As we in the JMRC were enjoying the 2020 offseason, we sent Stynth on a world tour during the first few weeks to interview every team that competed in the 2020 Marble League. Unlike the feature that interviewed Showdown teams, this article is split into two parts, each part featuring eight teams each. Read on to see which teams Stynth visited in their many offseason moments!
“The finish line should be just about in sight with Crazy Cat’s Eye…gonna cross the line first if things hold out as they are? Yes, they do!”
The Crazy Cat’s Eyes were cheering as I rolled into their arena, which was rife with scaffolding, paint cans, and wet concrete. I had heard Greg Woods’ voice booming through the speakers, almost as if they were really commentating in the stadium—but as I listened, I realized it was just a replay of the first race of the 2019 Marble Rally.
“We can’t go to this year’s Marble Rally. We have to train,” Coach White Eye insisted. “We’re not taking our prequalification spot for granted, and we’re not going to let the host’s curse get in our way. Next year is our moment.”
Cyan Eye gazed at their coach from across the field, almost longingly. “I know we have to train, but I don’t think it would hurt us to go see the first few races,” Cyan Eye later added. “In fact, we could even learn something from Crazy Cat’s Eye’s strategies.”
The next logical step in our conversation was to ask the team about the rumors of them searching for the legendary Marble Rally athlete in the Cat’s Dunes.
Red Eye immediately started sweating. “What are you talking about? That was just the press trying to stir up the…uh…sand. Plus, we know Crazy Cat’s Eye wouldn’t actually want us to bother them during their training. It would be a waste of time.”
The next day, I took a river cruise through the city. It could have been a mirage, but I swear I saw a marble scaling the sand dunes to the east…
If I could describe Om in three words, I would say “aromatic, bustling, and vibrant” (ignore the “and”). The city, stretched over hills and plains, was perched in a dense mountain valley with newer construction outlining the city as it reached towards the higher mountain peaks. As my tram traveled closer to the city center, the surrounding architecture got older but never lost its luster, with neon lights and other modern attachments dressing up the thousands of historic buildings.
Mimo joined me on the tram on the outskirts of the city center, instantly recognizing me despite my smug disguise in Shining Swarm gear. “Really not that smug,” Mimo commented, looking over my notepad. “But an A for effort!”
Mimo and I talked for the next hour as we approached Temple of Om, where Team Momo would be making a surprise celebrity appearance in the kitchen to learn how to make dumplings. I learned of Mimo’s eleven siblings, all of which were interested in different things, such as the arts, journalism, technology, and more! We were about to meet Mimo’s oldest sibling, Memo, at Temple of Om: after running the restaurant for a decade, they would be announcing their retirement from the business to join Team Momo as their manager.
I made sure that we entered through the back door this time, and we met up with the team, already suited up in their own personalized chef jackets and hats. Momomomo handed me my own jacket, which was embroidered with the label “Stynth – Our Mo-most Dedicated Fan!”
I don’t think I stopped smiling that night, both from the delicious dumplings we made and the laughs we shared. Thank you, Team Momo, for an experience I will always treasure!
I woke up after a wonderful weekend to a plain grey bus waiting outside the lobby of my hotel in Om. As I checked out at the reception desk, the doors opened to my right, and in rolled Coach Smokey of the Hazers.
“Tickets, please.” Coach Smokey ripped off my ticket stub, and I followed the rest of the tourists onto the bus. I was pleasantly surprised to find my fellow JMRC colleague, Spex, sitting towards the back, and I waved, taking my seat next to them.
“I wasn’t sure if you were going or not, but I’m happy to see you!” I exclaimed. “Honestly, this makes me feel a lot better about wherever this tour is going to take us.”
A tourist excursion to the middle of nowhere is honestly the last thing I expected the Hazers to invest in, but considering their record in Marbula One and the past three Marble Leagues, I suppose they’re trying to capitalize off of the hype. The tour, entitled “Haze Getaways”, travels throughout Eastern Asia and, somewhere along the way, stops at the Hazers’ training grounds that were featured in their Marbula One poster. During the entire bus ride, cell service is blocked from inside the bus, all of the windows are smoked out, and the driver doesn’t tell you where you’re going: only forward.
After nearly a day of travel, the windows cleared up, and there we were: towards the peak of a mountain with fog curling upwards from others in the range. The air was thin when Spex and I left the bus, but we had made it to the fabled home of the Hazers.
Coach Smokey led the two of us away from the tour group, and we scaled the mountain further for some time. “It’s not often we see officials make the trip, so we really appreciate it,” Smokey said after some time, thanking us.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Spex assured.
We reached the peak of the mountain after about an hour of hiking. There, we found them—the five members of the Hazers—meditating beneath the cherry blossoms.
“Take a deep breath,” Hazy said, calmly. “Put down your notepad. Let go. Live.”
The tour left us off in Skaigan, where I bid farewell to Spex. I crashed there for the night, falling asleep just before sunset, and woke up early the next morning to board a high-speed train bound for Hunluen. Note to self: traveling can be exhausting.
I arrived in the city center in the early evening and was surrounded by an array of traffic…or perhaps a disarray of traffic. Calling the nearest taxi over, I had no choice but to remain in traffic for over an hour as we slowly inched away from the congestion and made our way towards the Balls of Chaos’ training center, The Pandemonium. I facepalmed upon realizing that the center was only a fifteen-minute roll from the train station.
To my surprise, Pinky Panther answered the doorbell. “Stynth! Sorry to keep you waiting—we were in the middle of a song.” Pinky Panther wiped beads of sweat off of their forehead. “Snarl really goes hard when they’re matched up with me. I can barely keep up, but I’d never admit that to them.”
I looked at Pinky Panther bemusedly, trying to make sense of what they were referring to.
“Oh…you don’t know what we’re talking about, do you? It’s a funny story. We saw comments on the Marblebase that were joking about a dance competition between us and the Balls of Chaos, so we decided to try it out. Come in—you can be the judge of the grand finale!”
I entered The Pandemonium, ascending the stairs up to the second floor and entering a small dance studio. The Balls of Chaos and the Pinkies stood on opposite sides of the room, facing a small CRT TV which split center. Both teams cheered as I went around the room, greeting each athlete and stopping at the buffet table for snacks.
“We submit Snarl for the grand finale,” Entropy, the manager of the Balls of Chaos, announced as the other members of the team applauded at varying dynamics and tempos.
“And we submit Pinky Toe,” replied Pinky Ring, in tune to the harmonious vocals of their teammates. “May the best marble win.”
The unanimous song choice was “Clutter Skelter”, which the MarBeats wrote about the Balls of Chaos advancing to the 2016 Marble League and getting disqualified early on. I neglected to mention to either side that I am a terrible dancer, but I judged Snarl and Pinky Toe the best I could. Who won? I’m still not sure to this day.
If you told me last year that the Oceanics would be in good spirits after their devastating 2019 season, I would have called you crazy. Yes, every team eventually moves on from a less-than-impressive season—the Savage Speeders best exemplified this with their victories this year—but the Oceanics were less than less-than-impressive.
“I couldn’t agree more,” Reef stated, gazing over my notepad. “There’s no point in hiding how terrible the 2019 Marble League was for us and how badly we embarrassed ourselves on our home turf. How could we ever move on if we didn’t face our demons?”
We decided to take a beach day at the shores of Neptune Island, a little ways away from the parking lot of the Seven Seas Stadium. I could barely make out an abandoned surf shop from across the bay.
“Yeah, that’s where we worked,” Ocean confirmed. “Who knew that I’d go from playing around in the sand there to earning the gold medal in this year’s Mogul Race? It’s crazy how far we’ve come.”
When I asked them about the Team Aquathlon, they were still in disbelief.
“We beat the O’rangers in a water event,” Sea repeated. “Yeah, I still can’t believe it. We really needed that moment as a team. It was the vindication that proved that we had really progressed past our low point last year. I’m not so sure if we’re at our high point yet…and I don’t really want to know yet.”
“We’ll just have to wait and sea,” jested Shore.
I took my time traveling back towards the eastern seaboard: I toured the city of Dunduei for an extra day, spent a few days of vacation on the island of Jels, and, of course, fought more jet lag upon touching down in Los Marbeles. From there, I spent an entire day trying (and failing) to fix my sleep schedule before embarking on a road trip across the continent to Orlango, where I would spend a few days at the O’Marbles Farm.
I did schedule a few things to do along the way, but the thing I was most excited for was to visit the Marblopolis Amusement Park, which Jelle Bakker opened in 2019. The park was praised upon its opening for faithfully recreating locations around the world, such as its “Little Knikkegen”, and providing a spin on marble sports that turned them into accessible attractions for all. The newest attraction this year, “Marbula Madness”, is a go-kart track on a course that resembled the Savage Speedway. I can’t imagine how much Jelle has to pay in royalties to the Speeders…
Mellow Yellow, who were in town to reunite with old friends, were kind enough to meet me at the park for a day of fun. I didn’t ask them too many questions about the 2020 Marble League, but I did try to get their thoughts on their fourteenth place finish at the end of the season.
“We’re trying really hard not to think about that,” Yellup replied. “Look, the way I see it, this is the year of breaking curses. The Hazers broke the third place curse. Team Galactic broke the host’s curse. Who says we can’t break this one?”
I shrugged. Considering how well Yellup had just done on Marbula Madness, I really had no reason to doubt them. I sipped my Non-Descript Yellow Soda, grimacing at the bitterness.
My journey took me further east that night; I drove until I reached the Big Marble and checked into a hotel, crashing at around 4 in the morning. Six hours later, I was up and on the road again for a last-minute Time Check reunion! I surprised them in the middle of their performance and they invited me on stage to sing our signature song, “Lift Me Up”. It was really nice to catch up with them after the concert too, and I’m happy I took a personal trip before the busy week ahead of me.
This quick revision to my travel plans meant that I had to fly down to Orlango, which I personally didn’t mind—it meant less driving for me! My family picked me up from the airport that evening, and I spent the night at home for the first time since the start of Marbula One. I would return home after the end of my world tour, but I had promised the O’rangers that I would stay on their farm, which was just south of the city, for the next few days.
My commute to the farm, save for a standstill traffic collision near the end, went smoothly, taking about an hour. I arrived just in time for breakfast, and the O’rangers baked a homemade meal, complete with oranges from the farm and freshly squeezed juice.
“I’ve been perfecting my orange tart recipe since we got back,” said Mandarin. “I hope you like it!”
I spent my days at the farm tending to the oranges with the O’Marbles, meeting other members of the family such as Navelin, Sevillin, and Valencin, and my nights at the O’raceway, watching Clementin and Orangin rush down the track to prepare for their potential appearance in Season 2. The stadium had been heavily considered to host the 2021 Marble League, and rightfully so: it was newly constructed, triple-tiered, and had a built-in fan section for O’rangers fans to yell to the stars.
“It’s been really hard not to think about how close we’ve been to…a lot of things this year,” Coach Rango admitted. “But we have to keep going. Feeling bad for ourselves isn’t going to change the past, and it could really hurt our future.”
“No matter whether we win or lose, we’re still the O’rangers,” asserted Kinnowin. “We still had an incredible season. I’m looking forward to where we roll next, but all that matters right now is harvesting these oranges!”
That night, Orangin echoed their sibling’s sentiment.
“We were really down after the end of this season, but I can’t focus on that right now. While my family is harvesting oranges, I’m looking forward to harvesting the Racer’s Championship in Marbula One,” Orangin smirked. “The fans have no idea what’s coming. Just you wait.”
Passion. Beauty. Brilliance. This is Mellospace Industries.
The words inscribed on the airlock lifted away from us as our spacecraft docked onto the International Space Marble. It had been a day since we—Astron and I—had lifted off from the Kinnowin Space Center, and we had finally made it.
Astron nudged me through the airlock, and I entered the space station to greet Cosmo, Quasar, and Mellacus. Starry and Pulsar were training for Marbula One Season 2 in Polaria, and as such, couldn’t join us for the penultimate stop of my world tour. Then again, did this really count as being part of my world tour? I wasn’t even on Marblearth!
“Hello, Stynth! Thanks for joining us—let me give you the house tour,” Mellacus said warmly. They motioned around the hallway. “Well…this is it. The rest of the spacecraft is for machinery and storage. But I hope you enjoy!”
I spent a week aboard the ISM, meaning that we orbited Marblearth over a hundred times! We worked on repairs, ate Mint Chocolate Condition ice cream freeze-dried, and, of course, reminisced about the 2020 Marble League.
“We’re happy that you could come out here to visit, especially as your penultimate stop… rather than your fifth one. We’ve had enough of being fifth this year.”
“Granted, it’s better than six, or seven, or eight, or—et cetera,” Quasar added.
The five of us laughed.
Our last day aboard came much sooner than any of us expected. Mellacus and I were scheduled to fly back together but go our separate ways once we returned to land—that is, until the 2020 Marble Rally, where we would reunite in Knikkegen. As the two of us detached from the International Space Marble, we saw another spacecraft approaching, and at its helm, it was none other than Royal Stardust themselves, accompanied by Novawolf.
The radio crackled to life with Royal Stardust’s voice. “Hey, JMRC! Sorry to pass you by, but thank you for all of the work you’ve done. It means the world to us!”
We smiled, descending into Marblearth’s gravitational orbit and towards a new horizon.
FISH TO FISH MEDIA BV | Hannie Dankbaarpassage 14, 1053 RT Amsterdam, Netherlands
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