Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to focus on the Solar Flares, a team that debuted in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers. Read on to find out how this team has scorched the competition!
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.
“We felt a spark, that’s for sure,” Flare exulted. “Most of us knew each other from around the city, and after that day, we began to get close.”
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 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.
“Astron came up to me right after the race, and they complimented me on a job well done,” recalled Radiance. “It was the warm welcome I needed after that nail-biter, and I’m happy to say that it was the beginning of a friendship that both of our teams treasure.”
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.
“We were stoked to have another chance to compete, especially coming from outside of the region,” Eclipse said. “Of course…we weren’t expecting it to be delayed two years, but better late than never!”
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 2020 Summer Series Qualifiers, earning fourth place in the Gutter Launch. With a 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 the 2020 Marble League 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.
“We’re lucky to know the Solar Flares,” gushed Starry. “They’ve been here for us as much as we’ve been here for them, and if they ever make it to the Marble League, I have no doubt that will remain a constant in our friendship.”
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. They placed fifth in Block Pushing to kick off the tournament. The duo of Blaze and Scorch managed to snag silver in the Black Hole Funnel, but that would be the Flares’ last medal. In a photo finish with Dwarf from the Purple Rockets, Radiance only managed fifth in the Sand Rally, and Captain Flare could only muster a seventh at the Starlit Speedway GP, ending the tournament in fourth overall for the Solar Flares, more than a silver medal behind the Purple Rockets.
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 Herbotamia Tournament was something we were always interested in, but when JMR took over we were still in the youth leagues,” admitted Ember.
“This time,” added Scorch, “we were old enough—and experienced enough—to take the 2021 Herbotamia Invitational by storm.”
The Flares received this invitation 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. They traveled up to Chlorotopia just one week before the invitational began.
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.
“Today was a historic day for everyone involved, and these teams showed the passion of champions,” remarked Jelle Bakker. “These envelopes contain the prize for each of the two teams, and I bet they will enjoy this. Congratulations to both the Solar Flares and Gliding Glaciers, you both will have the opportunity to compete in the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers! We will see you in Felynia!”
an addendum by The Emperor
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!
“It’s really been helping us bond as teams, and come the qualifiers I think we’ll be able to finish right next to each other!” Flare said, beaming with confidence. After long days of training on the beach, the teams would spend time in the Fire House eating waffles and drinking lemonade.
“Wadiance haws a kiwwer waffwe rwecipie,” Quasar attempted to say while eating a ginormous waffle that was drenched in syrup. The rest of the team members laughed hysterically, with Astron falling out of their chair from the excitement.
The Solar Flares arrived at Felynia a little bit early, and got to experience the Crazy Cat’s Eyes setting up the stadium; Felynia Coliseum.
“It’s still unreal to us to see us competing with these big-name teams up here!” Scorch said, blushing. “I mean, look at these marbles over here!” they exclaimed, nodding at the Cat’s Eyes. Cyan Eye laughed and said, “Ay, soon you’ll be a big name team too, ya know! Only 28 teams make it to the Marble League, and even then…only 16 qualify! I believe in y’all, and we’ll be rooting for a good newcomer story for ya this season!”
Since the team had arrived in Felynia early, they decided to take a tour around the local area. Blaze suggested the team take a vacation to Cairoll to experience the nice, sunny beaches that reminded them of home. The team took a bus to Cairoll, where they were surprised to meet Killian Bladestar; a former JMRC member! Killian was an excellent tour guide and pointed out lots of various landmarks from the bus, including the Cat’s Dunes and Mirage Meowntain. The team thanked Killian, who mentioned that they would be off to Galeem soon, where they were often spotted performing on the streets.
The team spent a lot of time in the densely populated city, which was lined with sandy houses and balconies. A nightly ritual was performed in the city in honor of the legendary tale of Cleocatra, whom the locals told stories about each night. The team spent a lot of time touring the area: one night, Radiance got stuck on a cactus, and had to be rescued by Flare and Ember, who were pricked by the spiny plant as well!
Following their vacation to Cairoll, the team returned to Felynia decorated in crowns and toy scepters, laughing and having a good time. Little did they know that they would accidentally create a Marble League event in the upcoming few minutes…
Flare and Blaze had started playfully poking each other with their scepters, and they started having a sword fight. The rest of the team laughed and cheered them on, as Flare emerged victorious from the duel. Unbeknownst to the team, Red Eye was watching this unfold and approached the team.
“You guys…we might have to steal this! We’re trying to get some ideas for head-to-head competitions this year…and…Jousting! That’s what we’ll call it! Jousting!” Red Eye chuckled, and the team was thrilled.
“It was an accident, really!” Flare laughed. “And somehow we turned it into a Marble League event! Remind me to accidentally start playing trivia in front of Red Eye next time…” they snickered. Judging by the rest of the team’s sighs, Flare appeared to be a trivia whiz.
The team checked into their hotel and found that Team Galactic had booked a room for them already.
“Those guys are the best,” Ember said. “They’re so kind and helpful. I’m glad we’re such great friends with them, and that we’re able to finally compete on the big stage with them! This qualifier is going to be one for the history books, that’s for sure. You can count on that.”
In RetRollSpective, the Solar Flares may be new to the competition, but their experiences in their youth and countless training have prepared them for the big show. Their domination in the Herbotamia Invitational caught the eye of Jelle themselves, and we can expect great things from this team in the future. Best of luck to the Solar Flares in the near future, keep on rolling!