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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