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 were announced as the fourteenth team coming to the tournament on 04 December 2019. On the same day, the Hazers announced that they would be represented by Hazy, “Jetstream”, and Smoggy, “Smokebomb”, 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.

Mount Huaze, known for the thick clouds that cover its summit from those that live at its base.

Hazy made his debut as a Marbula One racer in the Savage Speedway GP Qualifiers on 15 February 2020, where he set a time of 29,34 seconds and qualified in ninth. During the race, Hazy took the lead during the eighth lap and remained in the top tier even after losing the lead, finishing in second place and earning the first silver medal of Marbula One.

Smoggy followed Hazy in a similar fashion, debuting in the O’raceway GP Qualifiers on 22 February 2020 and qualifying in second with a time of 30,37 seconds. Once the starting gate lifted the next day, Smoggy took the lead and held it until the third lap, when he lost it to Billy for the rest of the race. He finished the race in third place, not even half a second behind Rapidly. With two races done, the Hazers rose to the top of the standings, three points above the Green Ducks.

Smoggy's first of a few M1 podium appearances.

The Hazers continued to remain a formidable force throughout the season, a constant for the championship. After qualifying in third at the Momotorway, Hazy earned a bronze medal, and after qualifying in fifth at the Hivedrive, Smoggy finished the race in fourth and set the fastest lap. The Hazers’ consistency rivaled that of the Savage Speeders until Greenstone, where Hazy, after qualifying in fifth, placed eleventh. The team’s lead narrowed to one point, and the next race did not help. Although Smoggy qualified in fifth at the Short Circuit, Smoggy in fact short-circuited himself, placing eight and allowing Speedy—having earned a bronze medal—to edge ahead to first overall.

            “I trust both of them to do what they need to do,” Coach Smokey explained in an interview prior to the Razzway. Hazy has had his fair share of great Marble League performances, and so has Smoggy. Need proof? Look at the first two events they ever competed in,” she said, gesturing to two silver medals in a display case. “They will persevere.”

And persevere they did. Coach Smokey submitted Smoggy to appear for the second Grand Prix in a row at the Razzway GP Qualifiers on 28 March 2020. His qualifying trial was the penultimate run, and he set a time of 28,79 seconds—just seven hundredths of a second from pole position. Smoggy, positioned to do well during the race, ended up leading every lap except for the sixth lap, and earned a much-needed, if not deserved, gold medal. The Hazers retook their lead in the standings, fourteen points ahead of the Savage Speeders.

This would have been a fantastic end to the Hazers’ Marbula One season, but to their detriment, one Grand Prix remained. Coach Smokey put in Hazy for his fourth and final race, as Smoggy had exhausted his four races. Hazy had a bad run during Qualifiers, qualifying in fifteenth, just behind Starry in fourteenth. Speedy, after a controversial early start, snagged pole position.

            “It was an uphill battle, to say the least,” Hazy commented briefly.

            “Would you mind saying more?” a reporter asked.

            “Honestly, I would prefer not to.”

Hazy fought to the top ten and struggled into the top half of the standings, but could not maintain a position above eighth place. He finished the season there, earning four points but falling short of stopping the Savage Speeders. The Hazers finished in second overall, with Smoggy placing third in the Racer’s Championship.

A rookie season better than the Hazers' ML rookie season.

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, an even better second season, and a successful debut in Marbula One. I look forward to seeing the Hazers’ potential cloud 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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