Mikey Connors of Peabody growls at his opponents from across the folding table. Whipping the crowd into hysterics, the beer-pong heavyweight steps back from the edge and starts to kick his heels up like a bull about to charge. He lets out a vicious bark. With fans behind velvet ropes stomping around in spilled suds, Connors tucks his head down, lunges, and launches himself forward so that he's horizontally airborne. Executing a rare trick shot of questionable legality, he slam-dunks the ping-pong ball into the last remaining plastic cup and crashes through the eight-foot table, leaving nothing but a puddle of skunked beer and twisted metal in his wake.
At stake in this all-day, eight-table beer-pong marathon at the Greatest Bar out by North Station is a chance to compete for $50,000 in Las Vegas, at the World Series of Beer Pong (WSOBP) next January. Props are also on the line, and Connors, who's known in competitive circles as the Most Valuable Drunk (or MVD), earns respect despite coming in third place behind the infamous New York ringer Mike "Pop" Popielarski's team. The fearless air assault is captured by Chris Liquori and Keith Winer of Bostonian Productions, who are here to immortalize the match for Boston Ruit, their beer-pong highlight series filmed for the New England cable station MyTV.
Someone was bound to create the first TV show about the world's drunkest sport. In 2011, beer pong — or Beirut, as it's often called on the East Coast — is hardly an underground phenomenon adored exclusively by frat boys and cellar dwellers. Marquee players have been featured in the New York Times and on the Tonight Show. There's even a documentary, Last Cup (2008), produced by Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me fame. At this juncture, every major sports publication in America has dispatched to Nevada for the WSOBP, which enters its seventh year in 2012, and is growing annually to accommodate thousands of players from around the world.
Yet despite beer pong's longstanding popularity among the prized advertising demographic of college students, cable networks have yet to catch on. Perhaps no one believed in the potential entertainment value of dudes in battered baseball hats flinging balls at cups of beer. Massachusetts natives Winer and Liquori realized this opportunity gap last fall, and, after doing research, decided that New England was a fertile breeding ground for beer-pong interest and talent (not to mention the game's home of origin, as it's largely believed to have been invented at Dartmouth College back in the 1950s).
"We actually couldn't believe that this hadn't been done before," says Liquori. Adds Winer: "There are people who play every night of the week, and some of them make a ton of money doing it. We figured there was no reason that there shouldn't be a television show."
A BEER-GUT SHOWCASE
The official rules of beer pong — as outlined by BPONG, the Las Vegas–based company that hosts the WSOBP, and that's taken on a lead organizational role in the sport — are easy. In general, you throw the ball at an opposing field of 10 cups, and whichever team hits every target first wins. There are also nuanced but nonetheless important regulations regarding everything from overtime, to a "Dipshit Not Paying Attention Rule." Most important: "Under no circumstances may a player shoot with any part of his or her body on (against is permitted) the table [unless] you have a beer gut that must rest on the table because there's nothing else you can do with it."