Beer pong? The game taking SA by storm

2014-01-19 14:00

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At some point next year, the professional stars of global beer pong will be flying in to South Africa to compete in a major international shootout – looking to lift a purse of up to R1?million while being beamed on TV screens across the country.

Yes, there are professional beer pong players and yes, the craze has hit Africa in a big way.

What started out as a drinking game is now being called a sport.

“In fact, at the world champs in Las Vegas last month, teams played mostly with water, though you can still ask to play with beer,” says Taffy James.

Along with his business partner Dean Pilz, he owns the rights to beer pong in Africa.

They have pioneered the game at home, and held the country’s first national championships at Carnival City last year.

“It’s addictive, it appeals to all ages and it’s so simple. South Africans are pretty competitive. People can’t get enough of it,” he told City Press this week.

Simple it is. A triangle of 10 disposable cups with some liquid in each is arranged in front of a team of two players, who must lob or bounce a ping pong ball so that it lands in a cup.

When that happens, the opponents must drink the liquid. Whoever clears the opposite team’s cups first wins.

“It’s not about being able to handle the booze, in fact it’s not about the beer any more. It’s about making the shots. When we took the two top South African teams to Vegas, we watched one team play 16 games and only miss a cup once. It’s incredible how skilled they are.”

James says he met teams who travel the world playing beer pong who have earned up to R4?million in just a few years.

He and Pilz themselves have landed a multimillion-rand deal with Sun International.

They started the South African Beer Pong League just 16 months ago after wanting to try the game but not being able to find anywhere to play.

They decided to design a beer pong kit and patent it. They were delighted when CNA bought 4?000 kits as a test, which sold out virtually overnight.

So they contacted Billy Gaines, the worldwide owner of the Beer Pong League, and bought the African rights.

Sun International was so keen that a three-year deal was signed within half an hour of the first meeting – and the local league kicked off at 21 casinos across the country.

Six thousand people attended the national championships over the course of three days, where DJ Fresh provided the soundtrack and radio DJ Sasha Martinengo was signed up as the face of beer pong South Africa.

African players are starting to flock to the game – and James and Pilz have tweaked it to broaden it even further.

They have developed 21 products related to beer pong. But they’re calling it Pong and kits will be available in major retail stores.

It’s going to be tied to football, set on a table resembling a soccer pitch.

They’ve just signed up Pong’s first brand ambassador, Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund.

Pong is the new bowls, I suggest to James. “More like the new darts,” he says. “People who are good at darts are good at beer pong.”

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