Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to dust off our sunglasses, put them on, and take a look at the Shining Swarm, a team that debuted in the 2017 Marble League. Read on to find out exactly what this team is, and how they’re one of the most prevalent teams in the tournament.
The Shining Swarm is a team that is known for being unknown—the team notorious for being forgotten by fans, questioning how they got into the Marble League and why they’re still in the tournament. It’s a question worthy of asking—the team has become the subject of memes over the past few months and did not advance to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, which means that they will not be appearing in a competition until the next Showdown.
What does the Shining Swarm have to offer that the Gliding Glaciers did not? (Well, they qualified for a Marble League.) What makes the team any better than the Quicksilvers? (Well, they were better than them in 2017.) Is the team forgettable because the Savage Speeders, another double-S team, also exist? (Most definitely.) You may ask, “Well, Stynth said that “they’re one of the most prevalent teams in the tournament”…they’re not more important than the O’rangers, right?” Look, not one team is more important than the other. Each and every team has their place in marble sports history, and there’s something we can learn from team that has competed. We can learn from Team Plasma that if you haven’t done enough training for Qualifiers, you probably shouldn’t compete. We can learn from the Quicksilvers that just because your Marble Rally athlete is good doesn’t mean that your Marble League athletes will be. We can learn from the Jungle Jumpers that going out the night before the final event of the season is a bad idea.
So, you’re probably asking, what can we learn from the Shining Swarm? The answer is simple: it’s to have fun.
The Shining Swarm hail from a city on the West African coast named Galeem. The city is named for the shining waters that surround the city, located on a peninsula that juts out from the mountainous mainland, whose mountains gleam with snow-covered summits. Galeem sits at the mouth of the Silver River, which is where the team took its original name from: the Silver Swarm. The team had to change their name to avoid confusion with the Quicksilvers, and were instead inspired by the swaths of natural beauty surrounding their homeland, which shine in the sunlight.
Shiny, Sparkle, Shimmer, and Sterling are musicians at heart, and have strived to maintain their talents even through their athletic training. The fab four were in a band called “The MarBeats” which produced such hits as “Here Comes The Swarm”, “Fidget to Ride”, and “I Wanna Be Your Marble”. Their most popular hit, “Roll Over and Roll Out”, resonated with marble sports fans because the song discussed the growing popularity of regional marble sports tournaments. In 2015, the song was used in a featurette about the tournaments, underscoring videos of competitions like the Surculo, Ramen Bowl, and the Knikkegen Marble League.
During this time, the team started to get interested in the tournaments themselves, fantasizing about possibly entering the competition themselves. They performed their last live concert on a rooftop in Dionlin, performing songs from their Marbly Road album. The team returned to Galeem in early 2016 to begin athletic training, and after the conclusion of the 2016 Marble League, applied for the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers. Their application was accepted, and the team debuted in the tournament on 23 June 2017.
Shiny raced out of the gate in the first event, the Relay Race, only to fall behind the competition quickly. From then on, the Swarm learned to conserve their energy in the long term, and began scoring better. The team did best in Block Pushing, placing fourth overall. Amassing twenty-three points overall, the Shining Swarm qualified for the 2017 Marble League at fifth in the overall standings.
The team appeared in the tournament not even two weeks later, debuting in the opening ceremony and first event on 01 July 2017. Shimmer represented the Swarm in Funnel Spinning instead of Sparkle, who had participated in the event during Qualifiers, and scored worse, placing twelfth. In the Long Jump, Sterling tied with Goolime with a score of 68,8 centimeters, placing ninth. After two events, the Shining Swarm seemed to have plateaued in twelfth place, on track to become a forgettable team in the bottom half of the standings akin to the Quicksilvers and Jungle Jumpers.
However, this was not to be the case. If there was one event that the Shining Swarm had really trained for, it was the Collision event. In fact, another reason behind their team name was because of their love for this type of event—one where the team “swarms” its opponents for the high ground—to remain on the arena and not fall to the floor.
Truth be told, the Shining Swarm did not prepare for the presence of fidget spinners on the arena, and in fact, no team really did. The spinners were introduced shortly before the teams attended Qualifiers, and were rumored to cater to the sudden popularity of the toys. When it came to the actual event, however, the Swarm stuck together as much as it could. The team made it to the quarterfinals just barely over the Chocolatiers, broke a tie with Mellow Yellow to advance to the semifinals, and broke a tie with Team Primary to advance to the finals. The Swarm decisively defeated the Limers two to one, earning their first—and so far—only medal in the Marble League.
For all of the craziness of the Fidget Spinner Collision, between Momomomo’s injury and the fan invasion on the arena, the Swarm’s positive energy shone through. “We knew that a lot of the fans were worried about Team Momo, and we were worried too,” reflected Shimmer. “We got onto the spinner after our quarterfinal match to try to cheer people up.”
“We’re performers at heart. It’s what we do,” Sterling added.
The Shining Swarm rose into third place after the event, peaking early in the season. Aside from Sparkle placing second-to-last in the 5 Meter Sprint, the rest of the Swarm’s results placed in the top half to the middle of the standings. Their most notable placements aside from their gold in Collision was the team’s 35,5 in Archery, Sparkle’s fourth place in the Underwater Race, and Shiny’s fifth place in the Sand Rally. Throughout the rest of the season, the Shining Swarm remained in the middle of the standings, finishing in seventh overall with 112 points. With one gold medal, they finished closely to Team Momo, the Chocolatiers, the Pinkies, Team Galactic, the Midnight Wisps, and Mellow Yellow—teams from ninth to third place not even twenty points apart.
“Honestly, we did way better than we expected. I mean, I did badly in the 5-Meter Sprint,” admitted Sparkle. “But I did great in the Underwater Race. Having the chance to race among athletes like Kinnowin was such an honor.”
“We’re here to have fun, but we don’t take any of it for granted,” promised Shiny. “It’s really something—an experience you can’t buy.”
“In my life—in our life—the only thing that compares is music, and even then, there’s a reason we retired from recording,” Sparkle added.
The Shining Swarm appeared next in the 2018 Winter Marble League Draw with their new reserve member, Glimmer, where they were sorted into Group C with teams that they had never competed against, save for the Thunderbolts, Limers, and Team Primary. Unfortunately, they were unable to place above fifth in any of the four events and finished dead last in their group. The Shining Swarm would miss the 2018 Winter Marble League.
During their extended offseason, the team attended the main tournament of 2018 Winter Marble League and released one more album as the MarBeats, named Let it Roll. The titular song of the album charted high on Marbleboard along with “Across the Marbleverse” and “The Long and Shining Road”. The team officially announced their retirement from the music industry after the album’s release, committing themselves fully to marble sports.
The Shining Swarm competed next in the 2018 Marble League Consolation Race, where Shimmer finished seventh out of eleven competitors. The team submitted Sparkle to compete in the 100 Meter Water Race; they finished nineteenth, above Mandarin and other athletes who did not finish the race. The Swarm reformed in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, finishing last in Group E with only twenty-seven points earned.
“A lot of our fans were beginning to question why we stopped touring and recording. In their opinion, we were much better at music than we were at sports. And you know what? They’re probably right,” Shimmer mused. “But we’ve moved on. This is something that we enjoy regardless of how we place. It brings out the best in us.”
All things considered, the best of the Shining Swarm was not present in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The team had earned only five points after three of the four events, and although Shimmer did well in their heat of the Underwater Race, placing ninth overall, it was not enough. The Shining Swarm failed to qualify with only fifteen points to their name.
“You know, our fanbase isn’t big. It’s not easy being overshadowed by franchises that are better grounded in the legacy of the Marble League,” Shimmer glanced at a picture of the Savage Speeders, “and trying to make your own mark in something as legendary as this competition. We’re a fun bunch and we love what we do. That’s why we were riding the fidget spinners when we were advancing and later won that event. Not everything has to be serious.”
The Shining Swarm was prepared for another long offseason. Its members were considering making their own solo music when the Marble League Showdown was announced as a B-League to the main tournament. When the team learned that Collision would be an event, they got so excited, they began rolling back and forth in excitement, according to their coach, Gleam.
The Shining Swarm gained media attention during the latter half of the 2019 Marble League after being featured in jest as the Marble League Twitter account’s favorite to win the tournament, despite not qualifying. The team became a meme due to its tendency to be forgotten, which actually helped them get more popular. The Shining Swarm’s fans, nicknamed the “Swarmy”, began to grow in number, and the Swarm itself gained a new logo, a new hashtag, and a newfound determination. They were ready to rise and shine.
The Shining Swarm began the 2019 Marble League Showdown poorly with a penultimate finish in the Sand Rally, but delivered a strong performance in Collision, utilizing their same strategy from two years prior to edge ahead of the Kobalts in the first heat, defeat the Snowballs in the quarterfinals, and dominate against Team Primary in the third place match despite faltering against the Rojo Rollers in the semifinals. The Swarm stood on the podium for the first time in nearly two years, and was handed bronze-colored medals made of aluminum to celebrate the occasion.
“That is the best I’ve felt in two years,” Shiny exclaimed. “And there weren’t even any fidget spinners!”
Shiny continued to shine in Funnel Spinning, placing fifth, but the team staggered in Balancing, placing tenth. The team tied for eighth overall with the Minty Maniacs in points, but dropped to ninth because of their bronze medal. The Shining Swarm finished in the bottom four teams, and as a result, will not move on to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.
In RetRollSpective, the Shining Swarm is a team. The Swarm is a team that does what its team members love, from writing and performing music to competing in the elite of marble sports tournaments and riding on fidget spinners. They rise to the occasion and when they break through, as they did in Collision, the Shining Swarm shines, demonstrating to all around them what it means to be optimistic and enjoy life. They are far from the best team in terms of statistics, but I firmly believe that the best is yet to come. Until the Swarmy rises again, in the 2020 Marble League Showdown…best of luck and keep on rolling!