Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to wade over to the Oceanics, the host team of the 2019 Marble League.
As four-time veterans of the Marble League, the Oceanics have been a staple of the Marble League 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 Marble League, 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 exhilarated. 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 their surf shop and go into training. The friends never looked back.
The 2016 Marble League was announced about two years later, after the friends were already competing in the Seven Seas Circuit in Oceania with other 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 the Nondescript Entertainment Company, 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 he instead chose the name Oceanics. It was westernized enough to where fans around the world would recognize it, but so could the team members, as part of their identity living and working with the ocean.
The Oceanics were admitted to the 2016 Marble League due to their success in the Seven Seas Circuit and traveled to the mainland to compete, ecstatic about the chance to prove themselves against teams around the world. However, the team went scoreless from 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 Marble League 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 Marble League.”
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 Marble League 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 Marble League 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 that Tide would coach the team, that the Oceanics were constructing a new stadium in Dunduei, and that they had hired Reef as their manager, 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 Marble League at the top of Group B. Their performance did not go unnoticed by the fans, as well as other Marble League teams. Pinky Toe from the Pinkies remarked,
“They weren’t competition in the past two Marble Leagues. 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 5 Meter Ice Dash, the first event of the main tournament, making 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 Marble League 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, and doing so as a team is a particularly 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.
“We got a little too headstrong,” Tide shook himself in disappointment. “I really thought we’d be able to pull through. If we had made it into the final heat of that last event, we would’ve been unstoppable.”
Ocean could not control herself in the Sand Mogul Race. It wasn’t the same as the path that the surfboard had created, straight down the beach in 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 Marble League.
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 Amazing Maze Marble Race, the Oceanics were revealed as hosts for the 2019 Marble League. 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 Marble League, 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 manifested.
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 Marble League. We hope that this article can explain why.
As the 2019 Marble League drew near, however, internal changes began to shake the confidence and performance of the team. This would be the first season in which the Marble League actively featured its coaches by having them sit in the grandstand, and the officials ruled that it was a conflict of interest if the coach of a team was also an active member of a team. As a result, Tide decided to become the full-time coach of the Oceanics, and he brought on Bay to serve as their new reserve.
Interestingly, Bay had previously competed with the Oceanics in the 2018 Winter Marble League Qualifiers, appearing in the team’s record-setting first place in the Halfpipe. It was later revealed that she was recruited from Mellacai for her growing laurels as an endurance athlete, and had to leave the team shortly after Qualifiers to compete in the Seven Seas Circuit. Bay revealed in an interview that Tide personally invited her back to the Oceanics in late 2018, a few months prior to the Friendly Round, where she competed in the Underwater Race.
That said, the rest of the team did not handle the transition well. “The team didn’t feel the same. Our mojo was thrown off because Tide wasn’t competing on the team anymore, and not only that: he didn’t coach as well when he wasn’t competing on the team. He didn’t see where we were struggling,” Sea remarked in a postseason interview.
Shore added, “He didn’t see that we were struggling.”
Granted, this was not the only complication that the Oceanics had to face. The team also had to train for the three water events it would be offering, and felt pressured due to the stigma around their low results in those types of events. As such, the team trained extensively for water events, and in fact may have trained too much:
“I’ve seen a few fans complaining that we didn’t just do bad in water events; we did bad in pretty much every event,” Aqua acknowledged. “In hindsight, we didn’t spend enough time training for regular events. We practiced a lot of water endurance, trying to control our direction against the current and all. I can promise you that I know how to swim now. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get enough practice in the funnels or on the sand to succeed in those types of events.”
Other factors included the impending completion of the Seven Seas Stadium, which impacted the Oceanics’ ability to train prior to early 2019, as well as the declining health of Queen Marina, whose sickness would prevent her from attending any of the 2019 Marble League. According to the Royal Seal of Dunduei, she is still fighting to recover.
The first blow to the Oceanics’ morale came in the first event of the main tournament, when Ocean came last in her heat, in front of King Triton and over the commentary of Greg Woods, exclaiming “Oceanics, ah, they’re going to finish last again in an underwater event. They will not move on.” The team began the 2019 Marble League with three points, and over the course of the next five events, placed in the bottom half in four of those five to secure the bottom of the standings at the end of the sixth event, Relay Race. The team was able to get out of last when they tied with the Pinkies in points at the end of Block Pushing, but was still in a bad place by the time the tenth event, Maze, rolled around. Although the Oceanics managed to keep out of last place, they were still in second-to-last place, only above the Pinkies.
“Suffice it to say that we were not impressed with the team’s performance,” Reef stated. “We didn’t consider being better than the Pinkies much of an accomplishment…until we weren’t.”
Although the Oceanics reached the finals in the Maze, the team squandered their high odds of medaling when they finished in fourth place. In the next event, Dirt Race, Shore made it to the final race, but bounced off the course, finishing in seventh and returning the Oceanics to last place overall.
The Pinkies medaled in both events.
“Morale was at an all-time low for us…or in hindsight, it wasn’t even as low as it was at the end of the season,” Aqua said, dismally. “We tried to muster up what we had left during Rafting. We thought we did well, until ten other teams ended up doing better than us.”
That cemented the Oceanics’ fate in the season. “The Oceanics in the meantime, cruelly, they become the first team who will not be able to win the Marble League,” noted Greg Woods as the updated standings appeared on the scoreboard.
The next event, the Elimination Race, appropriately saw two of the Oceanics get eliminated—the team member who participated in the event, Sea, and the coach of the team, Tide.
“I was sitting near Coach Tide when he was removed from the grandstands. Reef and Alvin rolled over to us with a bunch of stadium security marbles, and Reef fired him on the spot. It seemed as if he had been planning to fire him for a time, at least for a few weeks,” one of the other team’s coaches, who asked to remain anonymous, reported. “What made it particularly awkward is that Tide owned the team, but Reef was the manager, and thus had the authority to relieve Tide of his coach duties.”
“I had to do what was best for the team,” Reef added. “Tide was our weakest link, especially when it came to training for the water events. We were going to wait until the season was over to make an action, but after the first heat of the Elimination Race, I lost my cool.”
In fact, so did the Oceanics fans—as they left the stadium, disappointed in their team for yet another poor result that would further rectify their season of shame. From there, Reef brought Lagoon in as the new coach of the Oceanics, while Tide’s hands were figuratively tied. He tried to fire Reef as manager, but this proved futile when the Royal Family got involved. With this, he was able to spark excitement and hope within the fanbase, inspiring the fans to return to the Seven Seas Stadium and cheer on their team for the last few events.
Regardless, the Oceanics’ performance in the 2019 Marble League did not improve, and the team finished the season in last with the worst points average of any team in Marble League history, punctuated by finishing in dead last in the Sand Rally. The Oceanics fans had already left the stands after the fifteenth event, but they returned to the stadium and swarmed the podium, voicing their disappointment with a bold sign that read, “NOCEANICS”.
Despite all of this, Sea remains hopeful. “I still believe in our team, though. We hit rock bottom this year—there’s no denying that. But it was still an honor to host and to be a part of the Marble League for another year. That’s what matters above all, and in order to continue that, we’re going to work hard next year on ourselves—mentally, emotionally, and physically—to qualify and to prove our worth again in competition.”
The Oceanics started the 2019 offseason in the news, as an article surfaced regarding the team’s dire state of affairs. The article featured an official letter from the Royal Family of Dunduei, which announced that they had purchased the Oceanics in its entirety from Coach Tide. As part of the acquisition, the Royal Family now owned the Seven Seas Stadium and all operations related to it, hosting the 2019 Marble League Showdown and viewing events for the 2019 Marble Rally. The Royal Family allowed Reef to remain as manager and Lagoon as the Oceanics’ new coach, overseeing the team’s offseason training for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.
“This season has been one of the most difficult seasons that any team has had to experience. You need to have a clear and positive mindset in order to compete in a tournament as demanding as the Marble League, and between their stress in hosting, changes in coaching, and the loss of support from their fans, the Oceanics couldn’t do as well as they wanted to,” asserted Reef. “It’s sad. And it’s even more sad that we let down our fans on our home turf. They had every right to be disappointed in us.”
It would be foolish to assume that we have seen the last of Tide’s influence in marble sports, and it would be even more foolish to assume that Tide is not salty about letting the Oceanics go, even for the amount of money he got for them. After all, it was his influence on the team that led to their best performance yet in the Marble League…along with their worst.
The team received attention yet again in late 2019 after all Marbula One teams were revealed and the Oceanics were not on the roster. An alleged leaked video claimed to reveal the real reason why the 2019 Marble League hosts will not show up for Marbula One. The clip showed Lagoon giving a fiery speech to unidentified Oceanics athletes.
“We need to build everything up from the bottom,” said the new coach. “We will not be caught off guard by an aquatic event again of all things… and that’s why none of you can leave the training grounds until you get over your fear of water.”
When asked if team management is blocking the Oceanics from joining Marbula One until the athletes resolve their hydrophobia, a spokesmarble refused to comment.
In RetRollSpective, the Oceanics are a team that has reached high tide—and crashed to low tide—in the Marble League fanbase. We still sea great potential in the future of the team as potential champions and hope that their worst days are behind them. Best of luck to the Oceanics in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!