Incredibly tired. Right leg sore. Shudder to think of alcohol. Angry posts and friend requests on facebook. Yep, must’ve just got back from a pong trip. The Pongstars $10k has come and gone, and damn if I didn’t have a good time.
My trip began with a trip to Disneyland. As good as she is at pong, my wife needed to be promised more to get her to make the journey, and 13 hours at the happiest place on Earth was her price. Needless to say, by the time we checked in to the hotel on Friday, I was already exhausted. When we walked into the room, however, my spirits lifted immediately. Those of you who were lucky enough to join me at the Hilton know what I’m talking about. These rooms were amazing. Separate sleeping and living areas, a TV in each room, and PLENTY of space for squatters and/or tables. The Flamingo is going to seem quaint after this.
After unpacking, we made our way across the parking lot to the bar. The rest of ABQ wouldn’t be showing up for several hours, so Beth and I ordered some drinks and started warming up on the tables. I witnessed some foreshadowing during those first few games, as Beth beat me easily the first few games.
Alright, enough of my personal anecdotes, you wanna hear about the tournament, right? Only problem there is that I proceeded to get my drunk on for the entirety of the $3k, so my memory of the event is pretty shitty. I know I let down both of my partners (Beth and PeeWee) pretty badly that first night. They were both killing it with their other partners, though, so I don’t think they even noticed when our teams were eliminated. By the time the first night was over, I was the only ABQ player who hadn’t advanced to the following day. However, I guarantee I had the most fun. I’m pretty sure I spilled beer on Kessler’s shoes at one point stumbling through the bar, my bad.
The next day began at 11. There are few things more satisfying than being woken by your wife telling you she has a tournament to play in. She and Corey did damage before being eliminated. All the teams there owe them thanks for knocking out early favorites Marx/Syrigos. The last thing I really remember about this particular tournament was the game between Byron/Mark and Marx/Zach. Fox apparently thought I was talking shit to Byron (no idea why, since I actually wanted the Cali boys to win that particular matchup), and started threatening to kill me. Yah, not kick my ass or anything so half-hearted, Fox looked me dead in the eye and told me he was going to kill me. Awesome. I don’t remember much else about the $3k because prelims for the $10k began before the other tournament finished. I heard later that Sonoma and Mark defeated Zach G and Marx, so congrats to them.
When I got our prelim schedule, I knew we were in for a rough day. Our first two games were against DSSWC and Marx/Kessler. Sonny and I had our one and only in-synch game of the tournament against Byron/Sonoma, and managed to barely pull off the win. We lost to the other favorites, and I honestly don’t remember much of the rest of our prelims, except that we finished 4-4 -4. Edan and Corey finished prelims with the best SW record at 6-2. Beth and PeeWee had a rough day, and just barely managed to get into the playoffs as the 48th seed.
The women’s satty started as soon as prelims finished on Saturday, and I was excited to watch Beth in action. A lot of talk had taken place leading up to this tournament, and I was hopeful Beth and Justine could live up to it. Unfortunately, due to the bar closing, the satty was cut short after only a couple rounds, to be finished the next day.
Then came the third and final day. Not many tournaments last a full three days, and that might just be a relief. Waking up early to start drinking and playing pong for the third day straight gets tiring. Our first game of the day was against one of the Kick Rocks teams (don’t remember which). I shot perfect to the two rack, missed once, and that was enough. Pong isn’t an easy game these days. Our next game was against Pretty Sneaky, wherein I shot perfect to the four, missed once, and that was enough. Shitty way to start the day, but now it was time to cheer on the rest of ABQ.
Straight Outta Pongton (Beth and PeeWee) started the day with a rough road. Their first game was against DSSWC and if they won that, they’d have to play Edan/Corey. They lost that first game, but then began an absolute tear through the losers bracket. Along the way they knocked out Edan/Corey, as well as bracket favorites DSSWC. Sorry Sonoma, but Beth seems to have your number. They finished fourth in their bracket, which was enough to advance to the final 16 bracket. None of the other ABQ teams fared as well, and Pongton was the only team to advance.
While all this was going on, the women’s satty was continuing in the side room. Justine was doing damage, going undefeated with both of her teams (Beth and Kerrie Rusch). Beth/Justine had gone undefeated in their bracket, making it to the finals while the other bracket still had hours to go. This worked out somewhat for Beth, since it gave her time to continue working through the $10k.
Pongton lost their first game of the final 16 bracket, and faced Dane Ellis/Zach Gilkinson in their second. I’m going to try and get through the description of this particular game without hitting something. I’ll skip to the end. It’s one cup to one. PeeWee makes his shot. Dane steps up to shoot. PeeWee smashes a cup against his head during distraction. I personally hate this particular style of distracting, but so many players do it these days (Sonoma, Basille, Chichester, etc.) that it seems to be accepted by the community at large. Dane shoots. Dane bricks off the rim. As soon as the ball rims, PeeWee throws the now smashed cup in the air as a celebration. The cup comes down in front of Dane, and he swats it away. Though both Dane and Zach are understandably upset, hands are shook and “good game” is said. The players leave the table, and Ross and Syrigos start practicing 1v1 on it.
A couple minutes later, I notice that Dane and Beth are talking to Ryan. I walk over, and learn that Dane feels like PeeWee threw the cup at him during his shot, and he should get an auto-OT. Ryan says he thinks it’s a reshot, but won’t make a decision without talking to Marx. Marx eventually finishes the game he was playing, and walks over. After listening to everyone’s account, makes the call that it’s a reshot. It was unfortunate that there were only ABQ witnesses (and there were several), but PeeWee and Beth seem resigned to accept the decision, and everyone walks back over to the table. Syrigos and Ross are asked to get off so they can do the reshot.
The cups are set up, and Dane gets ready to shoot. Suddenly he starts talking to Zach, and walks off to find Marx again. He talks to Marx, and convinces him that it should be an auto-OT, no reshot. The cups are set up, and ultimately Pongton “loses” the game.
Anyway, after that “win”, Zach and Dane faced Syrigos and Ross and lost. Beth shook off the controversy and faced Kerrie in a singles finals, as Justine had gotten both her teams to the finals undefeated. Kerrie was off her game, and Beth took full advantage winning both games by 6+ cups. We had an hour and a half to catch a flight at LAX, so we booked it out of the bar as soon as Beth took her picture. Through updates on my phone I heard that Kessler/Marx played against Lenny/Ricky in the finals, after Ross/Syrigos took third. Congrats to Blitzkrieg for taking the whole thing down, and to Kessler for finally getting a big win.
I had an absolutely great time at the tournament, and hope Pongstars.net continues to put on these types of tournaments. It was good to see everyone, and I look forward to seeing you all again in Phoenix for Best of the West, and ABQ for the SW Championships after that!