long been the breeding ground for top East Coast talent. This team is no different. Long time weekly partner of Mike Pop, Riebl has developed a solid partner in Nick. The only thing more unpleasant than Riebl’s elephant like shot will be the feeling in the pit of opponents’ stomachs when they realize they have very little chance of victory.
Steve Healy and Bart Welch
Chemistry is the name of the game for this underrated East Coast team. Steve Healy has been playing pong since the “Porky’s Days” and has really come on this past year. Some say his ability is derived from his beard, but we will never know. Throwin Sticky’s first go round in Vegas last year was met with moderate success and 65th place finish. This year they will look to improve upon that and make a serious run at cash.
“Black and Yellow”
David Posada and James Relish
This team might as well have called themselves “wanna play a cash game”. Both players are very well known cash game hustlers. Regardless of their performance in any given tournament, they have an uncanny knack to end up with you money by the end of the evening.
Ross Wayman and Billy “Wild Bill” Williams
NEPA Pong finds itself looking root a team on late into Day 3 thanks to this pairing. Ross has emerged as the clear top player out of NEPA with the ability to take down other elite East Coast talent as well. He recently won AABP’s NJ Live Pong event over Pop and Kessler in the finals. People may not know his name before Vegas, but they certainly will after.
“Boom Goes the Dynamite”
Ryan Rossell and Mike Gramer
While they play the vast majority of their pong in relative obscurity in NEPA or Lehigh Valley, Mike and Ryan have shown they have what it takes to play well in big tournaments. Granted, most of their success has come at the 9 or 10 foot level, I have no doubt that they can knock off more than a few top teams that wrongly overlook them on their schedules.
“Scared of Who”
Tom Taggart and Mark Cerrachio
NJ talent runs deep with these 2 War Machine members deciding to team up for a Vegas run. Tom has had a ton of success this year at weekly tournaments in South Jersey and Mark C can just flat out shoot. Tom earned himself a trip to Vegas and made it to the finals of another satellite before being double dipped. Don’t be surprised to see this team crack the top 16 after losses in their bracket finals last year.
“It’s What’s for Dinner”
Rob Brady and Doug Hewitt
If you have never heard of either of these players, get used to hearing their names. Doug is a NJ veteran making his first trip to Vegas. And, while the Brady family is generally better known for the younger whinier Gary Brady, Rob is an absolute stud in his own right. We will see how both WSOBP rookies handle the pressure of Vegas, hopefully on Day 3.
“Stay Out of the Splash Zone”
Corey Chonko and Brian McLaughlin
The last team from NJ will definitely be one to look out for. World Series rookie Corey Chonko has cleaned up at weekly tournaments throughout NJ with partner Brian. The most heated competition between these partners, however was not even on the pong table. Brian won the pre Vegas beard competition by TKO over his partner Corey. It will be interesting to see if this success in NJ will be able to translate to the Sunset Ballroom.
“Hot Handed and Cold Blooded”
Pete Rawson and Ronald Savage
New York and West Virginia hook up in this final pairing. Ronald looks to get Pete to Day 3 after taking last World Series off. The most interesting thing about this team will be the battle over t-shirt philosophy. “Glitter” Pete’s belief in brightly bedazzled shirts and Ronald’s affinity to go shirtless may prove to be their downfall. If you can handle the shit talking, you just may find yourself victorious… and the newest addition to Ron’s Facebook block list.
Special Thanks to Mike Vit and NJBPong for supplying these write ups!