RetRollSpective – Oceanics

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 wade over to the Oceanics, the host team of the 2019 Marble League. Read on to find out how this team has drowned out the competition!

The official logo for the Oceanics, designed by Tim Ritz.

As veterans of the Marble League, the Oceanics have been a staple of the Marble League since the beginning. That said, like a wave forming in the ocean, the team originated out of nowhere. Aqua, Sea, Shore, and Ocean grew up as childhood friends in the cultural capital of Dunduei. They all worked at a surf shop in a nearby town when they were teenagers, which was odd because none of them knew how to surf. They all loved to hang out on the beach, but they weren’t so keen on going into the water unless they needed to cool off. None of the Oceanics learned how to swim until they were preparing for the Marble League, which is likely why the team has a subpar performance record in water events.

The friends discovered their passion for marble sports at dawn one morning, as they brought the surfboards out to be cleaned before the day’s rentals. On the way out, Shore dragged one of the surfboards in the sand, creating a long path. When Ocean brought their board out, they saw the path leading to the water, and decided to have some fun.

“I thought it would be like a slide. I always enjoyed going on the playground when I was a kid,” Ocean recalled to us. “The four of us have been friends forever. We don’t mind playing around every now and then. It’s part of who we are. So I went down the path, and I couldn’t stop myself. There weren’t any rails to clutch to. It felt so free, so exhilarating. I wanted to feel that feeling for the rest of my life.”

When Ocean reached the bottom, they told Shore about the racetrack they had found, and had Shore race down it. Shore knew that they had accidentally made the track, but they didn’t tell Ocean or any of the others about it. The release of this article will be the first time they all find out how it was made.

Needless to say, the friends were exhilarated. They decided to close the shop for the day, and test out the course, extending it until the point that it would be washed away by the tide. The day turned into another day, then the entire week, before Aqua made the executive decision to sell their surf shop and go into training. The friends never looked back.

The 2016 Marble League was announced about two years later, after the friends were already competing in the Seven Seas Circuit in Oceania with other teams, such as the Turtle Sliders and the Balls of Flame. They immediately jumped at the opportunity, requesting to be admitted into the competition. But they froze when the application asked for a team name.

A humble beginning for one of the most popular teams in the Marble League today.

The team had previously been going as “Team Moana”, which means “ocean”. However, they feared copyright strikes from the Non-Descript Entertainment Company. Sea took it upon themselves to choose a new name for the team, considering “Team Liquid” before settling on the name “Oceanics”. It was straightforward enough to where fans around the world would recognize it, but so could the team members as part of their identity living and working with the ocean.

The Oceanics were admitted to the 2016 Marble League due to their success in the Seven Seas Circuit and traveled to the mainland to compete, ecstatic about the chance to prove themselves against teams around the world. However, the team went scoreless from the first event, where they received only one point, until the ninth event, Team Pursuit, where they earned a gold medal. The Oceanics’ morale was renewed, and they went on to get a silver medal in Quartet Diving (a water event) and another point in Hurdles before finishing the season in tenth place, which was better than any members of the team could have hoped for at the halfway point of the season.

No, this picture is not photoshopped. The Oceanics have medaled in a water event before.

They were determined to not give up, and rode their wave of eagerness into the 2017 Marble League Qualifications, scoring a second-place finish in the Sand Race and qualifying in fourth place. When asked about that preseason event, Shore remembered it fondly:

“That feeling when I went down that path, for the first time…I felt a hint of it again that day. It felt amazing. And we couldn’t wait to channel that energy…to raise the wave into the 2017 Marble League.”

Although the Oceanics started strong with the first event, earning a silver medal in Funnel Spinning and a bronze medal in the 5 Meter sprint, the team continued to struggle in consistently staying in the top half of events. They did have two consecutive fifth-place finishes, but a disappointing last-place finish in Archery spelled doom for the team. They finished in eleventh place with 99 points, unable to crack triple-digits, and shut out of the top ten. While 99 points looked better in writing than the 19 points they had accumulated in 2016, the Oceanics were dejected and returned to their homeland with little fanfare. 

Many saw the team as a staple in the Marble League by this time, but a staple that had never really seen success. It was at this point that the team came into contact with Tide, who was, at the time, promoting marble sports competitions in Mellacai, a major city in science and architecture. Tide personally reached out to the team and offered to train them for the 2018 Marble League Qualifiers. The team did not hesitate.

“I saw a ton of potential in them. I could tell they loved to compete, but they weren’t showing it, because they didn’t know how to. They didn’t exude the feeling that they wanted to be champions, but I knew they did. And I helped them work towards it.”

Tide bought the Oceanics outright, funding their flights to Mellacai and beginning training with them. During this period, the Oceanics stayed out of the public eye completely. Press releases surfaced detailing that Tide would coach the team, that the Oceanics were constructing a new stadium in Dunduei, and that they had hired Reef as their manager, but that was all that the public heard about the team until the Draw.

The Oceanics placed into Group B of Qualifiers and immediately surprised fans by placing first in Curling. The team did not finish the Snow Rally, but a fifth-place finish in the 5 Meter Ice Dash and another first-place finish in the Halfpipe event allowed the team to coast to the 2018 Marble League at the top of Group B. Their performance did not go unnoticed by the fans, as well as other Marble League teams. Pinky Toe from the Pinkies remarked,

“They weren’t competing in the past two Marble Leagues. Granted, 2016 was a rough season for all of us, but they never had a chance to come close to the top five last year. Do they this year? It might be possible. We better watch out.”

The Oceanics did not let up. They earned a gold medal in the 5 Meter Ice Dash, the first event of the main tournament, making an immediate improvement from their performance in Qualifiers. The hashtag #TidePride echoed their victory on social media, and their fanbase began to make waves.

Some may say that Sea seized the day. I say that Sea “seas’d the win”.

Although the Oceanics missed the podium for the next few events, they were able to stay consistently in the top ten for all events but one. The Oceanics’ next medal was a bronze in Team Pursuit, an event for which they also set a new Marble League record during one of the heats. When asked about this, Aqua could barely stop smiling:

“This season has given me a wave of excitement through every event, with every time we get to compete, and doing so as a team is a particularly special treat. We’ve known each other for our entire lives and to get to do what we do together is a privilege. We take none of it for granted.”

The team did not fare well in the next two events, placing fourteenth and fifteenth, but regained their momentum in Curling, earning a gold medal and proving their dominance in the event, which they had already asserted during Qualifiers. A fifth-place finish in the Biathlon and a seventh-place finish in Ice Hockey kept the team at the top of the standings…until the final event.

“We got a little too headstrong,” Tide shook themselves in disappointment. “I thought we’d be able to pull through. If we had made it into the final heat of that last event, we would’ve been unstoppable.”

Ocean could not control themselves in the Sand Mogul Race. It wasn’t the same as the path that the surfboard had created, straight down the beach in Dunduei. It was contoured at different points, and they tried, desperately, to claw onto the edge of the track. Bouncing off it too much, Ocean finished in fourth of four in the semifinal race, meaning they would not make it to the final race. When the Midnight Wisps and Savage Speeders crossed the line in the next semifinal race, Ocean looked away.

“The Oceanics can still win if the Savage Speeders miss the podium and if the Midnight Wisps get bronze,” Greg Woods commented.

“But I knew. There was no way the Savage Speeders were going to miss the podium,” Ocean recalled. “Everyone on the team just looked blankly at me. Our fans fell silent. High tide was gone.”

About an hour later, the Oceanics took the podium for third-place overall in the 2018 Marble League.

The Oceanics’ best season yet in the Marble League.

That night, the five team members sat quietly in their hotel room. After some time, Sea finally spoke up.

“You know, I haven’t lost hope yet.”

Admittedly, the team struggled for a few months to rebuild their morale. The Oceanics did not perform well in either of the two offseason events, but their training was not focused on doing well in either event. They began to train in the Seven Seas Stadium as construction entered its final phase, with Coach Tide, Royal Marina, and mascot Alvin supervising. At the end of the Amazing Maze Marble Race, the Oceanics were revealed as hosts for the 2019 Marble League. Mandarin from the O’rangers, allegedly, did not respond well to this news. A fan overheard them saying:

“You mean to tell me that after all we’ve done for the Marble League, the committee decided to pick a team that only did well last season to host the tournament? You know what, I don’t understand the committee. We should form the OMC: the Orange Marble Sports Committee. That’ll be less biased against us for sure.”

The O’rangers, in a joint statement, denied the validity of this statement, but Oceanics fans doubted the statement. A small rivalry between the O’rangers and Oceanics manifested.

Things could not have looked better for the Oceanics after their Friendly Round. In fact, they were going to look much worse.

The Oceanics won Funnel Spinning and the Relay Race in the Friendly Round and were able to edge out the O’rangers by one point despite finishing last in the Underwater Race. Fans began to question the Oceanics’ performance in water events, noting that they had consistently been low since the 2017 Marble League. We hope that this article can explain why.

As the 2019 Marble League drew near, however, internal changes began to shake the confidence and performance of the team. This would be the first season in which the Marble League actively featured its coaches by having them sit in the grandstand, and the officials ruled that it was a conflict of interest if the coach of a team was also an active member of a team. As a result, Tide decided to become the full-time coach of the Oceanics, and they brought on Bay to serve as the Oceanics’ new reserve. 

Interestingly, Bay had previously competed with the Oceanics in the 2018 Winter Marble League Qualifiers, appearing in the team’s record-setting first place in the Halfpipe. It was later revealed that they were recruited from Mellacai for their growing laurels as an endurance athlete and had to leave the team shortly after Qualifiers to compete in the Seven Seas Circuit. Bay revealed in an interview that Tide personally invited them back to the Oceanics in late 2018, a few months before the Friendly Round, where they competed in the Underwater Race.

That said, the rest of the team did not handle the transition well. “The team didn’t feel the same. Our mojo was thrown off because Tide wasn’t competing on the team anymore, and not only that: Tide didn’t coach as well when they weren’t competing on the team. Tide didn’t see where we were struggling,” Sea remarked in a postseason interview.

Shore added, “Tide didn’t see that we were struggling.”

The JMRC’s depiction of the Seven Seas Stadium from afar, illustrated by Betawolfs.

Granted, this was not the only complication that the Oceanics had to face. The team also had to train for the three water events they would be offering and felt pressured due to the stigma around their low results in those types of events. As such, the team trained extensively for water events, and in fact, may have trained too much:

“I’ve seen a few fans complaining that we didn’t just do badly in water events; we did badly in pretty much every event,” Aqua acknowledged. “In hindsight, we didn’t spend enough time training for regular events. We practiced a lot of water endurance, trying to control our direction against the current and all. I can promise you that I know how to swim now. Unfortunately, I just didn’t get enough practice in the funnels or on the sand to succeed in those types of events.”

Other factors included the impending completion of the Seven Seas Stadium, which impacted the Oceanics’ ability to train before early 2019, as well as the declining health of Royal Marina, whose sickness would prevent them from attending any of the 2019 Marble League.

The best view the Oceanics would ever get at the 2019 Marble League’s trophy.

The first blow to the Oceanics’ morale came in the first event of the main tournament, when Ocean came last in their heat, in front of Royal Triton and over the commentary of Greg Woods, exclaiming “Oceanics, ah, they’re going to finish last again in an underwater event. They will not move on.” The team began the 2019 Marble League with three points, and throughout the next five events, placed in the bottom half in four of those five to secure the bottom of the standings at the end of the sixth event, Relay Race. The team was able to get out of last when they tied with the Pinkies in points at the end of Block Pushing but was still in a bad place by the time the tenth event, Maze, rolled around. Although the Oceanics managed to keep out of last, they were still in second-to-last place, only above the Pinkies.

“Suffice it to say that we were not impressed with the team’s performance,” Reef stated. “We didn’t consider being better than the Pinkies much of an accomplishment…until we weren’t.”

Although the Oceanics reached the finals in the Maze, the team squandered their high odds of medaling when they finished in fourth place. In the next event, the Dirt Race, Shore made it to the final race, but bounced off the course, finishing in seventh and returning the Oceanics to last place overall.

The Oceanics had a seventy-five percent chance of medaling in the Hubelino Maze. They did not.

The Pinkies medaled in both events.

“Morale was at an all-time low for us…or in hindsight, it wasn’t even as low as it was at the end of the season,” Aqua said, dismally. “We tried to muster up what we had left during  Rafting. We thought we did well until ten other teams ended up doing better than us.”

That cemented the Oceanics’ fate in the season. “The Oceanics in the meantime, cruelly, they become the first team who will not be able to win the Marble League,” noted Greg Woods as the updated standings appeared on the scoreboard.

The next event, the Elimination Race, appropriately saw two of the Oceanics get eliminated—the team member who participated in the event, Sea, and the coach of the team, Tide.

“I was sitting near Coach Tide when they were removed from the grandstands. Reef and Alvin rolled over to us with a bunch of stadium security marbles, and Reef fired them on the spot. It seemed as if Reef had been planning to fire them for a time, at least for a few weeks,” one of the other team’s coaches, who asked to remain anonymous, reported. “What made it particularly awkward is that Tide owned the team, but Reef was the manager, and thus had the authority to relieve Tide of their coach duties.”

Members of the JMRC and other coaches could only watch as Tide left the Seven Seas Stadium in shame.

“I had to do what was best for the team,” Reef added. “Tide was our weakest link, especially when it came to training for the water events. We were going to wait until the season was over to make an action, but after the first heat of the Elimination Race, I lost my cool.”

So did the Oceanics fans—as they left the stadium, disappointed in their team for yet another poor result that would further rectify their season of shame. From there, Reef brought Lagoon in as the new coach of the Oceanics, while Tide’s hands were figuratively tied. Tide tried to fire Reef as manager, but this proved futile when the Royal Family got involved. With this, Reef was able to spark excitement and hope within the fanbase, inspiring the fans to return to the Seven Seas Stadium and cheer on their team for the last few events.

Regardless, the Oceanics’ performance in the 2019 Marble League did not improve, and the team finished the season in last with the worst points average of any team in Marble League history, punctuated by finishing in dead last in the Sand Rally. The Oceanics fans had already left the stands after the fifteenth event, but they returned to the stadium and swarmed the podium, voicing their disappointment with a bold sign that read, “NOCEANICS”. 

Despite all of this, Sea remained hopeful. “I still believe in our team, though. We hit rock bottom this year—there’s no denying that. But it was still an honor to host and to be a part of the Marble League for another year. That’s what matters above all, and to continue that, we’re going to work hard next year on ourselves—mentally, emotionally, and physically—to qualify and to prove our worth again in competition.”

The Oceanics started the 2019 offseason in the news, as an article surfaced regarding the team’s dire state of affairs. The article featured an official letter from the Royal Family of Dunduei, which announced that they had purchased the Oceanics in its entirety from Coach Tide. As part of the acquisition, the Royal Family now owned the Seven Seas Stadium and all operations related to it, hosting the 2019 Marble League Showdown and viewing events for the 2019 Marble Rally. The Royal Family allowed Reef to remain as manager and Lagoon as the Oceanics’ new coach, overseeing the team’s offseason training for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

“This season has been one of the most difficult seasons that any team has had to experience. You need to have a clear and positive mindset to compete in a tournament as demanding as the Marble League, and between their stress in hosting, changes in coaching, and the loss of support from their fans, the Oceanics couldn’t do as well as they wanted to,”  asserted Reef. “It’s sad. And it’s even sadder that we let down our fans on our home turf. They had every right to be disappointed in us.”

It would be foolish to assume that we have seen the last of Tide’s influence in marble sports, and it would be even more foolish to assume that Tide is not salty about letting the Oceanics go, even for the amount of money they got for them. After all, it was Tide’s influence on the team that led to their best performance yet in the Marble League…along with their worst.

A trading card released as promotional material for the 2020 Marble League, designed by Fouc.

The team received attention yet again in late 2019 after all Marbula One teams were revealed and the Oceanics were not on the roster. An alleged leaked video claimed to reveal the real reason why the 2019 Marble League hosts would not show up for Marbula One. The clip showed Lagoon giving a fiery speech to unidentified Oceanics athletes.

“We need to build everything up from the bottom,” said the new coach. “We will not be caught off guard by an aquatic event again of all things… and that’s why none of you can leave the training grounds until you get over your fear of water.”

When asked if team management was blocking the Oceanics from joining Marbula One until the athletes resolve their hydrophobia, a spokesmarble refused to comment.

A Wave of Emotions

an addendum by NordiqueWhaler

After a dismal 2019, the Oceanics were attempting to put their struggles in the past. In preparing for Marble League 2020, they took an aggressive approach thanks to a stricter coach in Lagoon. Lagoon made sure the Oceanics would be pushed to the limit and then some. This would lead up to an intense water practice where they would have to overcome their ironic fear of water by swimming 400 meters with torrential rain coming down on them. The combination made Lagoon certain that if they could get rid of their hydrophobia the team would be ready to come back with vengeance in 2020, otherwise things could be just as bad as 2019, or maybe even worse.

At the 2020 Qualifiers, it was announced the events would be Balancing, Funnels, Block Pushing, and Sprint. Sea was optimistic that if they could get a great score in the Sprint just like they did in 2017 and the Ice Dash in 2018, then a spot would be certain. 

“I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out Sprint was in it this year,” Sea said in a pre-qualifier interview. “I’ve done well in the past for this including medalling twice. We’ve also podiumed in Funnels before so I have a great feeling we will be back.”

Lagoon meeting with the Oceanics before the start of a training session (Photo Credit: NordiqueWhaler).

The Oceanics would start with seventh place in Balancing, followed by Shore’s fifth place in the Funnels. Already, the Oceanics were showing signs of improvement from 2019 as they were sitting in fourth overall at the halfway point. A slight setback of twelfth in Block Pushing sent them down to sixth overall with only the Sprint to go, but this was Sea’s chance to prove the Oceanics were back.

They delivered by getting the third-fastest time of any marble, falling only to Swifty of the Savage Speeders and Red Eye of Crazy Cat’s Eyes. The Oceanics finished the Qualifiers against all odds in third place with 54 points, 19 clear of the cutoff line, stamping their return to the Marble League. 

“After all we went through last year, it feels great to get a chance to prove ourselves all over again,” Shore said at the press conference after the Qualifiers. “Some already think we are bound for one of the biggest turnarounds in Marble history. Be ready for when the Oceanics #RideTheWave!” 

Few took that seriously, even with a top-three performance in the Qualifiers: the statement was greeted by laughs from reporters and other athletes. Wospy of the Midnight Wisps, who beat the Oceanics for the title in 2018, remarked, “It’s going to take a lot to shed that ‘Legacy of Failure’. Title heartbreak, medal drought, disaster in front of their fans, they have had everything that could go against them happen.” Rapidly of the Savage Speeders later added, “They have yet to rank ahead of us in four Marble Leagues, and they think this time they will? After the worst performance in Marble League History?”

The Oceanics ride the wave into the 2020 Marble League.

The start of the 2020 Marble League did not go according to plan. It started with a tenth in Balancing, which marked a dubious distinction of 20 consecutive events without a medal dating back to 2018. The streak would only continue as chants of “Lolbut 2019” grew louder in the Andromedome as the events rolled on. Especially when the Oceanics finished last in the Halfpipe which put them at 21 events, at the time tied for second with the Jawbreakers in 2016-17. Finishes below the top five, and mainly in the bottom five, would soon follow and the Oceanics found themselves with history, one that they never wanted to be associated with. They tied the Pinkies for the longest medal drought with 26 consecutive events. With only one top-half finish, things had looked like nothing changed from 2019 to 2020.

The next event, the Triathlon would be a crucial point in the Oceanics’ season as it was the first water event. Shore was slated to go. Things were looking bright for the Oceanics early on as Shore led all the way heading into the water leg. That’s where things fell apart, as Foggy and Wospy would pass Shore late to advance to the semifinals. It marked another addition to the Oceanics’ legacy, another water event with nothing to show for, and a new record of 27 consecutive events without a medal. It was to a point where even Greg Woods felt the pain for them.

“The Oceanics take the top spot, desperately wanting to do good in a water event, for once. It must be this time, they have to think. Their coach has been prepping them like crazy for this, it’s more of a mental thing if anything. But they are going to lose it as they drop into the water. The Hazers come up first, will they lose second place as well to the Wisps? They’re going to try to block them, but the Wisps, more speed! They’re going to get by and they will advance. Agh. Shore from the Oceanics cannot get it done.”

―Greg Woods’ call during the heat.

It was at this point where the Oceanics felt like they hit rock bottom mentally. A new record of events without a medal, another failed water event, sitting in fifteenth place in the standings, and being mocked in the stadium. It had felt like 2019 never ended for the Oceanics. However, this was different and the next event, the Sand Moguls, would also change the Oceanics forever—the same event in which the Oceanics had lost the 2018 championship. This time it would be the captain, Ocean, going for them, seeking to get redemption from the heartbreak two years ago. They got off to a great start by winning their heat. Then things got interesting when Ocean received a boost from Green Eye in the semifinal, passing Swifty to advance to the final. In a close final, Ocean would hold off late charges by both Hazy and Minty Flav to secure a victory in the Sand Moguls. 

Finally, after 27 events and nearly two years of misery, the Oceanics had not only secured a medal, they had won an event for the first time since the Curling event of Marble League 2018. In their Podium Moments series, Stynth remarked:

“Ocean’s gold medal in this event symbolizes so much for a team that has been trapped in Davy Jones’s locker during the past two years. It may not symbolize a Marble League championship, and it may not even redeem the Oceanics of their collapse last year…but it does prove that the team has grown. After their fans left their home stadium in disappointment, after sitting at the bottom of the standings two events ago, and after 27 consecutive failed attempts to get on the podium, the Oceanics have done it.”

A teary Ocean spoke after the event. “This means a lot not just for myself, but for the team and the fans here and back home in Dunduei. After all, we went through the past two years coming closer to a title in 2018 than last year in general, and even the start of this season. We will always cherish this moment. The Oceanics are back!”

A big celebration happened after the event, and the Oceanics would ride a wave of positive energy into the next event, the 5 Meter Sprint. Sea, a historically fast marble, was slated to go in this event. Right from the start, Sea made sure to carry the momentum from Ocean in the previous event. They started by getting a second-place finish in their heat, just ahead of Bomble to advance. The semifinal run was one for the ages as Sea clocked in at 5.920 seconds, which shattered a Marble League record that Smoggy had set earlier in the heats, a record that dated back to the Yarble Yellers in the Knikkegen Marble League. As if the gold in the Sand Moguls wasn’t enough, the fans were back and rolling in excitement. Sea would advance to the final, but the quest to perform the rare double gold was dashed in a photo finish loss to Minty Fresh from the Minty Maniacs by 0.002 seconds. This resulted in silver, a second consecutive medal for the Oceanics after going so long without a medal, and also proved Shore’s statement from the Qualifiers correct, the Oceanics were amid a remarkable turnaround. They had already more than doubled their point total from the first eight events and passed their point total from 2019. And the run was not done yet.

After Bay and Shore settled for tenth in the Black Hole Funnel, the Relay was next on the schedule. The Oceanics were more than ready after getting two speed medals. With Bay taking Aqua’s place with the main team for the event, the Oceanics fired out of a cannon in the first heat by not only winning it but by setting a new record of 8.588 seconds. That record would later be obliterated when the O’rangers went sub-eight seconds in their heat. The Oceanics would later advance to the final by 0.051 seconds over Team Galactic. In the final, the Oceanics battled against the Savage Speeders, O’rangers, and Raspberry Racers, all former Marble League Champions. In the end, the Oceanics took home the bronze medal just barely missing out on silver to the O’rangers. For the third time in four events, the Oceanics stood on the podium, something that seemed almost unfathomable before the season. 

Shore talked about that four-event run for the Oceanics after the Relay “This will be something we will never forget. While it does seem a title is out of reach, the team will forever cherish this stretch as one of the best in Oceanics history. We are finally back!”

The Oceanics next to two powerhouses.

Aqua would later get a disappointing fourteenth in the High Jump, but most of the attention was focused on the next event, the Aquathlon. The Oceanics had been dreading this event for a long time. This version would be different as it was a team event and a bracket. It did not help that the Oceanics were paired with the O’rangers who had a 35 point lead in the standings. The only thing that mattered was if the third marble beat out the O’rangers’ third marble, the Oceanics would advance. 

The heat started and the O’rangers had a big lead heading into the water, but something magical would happen—the Oceanics suddenly caught up to the O’rangers. While the first two marbles to cross were both O’rangers, a swarm of marbles, mostly Oceanics, soon followed. After replay footage confirmed the results, the unlikeliest of outcomes had come to fruition—the Oceanics had advanced in a water event over the O’rangers. Everyone in the Andromedome including Greg Woods could not believe what had just happened that they ignored that the heat between the Midnight Wisps and Thunderbolts had already started. The Midnight Wisps would beat the Oceanics in the quarterfinal and eventually win the Aquathlon, but that was not the biggest headline from the event compared to the Oceanics’ exorcising their water demons. The event had been named “The Miracle in the Waves”. 

“It still doesn’t feel real,” Ocean said after the event. “We had been practicing for this event for a long time. Lagoon had prepared us for the day we could do well in a water event. The fact that we beat the O’rangers in it made it even more special.”

For the final two events the Oceanics finished in seventh in both Collision and the Marathon, but many fans caught some Marbula One potential when Ocean took the pole in the placement race. While the “Miracle in the Waves” didn’t push the Oceanics up the standings, it did have a fatal cost to the O’rangers, who lost all of their momenta and eventually choked away their 35 point lead and lost the Marble League altogether to the Savage Speeders. The Oceanics would finish Marble League 2020 in tenth place, and while it doesn’t seem like much, they felt better than some of the teams ahead of them like the Raspberry Racers and Midnight Wisps. After the closing ceremony Rapidly gave the Oceanics a card that said this:

“Dear Oceanics,
We (especially Rapidly) apologize for mocking you before Marble League 2020. Turns out you just had a rough 2019 and that was an outlier. You deserve to be part of the top tier of teams. Thank you so much for beating the O’rangers in the Aquathlon because we probably wouldn’t have won the Marble League again had that not happened. We are having a party to celebrate our championship before we head back to Vellis and we thought you should all come to join us since you are the most improved team.
Regards,
The Savage Speeders
Speedy, Rapidly, Swifty, Velocity, Whizzy, Coach Quickly.”

The Oceanics accepted the invitation and they joined the Speeders on the top floor of the Polaria Marble Hotel. The Minty Maniacs and O’rangers were there as well for finishing the season on the podium. While the party was mostly to celebrate the accomplishments of the Savage Speeders, every team in attendance had something to look back on in the Marble League. 

“I’ll give credit where credit is due,” Clementin told Sea at the party buffet table. “Your team was one of the bigger surprises of the season. When you beat us in the Aquathlon, it felt like we saw a team reborn.” Sea thanked and told Clem, “Even though your team didn’t win the Marble League, you still had a better season than fourteen other teams.” 

The Oceanics also congratulated the Minty Maniacs with Ocean telling them, “Your team gave us hope and the motivation not just to us but to other teams that anyone can contend with the big names. It was an honor to share two podiums with the Minty Maniacs.”

The next day the Oceanics flew home to Dunduei. While there was no big fanfare, a small group of fans welcomed them back after a decent Marble League. They eventually took some time off to relax after a long tournament. One day Stynth came by to Neptune Island to visit the Oceanics and reminisce on some of the best moments from Marble League 2020. Sea went straight to the Aquathlon for their favorite moment. 

“We beat the O’rangers in a water event,” Sea repeated. “Yeah, I still can’t believe it. We needed that moment as a team. It was the vindication that proved that we had progressed past our low point last year. I’m not so sure if we’re at our high point yet…and I don’t want to know yet.”

~from “Offseason Moments – ML2020 Part 2”, by Stynth

Stynth handed Ocean an envelope courtesy of the JMRC that said “For Reef (secret)” before they left and told them not to open it until Reef got it. The next day Ocean met up with Reef to give them the envelope. Reef read the letter inside, which said:

“Hello, Reef,
We are going to announce a 20-team Marbula One Season 2 and we would like to extend our invitation to the Oceanics to not only join but to host one of the races as well. We know the pressure of hosting caught up to your team last time but we think it would be better to tell you in advance because you would need to renovate one of the tracks in the regions. Let us know if you can host since Greg, the JMRC, and all of the teams would love to return to Dunduei. Please let me know if this will work for hosting.
Sincerely,
Jelle”

Reef did tell Lagoon about the season coming up and they had no trouble selecting which two marbles would represent. Both of them agreed that Ocean and Sea would be the two representatives since Ocean was the Captain and took pole during the Marathon while getting a top-half finish, and Sea was known for speed, especially in Sprint events.

The problem was what to do with hosting. The Oceanics’ track they had used in the last few Seven Seas Circuits, the Shore Path, was not up to Marbula One standards and had a smaller capacity for attendance. There was a track nearby named the Aquamaring but it hadn’t been used in over a decade and was sitting near Seven Seas Stadium. They thought about using another track nearby, either Check Em Circuit or Hatchling Highway, but felt it would lose the charm of Dunduei.

Instead, the Oceanics decided to buy the Aquamaring and started a massive renovation project, with the help of volunteers across the Oceania region. While that was going on the Balls of Flame offered the Check Em Circuit for the Oceanics to practice racing on until the new track was ready. Thanks to all the marbles that helped fix up the Aquamaring, the track was ready in time to host a future race. 

(Design Credit: Spex)

When the official announcement came out, the track was announced as the fourth GP on the schedule. A massive crowd came out at a ceremony at the new track that featured former teams that used to compete in the Seven Seas Circuit including the Stingrays, Golden Seals,  Blue Dolphins, and Team Terra, the latter of whom is still competing but in Pesky’s Marble Championship. as well as some active teams from the Seven Seas Circuit including the Balls of Flame, Archerfish, Tiger Sharks, and Yarrbles. The Turtle Sliders were not in attendance due to another commitment but their youth team, the Hatchling Skidders, represented them. For the opening day, which also happened to be on the same day as Minty Mania, a friendly race was held between the teams before the fans all got to watch the live race take place.

Meanwhile, Lagoon sent Sea to compete in the Minty Mania GP, thinking their speed would pair well with the short track. Sea started near the back in fourteenth but got as high as fifth place late in the race before slipping down to eighth. Nevertheless, the fans were excited and ready to return when Marbula One came to the Aquamaring.

“It’s an alright start, but Marbula One is a completely different atmosphere compared to track events,” Sea explained after the race. “Now that I got a taste of what it’s like I will train harder to compete for top finishes and maybe a fastest lap or two.”

The official promotional poster for the Oceanics in Marbula 1, designed by Jack Ironhide.

Ocean would race at the O’raceway and barely qualified as the last marble in the race. The race was not much better as they would finish in fourteenth. The next race at the Honeydome was even worse as Sea, a marble best at sprints, would lose energy and fall behind fast, eventually finishing dead last. This was the last thing the Oceanics needed before hosting their race with visions of 2019 coming back to haunt them. 

At last, it was time for the Aquamaring to host its first Marbula One race. The track looked completely unrecognizable from its old Seven Seas Circuit days and presented a challenge for marbles. It included a wave section, a steep drop, and a large straightway with an attenuator prime for passing. Ocean would go as the captain and clocked in a 21.338-second lap, good enough for seventh in Q1. Shortly after, disaster struck on the track.

“What happened there? Yellup is gone!”

~Greg Woods

Yellup from Mellow Yellow went into the ramp at a bad angle and went down it fast enough to bounce over the edge and off the track entirely. Medics rushed to Yellup’s attention and sent them straight to Dunduei hospital. Before Q2 began, track officials built a small barrier to prevent marbles from jumping off the track at the end of the ramp. In the meantime Ocean finished second in Q2, trailing only Pulsar from Team Galactic. Then in Q3 Ocean would win the two-lap showdown with Billy, Pulsar, and Bolt to take home pole position. The crowd, who were incredibly depressed just a year and a half ago after their team finished dead last, were ecstatic at the sight of their captain earning the pole for the race.

Ocean talked about that moment, “And I thought winning the Sand Moguls was one of my favorite moments. Even though it wasn’t the race, it was a redemptive moment to come home and perform strongly in front of our fans who have waited long enough for top performances. They have been with us through good times and bad and we thank them all for their support. Let’s keep it going for the race tomorrow!”

After the qualifiers, Ocean, and the other eighteen marbles from the qualifiers went to check up on Yellup at the hospital. Amazingly, Yellup only suffered from minor injuries and would be allowed to compete again two weeks later. Yellup was thankful that the injuries weren’t serious and that all the marbles came by to make sure they were alright. 

Fans celebrate the pole.

Unfortunately, the pole did not correlate to success on the track as Ocean would finish in ninth. The track became another stomping ground on the Crazy Cat’s Eyes’ domination tour as Red Eye would make JMR history, winning with the largest margin at the time of 2.9 seconds, and the Crazy Cat’s Eyes became the first team to win four consecutive medals in any tournament. The track’s first Marbula One podium consisted of Red Eye, Bolt, and Cerulean, whose podium photo would be put up in the track’s concourse. 

Things only got worse from there as Sea, despite making it to Q2 at Tumult Turnpike, again became tired late in the race and finished dead last for the second consecutive time. Ocean did improve on the Oceanics’ past five races and finished in the best placement so far… seventh. At the halfway point the Oceanics were in an embarrassing seventeenth place, with Ocean and Sea 24th and 30th in the racer standings. Their Marbula One inexperience could not be used as an excuse either as the Crazy Cat’s Eyes, another team that had no prior Marbula One experience, was dominating the season. They couldn’t even say they were better than the Limers at the time as even they ranked ahead of them. The Oceanics felt almost as bad as they did in 2019. 

Sea would talk about their poor finishes in the last two races, “It has not been the season we had hoped it to be so far. It’s also a big change in the competition considering this is both speed, skill, and endurance all wrapped into one. Still getting used to the distance adjustment, to go from 5 Meter heats to full-blown raceways has been a big jump.”

While on vacation in Hailfern, the Oceanics received an invitation to participate in an invitational Marble League Winter Special in the Himarblelayas that would be hosted by the Minty Maniacs. Lagoon and Reef informed the team about the details, and without hesitation, all members signed up to join the Special. Even though it wasn’t for another few weeks, they were able to practice in Hailfern for the events that would appear in the Special. The five events that were slated for the Special were the Ice Dash, Snowboard Cross, Speed Skating, Bobsled, and Hockey, all of which had appeared in Marble League 2018. Lagoon set out a goal: to not just return to the podium but to win the Championship. Knowing that the Oceanics had their best season in 2018, they told the team this:

“I was not a member of the Oceanics then, but I saw their potential in the Winter Marble League that year. This is going to be our best chance to prove that it was not a fluke and that we could be over our past misery. I believe in all five of you and you have shown resilience in Marble League 2020. That is why our goal for this five-event Winter Marble League is to bring home a trophy.”

Lagoon doubled down on their statement by showing a picture of the champions’ sign that each of the past champions has. After showing all five a sixth one was shown, but this was different. Instead of seeing teams like the Savage Speeders or the O’rangers on it, this one was blank. Lagoon said, “See that? That will be us.” 

That hit the Oceanics hard, but they knew it could be done. 

In early 2021, the Winter Special began. The entire top ten from both the Winter Marble League in 2018, as well as the top ten in Marble League 2020, all appeared. Every team except the Chocolatiers and Pinkies, who were in their new uniforms, had all come from Marbula One. The first event was the Ice Dash, an event Sea won back in 2018. However, Shore ran this event instead. Shore was paired in the group of death which included both the Midnight Wisps and Savage Speeders, who had finished ahead of the Oceanics in 2018, along with Starry, one of the top marbles in history. Shore finished last in the group and thirteenth overall.  

Sea explained the team’s plan after Shore’s performance to Marble Sports Films: “This is a time where you can’t fall behind early on. We need to get up in the standings quickly, or else we’ll be too far behind. We’re disappointed in the results today. We know that we haven’t been doing too good lately and the fans deserve better. It’s time we give them better.”

Aqua was up in the Snowboard Cross, in which the Shore had finished in 15th in 2018, their worst event that year. They were already guaranteed a better placement than that by advancing in their heat alongside Hazy. Then in the semifinal, Aqua was last just past the halfway part of the race, before a late surge sent them straight to the lead, just barely over Bolt from the Thunderbolts in a photo finish. While the two were preparing for the final, Razzy, who was eliminated in the same semifinal, told Bolt this:

“Clem told me that the Oceanics had become a better team even more than what they were in Marble League 2020. Now that I have seen it here as well, I believe they could steal a podium in this tournament.” Bolt rolled in agreement.

In the final, Aqua was up against Bolt, Hazy, and Astron. After a tight battle with Bolt in the semifinal, the two were at it again, and it came down to one of the closest finishes in the history of Marble Sports. When the results of the photo finish came in, Aqua had won the race by 0.005 seconds over Bolt for gold. This sent them up to second in the standings.

The right side of the photo.

“I had never been so tense in my life,” Aqua said after the event. “The semifinal was already a close result and with the final, Bolt and I were almost together during the whole event, I tried to go ahead with whatever I had left at the end. Waiting for that photo was so nerve-racking, but then very relieving when I found out I won. Credit to Bolt, they ran a great race, and the Bolts will be great rivals for this tournament.”

The Oceanics would send their captain, Ocean, for Speed Skating. Paired with rising star Minty Fresh, the two would battle with impressive times and at the end both of them would podium, both of them breaking Misty’s record time from 2018. Ocean would rank ahead of Minty Fresh. Their record would later be broken by Thunder, but the silver medal would be enough to put the Oceanics in first overall for the first time in three years. Now the pressure was on—could the Oceanics hold on in the final two events to win a championship that they so desperately coveted? The early answer was yes, as the Oceanics continued their run by getting a bronze in Bobsled. The lead was now twelve points over the Thunderbolts. The Hazers, O’rangers, Minty Maniacs, Team Momo, and the Green Ducks were the other teams that could challenge the Oceanics’ spot for a championship heading into the final event, Ice Hockey. 

The format would be a fixed bracket based on the standings. The Oceanics would be paired with the Chocolatiers. If they were to defeat the Chocolatiers, the championship would pretty much be theirs for the taking. However, the Chocs played spoiler in the event, scoring the only goal of the entire match in overtime. This now meant the Oceanics had to rely on other teams to backdoor their way to a title. 

Help came from the Snowballs, who knocked out the second place Thunderbolts in the first round. The Speeders also chipped in by eliminating the Green Ducks while Team Galactic ended Team Momo’s long-shot bid. The O’rangers and Minty Maniacs played each other so it guaranteed one of them would be out and that would be the Minties. Team Galactic derailed the Hazers’ shot as well, meaning that only the O’rangers could pass the Oceanics if they took home gold. They would be playing their Fruit Circuit rival, the Raspberry Racers, in the semifinal. 

The Racers thought about the Oceanics fans who they remembered after they stormed the arena in anger after Marble League 2019. They wanted to help them in whatever way they could. In a battle between two former champions, it would be the same team that won in the year the Oceanics hosted their worst nightmare, the Raspberry Racers, that would give the Oceanics their biggest gift ever by defeating the O’rangers 3-1 in the semifinal to deny the O’rangers the championship.

The best moment in Oceanics history.

What seemed like the unlikeliest of scenarios two years prior had come into fruition—the Oceanics had won a Championship! The Razzies would end up winning the event, but all the attention was on the Oceanics. They had ended their “legacy of failure” and were able to redeem the heartbreak in 2018 and all of 2019 with a trophy. It was a dream come true for all of the members of the Oceanics. The Oceanics would share the podium with the O’rangers and Hazers, both of them congratulating the team on a successful and stunning run, with Clementin tipping their O’rangers hat to the Oceanics as a sign of gratitude.

Clementin told Ocean on the podium, “I tip my hat to you, one champion to another.” The Raspberry Racers who just missed the podium also came by to congratulate the Oceanics.

The Raspberry Racers congratulate the Oceanics, illustrated by Piney.

The team went straight to the fans to celebrate their achievement. The fans not just in the Oceanics section but around the stadium were giving the Oceanics a rolling ovation. The Oceanics anthem played over the loudspeakers before teams returned to the locker rooms. At the press conference following the closing ceremony, the team talked about the mini-tournament.

“Is this real?” Ocean asked the reporters. “I had to feel this trophy to make sure this was not a dream. Anyway, this tournament meant everything for the team. Even though it was not an official Marble League, this victory shows how far we have come. We can’t wait to add another one.”

“First off props to the O’rangers, Hazers, and all the other teams on such a great tournament even on short notice,” Lagoon said, starting their briefing. “From the time I took over I knew this team had the capabilities of winning more than just an event or two, they had the potential to win a championship. Today was the day that confirmed my belief in these marbles. They persevered against their past, took on the best of the best, got three medals out of it and a trophy. The fans here and back home in Dunduei stayed loyal through our trying times and we are going to reward them for their loyalty.”

The Oceanics and their fans celebrate their title.

The next day the Oceanics returned to Dunduei with a crowd gathered around. A special ceremony was held inside Seven Seas Stadium to honor the champions, with Royal Triton declaring that day to be “Winter Marble League Champions Day”. A large banner that said “Winter Marble League Special Champions 2021” was hung next to the podium banner from 2018. A few Seven Seas Circuit teams made an appearance to honor the Oceanics including the Balls of Flame, Team Terra, and the Archerfish. It would be a moment the Oceanics would cherish forever. 

Momentum from the sudden championship did not carry over into the second half of Marbula One. The next two races had Ocean finish twelfth at the Raceforest and Sea finishing tenth at the Momotorway, though the latter was able to get the fastest lap at the end of the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the next two races proved to be the Oceanics’ downfall as both members would fail to qualify at Palette Park and Misty Mountain.

“It’s unfortunate not to be out there for the race,” Sea spoke after failing to qualify. “When you are one of the four marbles to be tossed aside, it hurts you on the inside. All it could take is to be just a bit faster or not to make a mistake then all of a sudden you are off the grid.”

Ocean would get one last chance to impress at the Savage Speedway. There they would start on the second row behind two of the fastest marbles in Marbula One history: Red Eye, who was leading the Racer standings, and Speedy, who won the Racer championship last season. Ocean would start the race strong and be in second, 0.67 seconds behind Red Eye at lap four. Ocean was running the race of their life and was one of the fastest marbles on the track. There was just one problem—Red Eye. Their lead over Ocean would soon grow into unthinkable margins—2 seconds, 4 seconds, 5 seconds, 6 seconds. It ended up being a final margin of 8.18 seconds. Ocean could hardly believe what they were seeing from Red Eye. “That’s impossible,” they thought. Red Eye would eventually demolish the record and win by 8.18 seconds. While Starry had a late run to steal second, Ocean held off Prim for the bronze, earning the Oceanics’ first medal in Marbula One.

It took eleven races, but the Oceanics finally had one M1 medal.

“I wanted to make sure this would not be a repeat of that one year,” Ocean told reporters after the race. “I knew winning the race was out of the question once Red Eye started to pull away, but we now have a bronze medal out of this season so it wasn’t a true disaster of a season. I still can’t get over how dominating Red Eye was. That may be something none of us will forget, and to share a podium with them, they have 100% earned the championship. Congratulations to both Red Eye and the Crazy Cat’s Eyes on one of the best seasons in history.”

The medal would put Ocean in the top half of the Racer standings in nineteenth. Sea would finish ninth in the final race at Midnight Bay, which put them 36th in the Racer standings. The Oceanics finished a dismal seventeenth place, their lowest placing in a tournament so far. 

Lagoon talked about the season for the Oceanics “Yeah, maybe Marbula One is not our strong suit. We did get a good race as well as a pole, but seventeenth is not acceptable for any of us. We hope to participate again, but who knows if we’ll get invited back. At least we’ll have the Winter Special Championship to look back on during this stretch.”

After the long season, the Oceanics took a week off to relax for a bit following Marbula One Season 2. They all met up at Ocean’s residence, which has a private coast. While they were relaxing and reminiscing on how they did over the past few years, a strange sound was heard. “We’re going to make it this time!” said one marble. “You’ll be Shell Shocked”. It was Frank and the Turtle Sliders who brought some fans over to promote awareness of the team. An announcement was made prior that allowed the Sliders to compete in the Marble League 2021 Qualifiers, alongside the Limers and Snowballs and two new teams, the Gliding Glaciers and Solar Flares, who normally would not have had a chance to qualify. The Turtle Sliders kept going by the next few days shouting the same message.

The next week, the Oceanics would fly to Felynia. Before the Qualifiers were to begin, a practice race was held just outside Felynia in the Cat’s Dunes. Ocean took part in this race and finished in tenth place, 4.38 seconds behind Indie from the Indigo Stars. It was a nice warm-up and it allowed them to compete against the Turtle Sliders for the first time since their Seven Seas Circuit days. Ocean and Crush spoke after the race to catch up on all that had happened since they had last competed against each other. During the draw, the two hoped they would be placed in the same group. The Oceanics were slated to be the sixth team to be selected, and Lagoon drew a red ball with the letter A, meaning they would be placed in Group A. A little while later with five teams remaining, the Turtle Sliders were up, and with two A balls and three B balls remaining, Splint drew a yellow B-ball, sending the Sliders to Group B. The two would not have a chance to compete in the same group, but hoped they could compete together in the Marble League if they both made it… or the Showdown if they both failed but they didn’t mention that.  

Ocean reunites with Crush after the practice race (Photo Credit: The Emperor).

In RetRollSpective, the Oceanics are a team that has reached high tide—and crashed to low tide—in the Marble League fanbase, then rose again and fell again. We still “sea” great potential in the future of the team now that they have a championship and hope that their worst days are behind them. Best of luck to the Oceanics in the near future, keep on rolling!

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