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 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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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!