RetRollSpective – Savage Speeders

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to speed over to the Savage Speeders, a team that has been in all four Marble Leagues, is statistically the best and most consistent team that has ever competed in the tournament, and is the team and racer champion of the first season of Marbula One.

The logo for the Savage Speeders, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Savage Speeders hail from Accellaise, Pace, and Vellis, three cities in the European region of the world known for their cultural, artistical, and economical significance. Speedy and Rapidly are siblings and hail from Accellaise on the southern coast of the continent, Velocity hails from Pace, a coastal city to the east, and Swifty and Whizzy are a couple from the capital city of Vellis. The five marbles met ten years ago, during Le Tour de Vellis, a marble sports marathon held in the city and throughout the country. Speedy and Rapidly had already been competing in local tournaments in Accellaise, so when Velocity brought up the idea of forming their own team, there was no hesitation.

The Speeders trained vigorously over the next two years in order to qualify for the marathon, fighting to make ends meet when it came to scheduling and travelling. Nonetheless, the team was able to qualify for the tournament and made headlines with a fifth place finish at the conclusion of the tournament. For a rookie team, it was unheard of.

            “We disclose as little as we possibly can about our training,” Speedy assured. “It is one of our most important secrets to our continued success in marble competition. What I will tell you is that we work the hardest out of any team. We do not settle for anything less than what we know ourselves to be: the best.”

The Speeders continued to compete in the next three Tours, never finishing below the top five. In the 2014 Tour, they clinched their first win, and in 2015, repeated it. News headlines throughout the world began comparing the team to the unstoppable force of the Vikings, referring to them as “savage”. The Speeders reacted positively to this, adding it to their team name to become the Savage Speeders.

In the midst of celebrating their back-to-back victory, the Savage Speeders were approached by marble sports aficionado, Greg Woods. Woods had been headlining the Fruit Circuit in the Americas for years, but the Circuit was losing viewership and funding—and fast.

            “I had a few contacts in Northern Europe, specifically the Bakker brothers in the city of Knikkegen, who wanted to start an international marble tournament called the Marble League,” explained Woods. “It was already going to include a few teams from my Fruit Circuit, but I needed to recruit other teams myself. The Savage Speeders were a long shot, but I knew that if I could convince them to compete, the Marble League might be successful.”

The next day, the Savage Speeders announced that they were retiring from Le Tour de Vellis, to the disappointment and confusion of many fans. Their confusion grew a few days later when it was reported that the team had purchased a stadium in Accellaise and renamed it, Le Course de Sauvage.

            “None of this made sense,” a fan recalled. “They were so successful in the Tour, and then they left it without explanation. I figured there had to be something more on the horizon. Something bigger.”

The Savage Speeders appeared in the 2016 Marble League as a four marble team. Whizzy did not compete, but watched from the sidelines as the team picked up four gold medals throughout the season: in the Relay Race, the Water Race, the 10 Meter Sprint, and Hurdles. The team did not score in some of the events, but did just well enough with its four medals to secure victory in the first ever edition of the tournament.

The photo finish that secured the 2016 Marble League in the Savage Speeders' name.

In an interview given after the final event, Speedy explained, “We were really conserving our energy. We knew going into the Hurdles that we needed to win the event to win it all, and when the gate lifted, I rushed down the track to the finish line. I had to. It didn’t matter if I was exhausted. It was all worth it to prove that we were on the top.”

The team’s victory tour was jubilant, as they traveled around the world with their four gold medals and all five members of the team. When the Savage Speeders returned to Vellis for the final part of their tour, the city hosted a day-long parade through the city on the same course used for the Tour. At the end of the day, the team was gifted an honorary key to the city, which inspired their hashtag, #SpeedIsKey.

Over the next six months, the public heard nothing from the Savage Speeders, a practice that would become the standard for the team in the offseason. The team’s stadium was closed to the public and protected by local police. In future years, it became a yearly tradition on MarBook to post joke events to raid the stadium in the hopes of finding the team’s deepest and darkest secrets. None of the events actually occurred, although one year, a streaker rolled by the stadium the night before and was apprehended by police.

The Savage Speeders automatically qualified for the 2017 Marble League, along with Mellow Yellow, the Thunderbolts, and Team Momo. The team appeared in the opening ceremony with Whizzy back on the team in place of Velocity, the latter switching out with her so she could compete. Whizzy competed in Funnel Spinning and placed fourth, earning twelve points and starting the season off on a good note. Rapidly followed next and placed sixth in the Long Jump, and the team placed eleventh in the Fidget Spinner Collision. At the end of the first quarter of the season, the team set in eleventh place, which, admittedly, did not look promising.

It's not the waking, it's the rising.

The team, however, was just warming up. The Savage Speeders vaulted into third place in the standings following Speedy’s silver medal in the 5 Meter Sprint, trailing only Mellow Yellow and the Chocolatiers who were eight points ahead. Swifty earned another silver medal in Hurdles, which allowed the team to rise to the top of the standings. The Speeders’ gold medal in the Relay Race cemented their position in first place, twenty-two points clear of the Limers and even more points ahead of the rest of the competition.

They held on in Block Pushing, missing the podium but placing fifth anyway, maintaining their twenty-two point lead, this time ahead of the Pinkies. They placed fifth again in the High Jump, but their lead shrunk by four points. It became apparent that other teams were beginning to rise in the standings, such as the O’rangers and Team Momo, which had medaled in the previous few events. The Savage Speeders responded with a gold medal in the Steeplechase, but even then, Mellow Yellow joined them on the podium. It was then that the Savage Speeders began to slow down—too soon.

The team placed in the lower middle of the pack in the final three events, unable to reach the top half. The O’rangers did exactly the opposite: earning eight points in Archery and two silver medals thanks to Kinnowin in the Underwater Race and Clementin in the Sand Rally.

            “We weren’t worried until Kinnowin set the Marble League record in the Underwater Race,” Swifty retorted. “We thought we had done enough. Until all of a sudden, I didn’t make the Sand Rally final.”

After holding first place for seven consecutive events, the Savage Speeders lost their lead and finished in second place overall in the 2017 Marble League. It was a historic upset that has gone down in history as one of the greatest comebacks in marble sports.

A disappointing end to a season they had come so close to taking back.

The team, having automatically qualified for the 2018 Marble League, disappeared shortly after the conclusion of the 2017 season to the tune of “OOOOOOOOOOO”s echoing throughout the stadium. The Savage Speeders made their next public appearance in the 2018 Winter Marble League Friendly Round, an exhibition tournament starring the prequalified teams of the main tournament. This, of course, meant that the team would be competing against Mellow Yellow and the O’rangers again, as well as the Snowballs for the first time since 2016. Swifty finished in third during the 5 Meter Ice Dash and the team finished in third for both Curling and the Halfpipe. They ironically finished fourth overall at the conclusion of the Friendly Round despite their consistent third place finishes. Needless to say, they were not happy.

 

Swifty opened the 2018 Winter Marble League by placing…you guessed it, third in the 5 Meter Ice Dash. Of course, this time, it mattered, with the team earning fifteen points towards what they hoped would be their second championship. However, Speedy faltered in the Ski Jump, placing dead last in the event and plunging the team to ninth in the overall standings. Speedy was taken out of the roster for the next event, Halfpipe, and replaced by Velocity, who was now the team’s reserve member. The Savage Speeders earned a silver medal.

The start of another comeback?

After a disappointing performance in the Bobsled event, where the Savage Speeders placed below Team Momo, which had suffered two injuries, Rapidly brought the team back into contention with his silver medal in Speed Skating, which tied the Marble League record until Misty’s performance set a new record, and she earned gold.

At this point, the Savage Speeders could not be ignored. They had medaled in three of the first five events and were reaching closer and closer to the top of the standings, which the Oceanics, Balls of Chaos, and Hazers were trading off. The team finally reached the top of the standings with another silver medal in the Snow Rally, this time earned by Whizzy. She was tied with Momo in snow points, but lost to him in average times. The results of the Snow Rally, despite putting the Savage Speeders in the lead, are what many fans consider to be the reason that the Savage Speeders lost the 2018 season.

 

The team held on to the top of the standings until Curling, when the Oceanics’ gold put them ahead. The Speeders fell to third, six points away from first place, and remained there following the Biathlon. The Ice Hockey event saw all of the team members competing, and for the first time since the Halfpipe, the Savage Speeders made the podium in a team event. They scored just one point against Team Galactic in the third place match and fended off the team with their strong defensive strategy. Their bronze medal put themselves just two points behind the Oceanics in first place.

Foreshadowing.

It was anyone’s game going into the final event, the Sand Mogul Race. An unprecedented ten teams could mathematically win the 2018 Winter Marble League, but the Savage Speeders kept their eyes forward.

            “We medaled in the most events. There was no reason why we couldn’t medal in one more, and finish the season stronger than ever before,” Whizzy cleared her throat. “That is, until the Midnight Wisps passed us in the final seconds of the semi-finals.”

            “Semifinal B. Midnight Wisps, the Hazers, Savage Speeders, and the Snowballs. Down they go, Savage Speeders out to an early lead. Midnight Wisps up into second, they fend off a challenge. Can they get up there? Midnight Wisps take the win and they will advance. They could’ve stayed there; they didn’t have to make that last-second lunge to get up into first place, you will still advance into the finals since it’s the top two…” commentated Greg Woods.

The Savage Speeders glanced over at the standings. The Midnight Wisps, just four points behind them, would win the 2018 Winter Marble League if they won the event…by just one point.

 

And they did—pulling off another extraordinary comeback against the Savage Speeders to take their own championship, as was the will of the wisps.

Another disappointing end to such a promising season for the Speeders.

The Savage Speeders made two public appearances during the 2018 offseason for both practice events. Whizzy placed sixth in the 100 meter Water Race, above most of the Speeders’ rivals. The team advanced to the semifinals of the Amazing Maze Marble Race with their strong second place standing, shutting out the Midnight Wisps. They advanced to the finals and finished in third, behind the Raspberry Racers and the O’rangers, and just three points ahead of the Limers in fourth.

Their next public appearance was in the 2019 Marble League Friendly Round, as the Savage Speeders had automatically qualified for what would be their fourth Marble League appearance. The team finished in fourth out of the four competing teams with nine points, behind the Midnight Wisps with fourteen points, and the O’rangers and Oceanics with more.

The Savage Speeders acquired Quickly as their coach on 25 February 2019, and appeared with her during the opening ceremony on 19 April 2019. They started the 2019 Marble League as well as they possibly could have, in a comeback that proved to fans to never count out the Savage Speeders. In the Underwater Race, Rapidly earned the team’s first gold medal since the ninth event in 2017, and in Funnel Spinning, Speedy earned a back-to-back gold medal.

The best start to a Marble League ever by any team, something that the team really needed.

“When I came on to the team, they were so pent-up about losing the past two seasons. They blamed other teams, not themselves,” Quickly revealed. “Their negative energy was toxic. What I told them to do—to transmute that energy into a positive performance—set them up for a strong 2019 season.”

The Savage Speeders led the standings during the first four events, leading fans to wonder if they would ever give. They finally did in the fifth event, the 5 Meter Sprint, when Whizzy finished dead last and the Hazers, who earned a silver medal, rose to first overall. The Savage Speeders hoped that they would be able to recoup in the next event, Relay Run, but they finished last in their heat as the Thunderbolts and O’rangers moved on. The teams both made it to the final, and the O’rangers earned a silver medal, their first of the season.

The team was not doing its best at the midpoint of the season; it had dropped to seventh place at the end of the Biathlon and stayed there after Hurdles, with the Midnight Wisps closing in seven points behind. The team needed at least a podium finish to get back into the top five and catch up to newer teams such as the Raspberry Racers, Hazers, and Green Ducks, who seemed to be running away with the season. The Savage Speeders returned to the podium in the Hubelino Maze event with a bronze medal, and rose to fourth place, tied with Mellow Yellow in points but ahead of them in medal count.

The next event, the Dirt Race, arguably set the tone for the rest of the season. The course was unpredictable with sticks, leaves, and shallow, winding paths making it a course fit for a champion. Swifty competed first in Heat B, qualifying for the final race behind Pinky Toe and Indie. During the first third of the final, Swifty almost crashed out of the course, rolling on the outside of a stick and back onto the track. With a burst of speed, he rolled ahead of Ducky in the third quarter of the race, the finish line nearly in sight…

 

Out of nowhere, Pinky Toe zoomed down the course, ending up just behind Swifty. He tried and failed to block Pinky Toe, and he crossed the line, winning the Pinkies’ first ever gold medal. Swifty, stunned, didn’t even notice Ducky pass him for a silver medal, and could not get going in time to beat Rozzy for the bronze medal in the last five milliseconds. The top three of the 2019 Marble League became clear, separated by twenty points from the team in fourth place, none other than the Savage Speeders.

A turning point for the season that changed the history of the Marble League forever.

The Savage Speeders showed no signs of rebounding until Surfing, when it was already too late for the team to be able to win the 2019 Marble League. The team could still finish in the top three with good results in the final two events; they instead fell apart in the penultimate event, Collision, placing dead last and allowing Mellow Yellow to pass them in the overall standings with a bronze medal.

            “I was disappointed,” Quickly recalled. “I had every right to be. They started the season off the best a team has ever started a season, and they let it go. I may seem like I’m easy on them because I’m telling them to stop being so negative, but I really do expect a lot.”

            “She’s right,” Rango, the coach of the O’rangers, agreed. “The difference between the Savage Speeders and every other Marble League victor is that the Savage Speeders put so much pressure on themselves. They don’t work to be the best they can be. They work to be better than everyone else.”

            “You should help me coach them,” Quickly suggested.

            “No, I don’t think I will.”

Rapidly, who started the season strong, finished relatively strong in the Sand Rally in fifth place, earning eleven points. He finished just behind the O’rangers in fourth, who earned twelve points to finish their 2019 season with one-hundred and thirty-nine points, a familiar number to the Savage Speeders.

            “Don’t,” Rapidly stopped me. “Please don’t mention that number to me…or to any of us…ever again.”

The Savage Speeders finished the 2019 Marble League in fifth place, three points behind Mellow Yellow in fourth, which had finally finished ahead of their rivals at the end of a season. It is the team’s lowest finish, placement-wise, in their history, and the first time in the history of the Marble League that the Savage Speeders neither finished in the top three nor automatically qualified for the next season.

After an admittedly disappointing fourth season, the Savage Speeders were pleased to receive an official letter from the JMRC, inviting the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The Savage Speeders accepted and were confirmed as the first team on 20 October 2019. On the same day, they announced that Speedy, the “Speed Freak”, and Rapidly, the “Maroon Missile”, would represent the team in the upcoming tournament.

            “Speedy, as the team captain, was a no-brainer. Rapidly is one of the more celebrated athletes on the team, and he’s a good foil to Speedy—he has decisive control over his capabilities. Together, they were the two athletes I considered to be best suited for this tournament,” Quickly confirmed in an interview.

The rest of the Savage Speeders did not sit idle, however. The JMRC had also selected the team as the hosts of the first Grand Prix. Swiftly, Whizzy, and Velocity got to work preparing Le Course de Sauvage for Marbula One, building the course themselves. They named the course the Savage Speedway, and renamed their entire stadium in Accellaise to clear up any confusion.

The track map for the Savage Speedway, designed by Minos Fylaktos and Spex.

Speedy made his debut as a Marbula One racer in the Savage Speedway GP Qualifiers on 15 February 2020, where he set a time of 31,20 seconds to beat. Unfortunately for him, every racer beat his time, and Speedy entered the first GP Race with a starting position of dead last—on his home circuit. However, Speedy was not ready to give up. By the third lap of the race, he had moved up thirteen places from his starting position to third, and he finished the race in fifth place, earning ten points and an extra point for setting the fastest lap.

Rapidly made his debut as a Marbula One racer in the O’raceway GP Qualifiers on 22 February 2020, where he set a lap time of 31,89 seconds and placed sixth on the starting grid. During the GP Race, Rapidly entered the top five during the sand portion of the track and remained there for much of the race, only exiting when bumping Wospy forward to clear his yellow flag. After returning to the top five in lap five, Rapidly closed in on Billy in the lead, but was ultimately unable to catch him, and finished in second place.

Rapidly's silver medal at the O'raceway.

The Savage Speeders, living up to their name, continued to be a formidable force throughout the season. Speedy qualified for the race at the Momotorway in seventh and finished the third GP in sixth. Rapidly qualified for the race at the Hivedrive in seventh and earned his second silver medal at the end of the fourth GP, not even a second behind Pulsar in first. Rapidly lead the Racer Championship halfway through the season, and the Savage Speeders as a team sat in third overall.

Rapidly, tired from the previous GP, did not do well in either the Qualifiers or the Race at Greenstone, qualifying in eleventh and finishing the Race in fifteenth. Coach Quickly put Speedy in for the Short Circuit GP, a decision that put the team into the lead overall at the end of the Race. Speedy qualified in second with a time of 17,85 seconds and finished the sixth GP in third, taking the lead for four laps of the Race. The team rose to the top of the standings with seventy points but fell in the individual standings, with Rapidly’s blunder at Greenstone dragging his points down.

Rapidly redeemed himself in his last GP at the Razzway, qualifying in the third position and finishing seventh, keeping the team fourteen points within the championship in second overall. Would Speedy be able to deliver in the final Grand Prix of the first season of Marbula One?

Speedy, the winner of the first Marbula One Racer Championship, earns his trophy and champagne bottle.

The final Grand Prix felt eerily similar to the final event of the 2016 Marble League. It was the feeling that the team in the lead—the Thunderbolts then, the Hazers now, was going to be overturned. It was the feeling that the championship was something truly special, because it was the first in a series of many Marble League and Marbula One tournaments. It was the feeling that there was something to prove. It was the feeling that Speedy would dominate, and prove once again to the world to never count out the Savage Speeders.

Speedy captured pole in the Qualifiers at the Midnight Bay with a time of 24,54 seconds, putting him in the prime position to rush away from the competition once the starting gate fell in the Race. He did exactly that the next night, only losing the lead once to Prim, and regaining that lead two laps later. Speedy never looked back.

The Savage Speeders won the first season of Marbula One with Speedy earning 59 points and Rapidly earning 42 points, placing first and sixth respectively in the Racer Championship. They won the team championship with a seven-point lead above the Hazers and a forty-two point lead above the O’rangers, who stood aside them on the podium.

In RetRollSpective, the Savage Speeders are a team that is as complex as champions get. They are the pinnacle of the Marble League and Marbula One in competition; a constant in contention for the top of the podium. They hold the record for the most total medals in the Marble League, with seventeen over the past four years, and the most gold medals, with eight earned. They are statistically the fifth fastest team, true to their name, with an official speed index of twenty according to the ML Speed Index, and maximized their speed to win the first season of Marbula One. The team, despite its storied successes, has internal issues that could one day disadvantage them at a time where they will need it most. They will compete in their first ever qualifying round in a few months, and staying positive there—as they did in Marbula One, is imperative to success in the main tournament. Best of luck to the Savage Speeders in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!

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