RetRollSpective – Rojo Rollers

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 Rojo Rollers, a team that originated in the inaugural Marble League. Read on to find out how this team has rolled through the competition!

The official logo for the Rojo Rollers, designed by Tim Ritz.

Numerun is known as the “newest old” city in the world. Its territory has been settled for over a millennium, but the city itself was rediscovered by explorers from across the ocean nearly five hundred years ago. The explorers shared goods from their side of the world with Numerun, attracting a competitive economy, the likes of which Numerun had never seen before. As a result, the city grew immensely in the next few hundred years, becoming one of the most diverse, economical, and intellectual cities in the world.

Through all of this, the ancient city center of Numerun has been preserved from modern urban development, making the city one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the world. One of the most notable landmarks is Colina Umerun, an artificially created hill designed specifically for marble racing. The hill was designed centuries ago for recreation, and, through frequent renovation, is still in use today. In fact, going down Colina Umerun is what inspired each of the Rojo Rollers—and Red Number 3—to enter the realm of marble sports.

The Rojo Rollers hail from the outskirts of Numerun and previously worked in the modern city center, which encircles Numerun Antigua. The five team members were all familiar with each other from the workplace, where they were mathematicians at competing universities. They formally met each other during the city’s Milenaria, which was celebrated in Numerun Antigua. The universities decided to go together in a historic academic event, grouping together departments of various schools on the trip. After getting to know each other throughout the day and making several bad math puns, the five marbles went down the Colina, one after the other, and regrouped at the bottom.

“I’ve always been a big fan of racing,” said Rojo Uno. “It may not look like it considering how academic I am, but it has always inspired me. But I never actually wanted to be a part of it until that day.”

Colina Numerun depicted on the Rojo Rollers’ Marbula One poster, illustrated by Jack Ironhide.

Rojo Uno expected the other four marbles to show the same amazement, but they simply shook it off and moved on with the day. It was not until a few months later, when they met for dinner, that they all began to realize that they felt the same way.

“It was a lot. An eye-opening, and I wasn’t ready to accept it then,” admitted Rojo Dos. “But I could tell that day had changed my life forever.”

While working on this RetRollSpective, we got to visit Numerun to interview the athletes and tour the city. It could be considered both an old and modern wonder of the world—that’s how impressive Numerun is. In touring the Rollers’ new stadium, we discovered a beautiful tribute: a gap in the grandstands of the stadium that allows fans to get a direct view of Colina Umerun. The gap pays a breathtaking homage to the origins of the Rojo Rollers and the origins of marble racing. We hope that fans around the world will be able to experience this treasure for themselves.

Rojo Uno, Rojo Dos, Rojo Tres, and Rojo Cuatro stepped away from their jobs the following semester and began to seek training. Luckily for them, Numerun was the host city for the Surculo, the most popular marble sports tournament south of Marblopolis. They quickly found a trainer, and in 2012, entered the Surculo.

Rojo Cinco remained at their job to complete a second doctorate in sports medicine. During their time at university, they came across Red Number 3, who was completing their master’s degree in sports medicine. The two became friendly in class upon finding out that they were both interested in the Surculo.

The Rojo Rollers, named for the red adobe homes of Numerun Antigua, started poorly in the Surculo, placing in the bottom half of their first tournament. The Rollers were not deterred, however, and in 2013, they improved, finishing exactly in the middle of the competition. In 2014, their margin of improvement was significant, and they earned a wild card spot in the elite league. Even though the stakes rose in 2015, the Rojo Rollers, steadfast to their passion and skill, improved still and finished as runners-up to the Jawbreakers after the tournament.

With the announcement of the 2016 Marble League, Greg Woods extended an invite to the leading teams of many regional marble sports tournaments. This included the top three teams of the 2015 Surculo, which were the Jawbreakers, the Rojo Rollers, and the Quicksilvers. The Jawbreakers and Rojo Rollers accepted while the Quicksilvers declined in favor of one more shot at the Surculo Championship. The Jungle Jumpers, who placed fourth, also declined the invite, so the Chocolatiers, who placed fifth, were the third team accepted.

The first podium in Marble League history.

The Rojo Rollers entered the 2016 Marble League as strong as they possibly could have, earning the first gold medal in the tournament’s history in the Balancing event. Their points record, at 347 centimeters, lasted for three years until the Crazy Cat’s Eyes broke it in the 2019 Marble League. Although 2019 was the first year that the event returned to competition, it still stands as an impressive feat as few teams have managed to score above 347 cm in Balancing.

“We needed that validation, right out of the gate. We got it, and I couldn’t have been more grateful,” Rojo Tres remarked. “It stuck with us for the rest of the season, and proved to us that we always have the opportunity to be the best—but only if we work for it.”

The team earned one point during the Relay Race due to the malfunction on the top track. The team placed dead last during Collision but made up for it in the Sand Rally when Rojo Uno earned a silver medal. The team was near the top of the standings for the second time. Rojo Dos placed fourth in the next event, the Long Jump, to earn four points. However, the next event, the Water Race, proved problematic for the team, and their performance was disqualified due to Rojo Cuatro allegedly blocking another team. The Rojo Rollers lost three points as a result of this.

“That was a false accusation, plain and simple,” Rojo Cuatro claimed. “I was already stuck, off the flow of water, and Snowy from the Snowballs hit me. I couldn’t get rolling again, but I didn’t want to block anyone else from rolling again. Being disqualified was not fair to me and my team.”

A misstep on the road to success.

The team appealed the decision, but the appeal was denied. This only made the team work harder, though, and their effort immediately paid off in the next event, High Jump, where Rojo Dos earned a gold medal. For the second time in seven events, the Rojo Rollers were at the top of the standings.

Unfortunately, the Rojo Rollers only earned one point during the last five events of the season, that point being from placing eighth in Quartet Diving. They finished the 2016 Marble League in sixth place with 30 points. Had the team not been disqualified, the Rojo Rollers would have finished in fifth place, two points above the O’rangers.

The Rojo Rollers’ return in the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers proved to be a continuation of the downturn they experienced in the latter half of the previous season. Although the Rojo Rollers placed ninth in the Relay Race, they went scoreless during the rest of the Qualifiers and finished in dead last with only four points. Out of the four original teams who failed to appear in a second consecutive season, the Rojo Rollers were arguably the most surprising on the list. The team had been in the top four of the standings at the end of every 2016 event except for the last two. In the 2017 Qualifiers, their performance was almost the exact opposite.

While the Rojo Rollers experienced their first extended offseason, they entered into an official partnership with rising Sand Marble Rally star Red Number 3, who hailed from Bifornya, a village outside of Numerun. As a part of the partnership, Rojo Cinco finally joined the Rojo Rollers as their “rojo-serve” and the team traveled to Doornse Gat to support Red Number 3 in the 2017 Sand Marble Rally. The team became very close with them, even including Red’s likeness in their logo, and began training together.

The athlete that would become the pinnacle of the Marble Rally in years to come.

“I always wanted to secure my second degree, and I’m happy that I got it, but joining the Rojo Rollers is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I feel at home,” remarked Rojo Cinco.

With “cinco” members on the team now, the Rollers competed in Group A of the 2018 Marble League Qualifiers, winning the first event, Curling, and taking second in the final event, Halfpipe. Unfortunately, the Rojo Rollers failed to qualify for the second year in a row with subpar finishes in the other two events, fifth place in their group with just 19 points to their name. The Balls of Chaos, who missed the 2017 Marble League along with the Rollers, qualified at the top of their group. The Snowballs were already hosting the 2018 Marble League, making the Rojo Rollers and the Kobalts the first two teams to miss two Marble Leagues in a row.

Suffice it to say that the team was disappointed, but they decided to remain together, as did the Kobalts. The team initially planned to return to their universities for a semester to teach but realized that the paparazzi would be hounding them. A few months in, they hosted a joint conference about their experience in the Marble League and broke records for the largest attendance in academic conference history. It was clear that, despite not being in the Marble League for so long, the Rojo Rollers still had a dedicated fanbase, especially in their home city. Additionally, with the help of Red Number 3, the team began construction of a training facility and marble sports stadium, located in the city of Numerun. This stadium was submitted as an option to host the 2019 Marble League but was not chosen.

The Rollers watch the 2018 Marble League from the sidelines.

The Rollers’ performance in two of the three offseason events was moderate at best. Rojo Tres placed sixteenth in the 100 Meter Water Race, just behind Yellup from Mellow Yellow. In the Amazing Maze Marble Race, the team placed first in their heat, but last in their semifinal. However, in the Marble League 2018 Consolation Race, Rojo Uno would have an excellent run, and after leaping into the finish line, won the race. The team showed promise, but doubt was cast on their ability to follow through in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. This doubt became their reality on 26 January 2019, when the Rojo Rollers failed to qualify for the Marble League for the third season in a row. The team did not place above tenth for any of the events and was never in the top twelve overall.

As described by the article “The Teams You’ll Miss in the 2019 Marble League”, it was revealed that the Rojo Rollers had a difficult offseason. As the 2018 Sand Marble Rally approached, the new logo for the Rollers was released to the public, displaying a roller skate instead of the traditional red number 3 ball. This disturbed Red Number 3, who thought that the Marble League team was ending its long-standing relationship with them. The Rojo Rollers privately met with Red Number 3, assuring them otherwise, and preventing the dissent from reaching the public. 

Needless to say, the confirmation in December that Red Number 3 had a hole on their bottom ballooned the scale of the controversy and created chaos. While training for the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers, the Rojo Rollers had to act quickly and cut their partnership before the team’s reputation was tarnished concerning Red Number 3. According to Rojo Tres: 

The athlete that would become the pinnacle of controversy, as well.

“We had no idea they weren’t a marble. The drama over this has been astounding, and while we tried to ignore it, we didn’t want to disappoint our fans if they got the impression that we supported fraud. We roll fair and square, except not square, because then we’d be cubes, and cubes aren’t marbles.” 

This decision deeply hurt the team, particularly after the Qualifiers. Although the article stated that the Rojo Rollers were willing to move away from the controversy, Jelle’s confirmation that Red Number 3 would be returning to the 2019 Marble Rally eased the tension surrounding the situation.

“I understand why [the Rojo Rollers] did what they did. I understand why my fans were so upset,” Red Number 3 sighed. “I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, and I feel the most disappointed in myself. I’m happy that I’m still being allowed to compete in this next season. I only hope the Rollers will forgive me for the way I acted.”

Since then, no official statement has been released regarding any future collaborations between the Marble Rally athlete and the team, but we hope that relations between the two parties have improved.

At this point, the Rojo Rollers were prepared to experience a third extended offseason, and maybe longer. As their new coach, Rojo Cero put it:

“I got onto the management, took one look at the team, and knew that their morale was gone. The Rojo Rollers have always been strong in team events, but it’s their individual events where—save for Uno and Dos—the athletes can’t follow through. It takes a toll on them, especially when you don’t get into the main tournament for three seasons in a row. The Showdown saved them. They counted on that tournament to give them the exposure and experience they needed to redefine themselves and return to Qualifiers, ready to make it.”

The Rojo Rollers rejoiced at the announcement of the Showdown and immediately got to training. As the Showdown approached, the team was a favorite to not only advance to 2020 Qualifiers but to win the Showdown overall.

The Rojo Rollers reclaiming the top of the podium for the first time in three years.

Rojo Cuatro represented the team in the first event, the Sand Rally, and placed seventh. The next event, Collision, saw the team dominate over its group and pull tight leads over its competitors in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals. All five of the Rojo Rollers were on the podium for their first gold medal since 2016.

The team rose to second place in the standings, further proving their place in the top twelve. In the third event, Funnel Spinning, the Rollers put in Rojo Dos. Although Cuatro had more experience in funnel spinning, they had already participated in the Sand Rally. The team’s gamble with Dos paid off immensely, with their performance earning a bronze medal, a second overall spot, just one point behind the Snowballs, and, most importantly, a guaranteed spot in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

Rojo Dos’ time to shine on the Marble League Showdown podium!

The final event, Balancing, was the event that the Rojo Rollers had the best experience in—but they did not show it. The team, perhaps to conserve its energy, placed dead last. The three teams who got on the podium were Team Primary, the Snowballs, and the Hornets, the latter of whom moved ahead of the Rollers to take second place after the Showdown. The Rojo Rollers remained on the podium by two points, with Team Primary a point and a medal below them in fourth. The Kobalts finished the Showdown in tenth place and remained in the Showdown in 2020, guaranteeing that at least one of the two teams would not get a second season of the Marble League.

While training for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers, Rojo Cero received an official letter from the JMRC, inviting the Rojo Rollers to compete in the first season of Marbula One. The Rojo Rollers accepted the invitation, submitting Rojo Uno, “Primo Racer”, and Rojo Dos, “Segundo to None”, to compete.

The promotional poster for the Rojo Rollers in Marbula One Season 1, designed by Jack Ironhide.

A Roller’s Life For Me

an addendum by The Emperor

The Rojo Rollers’ strength was certainly not individual events, save for some good performances from Rojo Uno and Dos. However, even they would falter in Marbula One. The team opened the season with two scoreless races before Rojo Uno scored four points at the Momotorway GP. Rojo Dos earned their first point of the season at the Hivedrive, with a tenth-place finish.

“Our inexperience in competing with the big name teams again is showing.” Rojo Cero remarked. “We haven’t been in the spotlight in so long and I don’t think that the team is used to it.”

Rojo Dos qualifying in sixth at the Short Circuit; the best qualifying outing of the season for the team!

The Rojo Rollers would score points in all of the final four races, but never placed higher than fifth place. They would finish the season in thirteenth overall, with 32 points and no medals. Neither Rojo was particularly stunning in the Racer’s Championship, either, with Rojo Dos placing twenty-first, and Rojo Uno placing twenty-third in the individual standings.

“I feel like we could have certainly done better, yes.” Rojo Dos remarked. “But for being our first major competition in over three years…I’ll take it.”

Nonetheless, the team was hopeful to return to the Marble League and finally prove themselves after a three-year drought. They entered the 2020 Qualifiers with some confidence, seeing that Balancing was one of the events, an event they held the record in until 2019. This confidence was shattered after the team placed dead last in the event, and would go on to finish the Qualifiers in nineteenth overall, with just 24 points.

“For a team composed of former mathematics professors, it’s become very hard to count on the Rojo Rollers in the Marble League.” Former JMRC member Stynth remarked on the team. 

The Rollers debuted in sixth in the first season of the Marble League, and they even earned the first gold medal in the history of the tournament…in an event that they can no longer compete in.

“We’ve lost motivation…a lot of motivation.” Rojo Tres said as the team left the Andromedome in shame. “We’ll be in the Showdown again, and even then, I don’t have much faith in us.”

The Rojo Rollers’ Showdown results wouldn’t be spectacular, either, as they placed third in the Relay, fourth in the Halfpipe, eleventh in Black Hole Funnel, and tenth in the Sand Moguls.

The Rojo Rollers facing their Showdown buddies, the Limers, in the Halfpipe.

“As mentioned before, the team has struggled terribly in individual events.” Rojo Cero said in a press conference. “We’ll be focusing on that during our offseason training, as it highlights the struggles that our team continues to face now year after year.”

“There is no doubt that we feel down about not qualifying for the fourth time in a row,” Rojo Uno stated. “But we are not going to let it get in the way of us appearing in next year’s Qualifiers. We have to keep trying.”

“They are growing stronger and stronger as a team. I can see that,” Rojo Macho, the team’s new manager, observed. “I hope that’s enough to get them to advance.”

Following the offseason, the Rojo Rollers were not re-invited to attend the second season of Marbula One. Thus, over the extended break, the team returned to the Surculo for extra practice, where they participated in the league for the first time since they had started competing in the Marble League.

The 8 competing teams in the Surculo Elite League, depicted by Phantasm from left to right: Rojo Rollers, Team Toadstool, Evergreen Warriors, Monarchs, Electric Eels, Quicksilvers, Candycorns, and Mossballers.

“We’re excited to be back!” Rojo Tres exclaimed. “A lot of the teams that used to compete while we were there are still in the league, so it will be a bit like a reunion for us!”

The Rojo Rollers did not get off to a good start in the Surculo League, with Rojo Cinco placing dead last in the Sprint. However, as was a tradition with the team, save for the poor results in individual events from Rojo Tres, Rojo Cuatro, and Rojo Cinco, the team medaled in all five of the other events and would go on to win the Surculo League by three points over Team Toadstool.

The Surculo 2020 League, illustrated by Laurent Rollon!

“The Rojo Rollers’ return to the league motivated us to do more!” Cap, the Captain of Team Toadstool, remarked. Evergreen from the Evergreen Warriors echoed Cap’s sentiments, stating: “It gave us that extra morale boost to try our very best. And we got our third overall podium in the league because of it!”

Rojo Dos being hoisted into the air by their teammates after a come from behind finale victory to earn the Rojo Rollers the championship, captured by the Emperor.

Following their win in the Surculo League, the Rojo Rollers continued to train hard for the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers. 

“We just barely won the Surculo League,” Rojo Cinco said. “It motivated us to train even harder for the Marble League, especially in individual events. Rojo Tres, Rojo Cuatro, and I still have a lot to work on…”

Following a training session with Red Number 3, who was coming off of a mediocre performance of seventh in the Marble Rally following their surgery, the team participated in the Marble League Practice Race in Felynia. Rojo Uno participated in the race, and managed a very impressive second place of the twenty-eight competing teams!

Rojo Uno winning the silver medal at the Marble League 2021 Practice Race!

In RetRollSpective, the Rojo Rollers are not the paradigm of consistency. They are a team that has demonstrated a lot of promise but has been unable to follow through, even in their first season of the Marble League. If the team can take the scale of improvement that they made in the Surculo and apply it to their performance in Jelle’s Marble Runs competitions, then the odds of the Rojo Rollers returning to their 2016 form is high. Best of luck to the Rojo Rollers in the future, keep on rolling!

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