Better late than never. This overused cliche can now be linked to Kevin Kessler. Considered one of the best players in the game today, Kessler has achieved pong super stardom despite the one big doubles victory that most elites hang their hat on. A constant top finisher at all tournaments he attends, he had yet to lock down his first major victory. That dry spell is now a thing of the past. With Pongstars’ innaugural mid-major come and gone, so too has the monkey on Kevin Kessler’s back. With the help of Brandon Marx, Kessler can now rest easy knowing the curse has been lifted. After his big win, we decided it would be smart to take some of the champs time and ask him a few questions about his big win, and his future in our beloved past-time.
Pongstars– First of all, congratulations on your impressive win. How confident going in would you say you were in taking home the big check?
Kevin Kessler– “I always go into tournaments with a lot of confidence. This one was no different. I flew across the country for one reason. To win. I knew Marx is a big time player and knew there would be no chemistry issues playing with him.”
PS– As the tournament moved forward did the pressure mound, or did you get more confident?
KK– “We were one of the top seeds after prelims beating some stiff competition and as the tournament progressed we saw a lot of the top teams get eliminated early like DSSWC. Once Lenny and Ricky knocked out Nick and Ross (the 2nd best player in the universe) I knew we had it in the bag.”
PS– For many players, that could not afford to attend, the next best option was to watch the livestream of the tournament. During the finals it was clear that there was a disagreement or argument, can you explain what happened?
KK– “During the finals after we hit the cup Lenny and Ricky weren’t pulling it. It got brought to my attention that during one of their earlier games they did the same thing to Marx in the $3k and actually left a cup in the rack and they forgot about it and had to hit the same cup twice. The rules state that when a cup is hit you have to pull it before the opposite team shoots. I think they thought it was bothering us. It wasn’t. I just didn’t want to get cheated a cup.”
PS– There must be a special place for this win in your heart. Where does this mid-major victory rank in your beer pong career?
KK– “I would prob put this as 1A right behind winning the singles title at World Series VI. I know the payouts aren’t as high in the singles side but you have to go through the best of the best and you have no one to blame the loss on if you lose in singles but yourself. The year I won I knocked out Wan, Andy D, Ross, Zack G, Basile, Nick S and a few others. On the doubles side this is by far my biggest win. I won a 3K and a bunch of 1 K’s but never won any of the big ones.”
PS– Aside from the obvious joy of winning, did you enjoy your time at the tournament?
KK– “I had a lot of fun outside of beer pong. I met a lot of good people on the West coast and whenever I get the opportunity to get together with them most of the time we all enjoy ourselves.”
PS– The rumor mill has churned out the notion that you are retired from the World Series. Where do you stand at this moment in time?
KK– “I was going back and forth for some time. My son is getting big and it’s getting harder and harder on my wife to watch him when I leave for 3, 4 or 5 days at a time. Thankfully I won and also won quite a few cash games which made the trip pretty profitable even after the $12 beers. At this time she seems pretty open to letting me head back out in January.”
PS– If you do make it out in 2013 the field is guaranteed to be even better. How do you plan to keep yourself separated from the competition and at the top?
KK– “I agree that the field is getting deeper but I also believe there are 10-20 players that are just better than the rest. I think playing in the region I play helps me stay sharp. In a normal satellite in NJ you will run into Pop, Basile, Vince C, Fraser, Kyle Williams, Ron etc. People could argue that they are all top 10 players in the world. They keep me on top of my game.”
——-Well ladies and gentlemen, it sounds like our dream road to a World Series title will have to go through Kevin Kessler for at least one more year. Even scarier? He should be better than ever now that he has won a big tournament. With the win Kessler should be more confident than ever and an even bigger force to reckon with. Congratulations once again to him, and BMarx, for the victory over a deep field. Though it may be his first big team win, it’s unlikely to be his last.