SOLAR FLARES (SFL)
Based in Meteorine, a seaside city, the Solar Flares grew up with a natural love for sunshine. Flare, Scorch, Radiance, Ember, and Blaze met on the city’s renowned Sunspot Beach, where the city regularly organizes recreational sports, open to every member of the community. One day, the five participated in a swing wave event. It didn’t take more than a few runs for them to realize their compatibility as a team. The five commuted from different areas of the city every weekend to Sunspot Beach, competing individually and together in sand rallies, football matches, diving, and more. When the recreational program ended at the end of the summer season, the athletes decided to enter a local youth league together, taking their team name, the Solar Flares, from the earlier threat of a solar storm a few months earlier. The Flares began competing in the fall of 2012 as they entered secondary school, and they quickly became known as rising stars of marble sports throughout Meteorine.
Two years later, following consecutive championships in their city’s youth league, the Solar Flares got the first big break of their career: an invite to the Stardust Classic. Held in the city of Polaria, the Classic invited a group of mostly local teams to the tournament, with the Solar Flares being a special exception, as formally requested by Royal Stardust. The Solar Flares accepted the invitation, and the team, except for Blaze, traveled north to Polaria to compete in the Classic. While they were recognized during the opening ceremony with little fanfare, the Solar Flares surprised just about everyone in the stadium when Radiance had a photo finish at the end of the Sprint Race. Timing and scoring revealed that the Flares had tied with the Sulfur of the Purple Rockets at the finish line, requiring a tiebreaker between the two teams. At the end of the first event, Radiance earned the silver medal in a hotly contested Sprint Race, with the Purple Rockets’ gold separating them from Astron of Team Galaxy, the bronze medalist.
Rather than becoming rivals, the Solar Flares and Team Galaxy became friends as the Stardust Classic went on, with both teams doing well in a majority of the events. At the end of the tournament, it was Team Galaxy that was ahead in the overall standings, but the Flares didn’t hold it against them. They decided to visit Galakonur after the conclusion of the Classic to visit the Galactic National Space Center and meet the families of the team members.
The next summer, Team Galaxy was visiting the Solar Flares in Meteorine when Jelle Bakker announced the Marble League, an international marble sports league that would feature sixteen teams competing in a variety of events for an overall championship. The Flares did not qualify for invitation due to their youth, but they overwhelmingly supported Team Galaxy’s invitation to the League. A few months later, their efforts proved to be successful, and as thanks, Team Galaxy supported the Solar Flares’ efforts to compete in regional marble sports leagues around the world. Although many of the established tournaments, such as the MFC Championship League and the Ramen Bowl, refused to allow youth teams to compete, the Flares received a qualifier invitation from Ocho, an upstart marble sports organizer. The invitation was a chance to qualify for the Summer Series of Ocho’s Marble Competitions, which would debut in Ochatona in 2018.
After finishing their run in the youth league, the Flares continued to train in Meteorine, building a training facility and a small stadium to host friendlies. Two years after originally scheduled, the Solar Flares traveled to Ochatona to compete in Ocho’s Marble Competitions and debuted strongly in the Summer Series 2020 Qualifiers, earning fourth place in the Gutter Launch. With seventh place in Balancing, ninth place in the Plinko Board, and thirteenth place in Endurance, however, the Solar Flares failed to qualify, missing the cutoff ten points behind in tenth place.
Naturally, the Solar Flares were distraught as they begrudgingly returned to Meteorine. As they pondered the future of their team, they received a second invitation from Royal Stardust, this time inviting them to watch Marble League 2020 in Polaria. Initially, the team was thinking of declining, but after a surprise visit from members of Team Galactic, all five of the Solar Flares along with Coach Eclipse joined them on the return flight to Polaria. There, they helped Galactic prepare the Andromedome and train for the main tournament in the month leading up to the premiere.
The Solar Flares remained in Polaria throughout the season to cheer on Team Galactic, who finished seventh overall. As the Marble League torch was extinguished in the Andromedome during the closing ceremony, Celestial, the intern of Team Galactic, handed Helios, the manager of the Flares, an official invitation to the Stardust Classic Reunion, which would be held a few weeks later. The Solar Flares’ showing in the Stardust Classic Reunion would be a relatively average one, ending the tournament in fourth overall.
Following the reunion, the Flares finally returned to Meteorine, where they planned to enjoy the rest of their summer months on the beach. The last thing anyone expected was another invitation, but that’s exactly what they got—and this one proved to be crucial. The Flares received this invitation to compete in Herbotamia directly from the Minty Maniacs, and it didn’t take long for them to accept. After their summer ended, the Flares began formally training in their facility, the Fire House. Much like the Stardust Classic, the Solar Flares entered the invitational as a relatively unknown team, but surprised the fans and athletes alike after the first event, capturing the gold in Balancing with a score of 423. The Flares continued to impress throughout the tournament, earning a silver in the Funnels, a bronze in the Sprint, fourth in Collision, and a silver in the Minty Mania GP. At the end of the tournament, the Solar Flares had just one point over the Gliding Glaciers to win the 2021 Herbotamia Invitational.
As they rejoiced in their championship, an orange and blue marble, with colors similar to the Solar Flares’ uniforms, rolled up to the podium with a multicolored envelope. It was none other than Jelle Bakker – who appeared at the tournament to announce that the Solar Flares and Gliding Glaciers would have the opportunity to compete in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers! After five years of waiting for their chance to join the Marble League, the Solar Flares had finally earned it. On 13 April 2021, JMR officially announced that the Solar Flares would compete in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers. The Solar Flares replaced the Hornets in Group B, who were purchased by the Bumblebees in a team merger that ended their competitive career in the Marble League. Notably, the Solar Flares were joined in Group B by Team Galactic, and for the first time, both teams would attempt to qualify for the renowned tournament together.
Following their invitation to the Marble League 2021 Qualifiers, the Solar Flares trained harder than ever, often spending their time training at Sunspot Beach together. They were even able to train with Team Galactic within that short timeframe! After a vacation to the nearby Cairoll, where they met the mysterious Killian Bladestar, and an impromptu session where they unintentionally inspired a Jousting event for Marble League 2021, the Solar Flares checked into their hotel to find that Team Galactic had already booked a room for them. Heading into Group B together, the friends faced off against each other in the Wave. Although the Flares earned a bronze against Galactic, they struggled to perform in the other events, placing last in the Relay to finish their first Marble League Qualifiers in eleventh overall with 19 points. Instead of debuting in the main tournament, the Solar Flares would instead debut in the Showdown tournament.
The Flares’ inexperience, even against teams that had not been in the League, was readily apparent when they placed last overall in the 2021 Showdown, only earning 32 points. Winning the Triathlon with a pretty commanding performance by Ember, the rookie team did have a moment to shine during the tournament’s eight events, demonstrating their vast potential for future appearances in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs.
Special thanks to Project Marblearth contributors The Emperor and Stynth for helping craft the lore of the Solar Flares.