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Big, bad ping-pong bats?!

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E.C. Gladstone

Oh sure, Vegas is home to the National Finals Rodeo and the World Series of Poker. But let’s get serious: The world of table tennis is where the real action is. Think I’m kidding? Tagged as the “biggest, baddest throwdown” (what else would you expect from American Idol production house Fremantle Media?), the Las Vegas HardBat Classic, to be televised on ESPN for the first time, promises a return to the good old days of democratic ping-pong.

Calendar

Las Vegas HardBat Classic
June 26, noon-9 p.m.; June 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; June 28, championships, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
free
The Venetian Sands Expo Center, Hall C
Beyond the Weekly
Hardbat Classic

Split into brackets for “pros, bar & basement players and all-stars,” the HardBat Classic is a throwback 72-hour showdown, requiring all expected 1,000 entrants—any U.S. resident can sign up, with no prequalifications—to use an old-style pips-out, no-sponge bat (that’s the paddle for you newbies). Pros include top-ranked Eric Owens, 2008 nationals winner Trevor Runyan, 14-year-old prodigy Austin Preiss and players from China, Kazakhstan and the former Yugoslavia. Any contest that pares down to one winner-take-all, $100,000 match in that amount of time is bound to be intense. Wonder who’s taking odds ...

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