Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes. For this one, we’re going to take a glass eye to Team Momo—one of the original sixteen teams featured in the 2016 Marble League.
Team Momo has never been a boring group of marbles. The team hails from the villages around Om, one of the oldest cities in the world. The four original members of the team first met in Temple of Om, one of the most popular restaurants in the city, where they talked about their passion for marble sports as they ordered plate after plate of dumplings. In fact, the four ordered so many dumplings that the restaurant ran out of them. When the four met early in the night, they were complete strangers, but when they left Temple of Om a few hours later, they seemed as if they were inseparable. A few days later, when they decided that they wanted to make their dreams of being in marble sports a reality, they named themselves “Team Momo” after the dumplings they had ordered the night they became friends.
Mo, Momo, Momomo, and Momomomo accumulated great interest in their early days not just because of their memorable names, but because of their talent in marble sports and optimistic charisma. Team Momo began training in 2011, and in early 2012, they began competing in the Ramen Bowl, a prestigious marble sports competition held in downtown Om. Within a year, they had risen to the Ramen Bowl’s championship league, and in late 2013, they won their first Golden Noodle. They won a Bronze Noodle at the end of 2014, and earned their second Golden Noodle at the end of 2015. As a result of their repeated successes in the Ramen Bowl, Team Momo was invited to participate in the first season of the Marble League, and accepted without hesitation.
The team’s unique names, coupled with a strong showing in the 2016 Marble League events, quickly made Team Momo one of the most popular in the competition. It seemed very hard to dislike a team that was so quirky, yet charming at the same time. Team Momo had the honor of earning the first bronze medal in Marble League history in Balancing, and went on to earn two more bronze medals in the Long Jump and the High Jump.
All four members of the team celebrated their first gold medal together in the Precision Slalom, which proved the team’s chemistry to be beneficial in competition. The team sat in fourth place leading into the final event, Hurdles, in which Momo reached the final race against the top three teams: Mellow Yellow, Savage Speeders, and the Thunderbolts. Despite missing the podium, Momo maintained a marblous fourth place overall for the team, automatically qualifying them for the 2017 Marble League and securing their place as a team known and loved by fans across the marblebase.
“I kept surprising myself over and over again in the final event,” Momo recalled. “I kept thinking that I didn’t have the endurance to keep going, and then I got to the semifinals, and then I realized that if I went too fast, I might run off the track like Pinky Toe. When it came down to it, I just didn’t have the energy to get myself rolling in the final. But it was still a really good run for me, and most importantly, for the whole team.”
However, where 2016 was perhaps one of the best years Team Momo could have hoped for, the 2017 Marble League brought one of the most difficult years that Team Momo could have imagined. The now infamous Fidget Spinner Collision event, which was inspired by the oversaturated trend of fidget spinners that year, completely changed Team Momo and the Marble League as we know it. As Team Momo faced against the Midnight Wisps, racing toward the battlefield, all Team Momo and the Midnight Wisps wanted to do was their own personal best, regardless of how many marbles were left on the arena or how much they fought against the fidget spinners. The two teams raced onto the battlefield, collided, spun out into the fidget spinners, collided again, and a shriek of shattered glass erupted from the center. Momomomo, unable to control himself from the rapidly rotating blades of the fidget spinner, was knocked into Wispy so hard that a chunk of his glass broke apart from him.
Momomomo later said, “It felt like my life and everything I had worked for was all flashing before my eyes while I could only look back at the piece of me left on the arena. Everything that was happening in the present felt like it was in slo-mo-mo.”
The event continued past the injury, but not for Team Momo, which had to withdraw immediately from the event as they cared for Momomomo. In the next event, Greg Woods announced that Momomomo would not be able to compete for the rest of the 2017 Marble League, and would be substituted with Mimo, the first alternate ever for a Marble League team. Mimo was one of the best athletes competing in the individual division of the Ramen Bowl, and his recruiting on Team Momo ultimately gave them the momo-motivation they needed to continue pushing forward.
In the Relay Run, Mimo’s first event in the Marble League, Team Momo obtained their first silver medal in the Marble League. Momomomo reappeared in the stands to watch Team Momo get another silver in Block Pushing, and came down to the arena with crutches to congratulate his teammates on their bronze medal in the High Jump. Sadly, Team Momo’s mid-Marble League push proved futile to keep Team Momo in the top five, though the team remained in the top ten at ninth place at the 2017 Marble League’s end.
The following offseason was, apart from training for 2018 Qualifiers, a time of deep concern and reflection for the team. Thankfully, with healthy donations from across the marblebase, including the Midnight Wisps, Momomomo was able to afford the medical care he needed to recover from his injury, which had seemed fatal at the time it happened. While Momomomo recovered, the team regularly checked on him while training Mimo as an official new member of the team.
Mo has said of Mimo, “Just because he has an ‘I’ in his name doesn’t mean he isn’t for the team. Mimo has been a truly fresh addition to Team Momo and always inspires Momo, Momomo, and myself to be the best we can be. We have no intention of benching him, nor will he ever replace Momomomo: he’s not only a great team member, he’s strengthened the bond of our family.”
Team Momo also received several complaints that their logo looked like a smelly green trash bag over the offseason. When asked about it after the 2018 season, Mo declined to comment.
Team Momo appeared in Group B of the qualifying events with Momomomo fully recovered, which the fans were overjoyed to hear after a nearly silent off-season from the team. They scored twenty points, just enough to qualify and get the marbles rolling for their appearance in the 2018 Winter Marble League.
However, this season proved trying for Team Momo as well. The team placed in thirteenth in the first two events and was in dead last overall after the second event. Team Momo got ninth place in the third event, rising to fifteenth overall, but got twelfth in the fourth event and faced yet another series of injuries. Momomo was replaced with Mimo in the retry after Team Momo got stuck on the bobsled track due to an altitude sickness, and Momomomo knocked into a corner while on the bobsled the second time, incapacitated for the rest of the ride. Doctors quickly assisted the two team members, concluding that they would be okay, but not fit to compete in the rest of the 2018 Winter Marble League.
When Team Momo was notified of this, they quickly reached out to several marble teams, even the Green Gang from the Hubelino Tournament. Ultimately, the team merged with their close friends, Team Primary, for the rest of the season, forming Team Momary. This caused controversy in the marblebase (especially among Balls of Chaos fans) because Team Primary did not qualify for the 2018 Winter Marble League, but the IMC approved the merger and allowed Momary to compete. The full team, featuring Mo, Momo, Prim, and Mary, competed in Team Pursuit, getting eighth place, proving that the team was viable and had potential to grow as the season continued, even as it sat in ninth place in the standings.
Team Momary got its first gold medal in the Snow Rally, as Momo narrowly defeated the Savage Speeders in two races. This rallied the marblebase around the team in hope that they would be able to rebound from their difficult start. Although Team Momary got a silver medal in Curling, the team struggled in the remaining events, landing in twelfth place overall at the conclusion of the 2018 Winter Marble League.
After Team Momo and Team Primary amicably split up, Team Momo was expecting to have another quiet offseason. On the contrary, the team appeared in both of the practice events with other Marble League teams, with Momomo and Momomomo back to compete. The team placed in the top ten during the first event and reached the semifinals in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, proving that the team had recovered from its injuries.
Unfortunately, Team Momo was unable to qualify for the 2019 Marble League. After a successful first event, where Momomomo placed eighth in Funnel Spinning, the team was unable to keep its mo-momentum going, and finished Qualifiers eleven points away from securing a spot. When asked about how the team felt, Momomomo seemed hopeful:
“Being part of Team Momo has made me realize something: that I can’t quit when things don’t go my way. So we didn’t qualify this year. That’s not how I wanted things to go, but it’s not going to stop me. And it won’t stop our team from mo-moving forward.”
The team begun their extended offseason by taking a vacation around the world, something they had not been able to do since 2015. They were visiting Prim and Mary in Van Gotterdam when news about the Marble League Showdown broke. The team quickly returned to Om the next day to start training again.
Fan opinion of Team Momo was mixed going into the Showdown. Most expected that Team Momo would not win the Showdown, an expectation that the team itself shared. It was the fans that predicted that Team Momo would get injured—yet again—that bothered the team.
“The fans don’t need to tell us that we keep getting injured. We know,” Momomo said, disheartened. “Every day that something gets in the way of the five of us competing together, it hurts us too, e-mo-motionally. Momomomo and I have done a lot of rehab in the past year and a half to ensure that we’re best prepared for the conditions of the Marble League. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Team Momo started the Showdown off strong with Momomomo’s fourth place in the Sand Rally, but experienced a downturn in Collision, placing seventh, and a further downturn in Funnel Spinning, placing eleventh. With one event to go, Team Momo sat in ninth place, barely in the bottom four spots. The last event, Balancing, was the first Marble League event they had ever participated in, and as such, their experience proved to be fruitful. Team Momo placed fourth with a score of 346, earning nine points and jumping up to sixth place. The Kobalts, another veteran team from 2016, placed fifth with a score of 345, just one unit under. As a result, Team Momo qualified for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.
Coach Momomomomo revealed to the team over dinner at Temple of Om that they had received an official letter from the JMRC, which invited the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. Team Momo accepted without hesitation and agreed for Momo and Mimo to represent them in the tournament. The team’s poster depicts the two athletes in one of the restaurant’s signature baskets of “racing dumplings”. Team Momo was also selected to host the third Grand Prix of the season, which will be held at the team’s Momotorway on 29 February at 20:00 UTC and 01 March at 20:00 UTC.
In RetRollSpective, Team Momo has seen a rollercoaster of events occur over the past three Marble Leagues and the 2019 Showdown, but the team is still very well regarded by other marble athletes and the fans for its fun, its traditions, and its achievements in competition. With hope, the team will continue to charm its fans through its talent and through its passion, and eventually return to the Marble League. Best of luck to Team Momo in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!