Is Beer Pong a Sport? We Went to the Pong World Championship 2019 in Hong Kong!

Beer pong is probably one of my favorite pastimes – or so I used to see and call it. In fact, it has become such a big part of my life that a night doesn’t feel complete without at least one game. Fortunately, I live on Aguirre Avenue in BF Homes, Paranaque, where the bars are rife with beer pong tables and full of beer pong players who love the game as much as I do.

It eventually evolved to me playing in a few tournaments outside of my home turf – and that’s where I realized that beer pong was so much more than just a pastime now. To the people who join tournaments, it’s a real sport – and with real rewards. (We’re talking cold, hard cash here, guys!)

So, when one of my beer pong buddies called me up one day and told me that they needed a girl on their team to represent the Philippines in the Pong World Championship 2019 in Hong Kong as part of Philippine Pong Team B, I suddenly found myself in a surprising spot. Despite knowing that I was nowhere near the levels of beer pong greatness that he and his teammates were on, I jumped at the chance to represent our country at an international championship. But boy, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

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Beer Pong Tournament 5

To be honest, it didn’t really feel “real”. I was “recruited” just a few days before we were to fly to Hong Kong and it didn’t really sink in until we got to the event venue and I saw all of the other teams psyching themselves up to play.

Beer Pong Tournament 1

Our sister team, Philippine Pong Team A, was one of the first teams to play in the actual tournament and I was shocked by how hardcore the whole thing  was – so shocked, in fact, that I needed a few glasses of alcohol to hype myself up. Fortunately, there were a lot of beer pong tables outside of the actual tournament, giving us a lot of time to practice and get to know other players outside of our team.

Beer Pong Tournament 10

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I didn’t have a game on the first day of the tournament but man, did I get to see how serious and how challenging pong can actually be. I won’t be calling it beer pong for the rest of the article since beer wasn’t actually a requirement at the tournament. Yup, that’s right. We played on Pong Connect tables and nobody had to drink beer. (Gotta be honest: I’ve never played beer pong sober before, so that in itself was a challenge for me.) Also, instead of water, they had silicone inside of each cup, which was pretty cool.

Beer Pong Tournament 6

Beer Pong Tournament 7

The rules were different, too. There were three types of games: the Classic game that we all know from regular beer pong tables; Count Up, where no cups are removed and you have to rack up as many points as you can; and Combo Out, which was pretty much like playing a game of beer pong with call shots and you had to get your 51 points down to exactly zero first. It’s hard to explain, really, but maybe we’ll do a separate article on that one if you’re interested. :p

Beer Pong Tournament 3

It was interesting to watch people play and react at a tournament of this scale. I was flabbergasted by how seriously people took the game and how much concentration, peace of mind, and teamwork each game required to ensure that every shot made it in.

Beer Pong Tournament 2

Bragging rights aside, there was also money at stake here, in case you didn’t know: $10,000 for the team at first place, $5,000 for the team at second place, and $3,000 for the team at third place. It’s no wonder why everyone had their game face on, right? In the end, Team Malaysia came in first with our very own Philippine Pong Team A coming in second. Woot woot! Watch the finals here:

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People seem to think that beer pong is nothing but a drinking game to be played at bars; but after witnessing the Pong World Championship 2019 in Hong Kong, I can confidently say it’s definitely much more than that. The game requires real skills and real preparation, and I dare say I would even consider it a real sport now.