Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, a series that reflects on the history of marble athletes. This time, we’re going to fly over to the Bumblebees, a team that first appeared in the 2019 Marble League Showdown!
The Bumblebees hail from Buzznya, a subregion in Eastern Europe that borders Herbotamia to the south and Galakonur to the east. Their city of origin, Buzzpig, lies on the eastern border of the region, as far east as Buzzkill, the Hornets’ city of origin, is to the west. The two teams have a legendary rivalry within the region, within the Bug Circuit, and now within the Marble League.
Bumble founded the team ten years ago to compete with the Hornets, who were beginning to build a fanbase in Buzzpig. “Our city didn’t have an official sports team, and I wanted to change that,” they explained. “I knew Bea, Swax, Honey, and Bomble from playing bugby in club sports, and we were all confident enough in our athletics, even though we weren’t really into racing.”
Queen, who was, at the time, an active member of the Royal Family of Buzznya, fully endorsed the establishment of the Bumblebees and deemed them the official sports team of Buzzpig. Queen would go on to coach the team during the Bug Circuit, drawing from their own experiences in sports playing cricket.
Shortly after the Bumblebees were founded, the Royal Family of Buzznya announced the first annual Bug Circuit to determine the best team in the land. The Bumblebees were selected to host the first season in 2011, and that year, they did so in their newly constructed Buzzbowl. After a season of events in water, dirt, and sand, the Bumblebees finished as runners-up to the Hornets, above the Ladybugs in third.
Over the next two years, the Hornets continued to make the podium while the Bumblebees continued to finish in the top five. The Bumblebees earned their first championship at the end of the 2014 Bug Circuit, where they competed at the Snails’ Slowlane. The team dominated, sweeping all of the snow races and placing in the top half of the remaining events. The Hornets struggled throughout the year, and although they placed in the top half, they could not get close to the Cockroaches and Grasshoppers in second and third, respectively.
Revenge came swiftly next year for the Bumblebees, who did poorly during the 2015 Bug Circuit, which the Hornets hosted and won at their Hivedrive. The events that the Hornets offered played to the Bumblebees’ weaknesses as a team, and the team placed outside of the top five for the first time in their history.
“There was no doubt that they offered the Catwalk to spite us,” insisted Bea. “Before then, we had always seen our rivalry as more symbolic than competitive—even after losing in 2011. 2015 changed everything.”
2016 was a better year for the Bumblebees, as they placed third at the Water Striders’ Stridosphere—although the Hornets followed closely behind in fourth place. By 2017, the Bumblebees were beginning to lose interest in the Circuit. While they still placed in the top five, the team had come to the conclusion that they were weary of the competition and needed a change.
The Bumblebees found that change in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament, which had an opening following Team Phoenix’s retirement. They applied and were accepted because of their successes in the Bug Circuit and their proximity to Herbotamia; the team was close enough to be considered a regional competitor.
The Bumblebees were excited to compete against a new slate of competitors, even if it was in a tournament that was seen as more of a “friendly”. They debuted as well as they possibly could have in the Swing Wave, earning their first gold medal. The Catwalk was next, however, and the team lost in their heat, placing seventh and allowing the Minty Maniacs to rise to the top of the standings. After another finish in the lower half of the standings in Funnel Spinning, the Bees dropped out of the top three. They would fight to regain first place for the rest of the tournament.
Their second gold medal in the Halfpipes brought them back to second overall, but the Bumblebees’ low score in Block Bumping dropped the team down to fourth again. As the Minty Maniacs reclaimed the top spot following the Relay Race, it seemed as if they were the favorites to win the tournament.
“I wasn’t going to let that get in the way. We had a job to do,” vowed Swax.
Swax earned the Bumblebees’ third gold medal of the season in the Maze, swindling it away from the Minty Maniacs. The team rose to second overall, six points behind the Maniacs, and knew they needed to give it their all in the Big Tower—and they did. Bumble earned the team’s fourth gold medal of the season in a underdog upset, just a second ahead of the Ruby Rollers to win the 2018 Hubelino Tournament.
Buzzpig welcomed the Bumblebees home, holding a citywide parade to celebrate the team’s victory. Fans of JMR noted the Bees’ exemplary performance in their rookie season, having won half of the eight events, and began calling for them to compete in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The team was flattered, but not interested.
“We thought it would be too fast,” Honey pondered. “We wanted at least another year of competing before we thought about vying for Qualifiers.”
The announcement of the Marble League Showdown changed the Bumblebees’ plans, but they were okay with the development, as it would still give them a year of competing before a chance to qualify. The Bees accepted their spot in the Showdown, guaranteed to them by their first place finish in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament, and began using pseudonyms such as “Bramble” and “Bromble” to protect their identities, much like the O’rangers in the 2016 Marble League. What the team wasn’t expecting, however, was that their old rivals would also be joining the tournament.
The Hornets, coming off of a second place finish in the 2018 Bug Circuit, were truly looking to bring the sting in the Showdown. Vespa blocked Bea throughout the Sand Rally until halfway through the race, when Bea was finally able to overtake them. However, Bea could never get close enough to Candy, and after briefly passing Vespa again, Bea got caught on the course and could not recover the podium. They finished the Sand Rally in sixth, while Vespa earned the first silver of the four-event tournament.
“They came back with a vengeance, and we really weren’t prepared,” Bumble, masquerading as “Brumble”, admitted. “As soon as we realized we couldn’t compete against the Hornets, though, we focused as much as we could on qualifying.”
The Bumblebees’ best placement during the Showdown was fourth in Funnel Endurance, which Bomble (Bromble) competed in. The team managed to place ahead of the Hornets in the event and rise into seventh in the standings, a position that would allow them to advance to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. By placing seventh in Balancing, they were able to maintain exactly that, and will appear in the competition on 18 June.
“I bee-lieve they have so much potential,” Coach Queen remarked. “And no, I’m not apologizing for that pun. They have grown so much in the past decade, and I am positive that they will thrive in the 2020 Marble League. And if not, they’ll at least do better than the Hornets in Marbula One.”
In RetRollSpective, the Bumblebees may be new to the Marble League, but they have more than enough experience under their wings. If their 2018 Hubelino Tournament showing is anything to go by, you should never count out the Bumblebees—although the team still has much to prove. Best of luck to the Bumblebees in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, keep on rolling!