Hello and welcome to the seventh ever RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes that have been featured in the MarbleLympics. This time, we’re going to wade over to the Oceanics, the host team of the 2019 MarbleLympics.

As four-time veterans of the MarbleLympics, the Oceanics have been a staple of the MarbleLympics since the beginning. That said, like a wave forming in the ocean, the team originated out of nowhere. Aqua, Sea, Shore, and Ocean grew up as childhood friends in the cultural capital of Dunduei. They all worked at a surf shop in a nearby town when they were teenagers, which was odd because none of them knew how to surf. They all loved to hang out on the beach, but they weren’t so keen on going into the water, unless they needed to cool off. None of the Oceanics learned how to swim until they were preparing for the MarbleLympics, which likely explains why the team has a bad performance record in water events.

The friends discovered their passion for marble sports at dawn one morning, as they brought the surfboards out to be cleaned before the day’s rentals. On the way out, Shore dragged one of the surfboards in the sand, creating a long path. When Ocean brought her board out, she saw the path leading to the water, and decided to have some fun.

“I thought it would be like a slide. I always enjoyed going on the playground when I was a kid,” Ocean recalled to us. “The four of us have been friends forever. We don’t mind playing around ever now and then. It’s part of who we are. So I went down the path, and I couldn’t stop myself. There weren’t any rails to clutch to. It felt so free, so exhilarating. I wanted to feel that feeling for the rest of my life.”

When Ocean reached the bottom, she told Shore about the racetrack she had found, and had him race down it. Shore knew that he had accidentally made the track, but he didn’t tell Ocean or any of the others about it. The release of this article will be the first time they all find out how it was made.

Needless to say, the friends were stoked. They decided to close the shop for the day, and test out the course, extending it until the point that it would be washed away by the tide. The day turned into another day, then the entire week, before Aqua made the executive decision to sell the boards and go into training. The friends never looked back.

The 2016 MarbleLympics were announced about two years later, after the friends were already competing in regional competitions in Oceania with teams such as the Turtle Sliders. They immediately jumped at the opportunity, requesting to be admitted into the competition. But they froze when the application asked for a team name.

The team had previously been going as Team Moana, which means “ocean” in Maori. However, they feared copyright strikes from Disney, as well as the chance that people might not know or accept their name, as it came from a culture that most people did not recognize. Sea took it upon himself to choose a new name for the team. He considered Team Liquid, but upon hearing that it was an e-sports team, he instead chose the name Oceanics. It was “Westernized” enough to where marbles would recognize it, but so could the team members, as part of their identity living and working with the ocean.

The Oceanics, admitted to the 2016 MarbleLympics, traveled to the “home of marble sports” to compete, ecstatic about the chance to prove themselves against teams around the world. However, the team went scoreless after the first event, where they received only one point, until the ninth event, Team Pursuit, where they earned a gold medal. The Oceanics’ morale was renewed, and they went on to get a silver medal in Quartet Diving (a water event) and another point in Hurdles before finishing the season in tenth place, which was better than any members of the team could have hoped for at the halfway point of the season.

They were determined to not give up, and rode their wave of eagerness into the 2017 MarbleLympics Qualifications, scoring a silver medal in the Sand Race and qualifying in fourth place. When asked about that preseason event, Shore remembered it fondly:

“That feeling when I went down that path, for the first time…I felt a hint of it again that day. It felt amazing. And we couldn’t wait to channel that energy…to raise the wave into the 2017 MarbleLympics.”

Although the Oceanics started out strong with the first event, earning a silver medal in Funnel Spinning and a bronze medal in the 5 meter sprint, the team continued to struggle in consistently staying in the top half of events. They did have two fifth-place finishes, back-to-back, but a disappointing last-place finish in Archery spelled doom for the team. They finished in eleventh place with ninety-nine points, unable to crack triple-digits and shut out of the top ten. While ninety-nine points looked better in writing than the nineteen points they had accumulated in 2016, the Oceanics, dejected, returned to their homeland quietly.

Many saw the team as a staple in the MarbleLympics by this time, but a staple that had never really seen success. It was at this point that the team came into contact with Tide, who was, at the time, promoting marble sports competitions in Mellacai, a major city in science and architecture. Tide personally reached out to the team and offered to train them for the 2018 Winter MarbleLympics Qualification. The team did not hesitate.

“I saw a ton of potential in them. I could tell they really loved to compete, but they weren’t showing it, because they didn’t know how to. They didn’t exude the feeling that they wanted to be champions. But I knew they did. And I helped them work towards it.”

Tide bought the Oceanics outright, funding their flights to Mellacai and beginning training with them. During this period of time, the Oceanics stayed out of the public eye completely. Press releases surfaced detailing the addition of a reserve team member, Bay, as well as the construction of the Seven Seas Stadium on Neptune Island in Dunduei, but that was all that the public heard about the team until the Draw.

The Oceanics placed into Group B of Qualifiers and immediately surprised fans by placing first in Curling. The team did not finish the Snow Rally, but a fifth place finish in the 5m Ice Dash and another first place finish in the Halfpipe event allowed the team to coast to the 2018 Winter MarbleLympics at the top of Group B. Their performance did not go unnoticed by the fans, as well as other MarbleLympics teams. Pinky Toe from the Pinkies remarked,

“They weren’t competition in the past two MarbleLympics. Granted, 2016 was a rough season for all of us, but they never had a chance to come close to the top five last year. Do they this year? It might be possible. We better watch out.”

The Oceanics did not let up. They earned a gold medal in the 5m Ice Dash, the first event of the main tournament and an immediate improvement from their performance in Qualifiers. The hashtag #TidePride echoed their victory on social media, and their fanbase began to make waves.

Although the Oceanics missed the podium for the next few events, they were able to stay consistently in the top ten for all events but one. The Oceanics’ next medal was a bronze in Team Pursuit, an event which they also set a new MarbleLympics record for during one of the heats. When asked about this, Aqua could barely stop smiling:

“This season has given me a wave of excitement through every event, with every time we get to compete. Competing together is a special treat. We’ve known each other for our entire lives and to get to do what we do together is a privilege. We take none of it for granted.”

The team did not fare well in the next two events, placing fourteenth and fifteenth, but regained their momentum in Curling, earning a gold medal and proving their dominance in the event, which they had already asserted during Qualifiers. A fifth place finish in the Biathlon and a seventh place finish in Ice Hockey kept the team at the top of the standings…until the final event.

“They got a little too headstrong,” Tide shook himself in disappointment. “I really thought they’d be able to pull through. If they had made it into the final heat of that last event, they would’ve been unstoppable.”

But the Oceanics let up too soon. Ocean, the captain of the team, couldn’t control herself in the Sand Mogul Race. It wasn’t the same as the path that the surfboard had created, straight down the beach of Dunduei. It was contoured at different points, and she tried, desperately, to claw onto the edge of the track. Bouncing off it too much, Ocean finished in fourth of four in the semifinal race, meaning she would not make it to the final race. When the Midnight Wisps and Savage Speeders crossed the line in the next semifinal race, Ocean looked away.

“The Oceanics can still win if the Savage Speeders miss the podium and if the Midnight Wisps get bronze,” Greg Woods commented.

“But I knew. There was no way the Savage Speeders were going to miss the podium,” Ocean recalled. “Everyone on the team just looked blankly at me. Our fans fell silent. High tide was gone.”

A few minutes later, the Oceanics took the podium for third place overall in the 2018 Winter MarbleLympics.

That night, the five team members sat quietly in their hotel room. After some time, Sea finally spoke up.

“You know, I haven’t lost hope yet.”

Admittedly, the team struggled for a few months to rebuild their morale. The Oceanics did not perform well in either of the two offseason events, but their training was not focused on doing well in either event. They began to train in the Seven Seas Stadium as construction entered its final phase, with Coach Tide, Queen Marina, and mascot Alvin supervising. At the end of the A-maze-ing Marble Race, the Oceanics were revealed as hosts for the 2019 MarbleLympics. Mandarin from the O’rangers, allegedly, did not respond well to this news. A fan overheard him saying:

“You mean to tell me that after all we’ve done for the MarbleLympics, the IMC decided to pick a team that only did well last season to host the tournament? You know what, I don’t understand the IMC. We should form the OMC: the Orange Marble Sports Committee. That’ll be less biased against us for sure.”

The O’rangers, in a joint statement, denied the validity of this statement, but Oceanics fans doubted the statement. A small rivalry between the O’rangers and Oceanics began to manifest, but it is worth noting that the rivalry between the Turtle Sliders and the Oceanics may prove to be more volatile in future seasons.

The Oceanics won Funnel Spinning and the Relay Race in the Friendly Round, and were able to edge out the O’rangers by one point despite finishing last in the Underwater Race. Fans began to question the Oceanics’ performance in water events, noting that they had consistently been low since the 2017 MarbleLympics. We hope that this article could explain why.

In RetRollSpective, the Oceanics are a team that has reached high tide in the MarbleLympics fanbase and improved noticeably in the past three years. As Coach Tide does, we sea great potential in the future of the team, both as friends and as potential champions. Best of luck to the Oceanics in the 2019 MarbleLympics, keep on rolling!

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