Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to cover the O’rangers, one of the first teams of the Marble League, and arguably, its most popular.
The O’rangers are not just a team—they are a family of marbles with strong heritage that has dominated for generations. The O’Marbles run an orange farm on the southeast tip of North America, close to the city of Orlango, that also specializes in bull-wrangling and, notably, off-road racing. The current patriarch of the family, Mandarin, has emphasized this last aspect more and more in recent years, especially with the rise of televised marble sports. This drive, this passion led Mandarin to found the O’rangers with his brothers Clementin, Kinnowin, Tangerin, and his sister, Orangin, in 2006, and the team began participating in local competitions shortly thereafter.
The O’rangers performed well enough over the next two years to draw attention from a marble troupe of teams, named the Fruit Circuit. After surveying the O’Marbles Farm (to verify that the O’rangers were fruit-based) the Fruit Circuit allowed the team to join the troupe. The O’rangers remained on the troupe for eight years until the Fruit Circuit’s demise in 2016, with the rise of the Marble League. The team was in fourth place, closely behind Mellow Yellow, Raspberry Racers, and the Limers, when the Raspberry Racers DNF’d in the final race. The O’rangers finished the race modestly, but with enough points to pass the Racers and move into third place behind Mellow Yellow in second and the Limers in first. The O’rangers’ third place finish qualified them for the 2016 Marble League.
However, the O’rangers were skeptical of the competition that lay ahead of them. To test the waters, Mandarin, Clementin, Kinnowin, and Tangerin went undercover in the first event of the Marble League, going under the names of O1, O2, O3, and O4 to compete. The four placed ninth, scoring no points for the O’rangers. Seeing that the competition was serious, the four revealed their true names and represented the O’rangers for the rest of the 2016 Marble League. Their true identities were reflected in the reupload of the 2016 Marble League in 2019, with the graphics displaying the correct names of the team instead of O1-O4.
The O’rangers did not score any points until the third event, where they placed fifth and got three points. The team earned a gold medal in Long Jump with Kinnowin representing the team, breaking the Marble League record at 103,8 centimeters. Although the O’rangers did not get another medal in 2016, they got enough fourth and fifth place finishes in the next few events to secure an overall fifth place finish at the end of the tournament. They landed eight points away from taking fourth place, just one point above the Rojo Rollers in sixth, a team with three medals to its name.
The O’rangers patted themselves on the back for a successful season, but knew in their hearts that they wanted more. This became apparent at the O’Marbles Farm when Mandarin announced plans to build an official marble sports raceway on the property, which would remove a few acres of orange trees. Surprisingly, the city had little complaints regarding the developments. As a local fan put it:
“The O’Marbles didn’t just help our business boom back in the day, they were our business, and we’d be lying if we said that they aren’t to this day. Their orange business is the immigrant success story that marbles dream of telling, and their racing business is on another level of greatness. They’re really active in the community and we support them every step of the way. OOOOOOOOOOOO!”
The team performed well in Qualifiers, getting a bronze medal in the Relay Race and ending in third place with more than enough points to qualify. It was then that the O’rangers began to get recognized as a serious contender for competition in the 2017 Marble League, and the team experienced a large surge in fans. When the first of July came around, the stands were packed with a swath of fans in orange, holding signs and howling “OOOOOOOOOOOO!”. Needless to say, the O’rangers and their fans were hoping for a strong season, but they had no idea exactly how great things were going to turn out.
This is not to say that the team dominated throughout 2017; this was in fact quite the opposite. The team’s famed rivals, Savage Speeders, dominated in the earlier half of the season, rising to the top three in the standings. But the O’rangers remained persistent. They continued to train even during the Marble League, and finally, in the fifth event, they earned a bronze medal and landed a spot on the podium. As the Savage Speeders ascended to the top of the standings, the O’rangers positioned themselves in seventh place, rising three spots. They stopped training immediately and took pause, conserving their energy.
It was a strategy that did not work out in the short run. The next event saw the Speeders get a gold medal while the O’rangers lagged behind in fourteenth. Their Fruit Circuit rivals, the Limers, had actually taken second overall in the standings as the O’rangers dropped to ninth. Suddenly, a comeback didn’t seem so feasible. And then, it did.
Their first place in Block Pushing, as their first gold medal of the 2017 season in the seventh event and a new record to boot, launched the team into fourth place overall, four points behind the Limers and nearly a gold medal within reach of the Savage Speeders. The fans were ecstatic as they poured out of the stands, and the security officers could barely hold them back. It was a real energy that drove them, and it inspired the team itself to keep pushing.
Mandarin immediately followed up his team’s success in Block Pushing with a silver medal in the High Jump, which vaulted the team into second place, now less than a silver medal behind the Savage Speeders. The team that once seemed to be sweeping the competition had now lost its insurmountable lead, within two events. The top of the standings was in sight for the O’rangers.
The Savage Speeders and Mellow Yellow, however, had finally realized the momentum of the O’rangers, and in the next event, both teams got gold and silver, respectively, denying the O’rangers an early victory. At the end of the ninth event, the standings looked oddly similar to the end of the 2016 Marble League: the Speeders were in first, Mellow Yellow was in second, and even Team Momo was in fourth place. O’rangers clung to third, their fate hanging in the balance like a ripe orange on a tree.
“You know what I’ve realized over the years? It’s that nothing is really set in stone when you’re competing,” Mandarin noted, years later. “Just when you think something is going to go one way, it ends up going in a way you’d never think it to. That’s the beauty of marble racing. Always unpredictable. Keeps us on our game, always striving to be the best that we can be even when things seem blight.”
And strive they did. In the tenth event, the O’rangers closed in on Mellow Yellow’s place in second, remaining in third by two points. In the eleventh event, the Underwater Race, O’rangers set another new record in one of the heats and finished in second place, securing second place in the standings and becoming one of two teams able to win the 2017 Marble League. Of course, that other team was the Savage Speeders.
The O’rangers needed at least eleven points to overtake the Savage Speeders in the final event, if the latter team scored no points. The Savage Speeders are a team known to be fast, one of the best teams at racing. The final event was the Sand Rally.
The O’rangers and their fans held their breath, watching the first heat of the event. They hoped for a miracle.
Swifty of the Savage Speeders, once in the top four needed to advance, was swiftly falling back in the line of marbles racing to the finish. He reached dead last by the middle of the race and didn’t rebound back. The fans were shocked.
“I don’t think our championship leaders are going to advance at this point. It would take a massive lunge for them to get up there!” Greg Woods exclaimed. “The finish line is nearly in sight, now—no, the Savage Speeders will not advance! They will not make it into the final, and they have to hope that that ten-point lead they have amassed over the course of these eleven events is going to be big enough to survive the twelfth…”
Clementin was already in the starting gate. The loudspeakers were booming, Greg Woods’ voice ringing out the names of the teams moving on. The ball bearing lunged forward, released the bar, and Clementin bolted forward in the lead. As Greg Woods told the fans about the Jungle Jumpers missing the event, the O’Marble didn’t care. He kept rolling forward.
Clementin did not sacrifice his spot in the top four, guaranteeing that he would move on to the final. He said nothing as he traveled back to the starting gate. Again, he lunged forward once the bar was released, eventually securing a dominant lead…in first. As he turned the final curve of the course, Clementin eased up a little bit, allowing Starry of Team Galactic to rush past him and take the gold medal. But it didn’t matter. He had done everything he had to do in the final event. And it paid off.
The O’rangers had won the 2017 Marble League.
A comeback that once seemed impossible. A threshold once out of reach. A championship that shattered the marblebase, right under the Speeders’ noses. And oh, did the fans scream “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” for hours!
The team automatically qualified for the 2018 Marble League upon their win in 2017, but it was their victory tour around the world that the team treasured the most about their win. It was such a big deal for the team that they shut down O’Marbles Farm for the occasion, inviting their entire family on the trip. This caused a month-long decline in orange production, but the world didn’t seem to mind. Celebration was in order, and the team reveled in it. When asked in an interview with Rick O’Shea about how the team would try to replicate their success in 2018, Kinnowin replied:
“We can’t. But that’s what makes our sport great. It can be so unpredictable. It’s never going to feel the same though, because we were the first ones to come from the middle of the pack to win it all. Our names are going to be forever remembered as the ones who, uh, made the greatest comeback in Marble League history.”
True to Kinnowin’s claim, the O’rangers did not replicate their 2017 success in the 2018 Winter Marble League. The team placed third in the Friendly Round and remained in the upper middle of the pack for most of the season. They were far from on the radar, as the Savage Speeders continued to dominate, the Hazers stunned the competition as the best rookie team since 2016, and the rising waters of the Oceanics tried to turn the tides of the podium. The O’rangers never lost their fans, but it didn’t look like the team would ever be near a second victory. They had no medals to their name after nine events.
But the team had been consistent in the first nine events, only scoring below eighth place once, in the Halfpipe event. The O’rangers were practicing the same exact strategy that they had the year before. They were conserving their energy. Taking a deep breath, they entered the tenth event, Biathlon, and finished with a silver medal.
The O’rangers shot up to second in the overall standings.
The marblebase was shocked. After medaling only once, the O’rangers were, once again, formidable competition in the Marble League. The fans, of course, were thrilled. Could the O’rangers really replicate last year’s success? Their “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” echoed through the Arctic Circle.
However, the team lost its focus upon getting its silver, its momentum dropping. Although the team was still one of four teams that could win the tournament at the beginning of the final event, the team faltered in the first heat, only earning five points and assuring its fate: it could not win the 2018 Winter Marble League or finish in the top three. While other fans, particularly Speeders fans, were elated, O’rangers fans were understandably distraught. They had still experienced an amazing season, but Kinnowin’s prediction rang true. The O’rangers finished eleven points behind the Oceanics, still placing in fourth, but missing another chance to prequalify…or so they thought.
The O’rangers participated in both offseason events for Marble League teams, training at their O’raceway in between. Despite doing well in previous water races, Mandarin failed to replicate his team’s successes with the 100 Meter Water Race, for he finished in twentieth out of twenty-seven teams. That said, the O’rangers had a successful showing in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, finishing as runners-up to the Raspberry Racers in first, ahead of the Savage Speeders in third, and ahead the Limers in fourth. The race proved, again, that the O’rangers were a force to be reckoned with in marble sports.
Although the O’rangers lost their 2019 hosting bid to the Oceanics, the team took the Oceanics’ qualification spot, thus automatically qualifying for the second year in a row. In the Friendly Round, the team won both Block Pushing and the Underwater Race, repeating similar successes from the 2017 season. They finished second, just one point behind the Oceanics.
The O’rangers entered the 2019 Marble League with one new addition: their coach, Rango, who, initially, was not sure how to take the reins of the team. Kinnowin, once the star of underwater events and now the captain of the team, had a bad run in the Underwater Race and finished in a startling fourteenth place for the first event of the season. Clementin, hoping to rectify a disappointing start for the team in Funnel Spinning, crashed into the wall just past the starting gate, stopped himself due to head trauma, and was unable to finish the event. The O’rangers fell to dead last in the standings for the first time in their history, and seemed to have crashed to rock bottom alongside the Oceanics as the Savage Speeders reigned at the top of the standings.
Coach Rango immediately rolled towards the course after the initial heat and was stopped by security as the officials, ascertaining that Clementin was in a good enough condition to leave the track, got the athlete off the arena. Thankfully, the doctors confirmed that Clementin had only a minor head injury—but he was advised to stay off the roster for a few events, which Clementin accepted.
“I know a lot of fans were concerned, especially about the standings. Those are just numbers,” Rango asserted. “Safety is our number one priority. Even now, I’m not so sure if that starting area was as safe as it could possibly have been, but I am happy—and lucky—that Clementin is okay now.”
After three more subpar finishes in the middle of the pack, the team earned its first medal of the season in the sixth event, Relay Run. The team collectively earned a silver medal after a tie in the semi-finals with the Pinkies, which led to a tiebreaker race that the team easily won. Mandarin, the marble closest to the finish line, did not get the best push-off from Clementin behind him, and the O’rangers lost the gold to the Green Ducks in the final leg of the race.
The team rose to ninth in the standings, its first foray into the top ten, but fell mysteriously to tenth place after placing fifth in Block Pushing. The team fell to eleventh after placing fifth again in the Summer Biathlon, and remained there after just missing the podium in the Hurdles final. The O’rangers rose to ninth after placing sixth in Hurdles, but would fall again just three events later with a fourteenth place finish in the Elimination Race. Mandarin, luckily, earned two consolation points due to track defect, but the team dropped to eleventh overall, with the Raspberry Racers, Green Ducks, and Hazers at the top of the standings, and the veterans failing to catch up behind them. An eleventh place finish by Tangerin in Surfing sealed the O’rangers’ fate in 2019: out of championship contention and unable to finish in the top three.
“While we’ve only finished in the top three once, it still hurt us to see that we couldn’t make a comeback,” admitted Mandarin, swallowing heavily. “We had our roughest start yet, but we couldn’t understand why we weren’t at least in the top ten of the standings, if not the top half. We had almost enough fourth and fifth place finishes to rival the Ducks,” he claimed.
The next event, Collision, was not the O’rangers’ strongest two years prior. Their 2019 performance was a different story, as the O’rangers advanced, second in their initial group heat, to dominate over the Jungle Jumpers, edge over Mellow Yellow, and fight for the gold in the final round. The O’rangers won a gold medal for the first time since Block Pushing in the 2017 Marble League. Their fans were ecstatic, and their “O” chant rang through the crowd, louder than it had ever been. The team rose four spots into seventh place overall.
The O’rangers’ hard work to climb back from nothing was finally starting to show, and Kinnowin’s fourth place finish in the final event, Sand Rally, earned the O’rangers twelve more points to finish the 2019 Marble League in sixth place overall, 139 points strong. The team’s longest season had finally come to an end, and, through its struggles, the O’rangers endured, were enriched, and grew even stronger.
They will likely be putting these skills to use very soon, as Clementin and Orangin will be representing the team in Marbula One. In fact, the team was selected as the hosts for the second grand prix, which will be held at the team’s O’raceway in Orlango.
In RetRollSpective, the O’rangers have not always been the champions that most of the fans perceive them to be. Regardless, the team’s history of comebacks and consistency has assured its place in Marble League history as one of its most persistent competitors, and therefore, one of its best. Whether or not the O’rangers win another Marble League, they have already made their mark on the tournament, and will always be remembered for their accomplishments. Best of luck to the O’rangers in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on r-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-lling!