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 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 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.
“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 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.
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.
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!