SHINING SWARM (SHN)
Marble League 2017; Marble League 2021; Marble ManiaX; Marbula One Season 3
The Shining Swarm is a team that is known for being unknown—the team notorious for being forgotten by fans, questioning how they got into the Marble League and why they’re still in the tournament. It’s a question worthy of asking. The answer is simple: it’s to have fun.
The Shining Swarm hail from a city named Galeem. The city is named for the shining waters that surround the city, located on a peninsula that juts out from the mountainous mainland, whose mountains gleam with snow-covered summits. Galeem sits at the mouth of the Silver River, which is where the team took its original name from, calling themselves the Silver Swarm. The team had to change their name to avoid confusion with the Quicksilvers and were instead inspired by the swaths of natural beauty surrounding their homeland, which shine in the sunlight, in choosing “Shining Swarm” as their team name.
Shiny, Sparkle, Shimmer, and Sterling are musicians at heart and have strived to maintain their talents through their athletic training. The fab four were in a band called “The MarBeats” which produced such hits as “Here Comes The Swarm”, “Fidget to Ride”, and “I Wanna Be Your Marble”. Their most popular hit, “Roll Over and Roll Out”, resonated with marble sports fans because the song discussed the growing popularity of regional marble sports tournaments. In 2015, the song was used in a featurette about the tournaments, underscoring videos of competitions like the Surculo, Ramen Bowl, and the Knikkegen Marble League.
During this time, the team started to get interested in the tournaments themselves, fantasizing about possibly entering the competition themselves. They performed their last live concert on a rooftop in Draklin, performing songs from their Marbly Road album. The team returned to Galeem in early 2016 to begin athletic training, and after the conclusion of Marble League 2016, applied for the Marble League 2017 Qualifiers. Their application was accepted, and the team debuted in the tournament on 23 June 2017.
Shiny raced out of the gate in the first event, the Relay Race, only to fall behind the competition quickly. From then on, the Swarm learned to conserve their energy in the long term, and began scoring better. The team did best in Block Pushing, placing fourth overall. Amassing twenty-three points overall, the Shining Swarm qualified for the 2017 Marble League at fifth in the overall standings.
The team appeared in the tournament not even two weeks later, debuting in the opening ceremony and first event on 01 July 2017. After two events, the Shining Swarm seemed to have plateaued in twelfth place, on track to become a forgettable team in the bottom half of the standings. However, this was not to be the case. If there was one event that the Shining Swarm had trained for, it was the Collision event. Another reason behind their team name was because of their love for this type of event—one where the team “swarms” its opponents for the high ground—to remain in the arena.
Truth be told, the Shining Swarm did not prepare for the presence of fidget spinners in the arena, but to be fair, no team did. The spinners were introduced shortly before the teams attended Qualifiers, and were rumored to cater to the sudden popularity of the toys. When it came to the actual event, however, the Swarm stuck together as much as they could. The team made it to the quarterfinals just barely over the Chocolatiers, broke a tie with Mellow Yellow to advance to the semifinals, and broke a tie with Team Primary to advance to the finals. The Swarm decisively defeated the Limers two to one, earning their first medal in the Marble League.
For all of the craziness of the Fidget Spinner Collision, between Momomomo’s injury and the fan invasion on the arena, the Swarm’s positive energy shone through. The Shining Swarm rose into third place after the event, peaking early in the season. Aside from Sparkle placing second-to-last in the 5 Meter Sprint, the rest of the Swarm’s results placed in the top half to the middle of the standings. Their most notable placements aside from their gold in Collision were the team’s 35.5 in Archery, Sparkle’s fourth place in the Underwater Race, and Shiny’s fifth place in the Sand Rally. Throughout the rest of the season, the Shining Swarm remained in the middle of the standings, finishing Marble League 2017 in seventh overall with 112 points.
The Shining Swarm appeared next in the Marble League 2018 Draw with their new reserve member, Glimmer, where they were sorted into Group C with teams that they had never competed against, save for the Thunderbolts, Limers, and Team Primary. Unfortunately, they were unable to place above fifth in any of the four events and finished dead last in their group. The Shining Swarm would miss the Marble League.
During their extended offseason, the team attended the main tournament and released one more album as the MarBeats, named Let it Roll. The titular song of the album charted high on Marbleboard along with “Across the Marbleverse” and “The Long and Shining Road”. The MarBeats officially announced their retirement from the music industry after the album’s release, committing themselves fully to marble sports as the Swarm.
The Shining Swarm competed next in the Marble League 2018 offseason events, with middle-of-the-pack results. The team missed Marble League 2019 having earned only 15 points in four qualifying events. The Shining Swarm was prepared for another long offseason. Its members considered returning to the music industry to make solo music when the Marble League Showdown was announced as a B-League to the main tournament. When the team learned that Collision would be an event, they got so excited, that they began rolling back and forth in excitement, according to their coach, Gleam.
The Shining Swarm gained media attention during the latter half of Marble League 2019 after being featured in jest as the Marble League Twitter account’s favorite to win the tournament, despite not qualifying. The team became a meme due to its tendency to be forgotten, which helped them get more popular. The Shining Swarm’s fans, nicknamed the “Swarmy”, began to grow in number, and the Swarm gained a newfound determination. They were ready to rise and shine. The Shining Swarm began the Marble League 2019 Showdown poorly but delivered a strong performance in Collision, utilizing their same strategy from two years before to be handed bronze-colored medals made of aluminum to celebrate the occasion. The team tied for eighth with the Minty Maniacs in points but dropped to ninth overall because of their bronze medal. The Shining Swarm finished in the bottom four teams, and as a result, did not move on to the Marble League 2020 Qualifiers.
The Shining Swarm returned to Galeem disappointed following their relegation in the Showdown but was determined to not let their fans down. The team decided unanimously that to entertain themselves during the extended break until their next tournament, they would return to the music industry to make money.
And enjoy it they did. Music is said to bring marbles together, and the Swarm created several new friendships with fellow marbles on the world tour of their album, Marbly Mystery Tour: the first of which was with Gallum, the reserve member of the Quicksilvers. The Swarm visited the home of the Quicksilvers during their world tour at the Silverdome and performed there on the eve of the final event of the 2019 Surculo League; the Silver Surculo GP. Gallum performed the opening song for the Swarm, “Shiny Lane”. To the raucous applause of the Quicksilvers fans in the audience, Silvery won the race and vaulted the Quicksilvers to second place overall in the league, just two points behind Team Toadstool.
The Swarm stopped in many historic landmarks on their world tour; from visiting the ancient Colina Umerun, the wonders of Marblopolis, to the hidden swamps of the Tubular Terrestrials, to performing with the Thunderbolts in Thorston, the Swarm saw it all. It was during this tour that they met Sheen, a passionate MarBeats enthusiast that visited them in Marblopolis. During their encounter, Sheen offered to be their manager, both overseeing their touring and funding and managing the team during the Marble League.
Following the conclusion of their world tour, the Shining Swarm returned to Galeem much happier than they were after the 2019 Showdown. They immediately got to work constructing a training facility on the Shining Coast, a sparkling coastline that met the mouth of the Silver River, and provided beautiful sunsets that the team enjoyed watching.
Sheen’s positive sentiments towards the team rang true during the Showdown, where they exceeded expectations and advanced to the Marble League 2021 Qualifiers, finishing the Showdown in fourth as well, earning 32 points and a silver medal.
The Swarm, continuing to offer gigs as The MarBeats, had a relatively uneventful offseason, contrary to their prior one. The highlights would have to include visiting the Marblopolis Amusement Park and getting a phone call from Mandarin asking for them to play at the O’Marbles farm. The Swarm spent a majority of the remainder of their time training for the upcoming 2021 Marble League, hosted by the Crazy Cat’s Eyes. Placing 24th out of the 28 Practice Race competitors, Shiny seemed unfazed heading into Qualifiers, where their team would compete in Group B for a spot that had eluded them for three years. With only one finish outside of the top six, a silver medal in the Relay propelled the Swarm out of the relegation zone, and they finished third in their group to qualify.
Entering Marble League 2021 in inconsistency and obscurity, the Shining Swarm earned their first medal since 2017 with a bronze in the Relay. Four of their event finishes resulted in double-digit points results, including two consecutive fourth-places, but it was not until Diving that the team earned their second-career gold medal, rising to eighth overall. Despite earning a second bronze thanks to Shimmer’s Sand Rally photo-finish and becoming one of eleven teams that could win the overall championship heading into the final event, the Shining Swarm were conflicted, debating leadership troubles and doubtful a good result would result in success. To everyone’s surprise, Sparkle’s brief stint in second during the race would have been enough to give the team a surprise championship, but they fell to seventh by the race’s end, finishing ninth overall with 3 medals and 144 points.
That brief moment of hope was what the Shining Swarm needed to put aside their differences and keep on rolling. Joining a group of their peers following the closing ceremony, Sparkle established connections that would blossom into friendships between the Shining Swarm and other teams. The MarBeats would become a regular provider of entertainment at athletes’ and teams’ press conferences across Marblearth until their surprise invitation to Marble ManiaX, an extreme marble sports tournament commissioned by Dion Bakker and officiated by JMR. What would be even more surprising as the Shining Swarm headed into the final event, was that fidget spinners would be returning in a new “Super Collision” event.
With a silver already in tow from Sterling’s finals appearance in the Extreme Funnels, the Shining Swarm looked to defend their title in a “fidget spinner” Collision event – and they did, earning gold against the Pinkies. The Shining Swarm finished fourth overall with 24 points, considering the tournament a success. Looking to the rest of their offseason, the Shining Swarm hoped their dreams of being invited to Season 3 of Marbula One would be more than just golden slumbers.
Shimmer, “Sgt. Pepper” and Glimmer, “Glitterbomb” were submitted by Coach Gleam to compete after receiving an official invitation from JMR, making the Shining Swarm’s dream a reality. Their official promotional poster, illustrated by Jack Ironhide, depicts the two athletes flying “across the marbleverse” past an intergalactic planet, similar in geography to that of Marblearth.
Special thanks to Project Marblearth contributors The Emperor and Stynth for helping craft the lore of the Shining Swarm.