Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where I reflect on the history of marble athletes that have been featured in the Marble League. This time, we’re going to roll to Team Primary, a team that originated in the 2016 Marble League.
Team Primary is one of the oldest teams in the Marble League, having been active since its inaugural season. That said, the team is newer compared to other teams that competed in tournaments years prior to the ML, such as the Balls of Chaos and the Fruit Circuit teams. The team grew up in Van Gotterdam, a city in Central Europe renowned as the art capital of the world. Prim and Mary, siblings, grew up in the city center. Their parents were art connoisseurs, and trained them to do the same. Prim and Mary attended the Van Gotterdam Academy of Art, the most prestigious art school in the world, and graduated with a B.S. in Art Restoration.
Rima grew up in Knikkegen, a city to the southeast, and was not interested in art in the slightest. Rima had a much different dream in life: to become a marble sports athlete. As a child, she watched as two brothers, Jelle and Dion Bakker, built up a regional marble league for fellow marbles to compete in. Once she aged into it, Rima competed and won in her first year. She competed the next year, and befriended Imar, the runner-up to her the previous year. That year, Imar won the KML in a photo-finish between Rima and Lightning, a future member of the Thunderbolts.
The KML went viral in a TV featurette about the growing popularity of marble sports tournaments around the world, with fans noting the high quality of the marble races produced by the Bakker brothers. In the next year, the KML received applications from around the world, most of which the Bakker brothers had to decline. Two of the applications it did accept, however, came from two siblings from Van Gotterdam.
“The featurette was everywhere we looked,” remembered Prim. “There were fans everywhere, in the museums, in the squares. Even my parents brought it up. There was an air of excitement around it that I never could have imagined.”
Mary added, “To be honest, until then, we’d only learned to appreciate and get excited about art. But the more we watched it, the more Prim and I saw that there was an art to marble sports. It was an art that inspired marbles to push themselves, to become the best versions of themselves.”
“We wanted to be a part of that,” Prim concluded.
Prim and Mary entered the 2014 Knikkegen Marble League with barely any training, but with that mindset, they attracted veterans to befriend them. Two of those veterans were Rima and Imar, and, later that year, they formed a team to compete in the tournament’s first team events. They chose the name “Team Primary” not just because of Prim and Mary’s studies in art, but because teamwork comes first. They placed in the top ten of the standings during their first year, and in 2015, dominated throughout the season to win the tournament.
The growing popularity of the KML attracted the attention of Greg Woods, a marble sports aficionado in North America who had been running the Fruit Circuit for almost a decade, and was quickly running out of funding due to travel costs. The Bakker brothers met with Greg Woods in late 2014, and, noting his strong commentating abilities and ability to reach out to teams around the world, began planning an expansion to the KML that would add an international league. In early 2015, this expansion was expanded further to the entire tournament, and it was determined that teams from different regions would compete in individual and team events in one tournament. Jelle announced the new tournament in mid-2015 as the Marble League.
The KML, much like other regional tournaments, had spots allotted to high-performing teams. Team Primary and the Thunderbolts accepted the two invitations, confirming their placement in the 2016 Marble League the next year. Team Primary, lacking a formal stadium to train in, was offered the Bakker Bowl, the stadium where the KML was held. Once Team Primary constructed their stadium just outside of Van Gotterdam, the Bowl went through a refurbishment and was repurposed for the 2016 and 2017 Marble League.
Team Primary earned their first point of the season due to a defect in the Relay Race track, and their first medal in the following event, Collision. Rima placed fourth in the Water Race and Imar earned a silver medal in the High Jump to put Team Primary at seventh in the overall standings. Unfortunately, the team went scoreless during the rest of the season and fell to twelfth place overall at the conclusion of the 2016 Marble League.
It became clear to Team Primary that they needed more training to compete with more experienced teams and to stay in the league. They entered the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers in a transfer position, but surprised just about everyone when they earned thirty-one points, with a silver and a bronze, to place second at the end of the tournament. Team Primary qualified for the 2017 Marble League in a comfortable margin, and drew attention from fans around the world, especially in Van Gotterdam.
Team Primary rode that wave into the first event, Funnel Spinning, as high as they possibly could, and earned their first gold medal. This was especially exciting due to the fact that Prim had botched the event in Qualifiers, earning zero points.
“We were under the impression by that time that we had already qualified, and we didn’t want to deplete our energy. The main tournament was scheduled really soon after Qualifiers that year, so I went in,” Prim decided. “I had no doubt that Mary could shine in the main tournament with Funnel Spinning. She’s my better half, after all.”
Prim unfortunately did not fare well in the Long Jump, but recovered well, as seen by the team’s performance in the Fidget Spinner Collision. The team just made it into the quarter-finals, bested the Midnight Wisps, and fell to the Shining Swarm in a tiebreaker during the semi-finals. Team Primary earned a bronze medal during the third-place match against the Pinkies, rising into first place overall in the standings. Statistics-wise, they could not have been happier.
That said, Team Primary was distraught to hear that Momomomo’s injury would keep him out of the 2017 Marble League. The team was one of the first to reach out to Team Momo after the event, and, after learning of the costs for Momomomo’s surgery, looked for ways to fundraise money. Prim and Mary contacted their parents and organized an art auction, the proceeds of which they donated to Momomomo, who shared it with the rest of the team.
“To say that we’re grateful is an understatement. Team Primary, the Midnight Wisps, and so many other teams that supported us are the reason we’ve still been able to compete. We didn’t ask for the generosity, but we appreciate it beyond comprehension. Thank you,” Momomomo released in a press statement following the 2018 Marble League.
Team Primary’s performance snowballed after the first three events, with several finishes in dead-last and one disqualification, when Imar left the block too early in the Relay Race. The team finished the 2017 Marble League in fourteenth place, a far cry from where they started. Regardless of their disqualification, they still would have been in the same position.
The 2018 Marble League Qualifiers came up quickly for the team, and, despite getting first in their group in Curling, fell short of qualifying by four points. The team gained a negative reputation for prompting a fight against the Balls of Chaos in the final event, Halfpipe.
“I wasn’t trying ‘to knock Tumult out of the way’. I was trying to control myself on the halfpipe, but his momentum pushed me forward. I didn’t like that accusation, so I got angry,” said Prim.
“If you look at the bottom of the picture where both teams were fighting—that was me,” Rima revealed. “I didn’t want any part of that fight. It wasn’t worth it, and to see the fans get angry too was not something I wanted.”
Team Primary, out of the 2018 Marble League, was understandably disappointed to miss their first season. Nevertheless, they planned to make the most of their extended offseason together by going to see some of the tournament, traveling around the world, spending time with family, and training—until news broke of Team Momo’s two injuries. It was then that Rima suggested to their coach, Prima, that they should compete in place of Momomo and Momomomo.
“Prima initially denied, saying that a green team like Jungle Jumpers would be better suited to help them. She eventually realized that this would be an opportune chance for us to compete. Prim and I were the choice marble athletes to form Team Momary, but the fans wanted Mary to join.” Rima’s expression fell. “So Mary joined. And I was denied the chance to compete.”
When asked about the merger, Mary shrugged it off, “I mean, it made sense for me to compete. My name is a part of ‘Momary’, so. It’s only fair.”
Team Momary’s first group appearance was in the sixth event, Team Pursuit, where the team placed eighth but fell to dead last in the standings. After Momo’s gold in the Snow Rally, Mary competed individually in the Snowboard Cross and placed thirteenth. Team Momary competed again in Curling, where the team fared much better. The team fended off the Balls of Chaos and the Raspberry Racers in quarter and semi-finals, making it to the finals. Although the Oceanics dominated over them in finals, Team Momary walked away from the event with a silver medal: their first and only team medal in the season.
The team placed in the middle of the standings in the next two events, and was statistically eliminated from the podium in the penultimate event, Ice Hockey. From there, Mo’s fifteenth place finish in the Sand Mogul Race didn’t matter much, anchoring the team in twelfth place at the conclusion of the 2018 Marble League.
When asked about her opinion of the season, Rima was understandably disappointed. “Imar, Aryp, and I weren’t impressed, to say the least. And we made that known to Prim and Mary when they dissolved the merger in the offseason.”
Team Primary placed tenth in both offseason competitions, the 100 Meter Water Race and the Amazing Maze Marble Race. Things were not looking up for the team on the outside, and they weren’t feeling good on the inside, either.
“We were fighting. A lot. There was an obvious rift between the three of us and Prim and Mary, and they didn’t even try to fix it,” Imar explained. “Well, at least not until after Qualifiers.”
The team that was able to save Team Momo in 2018 were unable to sustain themselves in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. After two events, the team sat in nineteenth place with only five points to their name, and the next event could not have been a worse pick for the team: it was the Relay Race.
“I don’t understand what happens with us and relay races. Every year, it’s something,” Prim pondered. “This year was no exception.”
“Imar hit the block, but I couldn’t move,” Mary explained. “I felt something underneath of me, and it blocked me from coming off the block. It totally killed all of the momentum—and just like that, we got zero points from that event.”
Prim and Mary appealed to the referee, who denied their request to redo the heat. Rima, Imar, and Aryp came down to re-appeal, but the referees adamantly denied their requests. After a fight broke out in the stands, Coach Prima joined the team, but was escorted away shortly after by security, along with the rest of the team. The fight in the stands, which Team Primary fans started against Raspberry Racers fans, caused security to get directly involved, breaking up the fight and banning Team Primary fans from the stadium.
“We checked around the block, inside of the plate, and we did not find any debris,” a referee stated. “The Limers fans were still throwing the debris into the blue area, but it did not interfere with the relay course. We did the best we could to ensure that the race was fairly conducted, and we saw no reason to change the outcome.”
Team Primary sunk to last place and did not rise. In the final qualifying event, Aryp crossed the line just behind Mo, and placed seventeenth, earning just two points. Team Primary failed to qualify for the 2019 Marble League in dead last, with only seven points earned in four events.
The team left the Seven Seas Stadium on separate flights in shame, and, according to insiders, did not communicate with each other for almost a month. Prim and Mary returned to Van Gotterdam, where they were welcoming Team Momo as guests in the team’s garden, The Palette, when Jelle announced a new tournament connected to the Marble League: the Showdown. The ML Showdown would serve as a “B-League” to the existing main tournament, featuring the eight unqualified teams from the 2019 Qualifiers, two Hubelino Tournament teams, and two brand-new teams through a fan vote. Team Primary, as one of the eight unqualified teams, was automatically admitted to the Showdown.
Team Primary regrouped shortly after the announcement, firing Prima as coach and replacing her with Secondary. Secondary chose Mary as the captain after several group therapy sessions with the team, which helped restore relations between its members and raise morale for the upcoming competition. After months of training, the team flew back to the Seven Seas Stadium to compete in what was arguably their most important tournament of their career: the 2019 Marble League Showdown would determine whether the team would make it to the 2020 Qualifiers and have a chance to redeem themselves for their abysmal performances throughout three Marble Leagues and the 2019 Qualifiers, or not.
The pressure was on for the team, and, initially, they did not handle it well. Prim’s tenth place finish in the Sand Rally gave the team a similar start that they had in the 2019 Qualifiers. The next event was Collision, however, and, demonstrating similar skills that they had two years prior, Team Primary finished fourth, losing to Shining Swarm in the third place match. Team Primary rose to seventh overall, a transfer spot—but not dead last.
With a seventh place finish, Mary maintained a transfer position, even as the team fell to eighth place. The final event of the Showdown was Balancing, an event that no team had participated in since the beginning of the 2016 Marble League. It was an event that Team Primary did not score any points in, but this time, things were much, much different.
Prim dropped off the beam at 57 centimeters and Imar dropped off at 99 centimeters, while Rima and Mary cruised to the end of the beam and into the green corral, earning 130 centimeters each. The team traveled a combined distance of 416 centimeters and was not bested by the rest of the competitors. Team Primary’s gold medal cemented its advancement to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers and put the team in fourth place at the conclusion of the Showdown, just two points away from the podium.
“They did everything they needed to do, and I’m really proud of them,” Secondary remarked. “When it comes down to it, what they do out there is secondary to how they feel here. I got the feeling when I came onto the team that they were so worried about points and medals that they lost their appreciation for their own art. Marble sports really is an art, and their performance in the Showdown proved that they have the potential to craft it well. But what comes first is the team itself. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting there. There is something we all have in common besides our love for our flying colours—and we’re discovering that as we go.”
In the midst of training during the offseason, the team received an official letter from the JMRC which extended an invitation for them to compete in the first season of Marbula One. Team Primary accepted, submitting Prim and Mary to compete in the tournament.
In RetRollSpective, Team Primary’s history is one of the most important in the Marble League. Its history is imperfect, but that is what makes it interesting, as fans continue to watch and root for a team that has yet to claim the spotlight, but keeps trying no matter what. Best of luck to Team Primary in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!