There was once a ping-pong tournament so revered that the winner would become an international superstar earning millions and millions of pounds and becoming an Ambassador for World Peace. But we’re not talking about that tournament; we’re talking about Pong. Pong was a tournament open only to the world’s dirtiest, scummiest players…and criminal masterminds. But its competitor’s did not do the tournament justice, for it would go on to become one the most influential phenomenon of all time. Bigger than Bono’s ego.
The 1972 Annual Pong Championship was drawing to a close and the Final was soon to take place. Only two players remained – Player 1 and Player 2; due to the nature of the players’ profession, they have asked to not be named for fear of repercussion from the Angry Badger Mob. Record crowds had turned out to witness the event with over 42 million spectators surrounding the game. It was tense. The lights were dimmed and the unforgettable black & white game board lit up. This was it.
The audience fell deadly silent and the two opponents waited anxiously for the game-ball to appear. Just then, from deep within the crowd, a baby began to cry uncontrollably, which distracted Player 2.
P2: Will you shut that fu…
CROWD MEMBER: It’s started!
There was an almighty gasp as Player 2 turned to see the 2x2px white square nearing his goal. He moved his paddle as fast as he could but it was too late. The ball entered the scoring zone. A giant number 1 appeared above Player 1’s head and the crowd cheered.
ANNOUNCER TIM: Oh my goodness, that was text-book focus from Player 1.
ANNOUNCER STEW: It really was Tim and the crowd are loving it. I’ve not seen such joy since Doreen Denny & Courtney Jones won the Ice Dance Championship back in March 1960.
ANNOUNCER TIM: …Riiight. Anyway, let’s get back to the action. Whilst we’ve been talking things have been hotting up in Pong.
Player 1 now led by 4 points to 2. The white dot was frantically bouncing from left to right with neither player letting their guard down. But Player 1 had a trick. He gently moved his paddle at the incoming ball, which sent it back to Player 2 at roughly 0.2mph. The sweat dripped from Player 2’s brow as he watched the ball get closer and closer. The crowd fell silent in anticipation of what was to come. The ball neared Player 2. His hand gripped the paddle with vice-like power and his eyes darted around nervously as if he had yet to decide how to return. The ball crossed the center line and gradually headed for him. Just as Player 2 was about to return the offense, a drop of sweat unexpectedly trickled down from his eyebrow and entered his eye.
P2: MY EYE! MY EYE! I’m blind…
The stinging sensation was enough to distract him from the game and the ball entered the score zone. 5 – 2 to Player 1. Half of the crowd cheered and half booed. The atmosphere was electric. It was half-time and both players retreated to their respective corners for juice, a full English and a cigarette.
ANNOUNCER STEW: Player 2 not having much luck, Tim.
ANNOUNCER TIM: He certainly isn’t, Stew. But if I may, I want to take you back to when it was 3 – 1 to Player 1. We saw one of the most amazing moves to have ever graced the game of Pong. If you watch closely, the ball gets within pixels of Player 1’s paddle and look look…did you see that?
ANNOUNCER STEW: No, what?
ANNOUCER TIM: Player 1 moved his paddle at the very last second causing the ball to take on a different trajectory and speed. Not since Einstein’s Theory of Relativity have I seen such genius.
ANNOUNCER STEW: You know what, Tim? You should really go back to commenting for ITV Football. You’ll fit in a treat…you tit!
The bell rang to signal that play must continue. Fed and watered, the two opponents took their positions and the ball appeared. They were off. They batted back and fourth for the next 17 minutes without a single point being gained by either player. There were murmurs in the crowd that it was getting boring when all of a sudden a glass bottle came flying in and smashed upon impact against Player 1’s head. This got the angry mob all excited and despite the pain and blood, Player 1 maintained his composure and continued to play without conceding a point. The crowd were stunned.
ANNOUNCER STEW: Oh. My. God. Did you see that? Even with missiles being thrown, Player 1 can not be distracted from this game.
ANNOUNCER TIM: Yeah, sorry about that, Stew. I was aiming for the bin.
Player 1 fed off of the adrenaline that was now coursing through his veins and somehow managed to fire the ball back at amazing speed; it was only when the score changed that Player 2 even noticed he had returned the shot. 6 – 2 to Player 1.
ANNOUNCER TIM: Do you know what would make this game even more exciting, Stew?
ANNOUNCER STEW: What’s that, Tim?
ANNOUNCER TIM: Mon. Tage.
*Cue electronic, upbeat music*
7 – 2
8 – 4
9 – 5
10 – 7
*Fade out electronic, upbeat music*
This was it. Match point. All Player 1 needed to do was score one more point to win the game, the match and indeed, the tournament. But Player 2 was determined to make it as difficult as possible. The pair battled like two octogenarians over the last Murray Mint.
ANNOUNCER STEW: Tim, can you stop making that annoying sound?
ANNOUNCER TIM: Sorry, Stew. It’s an infectious noise.
The crowd were quieter than ever; you could have heard a pin drop. The only noise was that of Player 2’s Williams Sister-esque grunts as he exerted more and more energy to keep his foe’s victory at bay. But Player 1 was cooler than The Fonz. He knew, that at this rate, his opponent would be tired and that a fatal mistake was imminent. His prediction was right.
Player 2’s legs began to shake. Still gripping his paddle with admirable determination, he fell to one knee. The crowed, in unison, took a massive breath; one woman actually fainted it was that tense. Player 1, like a shark smelling blood, focused his efforts and began firing some amazing shots. Player 2 gritted his teeth and returned all of them but soon slipped onto both knees before finally collapsing.
11 – 7
ANNOUNCER TIM: Player 2 wins! Player 2 wins!
ANNOUNCER STEW: Er…Tim, Player 1 wins.
ANNOUNCER TIM: Player 1 wins! Player 1 wins!
The crowd roared, medics rushed to Player 2 but pronounced him dead, and Player 1 sobbed as he was handed the Pong Champion of the World trophy. He was raised….
PLEASE INSERT COIN TO CONTINUE