Ally Pally went Ping Pong Crazy
North London’s Alexandra Palace plays host to many great sporting events throughout the year and last weekend was no exception. On Sat 24 and Sun 25 Jan, the iconic North London venue was home to the very exciting Party Poker World Championship of Ping Pong. And our PongCrazy activity was booked to add even more pizzazz and entertain visitors before and after the tournament sessions.
Competitive Ping Pong is based on the game of table tennis, but with a few differences. Traditional “technology-free” sandpaper bats multiply the skill, speed and power factors which, combined with some alternative rules, make it arguably more enjoyable to play and to watch. The 1,000 strong crowds and those viewing on Sky Sports would surely agree and we think introducing this variation was a masterstroke (pardon the pun) by Barry Hearn’s Matchroom Sport.
Our novelty tables were set up within the magnificent Palm Court hall, alongside the well-stocked Topspin Sports stand, and served (really sorry about the pun… again) to get the spectators into the ping pong spirit before they entered the main arena. They were drawn to our intriguing egg-shaped ‘Sunnyside Up’ table, the challenging play of our golf-themed ‘Up and Down’ table and the mind-bending confusion of our mirrored ‘Double Vision’ table. Over the 2 days in excess of 500 people of all ages and standards played our game and all seemed to have a smashing time (oh god, it’s another pun).
Even some of the professionals couldn’t resist testing their skills on our tables including Maxim Shmyrev – the 3-times former champion – who gave UrbanCrazy’s Danny the runaround on ‘Double Vision’. The action was so fast and furious that by the end of the game Danny himself was suffering from a little double vision too!
But really we were just the “undercard” to the “top billing” that was the championship itself, where in the cauldron of the main arena the action was really hotting up. It eventually reached boiling point in Sunday night’s nail-biting final where the UK’s very own Andrew Baggaley took the first 2 sets only to be pinned back to 2-2 by his opponent, German ace Alexander “The Flash” Flemming. In a dramatic climax, and much to the delight of the mostly partisan crowd, Andrew came from behind in the final set to triumph by 15 points to 12 and scoop the $20,000 top prize and trophy.
With so much momentum behind it right now owing to Barry Hearn’s drive and determination to deliver it to a bigger audience, it seems ping pong has really entered the big league and we are thrilled to be part of this scene.