RetRollSpective – Team Galactic

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going out of this world to take a look at Team Galactic, a team that originated in the inaugural season of the Marble League. Let’s blast off and discover what this team is made of!

The logo for Team Galactic, designed by Tim Ritz.

The origins of the team lie in Galakonur, a city renowned for scientific advancement, particularly in the field of astronomy. Cosmo, Astron, Starry, and Pulsar (the four original team members) met while working together at the appropriately named Galactic National Space Center, located in the heart of the city. The four worked as co-workers for about a year and a half, and became great friends who bonded over their love for sports in their youth, and their successes competing in high school and college. In 2014, the city of Polaria announced that it would be holding an athletics competition, in which teams of four marbles would compete against each other in various disciplines. Cosmo and Astron immediately applied and would invite Starry and Pulsar to complete their quartet of athletes. The four were accepted into the competition, and on 04 October 2014, the four marbles dominated the fray to everyone’s surprise—and perhaps even their own—winning nearly half of all the events and performing well in almost all the others.

Word of their success quickly spread across the region, with the quartet receiving news coverage and praise beyond their home city of Galakonur. The emergence of not one, but four marble athletes in a region that severely lacked athletic importance resembled the creation of the universe, in that it seemingly came out of nowhere, but was in fact always there, just waiting, patiently, to show itself. This excitement underscored the announcement of a worldwide marble sports tournament a few months later, none other than the 2016 Marble League. The success of the quartet drove the region to almost unanimously nominate Cosmo, Starry, Astron, and Pulsar to compete in the tournament. The team submitted to the ML under the name “Team Galaxy” and were accepted.

However, for some unknown reason, the large, internationally known Galaxy™ corporation saw this name as a threat to their business and claimed that legal actions would be taken unless the team changed their name. A news article from a few years later explained,

“…after gaining popularity it got almost sued by the brand “Galaxy™”. After intense negotiations the team ultimately changed its name to “Team Galactic”, as still known today….A fair amount of followers assumed, wrongly, that the team is being sponsored by the brand and has accepted a partnership. Because of that many supporters bought all kinds of products of the Galaxy™ brand but most of all the “Galaxy Toothpaste.”™” (JMR Wiki).

The classic design for Galaxy™'s world-renowned Galaxy Toothpaste.

The team ultimately complied to this demand and, just days before the opening ceremony, made a slight change to their name, adopting their new identity, “Team Galactic”. As it turns out, this name is also used by a villainous group in one of the Pokémon games; however, GAME FREAK has never expressed an issue with it. In fact, rumors about a promotional event between the two groups were spread through the marble world, but both parties have expressed that no such event is planned to take place.

As one of the original sixteen teams, Team Galactic competed in the first ever Marble League in 2016. The team showed some simulants of potential through the first few events, placing in the middle of the pack. Team Galactic scored their first medal in the fourth event, with Starry getting bronze in the Sand Rally. This put the team at a respectable seventh place overall. Team Galactic continued to place in the top ten throughout most of the following events, getting fourth in the High Jump, notably. However, due to the 2016 scoring system heavily favoring podium finishes, the team finished in eleventh place overall at the conclusion of the 2016 Marble League, tied with the Oceanics in points but behind the team in medal count. Team Galactic was disappointed, but ready to do better in the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers.

And better they did. Team Galactic truly blasted off in the Qualifiers, taking a bronze medal during the Funnel Spinning and placing high consistently to rank third for qualification overall. The sky no longer seemed to be the limit for what Team Galactic could achieve, and the team was ecstatic to participate in the 2017 Marble League. Astron noted:

“We’re really happy with how things have gone, you know, with restructuring and training. We’re optimistic to step into this season and leap up to the top of the standings.” 

Astron, Starry, Cosmo, and Pulsar pose for a photoshoot.

You can imagine, then, that Team Galactic was shocked when they scored dead last in the first event and fifteenth in the second event, which, of course, landed them in last place overall. The team was quite discouraged, but they trusted that their season was far from out of their control. In the third event, Team Galactic finally put eight more points on the board, jumping up to eighth place, and in the fifth event, they got a much-desired gold medal with Starry’s performance in Hurdles, an event that Cosmo was originally scheduled to compete in. Team Galactic was now in eleventh overall. When asked, Starry could barely speak, she was so excited:

“Completely unexpected…my heart is full.”

Over the coming events, Team Galactic notably scored fourth in the seventh event, Block Pushing, fifth in the ninth event, Steeplechase, and earned their second gold medal with Starry’s incredible run in the last event, the Sand Race. Although the team sat in eleventh place heading into the final event, Starry’s gold medal raised the team to fifth place overall for the conclusion of the 2017 Marble League. In a show of love for her team, Starry invited her teammates onto the top step of the podium with her to celebrate the gold medal, and cemented her status as one of the most successful marble athletes in history.

“LOOK AT TEAM GALACTIC!” Greg Woods exclaimed. “Look at Team Galactic, they are going to win the race! O’rangers…lose the battle, but win the war. The O’rangers…lose out to Team Galactic right at the end…”

Starry's choice to invite her entire team onto the podium inspired the O'rangers and Thunderbolts to do the same.

Team Galactic was flying high into the 2018 Marble League, as placing in the top five made many fans gravitate towards the team. After showing signs of promise in the previous year, Team Galactic rocketed through the 2018 Winter Marble League Qualifiers and qualified before the final event by medaling in the first three events: Curling, Snow Rally, and 5m Ice Dash. Many expected to see Galactic as a championship contender for the year. However, things didn’t go as the team had hoped.

Instead of continuing off their success in the qualifiers, the team faltered badly and ended up spending most of the season in the bottom half of the standings. Their only medal would end up being a silver in the Bobsleigh, despite a penalty point. The team was showing decent performances, but certainly not of the caliber that many were expecting to see. In the penultimate event, Ice Hockey, Pulsar’s younger brother, Quasar, played goalie, making his Marble League debut as the team reserve. Upon reaching the semifinal, Galactic only needed to win one of their next two matches to secure a medal. Instead, the team dropped both the semifinal game and the third place game, leaving them with yet another near miss in fourth place.

Once again, Team Galactic entered the final event in eleventh place. Instead of getting a gold in the finale to salvage their season, Cosmo got caught up in the moguls and ended up going out in the first round, completing the disappointing season for the team. They would end up finishing in eleventh overall, the same result from 2016. Needless to say, the team and fans alike were extremely disappointed in the outcome. As the captain of the team, Cosmo was hit especially hard, feeling that all of the team’s fans had probably lost most, if not all their faith in him. There were discussions of Team Galactic being dissolved over the offseason, but ultimately the team announced that they would return for the 2019 games.

Team Galactic's only medal in the 2018 Marble League.

The offseason demonstrated promise for Team Galactic with a fourth place finish in the 100 Meter Water Marble Race and by making it to the semifinals in the Amazing Maze Marble Race before being eliminated. The 2019 Marble League Qualifiers brought Team Galactic a second place victory overall, helped by its gold medal in the Underwater Race when the team tied with Hazers. Galactic earned the distinction of “Preseason Champions” after this, referring to their unparalleled consistency in all three Qualifiers. Pulsar was flattered after hearing this, stating:

            “We really try to go beyond what we think is possible for us offseason training, because it sets a good precedent for the rest of the season. It proved successful for us in ML17, and maybe not so successful in ML18, but we’re convinced that this is the best way to run our team. And we’re grateful that you all agree. Hard work pays off.”

Nevertheless, fans of the team had learned not to become too optimistic about the team’s potential during the main tournament. Team Galactic’s fourth appearance in the Marble League began with finishes in middle of the pack in the first six events, missing many opportunities to break through for a medal. Redemption finally came for the team in the form of Block Pushing,  where Galactic was finally able to medal in an event that they had reached the finals in during the 2017 Marble League. Team Galactic now had their second silver medal.

For once, Team Galactic almost looks purple in this picture!

Despite the water portion being cancelled in the Triathlon, Pulsar was able to make it to the final before being blocked out of a medal by two of the other three finalists. At the halfway point, Team Galactic stood in third place overall, by far their highest placement in Marble League history. However, things would take a turn for the worse. Starry suffered a minor internal injury from the collision in Block Pushing, which rendered her unable to compete in the Hurdles race, an event she won two years ago. Quasar instead competed in the event, beginning a slew of subpar results for Team Galactic in several of the last Marble League events, with the exception of Rafting.

For the third year in a row, the team entered the final event sitting in eleventh place. The final event was another event that Starry had previously won, the Sand Rally, but she wouldn’t compete in this one either, as her hard crash in the Dirt Race had exhausted her energy. Although Coach Black Hole had made admittedly questionable decisions about substituting marbles in events such as the Underwater Race and Hurdles, his decision to put Cosmo in the event turned out to be a great decision, for Cosmo had been running sand races with Starry for about a year. With a great burst of speed reminiscent of Starry’s gold medal burst two years prior, Cosmo, true to his status as the “jack of all trades” on the team, managed to pass several marbles in the final stretch and finish the race in second, only behind Tumult from the Balls of Chaos. This silver caused Galactic to jump three spots in the final standings, finishing the year in eighth place. After the closing ceremony concluded, the team celebrated Cosmo winning his first medal along with everything else they accomplished over the season.

A desperately needed medal that propelled the team to finish in the top half.

“I know there’s a lot of fans that questioned my leadership during the second half of the season, and I’m really sorry for that,” Black Hole reflected. “We didn’t focus a lot on endurance training this season, and I guess that’s ironic, considering that I used to be Astron’s track coach. We’re going to be better next season. I promise.”

As it turned out, Team Galactic would not need to defend its mantle as “Preseason Champions”. Coach Black Hole submitted a hosting bid for the team shortly after the end of the 2019 Marble League, unbeknownst to the team’s members, and Team Galactic was announced as the hosts for the 2020 Marble League at the end of the Marble League Showdown on 13 September 2019. The team at first thought it was a joke, but was ecstatic to hear confirmation from their coach that it was true. In fact, Astron did not even know of the teaser image that was posted months prior to the official announcement, as he was on a special mission commissioned by the Galactic National Space Center to visit the International Space Marble orbiting around Earth. Astron returned to Earth three days later, celebrating his second space adventure along with the hosting announcement with his teammates. He, notably, is the only marble athlete that has ever been in space.

The image announcing Team Galactic as hosts for the 2020 Marble League.

A few months later, Black Hole received an official letter from the JMRC, inviting the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. Team Galactic accepted and submitted Starry, “Ursa Superior” and Pulsar, “Cosmic Ray” to compete in the tournament. The team’s reveal poster was designed in cooperation with the Galakonur National Space Center to be as scientifically accurate as possible, depicting the marbles blasting off into the unknown, and was released on 03 November 2019.

            “It goes without saying that Starry is one of the most important marble athletes,” Coach Black Hole stated. “Pulsar has done well in many of the qualifying events, tying Smoggy for first in the Underwater Race earlier this year. He also placed fourth in the main tournament’s Summer Biathlon, and he further wants to prove his worth in Marbula One!”

As it turned out, both racers were able to do just that. Starry debuted in Marbula One at the Savage Speedway GP Qualifiers on 15 February 2020, where she qualified in second with a time of 28,37 seconds. She was in the lead for more than half of the race, only falling behind from the second lap to the fifth lap—but it did not matter. Starry won the first gold medal in Marbula One history.

A triumphant moment that served as the perfect liftoff to Galactic's M1 season.

“I have been training for a moment like this my whole life,” Starry said as she came off the track, tears of joy flooding her eyes. “Thank you, everyone, for giving me an opportunity like this.”

Pulsar began his Marbula One career less triumphantly at the O’raceway Grand Prix on 22 February 2020, qualifying and finishing the race in twelfth. Team Galactic fell to fourth overall in the team standings, where they remained for the next race as Starry qualified in fifth and finished in seventh at the Momotorway. The fourth Grand Prix at the Hivedrive fared much better for Pulsar, who won the race after qualifying in ninth. The “Cosmic Ray” had raced like the speed of light, and it paid off.

Although Starry did not qualify well for Greenstone, she finished the race in eighth, adding four points to her team’s total to trail the Hazers by just one point. Pulsar did not qualify well for either the Short Circuit or the Razzway, but was able to finish the Razzway in eighth. The team became one of four teams able to win Marbula One heading into the final Grand Prix at the Midnight Bay Circuit, but Starry did not qualify well and she finished in a crushing fifteenth place. Team Galactic finished the first season of Marbula One in fifth place overall, with strong performances in the first half of the season proving the potential of the team.

Team Galactic was the only team to have both of its racers win a race.

In RetRollSpective, Team Galactic has come a long way since its inception in the 2016 Marble League. Starry’s two gold medals has made her one of the most celebrated marble athletes, and the team as a whole has performed exceptionally in qualifiers, proving that Galactic has astronomical potential. Perhaps the fact that the team does not have to worry about qualifiers means that they will be able to conserve their energy for the main season, but we will have to wait and see until then. Best of luck to Team Galactic as the 2020 Marble League approaches, keep on rolling!

                                                                 Thank you to Novawolf for helping craft the lore for Team Galactic!

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