RetRollSpective – Shining Swarm

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 put on our sunglasses and take a look at the Shining Swarm, a team that debuted in the 2017 Marble League. Read on to find out how this team has swarmed the competition!

The official logo for the Shining Swarm, designed by Tim Ritz.

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. What does the Shining Swarm have to offer that Team Plasma did not? (Well, they qualified for a Marble League.) What makes the team any better than the Quicksilvers? (Well, they were better than them in 2017.) Is the team forgettable because the Savage Speeders, another double-S team, also exist? (Most definitely.) You may ask, “Well, Stynth said that “they’re one of the most prevalent teams in the tournament”…they’re not more important than the O’rangers, right?” 

No team is more important than the other – each team has its place in marble sports history, and there’s something we can learn from every team that has competed. We can learn from Team Plasma that if you haven’t done enough training for Qualifiers, you probably shouldn’t compete. We can learn from the Quicksilvers that just because your Marble Rally athlete is good doesn’t mean that your Marble League athletes will be. We can learn from the Jungle Jumpers that going out the night before the final event of the season is a bad idea. So, you’re probably asking, what can we learn from the Shining Swarm? The answer is simple: it’s to have fun.

“It was a day spinner, a one-way fidget, yeah…”

The Shining Swarm hail from a city on the coast 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 even 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 the 2016 Marble League, applied for the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers. Their application was accepted, and the team debuted in the tournament on 23 June 2017.

“I’m pushing a block before the rain gets in…”

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. Shimmer represented the Swarm in Funnel Spinning instead of Sparkle, who had participated in the event during Qualifiers, and scored worse, placing twelfth. In the Long Jump, Sterling tied with Goolime with a score of 68.8 centimeters, placing ninth. 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 akin to the Quicksilvers and Jungle Jumpers.

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 on the arena and not fall to the floor.

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.

“And in the moment of the celebrations, I roll down…”

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. “We knew that a lot of the fans were worried about Team Momo, and we were worried too,” reflected Shimmer. “We got onto the spinner after our quarterfinal match to try to cheer people up.”

“We’re performers at heart. It’s what we do,” Sterling added.

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 in seventh overall with 112 points. With one gold medal, they finished close to Team Momo, the Chocolatiers, the Pinkies, Team Galactic, the Midnight Wisps, and Mellow Yellow—teams from ninth to third place not even twenty points apart.

“There’s nowhere you can roll that isn’t where you’re meant to roll.”

“Honestly, we did better than we expected. I mean, I did poorly in the 5 Meter Sprint,” admitted Sparkle. “But I did great in the Underwater Race. Having the chance to race among athletes like Kinnowin was such an honor.”

“We’re here to have fun, but we don’t take any of it for granted,” promised Shiny. “It’s something—an experience you can’t buy.”

“In my life, the only thing that compares is music, and even then, there’s a reason we retired from recording,” Sparkle added.

The Shining Swarm appeared next in the 2018 Marble League 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 2018 Marble League.

“The marble on the hill sees the sun rolling down.”

During their extended offseason, the team attended the main tournament of the 2018 Marble League 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 2018 Marble League Consolation Race, where Shimmer finished seventh out of the eleven competitors. The team submitted Sparkle to compete in the 100 Meter Water Race; they finished nineteenth, above Mandarin, and other athletes who did not finish the race. The Swarm reformed in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, finishing last in Group E with only 27 points earned.

“A lot of our fans were beginning to question why we stopped touring and recording. In their opinion, we were much better at music than we were at sports. And you know what? They’re probably right,” Shimmer mused. “But we’ve moved on. This is something that we enjoy regardless of how we place. It brings out the best in us.”

All things considered, the best of the Shining Swarm was not present in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The team had earned only five points after three of the four events, and although Shimmer did well in their heat of the Underwater Race, placing ninth overall, it was not enough. The Shining Swarm failed to qualify with only fifteen points to their name.

“You know, our fanbase isn’t big. It’s not easy being overshadowed by franchises that are better grounded in the legacy of the Marble League,”  Shimmer glanced at a picture of the Savage Speeders, “and trying to make your mark in something as legendary as this competition. We’re a fun bunch and we love what we do. That’s why we were riding the fidget spinners when we were advancing and later won that event. Not everything has to be serious.” 

The Shining Swarm was prepared for another long offseason. Its members were considering making their 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, they began rolling back and forth in excitement, according to their coach, Gleam.

The Shining Swarm gained media attention during the latter half of the 2019 Marble League 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 itself gained a new logo, a new hashtag, and a newfound determination. They were ready to rise and shine.

“Once there was a way to roll back homeward…”

The Shining Swarm began the 2019 Marble League Showdown poorly with a penultimate finish in the Sand Rally, but delivered a strong performance in Collision, utilizing their same strategy from two years before edge ahead of the Kobalts in the first heat, defeat the Snowballs in the quarterfinals, and dominate against Team Primary in the third-place match despite faltering against the Rojo Rollers in the semifinals. The Swarm stood on the podium for the first time in nearly two years and was handed bronze-colored medals made of aluminum to celebrate the occasion.

“That is the best I’ve felt in two years,” Shiny exclaimed. “And there weren’t even any fidget spinners!”

Shiny continued to shine in Funnel Spinning, placing fifth, but the team staggered in Balancing, placing tenth. The team tied for eighth overall with the Minty Maniacs in points but dropped to ninth because of their bronze medal. The Shining Swarm finished in the bottom four teams, and as a result, did not move on to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

“And in the end, the roll you take is equal to the roll you make.”

Rolling Over and Out 

an addendum by The Emperor

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. 

“We just love music.” Captain Sparkle said. “We realized that after so long away from music, we wanted to get back into it, and I think we’re going to enjoy it.”

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.

“Seeing the pure joy music brings to the Swarm, and everybody who listens to them is heartwarming,” Gallum stated. “It was very special to be a part of their show tonight.”

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 in Marblaysia, to performing with the Thunderbolts in Thorston, the Swarm saw it all. 

“The Thunderbolts had a conversation with us before we went on their glistening, electric stage,” Glimmer remarked. “We talked about how they were just coming off their debut year, and how performing [both in the Marble League and on stage] should be about joy and happiness. I agree with them, which is why I’m really glad to be on this tour!”

The MarBeats performing in Thorston for the Thunderbolts, illustrated by Bfbicy!

It was during this tour that they met Sheen, a passionate MarBeats enthusiast that visited them in Marblopolis. “The music you perform is…extraordinary.” Sheen beamed. “I’ve always followed you guys closely, both during your touring days, and sporting days.” During their encounter, Sheen offered to be their manager, both overseeing their touring and funding and managing the team during the Marble League.

“We were honored to meet such a marble!” Glimmer said, gleaming after their meeting. “We wholeheartedly said yes, and Sheen joined us the next day.”

Following the conclusion of their world tour, the Shining Swarm returned to Galeem a lot happier than they were after the 2019 Showdown ended. 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. During the build-up to the 2020 Showdown, the Shining Swarm had an opportunity to meet Stynth, a former JMRC member and member of Time Check. They serenaded Stynth at the arrival gate with some of their greatest hits from the MarBeats, attracting a full crowd. Needless to say, they were completely and pleasantly surprised.

“It’s the best way we could think of welcoming a JMRC member to our home,” Sterling said.

As a musician, Stynth inquired about why the Swarm decided to get back into the music business. “It was something that we weren’t sure of at first, but it paid off.” Sparkle admitted. “From there, we hired Sheen as our manager and felt confident returning to training.”

“This team has so much potential,” insisted Sheen. “On top of that, they have a lot of heart. They were so close to advancing last year that I know they will work even harder this year. Mark my words, it’s time for the Swarmy to rise.”And rise they did. Sheen’s sentiment rang true during the Showdown, where the team exceeded expectations and advanced to the 2021 Marble League Qualifiers. Shimmer and Sparkle led the charge during the Black Hole Funnel event, where the duo’s combined time of 92.05 seconds earned their team a silver medal. Shiny followed up with a finals appearance in the Sand Mogul Race, placing fourth in the event after winning their initial heat. The Shining Swarm finished the Showdown in fourth as well, earning 32 points—well ahead of the bottom four teams.

Shimmer and Sparkle’s silver medal-winning Black Hole Funnel run.

“Roll over and roll out! Cause the Swarm is shining for youuuuuuuu!” An elated Sparkle exclaimed after the Showdown concluded. They returned to Galeem jubilant and were determined to qualify for the Marble League for the first time since 2017.

“It’s that feeling, the longing for competition that drives you forward; makes you a stronger, better marble. That’s what drives us to keep competing,” Shiny, who had been appointed as the team’s new captain, stated.

The MarBeats performing at the O’Marbles Family Farm, pictured by SuperJackJack!

The Swarm, continuing to offer gigs as The MarBeats, had a relatively uneventful offseason, on the contrary of 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.

“Anything can happen in Felynia,” Shiny stated following the Practice Race, where they placed twenty-fourth out of all twenty-eight active teams. “We have to be prepared for all of it.”

In RetRollSpective, the Shining Swarm is a team. The Swarm is a team that does what its team members love, from writing and performing music to competing in the elite of marble sports tournaments and riding on fidget spinners. They rise to the occasion and when they breakthrough, as they did in Collision, the Shining Swarm shines, demonstrating to all around them what it means to be optimistic and enjoy life. They are far from the best team in terms of statistics, but I firmly believe that the best is yet to come. Until the Swarmy rises again in the future…best of luck and keep on rolling (over and out!)

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