Now that the Lehigh Valley Pong Association has blossomed out of its infancy stages, the number of teams making the cross-country trek to play in the World Series of Beer Pong has jumped from 2 to 5. From wily veterans with a chip on their shoulders, to up-and-comers with something to prove, Lehigh Valley will have a wide variety of players on display amongst their 9 attendees. Let’s take a closer look:
“Boom Goes The Dynamite”
Mike Gramer and Ryan Rossell
Heading into the WSOBP 8, these two were relative unknowns to most of the pong world, although somewhat respected on the 9 foot and 10 foot distances for a mid-minor $3k win in New York and solid showings in Atlantic City in the PRE-LVPA days. That all changed in January when BGTD exploded onto the scene in Vegas, won their pod (with two beat-downs of the new World Series prelim cup differential record holders), and sported a 17-1 record before falling to eventual runner-up Smashing Time. They then followed up this 5th place WSOBP 8 performance with an impressive 9th place performance at the Masters in July, making them the only team to place in the top 10 at the past two majors. Individually, Gramer has had more success with a 2nd place singles showing at the Masters and a recent double dip of Mike Pop for the last bid handed out in PA. Rossell brings the high energy, unrelenting defense, and that uncanny knack of finding himself right in the thick of every big tourney he plays in, thus making him the perfect complement to Gramer’s lethal “dip and rip” routine. We’ll see if the pong community once again takes the old mullet-wig-wearers too lightly; if they do, don’t be surprised if they are right there again at the end on day 3.
Taylor Ortiz and Eric Neizer
With Masters 5th place finishers Big and Strong Pong not attending this year’s series, Taylor and Neizer give Eastern Pennsylvania its second best chance to make a day 3 run at glory (for those wondering, Kessler was staying in his beach house during this write-up and will therefore be considered New Jersey). In any case, these two have limited exposure to pong outside of the LVPA, which keeps them from being prohibitive locks to play on day 3. However, over the past year, these two have proven they can win any local tournament on any given night with any given partner. If they can somehow manage to stay calm on their first trips to Vegas, Taylor’s solid, steady play coupled with Neizer’s streaky shooting could be just the formula to make a deep run, terrible team name notwithstanding.
“Army of Trees”
Edwin Nieves and Jason ‘Tree’ Cormier
In a last second partnering of Connecticut (Tree) and Pennsylvania (Edwin), these two have actually lucked out to find solid shooters so late in the game. Tree is the better known of the two, but Edwin is no stranger to Vegas, having cashed at the Masters (Tied for 33rd). Talent alone should allow these two to advance to day 3, but chemistry will be the major hurdle if these two want to make a run at taking down their pod. Time will tell if 12 games are enough to figure things out.
Troy Turner and Nick Buzzard
One of these two can be described as an underhanded player. The good news: “underhanded” does not refer to him being a dirty player. The bad news: Troy actually does shoot underhanded (despite spending countless hours doing upper body lifts). But before you dismiss the rest of the write-up, consider yourself warned that Troy and Nick have enjoyed moderate success at Lehigh Valley Pong Association weeklies for over a year now and are itching to prove the LVPA can shoot with the best. Chemistry (and the right amount of alcohol) is this team’s best hope at battling those Las Vegas nerves, and if they can, expect them to be alive on day 3. Warning: do NOT go double or nothing flip cup with these two.
“Benson’s Animal Farm”
Jon Folger and Niki Cortana
The self-proclaimed “Worst Shooter in the Lehigh Valley” teams up with his longtime friend and occasional pong partner Niki. Niki punched her ticket to Vegas by winning an LVPA Ladies Singles tournament, while Folger got his bid the hard way, out-battling some of the best shooters around with a keyboard and out-writing them on his way to winning the LVPA Essay Contest! It is unlikely that these two will scrape together the necessary wins over two days to make day 3, but chances are you won’t find a duo who enjoys their Vegas vacation together more than these two.