RetRollSpective – Hazers

RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the Hazers, a team that originated in the 2018 Marble League, stormed to the top of the competition, and rumbled the marblebase. Enjoy as we explore this team’s short, yet impactful history…

The logo for the Hazers, designed by Tim Ritz.

Hazy, Smoggy, Foggy, Misty, and Cloudy entered the fray as the Hazers in the 2018 Winter Marble League Draw. With a cloudy pattern inside, these light-gray marbles stood out instantly from all the other teams in the competition. It remained to be seen how the novice team would hold up against series mainstays, like the Chocolatiers, for example. The Hazers did not impress during the first qualification, only gaining two points towards the twenty they needed to qualify, but they scored strong in the coming rounds. With six, eight, and eight points from the second to the fourth round, the Hazers earned the honor of being the highest scoring rookie team to qualify for the 2018 Winter Marble League.

Perhaps the thing that makes the Hazers so unpredictable is their sheer mystery. It seems to many fans that their talent in competition appeared out of nowhere, and they’re right. Marblebase journalists have been unable to get any leads on the Hazers’ origins for years, either from the team or from outside sources. That said, in early 2019, a journalist found a Hazers souvenir shop in eastern Asia, south of Hunluen. When interviewed, Smoggy sidelined the question, saying:

“Where we come from is not important. Who we are now and what we do here is what is important.”

Needless to say, their success has caused much controversy. In a previous blog post, entitled Are certain Marble League teams using PEDs?, it was detailed that:

For the Hazers, their strong start has given them some unwanted scrutiny as to what is inside the middle of their marbles. Their Hazy color has caused many to believe that they could be adding weight to create an advantage” (Evonsion).

Though the post discredited these rumors, discourse concerning the team’s potential use of PEDs has been rampant on sites like Reddit, where users have stated:

 “I’ve seen some various condemning photographs…that they are actually using weighted centers and that their signature “haze” is the residue left from applying said weights to their midsections,” along with “This picture could mean that the Hazers swap themselves out with other, heavier gray marbles before starting each event” and “Insert joke about the urine samples being too hazy to test.”

Since the JMRC has made no statement on the Hazers using PEDs, though, it is important to disregard these conspiracies brought forth by the fans. Furthermore, these allegations likely would not be being brought against the Hazers if their performance in the 2018 Winter Marble League was not so strong. The team earned silver medals in the first and second events, putting them in first place overall with forty points. 

The Hazers debuted in the Marble League by earning a silver medal.

It should also be noted that the Hazers have also had their slate of sublime performances. In the third and fourth events, the team finished in fourteenth place, scoring them only four points total and dropping them into fourth place overall. The Hazers, unfazed by this, rebounded in the fifth event, where Misty set a new Marble League record in Speed Skating 20m with a time of 30.34 seconds. With this, Hazers easily jumped to first place in the standings overall with 69 points, one gold and two silvers strong. When asked about her new record, Misty seemed like she was in a daze:

 

            “I just wanted to win, and I rolled as fast as I could. I could have fallen off the track, but I knew it was worth the risk. When I got to the bottom, my team just rushed at me and that’s when I realized. I started tearing up, and through my hazy vision I think they were too.”

Misty's record-setting gold medal in Speed Skating.

Unfortunately for the Hazers, their strong momentum throughout the first half of the 2018 Winter Marble League dissipated after their gold medal. They finished in sixth place overall despite getting fourteenth place twice more in Team Pursuit and Snowboard Cross, making them the highest placing rookie team of the season. In the offseason, Foggy finished in fifth for the 100 meter Water Marble Race practice event, being the highest qualified rookie team to do so (the Gliding Glaciers finished in third) and the Hazers also participated in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, though they were eliminated in the initial heat.

Irrespective of their performance in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, the Hazers stormed into the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers with force, getting two gold medals and earning first place in the standings. The qualifier rounds gave the team the opportunity it needed to prove to its doubters that their first season’s success was not a fluke and that it would continue to challenge the more decorated veterans in competition, though their success hinged upon their performance in the proper 2019 Marble League in April.

Hazy started the season strongly for the team, reaching the finals in the Underwater Race and missing the podium in fourth place. Foggy followed their inaugural performance by placing on the podium in third place in the Funnel Race, and the team collectively earned a gold medal in Balancing to rise to second place in the standings, trailing the seemingly dominant Savage Speeders by just eight points.

Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.

Their strong momentum seemed to be fading in the fourth event, Gravitrax Slalom, when the team placed fifteenth. The 5 Meter Sprint momentarily proved that wrong with Smoggy’s silver medal, which placed the Hazers at the top of the standings. However, the Hazers continued to fall into a rut that seemed eerily similar to their second half of the 2018 season. Over the next three events, the team placed in the middle of the standings twice and last place once, dropping to fifth place overall with half of the season to go. It seemed possible that teams like the Crazy Cat’s Eyes could rise above the Hazers. The Raspberry Racers, previously in second, were nestled at the top of the standings, a position which they would eventually win.

 

            “We saw something that we’d been waiting for years to happen. We can’t deny the talent of the older teams, but we newer teams had wanted a chance to shine for so long,” Foggy revealed. “2019 was the first year where none of the original sixteen teams made the podium, and it was a breath of fresh air. It made us feel worthy—vindicated—that not only were we part of the competition, but that we had the honor to rise above marble athletes so decorated and experienced. Marble athletes that we’d always dreamed of being.”

A turning point for the Hazers' 2019 season.

The Hazers fought through the second half of the season to earn this honor, denying themselves a repeat of 2018. Foggy earned a bronze medal in Hurdles and the team earned its second gold medal in the Hubelino Maze, rising to second place and maintaining their position in the top five. The team earned a bronze medal in Rafting and a silver medal in Surfing with Hazy’s performance, becoming one of three teams able to win the 2019 Marble League. Although the Hazers finished in the middle of the pack in Collision, the Savage Speeders’ last place finish doomed them from finishing the overall season on the podium, and cemented the top three teams: the Raspberry Racers, Green Ducks, and Hazers—all three of which had a chance to take the championship.

In the end, the standings would remain consistent for the top five teams. The Hazers finished in third place with 184 points at the conclusion of the 2019 Marble League, prequalifying for the 2020 Marble League and ensuring their legacy in the tournament among the most celebrated teams and athletes in marble sports history.

Will the Hazers break the "third place curse" in the 2020 season? That remains to be seen...

The Hazers were taking a short break from preparing for the Friendly Round when received an official letter from the JMRC inviting them to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The team accepted the invitation and will be represented by Hazy and Smoggy during the tournament. The team’s poster confirmed one of the team’s biggest mysteries: depicting their training grounds high up on a mountaintop, with Mount Huaze in eastern Asia in the distance.

In RetRollSpective, the high performances of the Hazers put the team in a very good position for the first half of the 2018 Winter Marble League, secured their spot in sixth place despite an overcast second half, and carried through the 2019 Marble League to a podium finish. The Hazers had a remarkable rookie season, becoming famous in the marblebase (regardless of the debates about their fairness in competition,) and an even better second season. I look forward to seeing the Hazers’ potential downpour upon its competition and fully believe they can be successful in future years. Best of luck to Hazers in the 2020 Marble League, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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Copyright © 2020 MARBLE SPORTS. All rights reserved. Proudly powered by the JMRC

RetRollSpective – Shining Swarm

RetRollSpective – Shining Swarm

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to dust off our sunglasses, put them on, and take a look at the Shining Swarm, a team that debuted in the 2017 Marble League. Read on to find out exactly what this team is, and how they’re one of the most prevalent teams in the tournament.

The logo for the Shining Swarm, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Shining Swarm is a team that is known for being unknown—the team notorious for being forgotten by fans, questioning how they got into the Marble League and why they’re still in the tournament. It’s a question worthy of asking—the team has become the subject of memes over the past few months and did not advance to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, which means that they will not be appearing in a competition until the next Showdown.

What does the Shining Swarm have to offer that the Gliding Glaciers did not? (Well, they qualified for a Marble League.) What makes the team any better than the Quicksilvers? (Well, they were better than them in 2017.) Is the team forgettable because the Savage Speeders, another double-S team, also exist? (Most definitely.) You may ask, “Well, Stynth said that “they’re one of the most prevalent teams in the tournament”…they’re not more important than the O’rangers, right?” Look, not one team is more important than the other. Each and every team has their place in marble sports history, and there’s something we can learn from team that has competed. We can learn from Team Plasma that if you haven’t done enough training for Qualifiers, you probably shouldn’t compete. We can learn from the Quicksilvers that just because your Marble Rally athlete is good doesn’t mean that your Marble League athletes will be. We can learn from the Jungle Jumpers that going out the night before the final event of the season is a bad idea.

So, you’re probably asking, what can we learn from the Shining Swarm? The answer is simple: it’s to have fun.

"She was a day spinner, a one-way fidget, yeah..."

The Shining Swarm hail from a city on the West African coast named Galeem. The city is named for the shining waters that surround the city, located on a peninsula that juts out from the mountainous mainland, whose mountains gleam with snow-covered summits. Galeem sits at the mouth of the Silver River, which is where the team took its original name from: the Silver Swarm. The team had to change their name to avoid confusion with the Quicksilvers, and were instead inspired by the swaths of natural beauty surrounding their homeland, which shine in the sunlight.

Shiny, Sparkle, Shimmer, and Sterling are musicians at heart, and have strived to maintain their talents even through their athletic training. The fab four were in a band called “The MarBeats” which produced such hits as “Here Comes The Swarm”, “Fidget to Ride”, and “I Wanna Be Your Marble”. Their most popular hit, “Roll Over and Roll Out”, resonated with marble sports fans because the song discussed the growing popularity of regional marble sports tournaments. In 2015, the song was used in a featurette about the tournaments, underscoring videos of competitions like the Surculo, Ramen Bowl, and the Knikkegen Marble League.

During this time, the team started to get interested in the tournaments themselves, fantasizing about possibly entering the competition themselves. They performed their last live concert on a rooftop in Dionlin, performing songs from their Marbly Road album. The team returned to Galeem in early 2016 to begin athletic training, and after the conclusion of the 2016 Marble League, applied for the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers. Their application was accepted, and the team debuted in the tournament on 23 June 2017.

"I'm pushing a block before the rain gets in..."

Shiny raced out of the gate in the first event, the Relay Race, only to fall behind the competition quickly. From then on, the Swarm learned to conserve their energy in the long term, and began scoring better. The team did best in Block Pushing, placing fourth overall. Amassing twenty-three points overall, the Shining Swarm qualified for the 2017 Marble League at fifth in the overall standings.

The team appeared in the tournament not even two weeks later, debuting in the opening ceremony and first event on 01 July 2017. Shimmer represented the Swarm in Funnel Spinning instead of Sparkle, who had participated in the event during Qualifiers, and scored worse, placing twelfth. In the Long Jump, Sterling tied with Goolime with a score of 68,8 centimeters, placing ninth. After two events, the Shining Swarm seemed to have plateaued in twelfth place, on track to become a forgettable team in the bottom half of the standings akin to the Quicksilvers and Jungle Jumpers.

However, this was not to be the case. If there was one event that the Shining Swarm had really trained for, it was the Collision event. In fact, another reason behind their team name was because of their love for this type of event—one where the team “swarms” its opponents for the high ground—to remain on the arena and not fall to the floor.

Truth be told, the Shining Swarm did not prepare for the presence of fidget spinners on the arena, and in fact, no team really did. The spinners were introduced shortly before the teams attended Qualifiers, and were rumored to cater to the sudden popularity of the toys. When it came to the actual event, however, the Swarm stuck together as much as it could. The team made it to the quarterfinals just barely over the Chocolatiers, broke a tie with Mellow Yellow to advance to the semifinals, and broke a tie with Team Primary to advance to the finals. The Swarm decisively defeated the Limers two to one, earning their first—and so far—only medal in the Marble League.

 

"You know I roll all day..."

For all of the craziness of the Fidget Spinner Collision, between Momomomo’s injury and the fan invasion on the arena, the Swarm’s positive energy shone through. “We knew that a lot of the fans were worried about Team Momo, and we were worried too,” reflected Shimmer. “We got onto the spinner after our quarterfinal match to try to cheer people up.”

“We’re performers at heart. It’s what we do,” Sterling added.

 

The Shining Swarm rose into third place after the event, peaking early in the season. Aside from Sparkle placing second-to-last in the 5 Meter Sprint, the rest of the Swarm’s results placed in the top half to the middle of the standings. Their most notable placements aside from their gold in Collision was the team’s 35,5 in Archery, Sparkle’s fourth place in the Underwater Race, and Shiny’s fifth place in the Sand Rally. Throughout the rest of the season, the Shining Swarm remained in the middle of the standings, finishing in seventh overall with 112 points. With one gold medal, they finished closely to Team Momo, the Chocolatiers, the Pinkies, Team Galactic, the Midnight Wisps, and Mellow Yellow—teams from ninth to third place not even twenty points apart.

"There's nowhere you can roll that isn't where you're meant to roll."

“Honestly, we did way better than we expected. I mean, I did badly in the 5-Meter Sprint,” admitted Sparkle. “But I did great in the Underwater Race. Having the chance to race among athletes like Kinnowin was such an honor.”

            “We’re here to have fun, but we don’t take any of it for granted,” promised Shiny. “It’s really something—an experience you can’t buy.”

            “In my life—in our life—the only thing that compares is music, and even then, there’s a reason we retired from recording,” Sparkle added.

 

The Shining Swarm appeared next in the 2018 Winter Marble League Draw with their new reserve member, Glimmer, where they were sorted into Group C with teams that they had never competed against, save for the Thunderbolts, Limers, and Team Primary. Unfortunately, they were unable to place above fifth in any of the four events and finished dead last in their group. The Shining Swarm would miss the 2018 Winter Marble League.

"The marble on the hill sees the sun rolling down."

During their extended offseason, the team attended the main tournament of 2018 Winter Marble League and released one more album as the MarBeats, named Let it Roll. The titular song of the album charted high on Marbleboard along with “Across the Marbleverse” and “The Long and Shining Road”. The team officially announced their retirement from the music industry after the album’s release, committing themselves fully to marble sports.

The Shining Swarm competed next in the 2018 Marble League Consolation Race, where Shimmer finished seventh out of eleven competitors. The team submitted Sparkle to compete in the 100 Meter Water Race; they finished nineteenth, above Mandarin and other athletes who did not finish the race. The Swarm reformed in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, finishing last in Group E with only twenty-seven points earned.

            “A lot of our fans were beginning to question why we stopped touring and recording. In their opinion, we were much better at music than we were at sports. And you know what? They’re probably right,” Shimmer mused. “But we’ve moved on. This is something that we enjoy regardless of how we place. It brings out the best in us.”

 

All things considered, the best of the Shining Swarm was not present in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The team had earned only five points after three of the four events, and although Shimmer did well in their heat of the Underwater Race, placing ninth overall, it was not enough. The Shining Swarm failed to qualify with only fifteen points to their name.

“You know, our fanbase isn’t big. It’s not easy being overshadowed by franchises that are better grounded in the legacy of the Marble League,”  Shimmer glanced at a picture of the Savage Speeders, “and trying to make your own mark in something as legendary as this competition. We’re a fun bunch and we love what we do. That’s why we were riding the fidget spinners when we were advancing and later won that event. Not everything has to be serious.” 

The Shining Swarm was prepared for another long offseason. Its members were considering making their own solo music when the Marble League Showdown was announced as a B-League to the main tournament. When the team learned that Collision would be an event, they got so excited, they began rolling back and forth in excitement, according to their coach, Gleam.

The Shining Swarm gained media attention during the latter half of the 2019 Marble League after being featured in jest as the Marble League Twitter account’s favorite to win the tournament, despite not qualifying. The team became a meme due to its tendency to be forgotten, which actually helped them get more popular. The Shining Swarm’s fans, nicknamed the “Swarmy”, began to grow in number, and the Swarm itself gained a new logo, a new hashtag, and a newfound determination. They were ready to rise and shine.

"Once there was a way to roll back homeward..."

The Shining Swarm began the 2019 Marble League Showdown poorly with a penultimate finish in the Sand Rally, but delivered a strong performance in Collision, utilizing their same strategy from two years prior to edge ahead of the Kobalts in the first heat, defeat the Snowballs in the quarterfinals, and dominate against Team Primary in the third place match despite faltering against the Rojo Rollers in the semifinals. The Swarm stood on the podium for the first time in nearly two years, and was handed bronze-colored medals made of aluminum to celebrate the occasion.

            “That is the best I’ve felt in two years,” Shiny exclaimed. “And there weren’t even any fidget spinners!”

 

Shiny continued to shine in Funnel Spinning, placing fifth, but the team staggered in Balancing, placing tenth. The team tied for eighth overall with the Minty Maniacs in points, but dropped to ninth because of their bronze medal. The Shining Swarm finished in the bottom four teams, and as a result, will not move on to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

"And in the end, the roll you take is equal to the roll you make."

In RetRollSpective, the Shining Swarm is a team. The Swarm is a team that does what its team members love, from writing and performing music to competing in the elite of marble sports tournaments and riding on fidget spinners. They rise to the occasion and when they break through, as they did in Collision, the Shining Swarm shines, demonstrating to all around them what it means to be optimistic and enjoy life. They are far from the best team in terms of statistics, but I firmly believe that the best is yet to come. Until the Swarmy rises again, in the 2020 Marble League Showdown…best of luck and keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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Copyright © 2020 MARBLE SPORTS. All rights reserved. Proudly powered by the JMRC

RetRollSpective – Raspberry Racers

RetRollSpective – Raspberry Racers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to race on over to Raspberry Racers, a team which debuted in the 2018 Winter Marble League and are the champions of the 2019 Marble League.

The logo for the Raspberry Racers, designed by Tim Ritz.

Though they are one of the newest teams in the Marble League, the Raspberry Racers competed for years in the now-defunct Fruit Circuit. The Fruit Circuit was an untelevised marble sports series that ran until 2016, when the Marble League rose to fame. The Raspberry Racers competed alongside infamous marble teams such as O’rangers, Mellow Yellow, and Limers, developing a tense rivalry with the latter team.

The Bakker brothers reserved three spots for the circuit’s teams to compete for when the Fruit Circuit shut down. In the final event of the Fruit Circuit, which was an outdoor race through a winery in southern Europe, Raspberry Racers were in second overall when they overshot a curve and went out of bounds. Their DNF allowed both Mellow Yellow and the O’rangers to slot into second and third place, respectively, behind the Limers in first, shutting out Raspberry Racers from competing in the 2016 Marble League.

The team was understandably disappointed. After firing Barry, the racer who did not finish the last Fruit Circuit race, the remaining four members of the team took a trip to Rubow, the raspberry capital of the world, to visit their families, drink some raspberry syrup, and overall to get away from the Marble League. The Raspberry Racers ended up disbanding sometime during this period, but its former members began taking interest in the Hubelino Tournament, which was slated to air after the Marble League.

Razzy and Rozzy joined the Bluefastics while Rezzy and Rizzy joined the Valiant Violets. The two teams performed modestly throughout the tournament, which originally ran for eight events but was extended to twelve, running before and after the 2017 Marble League. In the original eight events, both teams scored at least one gold medal and made the podium at least one other time, but did not perform well overall. The Valiant Violets placed last overall and the Bluefastics placed sixth.

Unbeknownst to the fans, however, Razzy, Rozzy, Rezzy, and Rizzy were training together to try out for the 2018 Winter Marble League. The four reformed Raspberry Racers and recruited Ruzzy as their fifth member. When asked about the reformation, Barry said:

“I’m happy for them, you know, Razzy and the others. I think they’ll do well. I just wish they thought to reach out to me.”

The Raspberry Racers declined to comment, as they were well into training. Just a little over a month after the Hubelino Tournament ended, Razzy, Rozzy, Rezzy, and Rizzy had officially left their Hubelino teams and donned their fuchsia colors for the 2018 Winter Marble League Draw. Commentator Greg Woods introduced them in the video, stating:

“They have a long history going back with the Limers, the two of them, so ideally they would like to be in separate groups, although some might say they want to be in the same just to knock each other out before they even make it…”

This referenced the Limers’ first place victory in the final Fruit Circuit, which secured their spot in the 2016 Marble League. Oddly, Woods did not mention the Racers’ rivalry with the other two fruit teams, but that was because they were not competing in qualifications. The Raspberry Racers placed into Group C and scored modestly in the following events until the 5m Ice Dash, where they got a first place in their group, and the Halfpipe where they got third place in the group. This put the Raspberry Racers second in the overall group with twenty-two points, enough to qualify for the 2018 Winter Marble League. The Limers, however, were also in Group C, and they, too, qualified for competition with twenty-one points. The Fruit Circuit was back.

The Raspberry Racers' first Marble League opening ceremony, at the start of the 2018 season.

The Racers placed in the lower half of the standings throughout the first four events of the 2018 Winter Marble League; it was not until their fourth place run in Speed Skating that the team got a glimpse at the limelight of being in the top 10. The Raspberry Racers had a pivotal moment in the next event, Team Pursuit, which put them against Limers in the semifinal. The two rival teams were neck-and-neck throughout the match, by hundredths of seconds, but it was ultimately Raspberry Racers that finally harnessed their synergy to race across the finish line, two-hundredths of a second before the Limers’ third racer did. Although the Racers lost out to the Snowballs by a mere four-hundredths of a second in the finals, it didn’t matter to the Racers. Razzy said of the event:

 

“It felt amazing. Our team has come a long way since we’ve been training for the ML, but we never felt like we were in sync with each other until that semifinal. That made us feel like a team again, just like in the old days. In that moment, we knew we’d made the right choice to reunite and come back.”

The Raspberry Racers' first medal.

The Raspberry Racers came away with a silver medal from Team Pursuit, rising into fifth place overall. With this, the team emerged as one of the most notable of the rookie teams, beginning to gain support as Hazers had before them. In the eighth event, Snowboard Cross, Rozzy got first in the Heat race with Sublime of the Limers closely following behind. This put both teams in the final, however, the Raspberry Racers tired out in that race, getting seventh place while the Limers got their first gold medal of the season. The two teams faced each other again in the Curling quarterfinals, where Rozzy got revenge on Sublime, knocking him off the target and securing a 2-0 victory for the Racers. When interviewed about the play, Sublime simply shook his self,

“Personally, I thought she made a really dirty move. And if we’re being honest, I don’t understand this rivalry between us. It’s not like we’re the team that took their spot in the 2016 Marble League. They messed up, and we were already in first!”

 

Interestingly enough, the Raspberry Racers went up against the O’rangers in the third place round, the very team that shut them out of the final designated spot for the Fruit Circuit. The Racers edged ahead by one point, earning a bronze medal for Curling. The final three events did not bode as well for the team except for the final event, where they scored fifth place. The Raspberry Racers finished in eighth overall for the 2018 Winter Marble League, an impressive feat for the rookie team.

The Raspberry Racers had an active offseason as well in their rookie year. In the Amazing Maze Marble Race, they competed with all of the Marble League teams, qualified and not, in a Hubelino race with all four members of each team. The team made it to the finals rather easily, where they went up against not only the Limers, but the O’rangers and Savage Speeders. Though the O’rangers got two marbles in first and second place, the Raspberry Racers followed closely behind in third, fourth, seventh, and eleventh, where the other two O’rangers ended up in tenth and fifteenth. The Racers’ consistency and teamwork were what paved the way for their victory in the Amazing Maze Marble Race.

Foreshadowing...we love to see it.

The team declined to rejoin the Bluefastics and Valiant Violets, wishing the two teams the best of luck in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament as the Raspberry Racers trained for the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers with a new coach, Berry. The team began Qualifiers on an admittedly sour note, finishing in second-to-last in Funnel Spinning and only earning one point. Fans were relieved, then, when the Racers earned fifteen points in Block Pushing, finishing in fourth place and putting them one point behind Team Momo in twelfth place. There was a path to qualification.

The third event, Relay Race, brought drama between the Raspberry Racers and their competition. Though the team finished first in their heat and added twelve points to their total, the Racers’ fans got involved in a fight with Primary fans when Mary did not finish the race, resulting in a DNF. Ironically enough, Barry (who is unrelated to the Racers’ new coach) was in the stands when he noticed Primary fans coming at him:

            “In the moment, it was just so bizarre. I couldn’t understand why Team Primary’s fans were mad at us when Limers fans were the ones throwing the debris onto the tracks. They were probably mad because of our ‘rivalry’ with Limers. It’s a shame they had to create new rivals to get their anger out.”

The fight initiated by Team Primary fans in the stands of the 2019 Qualifiers.

It was perhaps poetic justice, then, when the Raspberry Racers comfortably succeeded in qualifying for the 2019 Marble League in eighth place. With a new logo in hand, the Raspberry Racers entered a season in which they would dominate, rise to the top, and never let up. The team was one of three teams that never left the top five during the season; the other two teams were the Hazers and Green Ducks, teams that would consistently challenge the Racers throughout the season for victory.

The team rose to significance in the second event, Funnel Race, when Razzy, now team captain, came just short of winning the event. Although Razzy was able to stay in the final funnel for an impressive thirty-four seconds, outlasting every other marble that passed through, the Savage Speeders took their second gold medal in a row against the Raspberry Racers.

The Savage Speeders had an unprecedented lead after only the second event with fifty points to their name, and the Raspberry Racers, in second place, were nineteen points behind. In the next event, a fourteenth place finish in Balancing brought the team down to fifth place while the Hazers moved up to second and finally wrestled first place from the Savage Speeders at the end of the fifth event. The team did earn a silver medal in the Gravitrax Slalom, a team event, but placed ninth with Rozzy’s performance in the 5 Meter Sprint and returned once more to fifth overall.

Seeing the Raspberry Racers on the podium was a common occurrence during the 2019 season.

The Raspberry Racers earned a bronze medal in the Relay Run and another bronze medal in the Summer Biathlon, which, along with a fourth place finish in Block Pushing, elevated the team to the top of the standings. The Racers closed out the first half of the season by earning medals in four out of the eight events, practicing unparalleled consistency to stay in the game. Rizzy, the Racer who competed in the Summer Biathlon, was cautiously optimistic:

            “I think there’s no denying that the training that we’ve put in is paying off, but that in no way means that we’re going to coast to victory during the rest of the season. There are fifteen other teams that want this as badly as we do, and we need to give everything we’ve got if we want to win this year.”

The ninth event, Hurdles, matched this sentiment, as Razzy picked up his second silver medal of the season. As the next few events went on, the Raspberry Racers noticed that there was one team that was consistently getting in front of them: the Green Ducks. This became most apparent for the team when the Ducks got second in front of the Racers’ third in the Dirt Race, and earned their second gold medal in Rafting above of the Racers’ finish in sixth. Although the Raspberry Racers had earned six medals, the Ducks, with their equally consistent finishes in the top four of most events, retook the lead with four events to go.

 

            “Our strong point is working together in team events, but we fell short in Rafting. We had high expectations for ourselves and from the fans. Once the Green Ducks broke the ML record in front of us, the stakes rose even higher, and we did not react well to that,” Ruzzy admitted.

This graphic, created by FlameVapour, illustrates the Ducks' fanbase expanding after Qualifiers.

The Green Ducks retook first place in the standings, being the first team to do so in the season. Fans likened the power struggle between the two teams to the rivalry between the Limers and the Raspberry Racers, a coincidence made only more ironic due to the Green Ducks’ lime green color. When asked about this, Coach Berry chuckled:

            “I obviously wasn’t a part of the team when the competition between the Limers and the Raspberry Racers was at its peak, but I can promise you that our relationship isn’t like that with the Green Ducks. We have a lot of respect for the Ducks. They’re the best rookie team since the Savage Speeders in 2016, and they deserved to get on the podium this year. There’s nothing wrong with a little competition, though, especially when it’s over the championship.”

Ultimately, Rezzy was the marble who would represent the Raspberry Racers in the Elimination Race and the marble athlete who would define which team could secure the championship. Her team had a lot to prove—that they wanted victory, that they were going to do everything in their power to keep their fight alive and finish strong. Up to this point, the Racers had yet to earn a gold medal—ever—in the Marble League.

The Raspberry Racers' first gold medal in their team history.

“It was truly one of the hardest races I’ve ever run, one that even the best athletes couldn’t finish. When I got stuck during one of the final races, I, too, was ready to accept my fate,” Rezzy shrugged. “Diego rolling into me was a matter of chance. It was a shame that he didn’t get into the final race, too, though. I owe the mere opportunity to earn that gold medal to him. The rest? Everything I learned throughout the eight races prior, prior training, and again, luck, is how I earned our first gold medal. I, more than anything, am grateful.”

The Racers still remained in second after the event, but a fourth place finish in Surfing allowed the team to retake the lead in the standings. The Raspberry Racers finished one place ahead of the Green Ducks in Collision, and, remaining as consistent as they had throughout the entire season, earned a bronze medal with Razzy’s performance in the Sand Rally to finish the 2019 Marble League with a total of 216 points and eight medals to their name.

The Raspberry Racers had won the 2019 Marble League.

 

"The Raspberry Racers, as robust as can be, are your 2019 Marble League champions!"

“I can’t overstate how badly we’ve wanted this to happen,” Razzy, who won Best Individual Marble as well, remarked. “It’s a testament to how much we’ve been improving over every single year, from not qualifying in the Fruit Circuit, to being separated as a team, to coming together, harmonizing, and pulling through to the end. I couldn’t be prouder of my team, and it’s an even bigger honor to know for sure that we’ll be appearing in next year’s tournament as well. Our work is far from over.”

            “You know, seeing how happy they were, and how thrilled we, the fans were…I’ve forgiven them,” Barry admitted. “Everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure I could have ever seen myself competing in the Marble League, and I like where my career is now. I’m more than happy to cheer on the Raspberry Racers from the sidelines, especially if they’re going to keep doing as well as they just did. #RaspberryRobust, everyone!”

The team, prequalified for the 2020 Marble League, was harvesting raspberries from the Von Neuman Farm in Rubow when they received an official letter from the JMRC. The letter invited the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One alongside the three other Marble League champions and other teams, notably, the Limers. The Raspberry Racers accepted the invitation and will be represented by Razzy and Rezzy during the tournament. The team’s reveal poster depicts the two rolling through the farm casually, as the sun sets on the horizon behind them. They were also selected to host the seventh Grand Prix at the team’s Razzway. The Qualifiers and Race will premiere on 28 March and 29 March at 19:30 UTC.

In RetRollSpective, the Raspberry Racers have come a long way since their beginnings in the Fruit Circuit. The reunion of the team brought energy into the Marble League that drove them into the top ten for the 2018 season, led them to win the Amazing Maze Marble Race in an upset over more established teams, and, as robust as could be, claimed the championship in the 2019 Marble League by medaling in half of its events and competing consistently to the best of its ability. Best of luck to the Raspberry Racers in the 2020 Marble League, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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RetRollSpective – Thunderbolts

RetRollSpective – Thunderbolts

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes.  This time, we’re roaming the skies to get a glimpse at the Thunderbolts, a team that has been around since the 2016 Marble League. Hopefully it won’t rain on our parade…I mean, article, as we discover the history of this team…

The logo for the Thunderbolts, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Thunderbolts, despite having such a striking name, have never really been in the light since their first season, and they have competed in every Marble League to date. Where have they been? Why are fans focused on other teams like the Savage Speeders, O’rangers, and Oceanics?

Bolta, Bolto, Boltu, and Bolty weren’t members to brag. Near the end of the 2018 Marble League, the team was in fifth overall. This wasn’t their first time being in such a good position—the team actually won third overall in the 2016 Marble League and did not need to qualify for the 2017 Marble League. Much of the attention, however, seemed to focus on the close win of the Savage Speeders against Mellow Yellow—that final race in Hurdles. Few viewers noticed that Bolto was just two seconds behind Yellup, 5.36 versus 5.34 for the latter. And it didn’t matter.

A photo finish that many consider to be only between the Savage Speeders and Mellow Yellow...

Truth be told, the Thunderbolts still had a banner year in the 2016 Marble League. Their first medal came during the second event when the team earned a bronze medal during the Relay Run. In the next event, the Thunderbolts earned their first gold medal in the Collision event and rose to first place overall. Another silver came after Bolta reached 97.6 cm in the fifth event, Long Jump, and two more Bronze medals followed during Team Pursuit and Hurdles. Prior to the Savage Speeders’ win in the Hurdles event, the Thunderbolts had been in between first and second place since the fifth event. At the end of the 2016 Marble League, the Thunderbolts fell to third overall, tied with Mellow Yellow in points, but just behind them in medals.

The team stayed silent during its extended offseason, training for the 2017 Marble League. In fact, the Thunderbolts stayed silent in general because the team members were all mute. The four met at a Greek mythology convention in 2012 where they all dressed up as Zeus. When they tried to communicate with each other, each realized that they couldn’t speak, and upon communicating to each other through roll language, they found several things in common, along with their affinity for racing. No sooner had the four left the convention that they had already decided on their team name: the Thunderbolts.

The team joined the Knikkegen Marble League later that year and rose through the ranks. The team became known as one of the fastest teams in the league, and, by the time the 2016 Marble League was announced, was one of the top teams alongside Team Primary and was invited to the tournament. The Thunderbolts did not want to be known as “the team that couldn’t talk,” but as “the team that always shocked the competition.” And rightly so: the Thunderbolts’ achievements in competition prove that any marble can overcome adversity and shine on the podium. Regardless, this did not mean that the team members had easy lives. It was only after three years of competition that the Thunderbolts allowed interviews with the press, where the now-former team members disclosed this information with us. We hold the utmost respect with them for sharing.

The Thunderbolts' first of three bronze medals earned in the 2017 season.

The Thunderbolts automatically qualified for the 2017 Marble League due to its third place finish in the previous season. The team started the season well enough, placing eighth in Funnel Spinning and earning a bronze medal with Bolty’s 71,0 centimeter performance in the High Jump. At this point, the team was fifth in the overall standings, which, as the tournament progressed, would be the closest they would get to the podium. The Thunderbolts dropped to tenth after the Fidget Spinner Collision and did not recover, only dropping further to fourteenth place by the ninth event.

The Thunderbolts mounted a small comeback in Archery, where they scored another bronze medal, and earned a third bronze medal with Bolta’s run in the final event, the Sand Race. The Thunderbolts ended in twelfth place overall, a far cry from the podium which it had stood atop in 2016, but the team was still grateful for the chance to compete, shying away into the clouds once again until the 2018 Marble League Qualifiers.

The team placed into Group C; its third-place showing during the Snow Rally and first-place in the Halfpipe event allowed the Thunderbolts to storm into the 2018 Winter Marble League with high hopes. These hopes initially seemed dashed with Boltu’s fifteenth place finish in the 5 Meter Ice Dash, but Bolto’s fifth place in the Ski Jump and the team’s fourth place in the Halfpipe reignited hope for the Thunderbolts, and it all built up to the fourth event, Bobsled.

The Thunderbolts' first gold medal since the 2016 season.

The Thunderbolts earned their first medal of the season, and their first gold medal since the 2016 season. They rose to second place in the standings, expecting excitement, but there was very little, if any: Team Momo’s injuries seemed to draw far more attention from the marblebase.

In the latter half of the season, the Thunderbolts remained in the top eight of the standings, with two more bronzes to their name thanks to Bolto in the Snowboard Cross and the entire team in the Biathlon. The championship seemed within reach for the team, but during the final two events, the Thunderbolts placed in the lower half of the standings. This, coupled with a finish in dead last during an earlier event, Curling, caused the Thunderbolts to fall just outside the top half of the standings and finish in ninth place overall at the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Marble League.

During the offseason, the Thunderbolts continued to not impress. They were one of seven teams that did not finish in the 100 meter Water Marble Race, and they did not make it past the initial heat of the Amazing Maze Marble Race. It seemed as if this could be the first year that the Thunderbolts would not qualify. Little did we know, the sky was starting to rumble, and rain had just started to fall.

It became apparent during 2019 Marble League Qualifiers that the team had gone through some internal shakeups when a new team member, Lightning represented the Thunderbolts in Funnel Spinning. The team had another new member with Shock as well, who competed in the Underwater Race, and was joined by Thunder, Bolt, and Zap for team events. The Thunderbolts asserted their newfound energy, and stunned their competition, qualifying for the 2019 Marble League in ninth place, with forty points to their name. The team is one of seven to have made it into all four Marble Leagues so far, an impressive feat regardless of place.

            “We were faced with an unprecedented predicament,” Thunderstorm, who is both the team’s coach and its manager, explained. “All five of the original members had enough at the end of the 2018 season. Their hearts weren’t in it anymore, and I could tell that they just wanted to live life again. They retired, and I recruited five of my own trainers from Thorston to hop onboard the team. One of them, Bolt, is Bolty’s cousin. Another one of them, Lightning, competed individually in the KML years ago.”

            “We had no idea how big the shoes were that we needed to fill,” Bolt conceded. “Not that marbles wear shoes. Except for Marblegs. Sometimes.” When pressed for further questions about Marblegs, a marble thought to be a myth for centuries, Bolt declined to answer.

The Thunderbolts' first--and only---podium in the 2019 season.

The Thunderbolts entered the 2019 Marble League as a rookie team in everything but name only, and started off well, building from its energy seen in Qualifiers. Lightning placed sixth in the Underwater Race, Shock placed fifth in Funnel Spinning, and the team, after setting a Marble League record in Balancing, had its record broken by the Hazers and earned its first silver medal since the 2016 season. The Thunderbolts moved up to third place in the standings, tied with the Green Ducks.

Unfortunately, save for a fourth place in the Relay Run and a sixth place by Thunder, the team’s captain, in Surfing, the Thunderbolts were unable to get above seventh place in the remaining eleven events, and steadily fell towards the bottom four in the standings. The team’s worst finishes were two back-to-back events where they placed dead last, with Lightning’s DNF in the Dirt Race and the team’s slow and unsteady Rafting run sealing the team’s fate. At the end of the next event, the Thunderbolts were officially locked out of winning the 2019 Marble League, and they finished the season three events later in thirteenth place overall, 119 points earned.

The Thunderbolts’ hosting bid for the 2020 Marble League was denied in favor of Team Galactic’s bid. The team, dejected, returned to Thorston to train for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. A few months later, they received an official letter from the JMRC, which invited the Thunderbolts to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The team was shocked, but accepted the invitation without much hesitation, with Shock and Bolt submitted to represent the team in the tournament. Later in the season, it was confirmed that the Thunderbolts were selected to host the sixth Grand Prix at their track, the Short Circuit.

The Short Circuit GP will be held in Thorston on 21 and 22 March. Tune in to the live premieres on YouTube at 20:00 UTC!

In RetRollSpective, the Thunderbolts have done well in Marble League competition, striking against the odds and pushing through adversity to be the best team they can be. They may be one of the most underrated teams, from a top-down perspective if you will, and their unpredictability is a major draw of interest for its marblebase, although the team needs to work on its consistency. Best of luck to the Thunderbolts as the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers bolt near; keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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RetRollSpective – Balls of Chaos

RetRollSpective – Balls of Chaos

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to focus on the Balls of Chaos, a Marble League team that originated in the inaugural season, and has emerged as one of the more popular teams in recent years.

The logo for the Balls of Chaos, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Balls of Chaos are one of the oldest teams in marble sport history, dating back to the beginning of the millennium. They hail from Hunluen, the most populated city in the world, as well as the largest. The city was established in the third century when part of the Om civilization migrated northeast in search of riches, and found a flat plain in the center of several tributaries. The city eventually spread past the boundaries of its rivers and extended southeast towards the bay. This southward expansion became a hub for innovation in the nineteenth century, but it also attracted the attention of other civilizations. After much negotiation, the Hunluenians opened their city to these civilizations, which, notably, included those from the Hazers’, Pinkies’ and Momo’s regions.

A space dedicated to the Arms of Chaos.

The city is known for its oriental architecture, which evolved from Om architecture to become far more stylized, reaching out in all directions. This style is adapted from the Arms of Chaos, a universal symbol that the Hunluenians have lived by. The symbol is representative of infinite possibilities by any means necessary, a principle that defined the marbles’ foundations in the city and the opportunities that lay within. It is, similarly, the principle that the Balls of Chaos have lived by for almost twenty years. When Anarchy, Clutter, Tumult, and Snarl started competing in marble sports tournaments as younger marbles, it seemed extremely unlikely that the team would ever make it to an international competition. The team was competing in youth leagues and placing consistently in the bottom half of final standings. Why did they go on?

 

            “We love what we do, plain and simple,” said Tumult. “No matter how good or bad we do, we keep playing. We keep competing, because we know we can always do better. We’ve failed so much that it doesn’t hurt us anymore. Failing will never make us quit.”

The team kept training together throughout their formal schooling, and were accepted to university on account of their marble rallying performance record, which, by the end of their senior year, was remark-marble. During their college years, the four began competing in regional marble tournaments alongside the Pinkies. They were the only team that was still in university that participated in the MFC Championship League, and came very close to victory in 2014 with a fourth-place finish.

In 2015, the Marble League was announced as an international marble sports tournament. Three spots for the inaugural season were allotted to the MFC Championship League, and it originally seemed as if the Balls of Chaos would not get an invitation. The top three finishers, however, declined the invitation to stay in the MFC, and the Balls of Chaos were offered a spot, which they accepted. The Pinkies accepted their invitation after the fifth place finisher declined, and, afterwards, the third spot was ceded to a different competitor due to the MFC’s general lack of interest in the ML.

The four original members of the team.

The Balls of Chaos entered the 2016 Marble League as badly as they possibly could have, with two finishes in dead last, one of those being a disqualification. The team finally reached positive points in the standings in the fifth event, Long Jump, where Clutter earned one point in seventh place. The team, notably, is the only team so far to have had less than zero points in the standings at the end of not only one event, but two. This was also their last event of the season in last place, although they were now tied with the Oceanics for fifteenth place.

 

The team had already started to turn the team’s fortune around in Collision and with Snarl’s performance in the Sand Rally, but they now continued in full force, earning at least one point per event until Quartet Diving, where they earned their third last place of the season. The Balls of Chaos notably earned their first bronze medal with Clutter’s run in the 10 Meter Sprint and their first silver medal in Team Pursuit. These two finishes ensured that the Balls of Chaos were out of the basement regardless of how the final few events went. The team placed fourth in the Precision Slalom before going scoreless for the last two events, and finished the 2016 Marble League in an impressive eighth place. In fact, the team was tied with the Jawbreakers in points, but were just behind in medal count. Despite a rough start to the season, the Balls of Chaos, as promised, did better.

The team's second medal of the Marble League.

However, the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers were not as kind to the team. After staying in the clear for the first half, a fourteenth place finish in Block Pushing and a ninth place in Funnel Spinning doomed the Balls of Chaos to the bottom four teams in the standings. The Balls of Chaos failed to qualify for the 2017 Marble League.

After making a brief cameo in the 2017 Marble League’s closing ceremony, the Balls of Chaos returned in the 2018 Marble League Draw along with the Rojo Rollers and the Kobalts, two of the three other teams that missed qualification in 2017. The Snowballs were the fourth team, but since they were chosen as hosts, they did not need to qualify. The Balls of Chaos placed into Group C for Qualifiers and soared, earning a bronze medal in Curling and two silver medals in the Snow Race and 5 Meter Ice Dash.

 

By the end of the third event, they were already qualified for the 2018 Marble League, and finished in their group with 25 points. This was the highest finish in points out of every team that participated in Qualifiers. The tournament was not without controversy, however, as Team Primary got into a fight with the Balls of Chaos during the Halfpipe event. Team Primary was not penalized for instigating the fight, but the team had already failed to qualify for their third Marble League. The Balls of Chaos, on the other hand, were just getting started.

A fight between Balls of Chaos and Team Primary fans being resolved by security guards.

Tumult started the 2018 season off well, with a fifth place finish in the 5 Meter Ice Dash. Anarchy took that energy and, well, dashed off with it, earning a gold medal and setting a Marble League record in the Ski Jump. The team collectively earned a gold medal in Halfpipe, in fact improving on their appearance in Qualifiers, and rising into first place overall. Despite finishing in fifteenth in the Bobsled event, the Balls of Chaos remained in the top spot.

 

Team Primary’s return to the Marble League, in the form of Team Momary, admittedly threw the Balls of Chaos for a loop. “That’s something we would have never seen coming,” Anarchy admitted. “We may surprise our fans here and there, but that is something we would never think of doing—especially after picking a fight with another team.”

Fans wondered if the rivalry between Team Primary and the Balls of Chaos would resurface as a result of this, but it never did. However, the difference in the latter’s performance was readily apparent. The Balls of Chaos fell behind, placing mostly in the bottom half of the standings for the rest of the season. Anarchy rejuvenated the team with a silver medal in the eighth event, Snowboard Cross, and a return to second place overall. However, the team continued to lag in team events, touching down in seventh place before earning a bronze medal in the final event, Sand Mogul Race. This boosted the team back to fifth place overall, the very same place where they started the 2018 Marble League, and would end it in.

            “It was a great first season to be a part of. We really put ourselves out there,” Disarray stated with pride.

Expectations for the Balls of Chaos were understandably high for the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers, with the team having finished in the top ten of the 100 meter Water Race. The Balls of Chaos earned a silver medal in Funnel Spinning and a bronze medal in the 5m Relay, which, with a few subpar finishes, was enough for the team to qualify for their third Marble League in seventh place. The Balls of Chaos, notably, were the only team from ML16 that missed qualifications in ML17 but qualified for ML18 and ML19. The Snowballs, unfortunately, missed the cut for ML19 in eighteenth place.

 

The Balls of Chaos’ 2019 season played out similarly to their 2016 season—that is, it was underwhelming until the end. The team placed in the lower middle of the standings for nine out of sixteen events, earning between two and six points. Their most notable finishes prior to the penultimate event were a fourth place finish by Anarchy in Funnel Spinning and a seventh place finish by Anarchy in the Summer Biathlon. By the end of the fourteenth event, Surfing, the Balls of Chaos were in fifteenth place, ahead of the Oceanics with a comfortable margin of twenty-two points, but far out of reach from any place near recognition.

A chaotic comeback for a team that had fallen under the radar during the 2019 season.

The phrase “it’s not over until it’s over” could be used to describe the outcomes of the next two events. The Balls of Chaos scraped by in the initial heats to move on to the quarter-finals, where they bested the Raspberry Racers by one point. They repeated this success in the semi-finals against the Chocolatiers, making it to the finals against the O’rangers. The latter team edged ahead of the Balls of Chaos to earn their first gold medal since the 2017 Marble League, but Balls of Chaos earned their first medal of the season and catapulted into twelfth place, safely out of the basement.

The final event, the Sand Rally, saw many of the teams put in their captains, but the Balls of Chaos elected Tumult to run the final race. It turned out to be a worthy investment for the team, to say the least.

            “This was the longest Marble League yet, at sixteen events. You might think that it would have taken a lot of endurance out of us,” stated Tumult. “but I felt a second wind, and I didn’t question it. I rolled with it.”

Tumult’s gold medal, the first in their career, jettisoned the Balls of Chaos into ninth place in the overall standings, just three points away from being in the top eight teams.

 

“Our team is anything but traditional; we’re wildly unpredictable in everything we do except for the fact that we stick together,” Harmony declared. “Our 2019 season overall wasn’t what we wanted, but we promised ourselves that no matter what, we’d enjoy the ride, and that at the right time, we’d give it all we had. And I fully believe we did that.”

As they prepared for the upcoming Qualifiers, the Balls of Chaos received an official letter from the JMRC inviting them to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The team accepted the invitation and will be represented by Anarchy and Clutter during the tournament.

 

In RetRollSpective, the Balls of Chaos have had a chaotic run in the Marble League, with two finishes in the middle of the standings and one in the top five. They were the first team to win two consecutive gold medals, as well as the first team to have a negative number of points in the standings. They have a distinct rivalry with Team Primary, but could not be any closer within their own team, which is reflected in their team medal victories. They, true to their Arms of Chaos, are representative of infinite possibilities by any means necessary. Best of luck to the Balls of Chaos in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

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RetRollSpective – Hornets

RetRollSpective – Hornets

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to bring attention to the Hornets, one of the newest teams in the Marble League that made their debut in the 2019 Marble League Showdown. Read on to see how this team has stung the competition…

The logo for the Hornets, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Hornets are the newest team in any of Jelle’s tournaments, and will make their first bid for the Marble League championship during the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. That said, the team is deeply rooted in other marble sports competitions, to the point where it has a fierce rivalry with another team: the Bumblebees. Their rivalry originated in the Bug Circuit, a regional tournament in eastern Europe that began in 2011. The Hornets’ history as a team is slightly older: the team formed about ten years ago when Stinger brought its members together to race. He and Wasp had known each other since they were babies, and came to know Vespa, Hive, and Yellowjacket through individual races. The team acquired its coach, Swarm, through Vespa’s father, as he was a former athlete.

Each of the Hornets are such important parts to the whole of the team that without even one of them, the team would not “bee” so successful. Vespa, who was also chosen to compete in the first season of Marbula One, is known as the “Speed Queen” inside the Bug Marble community for her experience racing. She is the only female-identifying member of the team. As mentioned, Wasp had known Stinger for years before competing together, and as a result, is very loyal to him and the entire team. His attitude may be aggressive at times, but it stems from his passion for marble sports and his drive to never lose. Hive is an athlete that foils Wasp perfectly: he is outgoing, funny, and friendly with other teams. He does not let poor results get to him, and he guides the team forward towards better results. Yellowjacket, the team’s only reserve, is the youngest member of the Hornets, but has never shown it through his energy and excellence competing with older marbles.

            “I’m really lucky to be on such a hard-working team. We all push ourselves to be the best we can possibly be,” Stinger remarked.

Stinger is the glue that holds the team together as its captain, but he also sets an example for all marble athletes to follow. Apart from being one of the most decorated marble athletes, his self-control in times of pressure has inspired his teammates to always remain hopeful and follow in his footsteps.

 

            “We could not ask for a better captain,” declared Swarm. “In all honesty, I’m more of a mentor for the team. Stinger works so hard, and the team’s potential is so vast. I’m not afraid to push them to take it to the next level because I know they will do it. I have the best job in the world.”

The Hornets confronting a Bumblebee over their performance in a race.

The rivalry between the Bumblebees and Hornets blossomed in 2011, when the Bumblebees hosted the Bug Circuit that year. The Hornets narrowly edged a victory over the hosts and clinched their first championship, with the Bumblebees in second and the Ladybugs in third. The next year, the Hornets finished third in the 2012 Bug Circuit hosted by the Centipedes, where the Ladybugs rose above them to win the tournament and the Scorpions followed in a comfortable margin. The latter team retired after that year, with pressure mounting from the Hornets. This pressure resulted in the Hornets finishing second the next year in the 2013 Bug Circuit, beating out the Moths (that year’s hosts) in third but falling to the Dragonflies in first.

The Bumblebees had not answered the Hornets’ call to a rivalry for three years, but 2014 was a different story. It was the first year ever that the Hornets did not make the podium, which allowed other teams to take the spotlight. The Bumblebees battled against the Cockroaches and the Grasshoppers in a snow-themed circuit, hosted by the Snails, to claim their first Bug Circuit title since the Hornets joined. As the Bumblebees rumbled with joy, the Hornets were abuzz with what next year would bring, for the team had been selected to host.

The Hornets brought the sting back to the Bumblebees and other Bug Circuit teams, dominating over the Ants and Tarantulas to win their own 2015 Bug Circuit—something they prevented the Bumblebees from doing in their own tournament. During one of the races, the Hornets’ famous “BZZZ” chant materialized when Stinger was doing poorly in the final third. Stinger managed to snatch the win, and the crowd, buzzing about Stinger’s impeccable comeback, created the chant we now recognize.

 

The Bumblebees answered the Hornets’ win by finishing third in the 2016 Bug Circuit, while the Hornets missed the podium for the second time in three years. The team redeemed itself in the 2017 Bug Circuit, winning its third championship in seven years. There seemed to be no question as to who was winning the rivalry.

The Hornets after winning a Bug Circuit.

“No hard feelings towards the Bumblebees. I’m friends with Bramble and Brumble,” said Hive. “Our rivalry is fun. It’s especially fun when you win most of the time.”

The Hornets, however, would not face off against the Bumblebees again in the Bug Circuit. In mid-2018, the Bumblebees announced that they were transferring to the 2018 Hubelino Tournament to replace Team Phoenix, who was retiring. The team was not the only team that had left the Bug Circuit: the Grasshoppers also left that season to train Grasshopper for the 2018 Sand Marble Rally, and the Tarantulas were in fact returning from helping Tarantula in the 2016 and 2017 Sand Marble Rallies. The Hornets remained in the 2018 Bug Circuit without someone to really compete against, and still finished in second overall—but felt something was missing.

            “They were so distracted,” Swarm stated. “They did great, but not their best in 2018. They should have won so easily…and that’s when I realized that they could do so much more.”

            “I have a lot of respect for the Bumblebees, and I knew they were going to excel in the Hubelino Tournament,” pledged Stinger. “They aren’t the best in speed events, but they play well to strategy. Their strategy to get into the Marble League from the Hubelino Tournament, for example, was ingenious.”

 

Upon learning that the 2019 Marble League Showdown would host a fan vote to determine the final two spots of the tournament, the Hornets applied. The team drew from their experiences in the Bug Circuit and their rivalry with the Bumblebees to rally support from the marblebase, and this, combined with a dominant social media presence, was more than enough to do so. The Hornets carried both rounds of the fan contest by two-thousand votes, and were admitted as the eleventh spot in the Showdown.

The Hornets, much like the Green Ducks, earned a silver medal in their ML debut.

The team’s social media presence continued in the coming months, as the Hornets decided not to attend the 2019 Marble League itself and focus on training for the Showdown. The team trained with the Bumblebees for the first time ever, thanks to Hive’s networking and continued friendship with the team, and also trained with other Showdown teams as the tournament drew closer. The Hornets arrived to the Seven Seas Stadium six weeks before the beginning of the Showdown and continued to train, right up until the night before the first event, the Sand Rally.

Vespa remained in the top four throughout the entire race, facing a challenge from Bramble for second place until Bramble briefly got stuck in the final quarter of the race. Bramble was able to finish sixth and recover well, but Vespa kept steady, netting a silver medal and fifteen points towards advancing to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

The team earned another silver medal in Collision to rise to the top of the Showdown standings, five points ahead of the Rojo Rollers. The third event, Funnel Spinning, was the only event in which the Hornets did not make the podium and the only event where the Bumblebees placed higher than them—in fourth place to the Hornets in sixth. Nevertheless, the latter team already had enough points to advance to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

 

The Hornets finished the 2019 Marble League Showdown on the third step of the podium, with a bronze medal in Balancing. They ended in second place overall, with forty-eight points to their name. The Bumblebees also advanced to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers in seventh place.

The Hornets finished the 2019 Showdown overall on the second step of the podium

When asked about the Bumblebees’ advancement, Vespa shrugged. “I think they deserved to make it in. They’re a good team, but they need a lot of work to prove themselves in a few months. As for us, we’re prepared to #BringTheSting in 2020, and we’re really looking forward to it!” Yellowjacket buzzed with excitement beside her.

 

As they prepared for the upcoming Qualifiers, the Hornets received an official letter from the JMRC inviting them to compete in the first season of Marbula One, an honor considering that the team has yet to compete in its first Marble League main tournament. The team accepted the invitation and will be represented by Vespa and Hive during the tournament. The Hornets were also selected to host the fourth Grand Prix of the season. The Qualifier will be held at the team’s Hivedrive on 07 March at 20:00 UTC, and the Race on 08 March at 20:00 UTC.

 

The Hornets are the newest of Jelle's teams to host a marble sports tournament.

In RetRollSpective, the Hornets are a team with little Marble League experience, but a lot of marble sports experience. Their consistent successes in the Bug Circuit paved the way for their strong showing in the Showdown. Time will tell if they can continue to be this successful. If they are, then they may be a strong contender in years to come. Best of luck to the Hornets in 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

 

Thank you to Spark11 for creating both the Hornets and the lore surrounding the team!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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RetRollSpective – Team Momo

RetRollSpective – Team Momo

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. For this one, we’re going to take a glass eye to Team Momo—one of the original sixteen teams featured in the 2016 Marble League.

The logo for Team Momo, designed by Tim Ritz.

Team Momo has never been a boring group of marbles. The team hails from the villages around Om, one of the oldest cities in the world. The four original members of the team first met in Temple of Om, one of the most popular restaurants in the city, where they talked about their passion for marble sports as they ordered plate after plate of dumplings. In fact, the four ordered so many dumplings that the restaurant ran out of them. When the four met early in the night, they were complete strangers, but when they left Temple of Om a few hours later, they seemed as if they were inseparable. A few days later, when they decided that they wanted to make their dreams of being in marble sports a reality, they named themselves “Team Momo” after the dumplings they had ordered the night they became friends.

 

Mo, Momo, Momomo, and Momomomo accumulated great interest in their early days not just because of their memorable names, but because of their talent in marble sports and optimistic charisma. Team Momo began training in 2011, and in early 2012, they began competing in the Ramen Bowl, a prestigious marble sports competition held in downtown Om. Within a year, they had risen to the Ramen Bowl’s championship league, and in late 2013, they won their first Golden Noodle. They won a Bronze Noodle at the end of 2014, and earned their second Golden Noodle at the end of 2015. As a result of their repeated successes in the Ramen Bowl, Team Momo was invited to participate in the first season of the Marble League, and accepted without hesitation. 

Team Momo has the distinction of being on the first Marble League podium in the tournament's history.

The team’s unique names, coupled with a strong showing in the 2016 Marble League events, quickly made Team Momo one of the most popular in the competition. It seemed very hard to dislike a team that was so quirky, yet charming at the same time. Team Momo had the honor of earning the first bronze medal in Marble League history in Balancing, and went on to earn two more bronze medals in the Long Jump and the High Jump.

All four members of the team celebrated their first gold medal together in the Precision Slalom, which proved the team’s chemistry to be beneficial in competition. The team sat in fourth place leading into the final event, Hurdles, in which Momo reached the final race against the top three teams: Mellow Yellow, Savage Speeders, and the Thunderbolts. Despite missing the podium, Momo maintained a marblous fourth place overall for the team, automatically qualifying them for the 2017 Marble League and securing their place as a team known and loved by fans across the marblebase.

 

“I kept surprising myself over and over again in the final event,” Momo recalled. “I kept thinking that I didn’t have the endurance to keep going, and then I got to the semifinals, and then I realized that if I went too fast, I might run off the track like Pinky Toe. When it came down to it, I just didn’t have the energy to get myself rolling in the final. But it was still a really good run for me, and most importantly, for the whole team.”

However, where 2016 was perhaps one of the best years Team Momo could have hoped for, the 2017 Marble League brought one of the most difficult years that Team Momo could have imagined. The now infamous Fidget Spinner Collision event, which was inspired by the oversaturated trend of fidget spinners that year, completely changed Team Momo and the Marble League as we know it. As Team Momo faced against the Midnight Wisps, racing toward the battlefield, all Team Momo and the Midnight Wisps wanted to do was their own personal best, regardless of how many marbles were left on the arena or how much they fought against the fidget spinners. The two teams raced onto the battlefield, collided, spun out into the fidget spinners, collided again, and a shriek of shattered glass erupted from the center. Momomomo, unable to control himself from the rapidly rotating blades of the fidget spinner, was knocked into Wispy so hard that a chunk of his glass broke apart from him.

 

Momomomo later said, “It felt like my life and everything I had worked for was all flashing before my eyes while I could only look back at the piece of me left on the arena. Everything that was happening in the present felt like it was in slo-mo-mo.”

Momomomo (right) supported by crutches.

The event continued past the injury, but not for Team Momo, which had to withdraw immediately from the event as they cared for Momomomo. In the next event, Greg Woods announced that Momomomo would not be able to compete for the rest of the 2017 Marble League, and would be substituted with Mimo, the first alternate ever for a Marble League team. Mimo was one of the best athletes competing in the individual division of the Ramen Bowl, and his recruiting on Team Momo ultimately gave them the momo-motivation they needed to continue pushing forward.

 

In the Relay Run, Mimo’s first event in the Marble League, Team Momo obtained their first silver medal in the Marble League. Momomomo reappeared in the stands to watch Team Momo get another silver in Block Pushing, and came down to the arena with crutches to congratulate his teammates on their bronze medal in the High Jump. Sadly, Team Momo’s mid-Marble League push proved futile to keep Team Momo in the top five, though the team remained in the top ten at ninth place at the 2017 Marble League’s end.

Team Momo's silver medal in the Relay Run.

The following offseason was, apart from training for 2018 Qualifiers, a time of deep concern and reflection for the team. Thankfully, with healthy donations from across the marblebase, including the Midnight Wisps, Momomomo was able to afford the medical care he needed to recover from his injury, which had seemed fatal at the time it happened. While Momomomo recovered, the team regularly checked on him while training Mimo as an official new member of the team.

Mo has said of Mimo, “Just because he has an ‘I’ in his name doesn’t mean he isn’t for the team. Mimo has been a truly fresh addition to Team Momo and always inspires Momo, Momomo, and myself to be the best we can be. We have no intention of benching him, nor will he ever replace Momomomo: he’s not only a great team member, he’s strengthened the bond of our family.”

Team Momo also received several complaints that their logo looked like a smelly green trash bag over the offseason. When asked about it after the 2018 season, Mo declined to comment.

Team Momo appeared in Group B of the qualifying events with Momomomo fully recovered, which the fans were overjoyed to hear after a nearly silent off-season from the team. They scored twenty points, just enough to qualify and get the marbles rolling for their appearance in the 2018 Winter Marble League.

 

However, this season proved trying for Team Momo as well. The team placed in thirteenth in the first two events and was in dead last overall after the second event. Team Momo got ninth place in the third event, rising to fifteenth overall, but got twelfth in the fourth event and faced yet another series of injuries. Momomo was replaced with Mimo in the retry after Team Momo got stuck on the bobsled track due to an altitude sickness, and Momomomo knocked into a corner while on the bobsled the second time, incapacitated for the rest of the ride. Doctors quickly assisted the two team members, concluding that they would be okay, but not fit to compete in the rest of the 2018 Winter Marble League.

When Team Momo was notified of this, they quickly reached out to several marble teams, even the Green Gang from the Hubelino Tournament. Ultimately, the team merged with their close friends, Team Primary, for the rest of the season, forming Team Momary. This caused controversy in the marblebase (especially among Balls of Chaos fans) because Team Primary did not qualify for the 2018 Winter Marble League, but the IMC approved the merger and allowed Momary to compete. The full team, featuring Mo, Momo, Prim, and Mary, competed in Team Pursuit, getting eighth place, proving that the team was viable and had potential to grow as the season continued, even as it sat in ninth place in the standings.

 

Team Momary got its first gold medal in the Snow Rally, as Momo narrowly defeated the Savage Speeders in two races. This rallied the marblebase around the team in hope that they would be able to rebound from their difficult start. Although Team Momary got a silver medal in Curling, the team struggled in the remaining events, landing in twelfth place overall at the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Marble League.

Team Momary's only joint medal of the season.

After Team Momo and Team Primary amicably split up, Team Momo was expecting to have another quiet offseason. On the contrary, the team appeared in both of the practice events with other Marble League teams, with Momomo and Momomomo back to compete. The team placed in the top ten during the first event and reached the semifinals in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, proving that the team had recovered from its injuries.

Unfortunately, Team Momo was unable to qualify for the 2019 Marble League. After a successful first event, where Momomomo placed eighth in Funnel Spinning, the team was unable to keep its mo-momentum going, and finished Qualifiers eleven points away from securing a spot. When asked about how the team felt, Momomomo seemed hopeful:

Being part of Team Momo has made me realize something: that I can’t quit when things don’t go my way. So we didn’t qualify this year. That’s not how I wanted things to go, but it’s not going to stop me. And it won’t stop our team from mo-moving forward.”

The team begun their extended offseason by taking a vacation around the world, something they had not been able to do since 2015. They were visiting Prim and Mary in Van Gotterdam when news about the Marble League Showdown broke. The team quickly returned to Om the next day to start training again.

Fan opinion of Team Momo was mixed going into the Showdown. Most expected that Team Momo would not win the Showdown, an expectation that the team itself shared. It was the fans that predicted that Team Momo would get injured—yet again—that bothered the team.

 

            “The fans don’t need to tell us that we keep getting injured. We know,” Momomo said, disheartened. “Every day that something gets in the way of the five of us competing together, it hurts us too, e-mo-motionally. Momomomo and I have done a lot of rehab in the past year and a half to ensure that we’re best prepared for the conditions of the Marble League. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Team Momo competing in Collision for the first time in two years.

Team Momo started the Showdown off strong with Momomomo’s fourth place in the Sand Rally, but experienced a downturn in Collision, placing seventh, and a further downturn in Funnel Spinning, placing eleventh. With one event to go, Team Momo sat in ninth place, barely in the bottom four spots. The last event, Balancing, was the first Marble League event they had ever participated in, and as such, their experience proved to be fruitful. Team Momo placed fourth with a score of 346, earning nine points and jumping up to sixth place. The Kobalts, another veteran team from 2016, placed fifth with a score of 345, just one unit under. As a result, Team Momo qualified for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

 

Coach Momomomomo revealed to the team over dinner at Temple of Om that they had received an official letter from the JMRC, which invited the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. Team Momo accepted without hesitation and agreed for Momo and Mimo to represent them in the tournament. The team’s poster depicts the two athletes in one of the restaurant’s signature baskets of “racing dumplings”. Team Momo was also selected to host the third Grand Prix of the season, which will be held at the team’s Momotorway on 29 February at 20:00 UTC and 01 March at 20:00 UTC.

The "Momotorway Racing Dumplings" will be offered as concessions during the third Marbula One GP in Om.

In RetRollSpective, Team Momo has seen a rollercoaster of events occur over the past three Marble Leagues and the 2019 Showdown, but the team is still very well regarded by other marble athletes and the fans for its fun, its traditions, and its achievements in competition. With hope, the team will continue to charm its fans through its talent and through its passion, and eventually return to the Marble League. Best of luck to Team Momo in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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RetRollSpective – O’rangers

RetRollSpective – O’rangers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to cover the O’rangers, one of the first teams of the Marble League, and arguably, its most popular.

The O'rangers' logo, designed by Tim Ritz.

The O’rangers are not just a team—they are a family of marbles with strong heritage that has dominated for generations. The O’Marbles run an orange farm on the southeast tip of North America, close to the city of Orlango, that also specializes in bull-wrangling and, notably, off-road racing. The current patriarch of the family, Mandarin, has emphasized this last aspect more and more in recent years, especially with the rise of televised marble sports. This drive, this passion led Mandarin to found the O’rangers with his brothers Clementin, Kinnowin, Tangerin, and his sister, Orangin, in 2006, and the team began participating in local competitions shortly thereafter.

The O’rangers performed well enough over the next two years to draw attention from a marble troupe of teams, named the Fruit Circuit. After surveying the O’Marbles Farm (to verify that the O’rangers were fruit-based) the Fruit Circuit allowed the team to join the troupe. The O’rangers remained on the troupe for eight years until the Fruit Circuit’s demise in 2016, with the rise of the Marble League. The team was in fourth place, closely behind Mellow Yellow, Raspberry Racers, and the Limers, when the Raspberry Racers DNF’d in the final race. The O’rangers finished the race modestly, but with enough points to pass the Racers and move into third place behind Mellow Yellow in second and the Limers in first. The O’rangers’ third place finish qualified them for the 2016 Marble League.

However, the O’rangers were skeptical of the competition that lay ahead of them. To test the waters, Mandarin, Clementin, Kinnowin, and Tangerin went undercover in the first event of the Marble League, going under the names of O1, O2, O3, and O4 to compete. The four placed ninth, scoring no points for the O’rangers. Seeing that the competition was serious, the four revealed their true names and represented the O’rangers for the rest of the 2016 Marble League. Their true identities were reflected in the reupload of the 2016 Marble League in 2019, with the graphics displaying the correct names of the team instead of O1-O4.

 

The O’rangers did not score any points until the third event, where they placed fifth and got three points. The team earned a gold medal in Long Jump with Kinnowin representing the team, breaking the Marble League record at 103,8 centimeters. Although the O’rangers did not get another medal in 2016, they got enough fourth and fifth place finishes in the next few events to secure an overall fifth place finish at the end of the tournament. They landed eight points away from taking fourth place, just one point above the Rojo Rollers in sixth, a team with three medals to its name.

The O'rangers' first medal of the Marble League.

The O’rangers patted themselves on the back for a successful season, but knew in their hearts that they wanted more. This became apparent at the O’Marbles Farm when Mandarin announced plans to build an official marble sports raceway on the property, which would remove a few acres of orange trees. Surprisingly, the city had little complaints regarding the developments. As a local fan put it:

            “The O’Marbles didn’t just help our business boom back in the day, they were our business, and we’d be lying if we said that they aren’t to this day. Their orange business is the immigrant success story that marbles dream of telling, and their racing business is on another level of greatness. They’re really active in the community and we support them every step of the way. OOOOOOOOOOOO!”

 

The team performed well in Qualifiers, getting a bronze medal in the Relay Race and ending in third place with more than enough points to qualify. It was then that the O’rangers began to get recognized as a serious contender for competition in the 2017 Marble League, and the team experienced a large surge in fans. When the first of July came around, the stands were packed with a swath of fans in orange, holding signs and howling “OOOOOOOOOOOO!”. Needless to say, the O’rangers and their fans were hoping for a strong season, but they had no idea exactly how great things were going to turn out.

This would not be the last time that the O'rangers and Savage Speeders, teams considered rivals of each other, would share the podium.

This is not to say that the team dominated throughout 2017; this was in fact quite the opposite. The team’s famed rivals, Savage Speeders, dominated in the earlier half of the season, rising to the top three in the standings. But the O’rangers remained persistent. They continued to train even during the Marble League, and finally, in the fifth event, they earned a bronze medal and landed a spot on the podium. As the Savage Speeders ascended to the top of the standings, the O’rangers positioned themselves in seventh place, rising three spots. They stopped training immediately and took pause, conserving their energy.

It was a strategy that did not work out in the short run. The next event saw the Speeders get a gold medal while the O’rangers lagged behind in fourteenth. Their Fruit Circuit rivals, the Limers, had actually taken second overall in the standings as the O’rangers dropped to ninth. Suddenly, a comeback didn’t seem so feasible. And then, it did.

OOOOOOOO?

Their first place in Block Pushing, as their first gold medal of the 2017 season in the seventh event and a new record to boot, launched the team into fourth place overall, four points behind the Limers and nearly a gold medal within reach of the Savage Speeders. The fans were ecstatic as they poured out of the stands, and the security officers could barely hold them back. It was a real energy that drove them, and it inspired the team itself to keep pushing.

 

Mandarin immediately followed up his team’s success in Block Pushing with a silver medal in the High Jump, which vaulted the team into second place, now less than a silver medal behind the Savage Speeders. The team that once seemed to be sweeping the competition had now lost its insurmountable lead, within two events. The top of the standings was in sight for the O’rangers.

The Savage Speeders and Mellow Yellow, however, had finally realized the momentum of the O’rangers, and in the next event, both teams got gold and silver, respectively, denying the O’rangers an early victory. At the end of the ninth event, the standings looked oddly similar to the end of the 2016 Marble League: the Speeders were in first, Mellow Yellow was in second, and even Team Momo was in fourth place. O’rangers clung to third, their fate hanging in the balance like a ripe orange on a tree.

            “You know what I’ve realized over the years? It’s that nothing is really set in stone when you’re competing,” Mandarin noted, years later. “Just when you think something is going to go one way, it ends up going in a way you’d never think it to. That’s the beauty of marble racing. Always unpredictable. Keeps us on our game, always striving to be the best that we can be even when things seem blight.”

And strive they did. In the tenth event, the O’rangers closed in on Mellow Yellow’s place in second, remaining in third by two points. In the eleventh event, the Underwater Race, O’rangers set another new record in one of the heats and finished in second place, securing second place in the standings and becoming one of two teams able to win the 2017 Marble League. Of course, that other team was the Savage Speeders.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?

The O’rangers needed at least eleven points to overtake the Savage Speeders in the final event, if the latter team scored no points. The Savage Speeders are a team known to be fast, one of the best teams at racing. The final event was the Sand Rally.

The O’rangers and their fans held their breath, watching the first heat of the event. They hoped for a miracle.

Swifty of the Savage Speeders, once in the top four needed to advance, was swiftly falling back in the line of marbles racing to the finish. He reached dead last by the middle of the race and didn’t rebound back. The fans were shocked.

“I don’t think our championship leaders are going to advance at this point. It would take a massive lunge for them to get up there!” Greg Woods exclaimed. “The finish line is nearly in sight, now—no, the Savage Speeders will not advance! They will not make it into the final, and they have to hope that that ten-point lead they have amassed over the course of these eleven events is going to be big enough to survive the twelfth…”

Clementin was already in the starting gate. The loudspeakers were booming, Greg Woods’ voice ringing out the names of the teams moving on. The ball bearing lunged forward, released the bar, and Clementin bolted forward in the lead. As Greg Woods told the fans about the Jungle Jumpers missing the event, the O’Marble didn’t care. He kept rolling forward.

Clementin did not sacrifice his spot in the top four, guaranteeing that he would move on to the final. He said nothing as he traveled back to the starting gate. Again, he lunged forward once the bar was released, eventually securing a dominant lead…in first. As he turned the final curve of the course, Clementin eased up a little bit, allowing Starry of Team Galactic to rush past him and take the gold medal. But it didn’t matter. He had done everything he had to do in the final event. And it paid off.

The O’rangers had won the 2017 Marble League.

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

A comeback that once seemed impossible. A threshold once out of reach. A championship that shattered the marblebase, right under the Speeders’ noses. And oh, did the fans scream “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” for hours!

The team automatically qualified for the 2018 Marble League upon their win in 2017, but it was their victory tour around the world that the team treasured the most about their win. It was such a big deal for the team that they shut down O’Marbles Farm for the occasion, inviting their entire family on the trip. This caused a month-long decline in orange production, but the world didn’t seem to mind. Celebration was in order, and the team reveled in it. When asked in an interview with Rick O’Shea about how the team would try to replicate their success in 2018, Kinnowin replied:

 

            “We can’t. But that’s what makes our sport great. It can be so unpredictable. It’s never going to feel the same though, because we were the first ones to come from the middle of the pack to win it all. Our names are going to be forever remembered as the ones who, uh, made the greatest comeback in Marble League history.”

Kinnowin being interviewed by Rick O'Shea.

True to Kinnowin’s claim, the O’rangers did not replicate their 2017 success in the 2018 Winter Marble League. The team placed third in the Friendly Round and remained in the upper middle of the pack for most of the season. They were far from on the radar, as the Savage Speeders continued to dominate, the Hazers stunned the competition as the best rookie team since 2016, and the rising waters of the Oceanics tried to turn the tides of the podium. The O’rangers never lost their fans, but it didn’t look like the team would ever be near a second victory. They had no medals to their name after nine events.

But the team had been consistent in the first nine events, only scoring below eighth place once, in the Halfpipe event. The O’rangers were practicing the same exact strategy that they had the year before. They were conserving their energy. Taking a deep breath, they entered the tenth event, Biathlon, and finished with a silver medal.

 

The O’rangers shot up to second in the overall standings.

A moment in the 2018 Marble League equivalent to an "Oooooooctober Surprise."

The marblebase was shocked. After medaling only once, the O’rangers were, once again, formidable competition in the Marble League. The fans, of course, were thrilled. Could the O’rangers really replicate last year’s success? Their “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” echoed through the Arctic Circle.

 

However, the team lost its focus upon getting its silver, its momentum dropping. Although the team was still one of four teams that could win the tournament at the beginning of the final event, the team faltered in the first heat, only earning five points and assuring its fate: it could not win the 2018 Winter Marble League or finish in the top three. While other fans, particularly Speeders fans, were elated, O’rangers fans were understandably distraught. They had still experienced an amazing season, but Kinnowin’s prediction rang true. The O’rangers finished eleven points behind the Oceanics, still placing in fourth, but missing another chance to prequalify…or so they thought.

What seemed like a random victory for the Racers in the offseason turned out to foreshadow the end of the 2019 Marble League. This would not be the case for the O'rangers.

The O’rangers participated in both offseason events for Marble League teams, training at their O’raceway in between. Despite doing well in previous water races, Mandarin failed to replicate his team’s successes with the 100 Meter Water Race, for he finished in twentieth out of twenty-seven teams. That said, the O’rangers had a successful showing in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, finishing as runners-up to the Raspberry Racers in first, ahead of the Savage Speeders in third, and ahead the Limers in fourth. The race proved, again, that the O’rangers were a force to be reckoned with in marble sports.

Although the O’rangers lost their 2019 hosting bid to the Oceanics, the team took the Oceanics’ qualification spot, thus automatically qualifying for the second year in a row. In the Friendly Round, the team won both Block Pushing and the Underwater Race, repeating similar successes from the 2017 season. They finished second, just one point behind the Oceanics.

 

The O’rangers entered the 2019 Marble League with one new addition: their coach, Rango, who, initially, was not sure how to take the reins of the team. Kinnowin, once the star of underwater events and now the captain of the team, had a bad run in the Underwater Race and finished in a startling fourteenth place for the first event of the season. Clementin, hoping to rectify a disappointing start for the team in Funnel Spinning, crashed into the wall just past the starting gate, stopped himself due to head trauma, and was unable to finish the event. The O’rangers fell to dead last in the standings for the first time in their history, and seemed to have crashed to rock bottom alongside the Oceanics as the Savage Speeders reigned at the top of the standings.

A controversial ruling, but nonetheless, one that shaped the rest of the O'rangers' season.

Coach Rango immediately rolled towards the course after the initial heat and was stopped by security as the officials, ascertaining that Clementin was in a good enough condition to leave the track, got the athlete off the arena. Thankfully, the doctors confirmed that Clementin had only a minor head injury—but he was advised to stay off the roster for a few events, which Clementin accepted.

            “I know a lot of fans were concerned, especially about the standings. Those are just numbers,” Rango asserted. “Safety is our number one priority. Even now, I’m not so sure if that starting area was as safe as it could possibly have been, but I am happy—and lucky—that Clementin is okay now.”

 

After three more subpar finishes in the middle of the pack, the team earned its first medal of the season in the sixth event, Relay Run. The team collectively earned a silver medal after a tie in the semi-finals with the Pinkies, which led to a tiebreaker race that the team easily won. Mandarin, the marble closest to the finish line, did not get the best push-off from Clementin behind him, and the O’rangers lost the gold to the Green Ducks in the final leg of the race.

2019 was a year that the O'rangers could do nothing but do their best and hold on for the ride.

The team rose to ninth in the standings, its first foray into the top ten, but fell mysteriously to tenth place after placing fifth in Block Pushing. The team fell to eleventh after placing fifth again in the Summer Biathlon, and remained there after just missing the podium in the Hurdles final. The O’rangers rose to ninth after placing sixth in Hurdles, but would fall again just three events later with a fourteenth place finish in the Elimination Race. Mandarin, luckily, earned two consolation points due to track defect, but the team dropped to eleventh overall, with the Raspberry Racers, Green Ducks, and Hazers at the top of the standings, and the veterans failing to catch up behind them. An eleventh place finish by Tangerin in Surfing sealed the O’rangers’ fate in 2019: out of championship contention and unable to finish in the top three.

            “While we’ve only finished in the top three once, it still hurt us to see that we couldn’t make a comeback,” admitted Mandarin, swallowing heavily. “We had our roughest start yet, but we couldn’t understand why we weren’t at least in the top ten of the standings, if not the top half. We had almost enough fourth and fifth place finishes to rival the Ducks,” he claimed.

 

The next event, Collision, was not the O’rangers’ strongest two years prior. Their 2019 performance was a different story, as the O’rangers advanced, second in their initial group heat, to dominate over the Jungle Jumpers, edge over Mellow Yellow, and fight for the gold in the final round. The O’rangers won a gold medal for the first time since Block Pushing in the 2017 Marble League. Their fans were ecstatic, and their “O” chant rang through the crowd, louder than it had ever been. The team rose four spots into seventh place overall.

A much needed boost to both the team's morale and overall standings to round off the season.

The O’rangers’ hard work to climb back from nothing was finally starting to show, and Kinnowin’s fourth place finish in the final event, Sand Rally, earned the O’rangers twelve more points to finish the 2019 Marble League in sixth place overall, 139 points strong. The team’s longest season had finally come to an end, and, through its struggles, the O’rangers endured, were enriched, and grew even stronger.

They will likely be putting these skills to use very soon, as Clementin and Orangin will be representing the team in Marbula One. In fact, the team was selected as the hosts for the second grand prix, which will be held at the team’s O’raceway in Orlango.

The second Marbula One GP will premiere on 22 February at 20:00 UTC for Qualifiers and 23 February at 20:00 UTC for the Race.

In RetRollSpective, the O’rangers have not always been the champions that most of the fans perceive them to be. Regardless, the team’s history of comebacks and consistency has assured its place in Marble League history as one of its most persistent competitors, and therefore, one of its best. Whether or not the O’rangers win another Marble League, they have already made their mark on the tournament, and will always be remembered for their accomplishments. Best of luck to the O’rangers in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on r-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-lling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

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RetRollSpective – Green Ducks

RetRollSpective – Green Ducks

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series where I focus on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re taking flight to zero in on the Green Ducks, a team new to the 2019 Marble League.

The logo for the Green Ducks, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Green Ducks hail from the British Isles, and have been following marble sports since a very young age. The team’s future captain, Mallard, won tickets to see the Tour de Vellis in 2014, and was lucky enough to witness the Speeders win the tournament for the first time.

            “It was insane. The Speeders had so many fans rooting for them, and I bet that deep down, even they were flattered. I wanted to feel that excitement again.”

Mallard returned to Bermenghank, her hometown, already thinking about booking tickets to other marble sports event, but tragedy struck. Mallard returned home to find her mother in the infirmarblery, and two days later, she was gone. Mallard’s father had not been working at the time, and he used most of the family’s savings to pay for a funeral. He struggled to find a job for years.

Mallard found a job at a farm to help the family, which included her dad and her brother, Billy. Her brother Billy also began working at the farm, and befriended Quacky, Ducky, and Goose, three of the farmhands. They worked there in the midst of completing their primary education, and continued afterwards.

 

            “We became pretty close in such a short amount of time,” recalled Ducky. “Mallard and Billy became a part of our family, so much so that we felt their loss with them. And grew through it with them.”

The rolling hills and plains of Bermenghank.

“I remember when Mallard first heard about the Marble League,” said Goose. “It was one of the few things that got her excited. Not that taking care of ducks didn’t get her excited.”

            “It didn’t get me excited,” Mallard replied. “But the Marble League did.”

            “We all bonded over the Marble League in a time where we all needed something to enjoy. Working on the farm wasn’t easy, either,” Quacky said.

            “It inspired us to become a closer team and family than we ever imagined,” Billy added. “And we all began to wonder what life could be like outside the farm.”

As the 2017 Marble League approached, Mallard secretly entered into a bid to get tickets for the tournament. She surprised her friends with the tickets, and the five traveled to Knikkegen that summer. They can be seen in some of the events in the Jungle Jumpers fan section.

            “We didn’t really anticipate that the Jumpers would do as poorly as they did,” Mallard said, chuckling. “We liked their uniforms, though. The green reminded us of the grass from the farm.”

            “To be fair, they did get a few medals,” Ducky retorted. “I still have a soft spot for them. And I can’t blame them for oversleeping, especially now that I know how exhausting being a marble athlete is.”

The five friends returned home at the end of the season, and had all pretty much agreed on what they wanted to do: train to become marble sports athletes. They traveled into the city and consulted with Bombay, Mallard’s father. It didn’t take long to get him to quit his miserable job in tourism and get him to coach the five under the team name of the Green Ducks.

The British Isles were not well known for marble sports at the time, but the Ducks were able to compete in minor leagues. They became known as the most prominent team in the region within time, and soon began receiving sponsorships, which meant that the members of the team were finally becoming financially stable. The Green Ducks moved to Dionlin sometime in 2018, and became the host team of Joshdon Stadium.

In late 2018, rumors began to spread that Team Plasma was retiring from the Marble League due to not training enough, and that there might be an opening in the 2019 Qualifiers. The Ducks had applied to the waiting list long ago, and only hoped that their request had been processed by then, and had a chance to be approved.

 

On 01 January 2019, the Green Ducks were accepted into the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers, and appeared in the tournament later that month. Despite being so new to the tournament, fans were already flocking to the stands for the Ducks. Their numbers would only grow.

The five team members of the Green Ducks.

Mallard placed fifth in the first event, Funnel Spinning, setting the stage for what would be the team’s knock-out performance in Block Pushing. The team earned an unprecedented 117,0 centimeters in their initial heat, placing first in the event and rising to the top of the standings, just ahead of the Limers. The Ducks placed fifth again in the Relay Race and secured their qualifying spot after only the third event. They conserved their energy for the final event, the Underwater Race, by putting Ducky in to compete. Ducky placed dead last, earning just one point, and the Green Ducks qualified for the 2019 Marble League in an astounding fourth place.

The team amassed more fans in the preseason, many of them Limers fans, for the Limers had failed to qualify. Fans were no doubt impressed by the Ducks’ showing in Qualifiers, but many wondered if their momentum would last. After all, they were a rookie team.

Quacky was quick to attack any doubts about the team in the first event of the 2019 Marble League, the Underwater Race. It was an event that Ducky had bombed in during Qualifiers, but one that Quacky masterfully excelled in. She was bested only by the Savage Speeders, a team that, in its prime, was the most successful rookie team in the Marble League. Her silver medal in the event was hard-earned and set the bar high for the rest of the Green Ducks’ season.

 

After Mallard placed seventh in Funnel Spinning, the team placed fourth three times in a row, missing the podium but earning double-digits in points each time. This momentum built up to the Relay Run, in which all four of the team’s main members competed. In the final leg of the event, Goose lurched forward, getting just ahead of Tangerin from the O’rangers to win the team’s first gold medal of the season. The Green Ducks rose to the top of the standings, proving their spot in the Marble League once and for all.

The team's first gold medal of the Marble League.

However, with ten events of the season remaining, a challenge began to mount from just beneath the Ducks’ lead. This challenge came from the Raspberry Racers, a team that seemed to have a history with lime-green teams, as well as a thirst to win the 2019 Marble League. During the next four events, from Block Pushing to the Hubelino Maze, the Green Ducks earned an average of seven points per event. Although this was enough to keep the team in the top three, Quacky’s fourteenth-place finish during the Summer Biathlon stinted the team against the Raspberry Racers—who rose to the top of the standings after that event, and remained there for the next four events.

            “I think we were past the honeymoon phase,” Goose acknowledged. “We were still flying pretty high, but we weren’t doing as good as we could have. The Raspberry Racers were medaling so much…our consistent fourth-place finishes early on did us wonders, but they weren’t going to get us in the lead.”

            “The one thing we did have, in contrast to the Racers, was gold medals,” Bombay stated. “They had so many close calls where they could have earned gold, but they settled elsewhere on the podium. When we could, we went all in.”

The Green Ducks refocused in during the Dirt Race, where Ducky boosted ahead of Swifty from the Savage Speeders in the final leg of the race to earn a silver medal. Rozzy from the Raspberry Racers passed ahead of Swifty at the finish line, earning a bronze medal by five milliseconds and keeping watch on the Ducks. It would not be the last time that they and the Racers would share the podium, but the next event, Rafting, was exactly what the Ducks needed to strike back. The team set a Marble League record with 33,74 seconds and earned its second gold medal of the season, reclaiming the top of the standings with an eleven-point lead over their new rivals.

 

Their “raspberry rivals” rose to the contest in the thirteenth event, the Elimination Race, and ultimately proved Bombay wrong. Rezzy advanced to the final round of the race in a close save by Diego of the Indigo Stars, who accidentally nudged the fuchsia marble ahead of him and was eliminated in the penultimate race. The final race pit Rezzy and Quacky against Red Eye from the Crazy Cat’s Eyes, but all eyes were on the former two competitors. As Red Eye got stuck further up the course, the race became a nail-biter until the very end, when Quacky stopped suddenly on the final grey hexagon and Rezzy crossed the finish line.

An event that foreshadowed the end of the season.

The Green Ducks remained in first, but their podium finishes were over. The Raspberry Racers rose to the top of the standings with an important fourth-place finish in Surfing, and the Green Ducks fell to second with a twelfth-place finish. The Raspberry Racers made sure to remain at least one step ahead of the team to the end of the season, finishing fifth in Collision to the Ducks’ sixth, and earning one more bronze medal in the Sand Rally to Mallard’s tenth place finish, mired back in the pack. The Ducks were sitting to the right of the Racers in the closing ceremony, with 204 points, five medals, and a second place finish overall in the 2019 Marble League.

            “Fans are saying that we’re the most successful rookie team in the history of the tournament, and we didn’t even win,” Mallard paused, gazing at the sky. “I guess that’s something.”

            “It’s more than something,” I assured her. “Your team never left the top four spots in the standings. You medaled five times. You’re one of two teams to get over two hundred points in the Marble League.”

            “We didn’t win.”

The Green Ducks, already qualified for the next Marble League, were training for their next appearance in the Friendly Round when Bombay received an official letter from the JMRC. The letter extended an invitation for the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One, an honor especially for a rookie team. The Ducks accepted the invitation and will be represented by Mallard and Billy during the tournament.

In RetRollSpective, the Green Ducks have had one of the most successful seasons in Marble League history. The fact that they were rookies only accents their achievement. With a prequalification for the 2020 Marble League, it does remain to be seen whether the team will continue to impress the marblebase, but we have no reason to doubt them yet. Best of luck to the Green Ducks in the 2020 Marble League, keep on rolling!

 

 

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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RetRollSpective – Midnight Wisps

RetRollSpective – Midnight Wisps

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re igniting discussion about the history of the Midnight Wisps, the champions of the 2018 Winter Marble League. Read on to see how the team engulfed and changed the course of the competition forever…

The logo for the Midnight Wisps, designed by Tim Ritz.

“It may seem like we came out of nowhere,” Wispy, the team captain, remarked. “That’s funny. Harva isn’t nowhere. It’s somewhere special: a place we are proud to call our home.”

The Midnight Wisps hail from the Scandinavian taiga, east of Helarve. The five met on a bus tour to Harva National Park and got into a deep conversation about the upcoming 2016 Marble League. Midway through the tour, the five decided not to finish the tour, instead opting to race through the forest. The marbles were caught trespassing and banned permanently from the park.

            “Yeah…that wasn’t the smartest decision we made, at least in the legal sense,” Wospy chuckled. “But I wouldn’t take that day back. I would’ve never met my friends if it wasn’t for that, and so on. I guess it was a blessing in disguise.”

Upon paying off their fine, Wispy, Wespy, Wospy, and Wuspy decided to form a team to train for the following year’s Marble League, which, according to rumors, was taking applicants from around the world. The team’s name was inspired by the renowned Helarve Clock Tower and by the region’s legendary “Willow Wisps”:

 

            “I hadn’t yet hit the age requirement to join the Marble League, so I helped the four of them out with training,” Waspy, the Wisps’ reserve member, stated. “We found a valley in the forest to train in, equidistant to where we were all from. One night, Wuspy thought she saw blue lights in the trees, just like those wisps. Wespy thought she was crazy. Wispy ignored her and decided to make a name out of it.”

The famous Helarve Clock Tower, as depicted in the Wisps' M1 poster.

The team’s application was accepted in early 2017, much to their own surprise. They trained so frequently and so vigorously that they didn’t even know which four teams had prequalified until their arrival in Knikkegen that summer.

Admittedly, the Wisps did not perform strongly in the Qualifiers. It was only with a first place finish in Funnel Spinning that the team was able to qualify for the 2017 Marble League, in seventh out of the sixteen teams. The Midnight Wisps debuted poorly in the main tournament’s version of Funnel Spinning, placing thirteenth, but earned a silver medal with Wespy’s performance in the Long Jump. A sixth place finish in the Fidget Spinner Collision event brought the Wisps to fifth place overall, but their performance during the event caused more conflict than celebration.

            “I had no idea what had happened until the Instant Replay showed. I was already off the arena at that point, but I could hear the screaming.” Wuspy shuddered. “It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t ever wish that on anyone.”

 

“Everyone thought that I hit him on purpose. I don’t think the fans understand, not even the fan who infiltrated the arena. None of us were prepared for the fidget spinners—they threw us out of control, ricocheting across the arena like pinballs. I don’t know how the rules committee at the time approved of that. And, despite all of that, I could not feel more guilty for what happened to Momomomo. It’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my career,” Wispy added.

An event that will live on in infamy.

After the event ended, the Wisps tried to reach Team Momo, but the doctors forbade fans and marble athletes from visiting. The team donated money and other resources to Momomomo and the rest of the team for the remainder of the season.

The Midnight Wisps continued to place in the middle of the standings until the ninth event, Steeplechase, where they earned a bronze medal. In the Underwater Race, they pulled an upset over the O’rangers, who had set a new Marble League record in the event, to win the event and  their first gold medal.

 

Although the Midnight Wisps rose five spots in the standings to fourth place overall, they did not have enough points to challenge the O’rangers and Savage Speeders for the championship. In the final event, Sand Rally, Midnight Wisps finished in seventh, accumulating nine points and remaining in fourth place overall at the end of the 2017 Marble League. Had they gained two more points, the team would have ended in third place overall and prequalified for the 2018 Winter Marble League.

Though the marblebase may not remember how close the team was to getting on the podium—in their rookie year—the Wisps certainly remembered, especially when they found themselves in a similar situation after the Ice Hockey event in 2018. They made sure to rectify what needed to be improved, and, overall, hoped for the best.

Indeed, they were given the perfect opportunity to strike in the 2018 season. Though they were not chosen as hosts for the winter-themed Marble League, the Wisps made sure to prove their worth in Qualifiers, placing second twice—once in their group, and once overall. They qualified in Group B with the twenty points necessary, and entered the 2018 Winter Marble League.

 

Similar to the previous season, the Midnight Wisps performed in the lower half of the standings during the first two events but performed strongly in the next two, earning bronze medals in Halfpipe and Bobsleigh. They finished last in the sixth event, Team Pursuit, but earned a bronze medal in the Snow Rally, sharing the podium with Team Momo (then Momary) and the Savage Speeders—in a way, telling of their past as well as their future.

Despite finishing fourth in the Biathlon, the Midnight Wisps fell to tenth place in the standings as the Oceanics, O’rangers, and Savage Speeders rounded out the top three. For the fans, it seemed clear that one of these teams would take the championship in 2018, or perhaps a team like the Balls of Chaos, who were in fourth, or the Hazers, who were in seventh. The Midnight Wisps seemed like a dashed hope.

            “We had other plans,” said Waspy, glancing at the gold medal the team had earned in Ice Hockey. “We did some calculations. With the points we had, we needed two gold medals to approximate an overall win in the 2018 Winter Marble League, provided the Savage Speeders got a bronze medal or lower in Ice Hockey. So, we did everything we could to train for that event. We flew home for a week after the Biathlon and skated across the river in our valley, getting the best control we could possibly get on the ice. We huddled around each other as if we were the ball bearings.”

 

            “Their training was magnificent. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Coach Wyspy mused. “I could tell they wanted that gold so, so badly. When the Minty Maniacs advanced to the finals, I saw a new team rise against them and claim the gold medal. From then on, I knew the Midnight Wisps would win the 2018 Winter Marble League.”

Truth be told, the Wisps could not have been any more irrelevant prior to this event. The season had centered around the rookie success of the Hazers, the dominance of the Oceanics, the relentlessness of the Savage Speeders, and the O’rangers surprise in the Biathlon, not the mention the fall from grace that Mellow Yellow experienced and the formation of Team Momary. 2018 had been full of twists and turns, and the final event was no exception: fans and Marble athletes alike were on the edges of their seats until the very end.

As the O’rangers failed to move on to the semifinals and as the Oceanics failed to move on to the finals, the question remained whether the Savage Speeders could win their second Marble League, the Oceanics could maintain their top spot and win their first, or the Midnight Wisps could pull off arguably the biggest upset in Marble League history in the span of just two events. This question was not answered in the semifinals race, as both the Wisps and the Speeders advanced to the final race:

“Savage Speeders out to an early lead,” commentated Greg Woods. “Midnight Wisps up into second, they fend off a challenge. Can they get up there? Midnight Wisps take the win and they will advance. They could’ve stayed there; they didn’t have to make that last-second lunge to get up into first place, you will still advance into the finals since it’s the top two…”

But the answer became clear as soon as the starting gate was released. There was no challenge. Whizzy of the Savage Speeders could not catch up to Wispy of the Midnight Wisps as she sprinted towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Neither could their total point count: the Savage Speeders finished the season one point short of the championship.

 

The Midnight Wisps had won the 2018 Winter Marble League.

True to Greg Woods’ commentary, the Midnight Wisps and their fans partied until the break of dawn that night and throughout the next week. Their victory tour around the world started and ended in Harva due to popular demand from fans, with a surprise appearance by Willow Wisps themselves gathering around the Helarve Clock Tower to celebrate their homecoming. Two months had passed before the Midnight Wisps were able to regain their private life, and begin training for the 2019 Marble League and its Friendly Round.

The Wisps surprised fans during the 100m Water Race when they were unable to finish, getting caught up earlier on the track with other teams. In the Amazing Maze Marble Race, the team was eliminated during the first heat in Group E, even though they got second place in the heat. Their score was not enough to compete against the O’rangers and Savage Speeders, two second place teams that did move on to the semi-finals, and then, the finals.

The Friendly Round for the 2019 Marble League, which featured the four prequalified teams, fared better for the team. The team got second place in all events except for Underwater Race, where they finished third. The team finished in third place overall, in a comfortable five-point margin above the Savage Speeders and two points behind the O’rangers in second.

 

The Midnight Wisps entered the main tournament as the team to beat, but began the season disappointingly as they placed in the middle of the pack during the first four events. The Savage Speeders dominated in contrast, holding a steady lead at the top of the standings until the fifth event, where they placed dead last in the 5 Meter Sprint. The Wisps placed second-to-last, earning just one point, and in the next event, the Midnight Wisps’ disqualification for pushing the relay block in the other lane denied them from scoring any points. They fell to thirteenth place overall.

A much-needed boost to the Wisps' 2019 season.

“The stakes were really high for the next few events, and I made that known to them,” Wyspy disclosed. “It’s one thing for our team to make comebacks like we did in 2018. Comebacks like those are dependent on a series of early victories that give the team the spark it needs. That spark will eventually ignite a flame that grows into a serious force to be reckoned with. We didn’t have that spark yet.”

The team finally earned its first gold medal in the Block Pushing event, an event which they had performed mediocre in during the 2017 Marble League. The team breathed a huge sigh of relief, and followed swiftly in the next event by placing second to last in the Summer Biathlon.

 

Thankfully, their low finish was offset by two consolation points, which were granted to the team due to an equipment failure on the starting gate. Wuspy came back as strongly as she could in the next event, Hurdles, and earned the Wisps a second gold medal with a time of 8.744 seconds. Could the Wisps mount another comeback in the second half of a season?

Even as they stood atop the podium, the Wisps could not see above their inconsistencies.

The answer? A resounding “no”. The Wisps tied for fifteenth in the Hubelino Maze, earning just one point alongside Team Galactic, and continued to place in the bottom half of the remaining events. The team’s only saving grace was their silver medal in Rafting, which raised them to fifth in the standings, their highest point of the 2019 Marble League. The Midnight Wisps finished the season in tenth place with 128 points, a place which they had been able to rise out of in previous games. It was simply not to be this time.

 

In RetRollSpective, the Midnight Wisps are the dark horses of the Marble League—they have finished in no less than the top ten at the end of each Marble League, and they have proven themselves as staples of the competition, especially with their comeback in 2018. Time will tell if the team can remain consistent and remain relevant in future seasons, especially as two of their members, Wispy and Wospy, will be appearing in the first season of Marbula One. If their performance is anything like what we witnessed in 2018, we should never count them out. Best of luck to the Midnight Wisps in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

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RetRollSpective – Hazers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This week, we’re going to take a look at the

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Copyright © 2020 MARBLE SPORTS. All rights reserved. Proudly powered by the JMRC