Money shot: Two Illinois men become beer pong’s most dynamic duo

By Lindsey Woods

The competition came down to one throw. It was the last of three games and the series was tied. Matthew “White Boy” White of Edwardsville, Ill., hadn’t shot well in the first two games, but now the pressure was really on. He cradled the ping pong ball between his fingers and released. Plop.

With that splash of beer, White and his beer pong partner Ross “The Boss” Hampton, also of Edwardsville, were $50,000 richer and earned the coveted championship title at the seventh annual World Series of Beer Pong on Jan. 4 in Las Vegas.

“We got down to the last cup and they still had three left, and I just remember walking up to the table and being like, ‘I cannot mess this up for Ross. He deserves this, we need this,’” White said. “I shot it and it went in, and that was the best feeling in the world.”

White and Hampton’s beer pong partnership started several years ago, which helped them develop the strong team chemistry that White said is their biggest strength. It started with brotherhood, when the two recent Southern Illinois University Edwardsville graduates rushed the same fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda.

“We would always be those guys to beat playing beer pong, so eventually we knew of tournaments we could play for money,” Hampton said. “We started doing weekly tournaments around St. Louis and started winning.”

And thus their journey to the World Series began. Making the drive to St. Louis once or twice per week, the duo started playing in a league and entering tournaments to win money. They began to create an indomitable reputation at bars and tournaments around the Midwest.

“This one place we used to play all the time, they won’t let me and Ross play together except once a month because teams stopped showing up because we would win all the time,” White said.

Hampton and White prevailed in a tournament in Oklahoma City, for which the prize was free airfare, hotel stay and entry to the World Series. White played with two different partners in that particular tournament and not only took first place with Hampton, but came in second with his other partner.

“It was pretty cool that we didn’t have to pay for our flights, so we could take some extra money to Vegas,” White said.

Under the moniker Seek N Destroy, which comes from the title of a Metallica song, the two men sailed through the first round, winning all six of their games. The four games they played on the second day were all blowouts, leaving them the No. 1 seed on the last day of the tournament.

“[In] our last three games, we beat one team by seven, one team by eight and the last team by seven,” White said. “We showed no mercy on the second day, and that’s pretty much how we got to be number one seed.”

The two players had both been shooting well throughout the tournament, but on the day of the final match, it was Hampton who claimed MVP.

“I know [White and Hampton] very well,” said Andy DeCaluwe, a veteran World Series player from Illinois who placed second in the 2010 tournament and third in 2011. “Ross is by far the best player I’ve ever seen. Matt, even though he was very intoxicated in the final and no one gives him enough credit, had a lot to do with them getting to the finals. So even though he didn’t do very well in the finals, he definitely deserves a lot of credit for their win.”

DeCaluwe knows Hampton and White through local beer pong tournaments and past World Series. Last year, Seek N Destroy finished 33rd in the tournament.

“Last year was our first year,” Hampton said. “We lost in the bracket play last year, which is still doing well, but we got better and were more experienced [this year]. We knew we had a good shot, and then we actually ended up pulling it off.”

All their practice and skill paid off—literally. On top of splitting the $50,000 prize, Hampton earned an additional $1,500 for winning the men’s singles tournament.

“It was pretty crazy,” Hampton said. “There’s nothing like being in the middle of a room filled with a bunch of people all watching your every shot. It was a little overwhelming. You just have to focus on your game. It’s all a little surreal.”

Hampton plans to use the extra cash to supplement his paycheck from Dierbergs grocery store in Edwardsville and eventually move out of his current living situation.

“I live with my older brother, who’s a teacher,” Hampton said. “I just graduated this year, so I’m still trying to find a full-time career. But I’m going to save the money for moving out shortly, hopefully.”

White, who currently manages a McDonald’s in Edwardsville, also plans to use the winnings in a practical way.

“I’m going to first set some back because I know I’m going to have to pay taxes back on it next year, so I want to make sure that’s covered,” White said. “And then I’m going to put some back for a down payment for a car. The rest of it, I’ve got bills and stuff to pay, so I’m pretty much going to save it and use it for what I need.”

Seek N Destroy is not planning to retire and will continue to practice for the 2013 World Series.

“I plan on going back next year,” White said. “I’m definitely going to take things more seriously this time since we have the extra pressure on us, being the champions.”