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 focusing on the Midnight Wisps, the champions of the 2018 Marble League. Read on to see how this team strikes the competition!
“It may seem like we came out of nowhere,” Wispy, the team captain, remarked. “That’s funny. Harva isn’t nowhere. It’s somewhere special: a place we are proud to call our home.”
The Midnight Wisps hail from the taiga east of Helarve. The five met on a bus tour to Harva National Park and got into a deep conversation about the upcoming 2016 Marble League. Midway through the walking portion of the tour, they decided to abandon their group, opting to race through the forest instead. To their misfortune, the five were caught trespassing and got banned and fined from the park.
“Yeah…that wasn’t the smartest decision we made, at least in the legal sense,” Wospy chuckled. “But I wouldn’t take that day back, otherwise, I wouldn’t have met my friends. I guess it was a blessing in disguise.”
Upon paying off their fine, Wispy, Wespy, Wospy, and Wuspy decided to form a team to train for the following year’s Marble League, which, according to rumors, was taking applicants from around the world. The team’s name was inspired by the renowned Helarve Clock Tower and by the region’s legendary “Willow Wisps”:
“I hadn’t yet hit the age requirement to join the Marble League, so I helped the four of them out with training,” Waspy, the Wisps’ reserve member, stated. “We found a valley in a forest to train in, equidistant to where we were all from. One night, Wuspy thought they saw blue lights in the trees, just like those wisps. Wespy thought they were crazy. Wispy ignored them and felt inspired, so they suggested that we name ourselves the Midnight Wisps.”
The team’s application was accepted in early 2017, much to their surprise. They trained so frequently and so vigorously leading up to their arrival in Knikkegen that summer that they didn’t even know which four teams had prequalified and which new teams would be joining them in an attempt to qualify for the first time.
Admittedly, the Wisps did not perform strongly in the Qualifiers, placing last in the Relay to start and only placing as high as eighth by the third event, leaving them in second-to-last with one event to go. It was only with Wospy’s first-place finish in Funnel Spinning that the team was able to qualify in seventh out of the sixteen teams, but they had done enough. The Midnight Wisps were in the Marble League.
The Midnight Wisps debuted poorly in the main tournament’s version of Funnel Spinning as well, placing thirteenth, but earned a silver medal with Wespy’s performance in the Long Jump. A sixth-place finish in the Fidget Spinner Collision event brought the Wisps to fifth place overall, but their performance during the event caused more conflict than celebration.
“I had no idea what happened until the replay showed. I was already off the arena at that point, but I could hear the screaming.” Wuspy shuddered. “It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t ever wish that on anyone.”
“Everyone thought that I hit them on purpose. I don’t think the fans understand, not even the fan who infiltrated the arena. None of us were prepared for the fidget spinners—they threw us out of control, ricocheting across the arena like pinballs. I don’t know how the rules committee at the time approved of that. And, despite all of that, I could not feel more guilty for what happened to Momomomo. It’s something I will carry with me for the rest of my career,” Wispy added.
After the event ended, the Wisps tried to reach Team Momo, but the doctors forbade fans and marble athletes from visiting. The team donated money and other resources to Momomomo and the rest of the team for the remainder of the season.
The Midnight Wisps continued to place in the middle of the standings until the ninth event, Steeplechase, where they earned a bronze medal. In the Underwater Race, they pulled an upset over the O’rangers, who had set a new Marble League record in the event, to win the event and their first gold medal.
Although the Midnight Wisps rose five spots in the standings to fourth place overall, they did not have enough points to challenge the O’rangers and Savage Speeders for the championship. In the final event, Sand Rally, the Midnight Wisps finished in seventh, accumulating nine points and remaining in fourth place overall at the end of the 2017 Marble League. Had they gained two more points, the team would have ended in third place overall and prequalified for the 2018 Marble League.
Though the marblebase may not remember how close the team was to get on the podium—in their rookie year—the Wisps remembered, especially when they found themselves in a similar situation after the Ice Hockey event in 2018. They made sure to rectify what needed to be improved, and, overall, hoped for the best.
a feature by Jaiden
This feature incorporates the script from Marble Sports Films’s “Midnight Miracle” in nearly its original form, with minor edits. Feel free to watch the original videos here:
It was announced that the Marble League for 2018 would be a brand new Winter Edition, the first of its kind. This gave the Wisps an advantage. They trained in the cold and would roll in the cold. The Wisps had just missed auto-qualification by one spot, but this didn’t distract them. They were willing to work hard to prove that the phrase “Will of the Wisps” wasn’t just a saying for the team. They were picked to be in Group B, and their qualifiers were pretty successful and consistent, very much unlike their 2017 Qualifiers.
The first event of the Qualifiers was Curling, without a doubt the longest in history. It would take lots of endurance for a long period, and the Wisps were ready for that. It didn’t look like it early on, however, as their first two marbles didn’t play out too well. They had zero points and needed the others to step up. Both would end up doing so as they both got on the board and the Gliding Glaciers, meanwhile, put themselves off the board, giving the Wisps an easy win. In the next round, they would have a very low-scoring battle with the Jungle Jumpers. Only one marble managed to score points, luckily, it was a Wisp, and they advanced once again.
In the final, they faced the Oceanics, and it was pretty close. The Oceanics were leading by one, and the Wisps needed to get closer to the center to win, but Wuspy wasn’t able to get there. They did tie it up, but the Oceanics won by a distance. They did get second place though, and the rest of the Qualifiers was filled with consistency, but maybe not in the right places: only getting fourth or fifth for the next three events.
They hung around second for the first three events, but their spot was in jeopardy after the third event, especially when they only got fifth in the final event of the Qualifiers. That allowed another team to pass them, and the Kobalts came just one point away from besting the Wisps, who qualified by one point, the slimmest margin possible.
The first event of Marble League 2018, the 5 Meter Ice Dash, wasn’t that bad. Wespy did get past the first round. but they were way more unsuccessful in the second. Pinky Rosa of the Pinkies just edged them and Wespy finished in eighth. Of course, this was the beginning of the competition and anything could change with just one medal. Wospy themselves was confident, saying: “We’ll get it together, you’ll see.”
The next event begged to differ, however. It was the Ski Jump. They were expected to do well in the Ski Jump just based on the fact that they were able to get a silver in the previous year’s Long Jump. To be fair, it was a different marble that jumped and clearly, that difference was a pretty big one. Wispy was the one to jump and they were only able to muster up fourteenth. This was very disappointing for Wispy, and it would end up being their worst individual performance of the year, not to mention it dropped them to eleventh. With only two events down, they had only scored ten points and were down by 30, but luckily it only went uphill from here, and that 30 points would start to shrink.
The next event was the Halfpipe. Back in the Qualifiers, the Halfpipe almost cost them qualification, so there was an improvement to be made. Their competition would be rather tough. They faced none other than the Savage Speeders, a former champion. Wispy talked about the pressure to be in their presence, saying; “It’s very nerve-racking. They’ve been around since the beginning and before that. But we’ll keep our cool like we always do. We promise this won’t get to us.”
They indeed kept their promise and would win the heat against the Speeders. Halfway through the competition, their time held them at second. One more heat was to go, and they were paired with the Balls of Chaos, who made the best time so far. The Wisps weren’t able to win their heat, and—even worse—their time was significantly worse than their last. Luckily their first heat time was so good that they were still able to podium, but unluckily they were beaten by the Speeders. Bronze was still better than what they had before, and they were finally able to gain spots as they now sat at sixth.
The next event was Bobsled. It was another that was solely on time rather than placement, and now they would be the only ones racing. They had a solid performance, but a lost marble at the end possibly cost them a gold medal. The Wisps were slotted into third, and that’s where they stayed. This was the first time they had gotten consecutive podiums and their new spot was now in fifth, just 22 points out of first place. But their next two events didn’t go too well.
Every comeback starts with doubt, and these two events were that doubt for the Midnight Wisps. First up was Speed Skating. Their first two individual events did not go well, just ten points in two events, and that would continue here. Wospy was placed with the eventual gold medal winner Misty from the Hazers, and they were just not able to keep up with the rookies. A tenth place finish dropped them one spot to sixth, but they were still within a gold medal of first overall. They just needed to do better in the next event. Luckily for them, it was a team event and their two bronze medals were from team events.
Wespy explained their lucky position in the standings, saying: “We’ve had some bottom half finishes. But we’re still in sixth. The whole field is very close right now. And we have to take advantage of that. Let’s continue that great team performance we’ve had so far in this Marble League.”
Sadly though, that would not happen: this performance would be one of the worst in their career. The only time they were in frame for the race was during the turns, and the Limers (Yes, the Limers) dominated the Wisps. The Wisps themselves would finish in last, over a second behind the Balls of Chaos in fifteenth. The Wisps were not happy with this performance, dropping them to eleventh. After six events, the top ten were all just a gold medal away from first in 2018. Nobody was dominating; everyone battled with inconsistency. It would only be a matter of time before a team took advantage of the field, and that team would be the Midnight Wisps.
The Snow Rally was the next event, which meant the Wisps had to participate in another individual event. With the three other athletes failing to achieve anything higher than eighth, management decided to throw in Wuspy. This was an opportunity to gain some much-needed momentum, especially after their two previous slumps. The Snow Rally had a very interesting scoring. They would race twice and give Snow Rally points for each race. They would add the total from both races and use average times as tiebreakers.
Race 1 started great for the Wisps, as they were in the top three with Tangerin from the O’rangers and Whizzy from the Savage Speeders. It’s hard to tell what happened to the team, as the Speeders got a big lead and were the only ones on camera. Wuspy was third at one point, but they would end up dropping two more spots to finish the first race in fifth, earning 12 Snow Rally points. Race 2 was much better. Wuspy jumped out to the lead and held it for almost the entire race. As they were approaching the line, Wuspy took a big bump that looked beneficial at first, but it would end up harming the marble. As Wuspy gained so much speed, they were unable to see the bumps that could stop them, and one bump did stop them. The bump was so bad, that Wuspy fell to third and nearly to fourth.
Luckily, their total Snow Rally points were 26, they got bronze. They lost out by one point to the Speeders for silver. The Wisps were now down on the leaderboard by 21.
Next up would be the Snowboard Cross, another individual event they looked to keep the momentum going from the last event, and they did that. Wespy was the one to go and they didn’t do too bad—another top-half finish in sixth. The only bad news was the team on top, this time the Speeders, finished ahead of them. They were now 23 points out of first, still within a gold medal.
Wespy gave some thoughts on their performance, saying: “I thought I did very well to keep the momentum going. I finished close enough so that we were still just one medal away. We got another team event coming, we must improve from our last [outing].” They would indeed improve from their sixteenth place, but not by much.
The Midnight Wisps would face off against the Hazers in the first round of Curling. They did great to start with a 3-0 lead. After the Hazers got close and made it 3-2, Wospy came in clutch and made it 5-2. When the final Hazer came up, the Wisps led by three. It seemed like there was virtually no way they could blow it, but they did. Misty was the final Hazer, and they came in clutch for this team, making the final score 5-4 for the Hazers. The Midnight Wisps finished in tenth, but surprisingly, didn’t lose any points on the leaders. That’s how inconsistent every single team was.
A bottom-half finish didn’t change anything for the Midnight Wisps, which was pretty crazy sitting at ninth, still just 23 points away from the leaders. It was now time for the Wisps we know now to show up. The Miracle was coming.
The final three events of the Marble League were the Biathlon, Ice Hockey, and the Sand Mogul Race, and it was time for things to get crazy. The Wisps were the third team to go, and their time was very good. Even though they didn’t get the best placement on the board, it carried them into first after that time, but three others would pass the Wisps: the Crazy Cat’s Eyes, who broke the record, the Thunderbolts, and the O’rangers.
The bad news was that the Bolts and O’rangers were ahead of the Wisps, meaning they would be moving up along with the Wisps. Both would end up moving into the top five while the Wisps moved down a spot rather than up. They were now tenth, but they still managed to gain a point on the leaders. It was now a 22 point deficit between their team and the Oceanics. There were thirteen teams still in it to win. There were a lot of possibilities that could happen, but we all know which team was favored.
Event 11 was Ice Hockey. Wispy talked about how this was the main event they’ve been preparing for, saying: “Our Collision performance was pretty average last year.”
“So, we did everything we could to train for that event,” added Waspy. “We flew home for a week after the Biathlon and skated across the river in our valley, getting the best control we could get on the ice. We huddled around each other as if we were the ball bearings.”
“We’ve been preparing for this one the most, as we knew it would be important down the stretch,” continued Wispy. “Now, it’s time for us to strike.”
The Wisps were in Group A, and the first matchup with the Pinkies showed promise. It seemed like they had a very good defense that would lead the way. Their next match with the Snowballs would prove that theory, as they shut them out while only scoring one goal. Their final matchup was with the Savage Speeders, a team that was in the top three. This match would end up being their only loss of the whole event.
In the elimination rounds, they would first face Team Momary. It was a callback to their matchup last year with Team Momo which ended fatally. The Wisps once again showed off their defense and they shut out their opponents while only scoring once themselves. They focused heavily on their defense and only allowed two goals once so far. In the semifinals, they once again scored once, but Team Galactic scored on them too, meaning a rematch would commence. The Wisps eventually defeated Galactic, and in the final, they shut out the Minty Maniacs to win gold.
“Their training was magnificent. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Coach Wyspy mused. “I could tell they wanted that gold so, so badly. When the Minty Maniacs advanced to the finals, I saw a new team rise against them and claim the gold medal. From then on, I knew the Midnight Wisps would win the 2018 Marble League.”
The gold medal brought the team to fourth, and now they were just six points away from being the champions. It was going to be a tough battle, and Wispy would be the one going in the Sand Mogul Race.
Ten teams had the chance to win the championship, the largest number at the time heading into the final event. In the first heat, Kinnowin of the O’rangers and Snow from the Snowballs were racing. Both were still in championship contention, but after the heats, they would not be. The O’rangers were knocked out by not advancing and the Snowballs were knocked out because of later teams advancing. That left only eight contenders for the championship.
The second heat saw three championship contenders race; the Hazers (Smoggy), Oceanics (Ocean), and the Crazy Cat’s Eyes (Yellow Eye). By the end, only one of them would be eliminated. A clutch move by Smoggy helped them and Ocean move on, with the Crazy Cat’s Eyes eliminated as the only ones out of the heat. Six other contenders were left beside the Wisps.
Two championship contenders were in the third heat; the Savage Speeders (Whizzy) and the Balls of Chaos (Tumult), and both of them would advance, but because of the other teams advancing, the Balls of Chaos were removed from contention.
Now in the final heat, the Wisps (Wispy) contended against the Raspberry Racers (with Rizzy) and Thunderbolts (with Bolty). In the race, the Wisps would triumph over the rest and win the heat. The Thunderbolts were out once they were eliminated, but the Raspberry Racers were also out of contention too. By this point, six teams were eliminated from contention.
Four remained for the semi-finals. Semifinal A only saw one of those four, the Oceanics, but they were eliminated themselves. They were still in contention. however, if a few things went right. Spoiler alert: they did not. Semifinal B had the other three contenders. One was guaranteed to move on, but two would end up moving on, the Savage Speeders and the Midnight Wisps which eliminated the Hazers. They were the only ones left.
“Savage Speeders out to an early lead,” commentated Greg Woods. “Midnight Wisps up into second, they fend off a challenge. Can they get up there? Midnight Wisps take the win and they will advance. They could’ve stayed there; they didn’t have to make that last-second lunge to get up into first place, you will still advance into the finals since it’s the top two…”
If the Wisps wanted to win, they needed to beat the Speeders. Wispy, a marble that had never podiumed had the opportunity of a lifetime, and they executed on that chance.
“Midnight Wisps out to a big lead right off the bat, can anybody fight back? Savage Speeders are going to try it but it’s not going to work. The Midnight Wisps have done it!” exclaimed Greg Woods.
With two gold medals in the final two events, the Midnight Wisps had completed one of the most incredible championships wins ever. They beat the Speeders by one point, the closest margin possible. After an outstanding rookie season, they showed that they were willing to better themselves, that they were willing to take their best opportunity when it presented itself. There was never a moment when they gave up. They fought hard knowing that there was still a chance.
It’s an incredible year that will never be forgotten, and it will always be remembered as The Midnight Miracle.
Thank you to Jaiden for providing the script of Marble Sports Films’ “Midnight Miracle” as a feature for this RetRollSpective.
True to Greg Woods’ commentary, the Midnight Wisps and their fans partied until the break of dawn that night and throughout the next week. Their victory tour around the world started and ended in Harva due to popular demand from fans, with a surprise appearance by Willow Wisps themselves gathering around the Helarve Clock Tower to celebrate their homecoming. Two months passed before the Midnight Wisps were able to reclaim their private life and begin training for the 2019 Marble League.
The Wisps surprised fans during the 100 Meter Water Race when Wespy got caught early on in the race, unable to complete the race. In the Amazing Maze Marble Race, the team was eliminated during the first heat in Group E, even though they got second place in the heat. Their score was not enough to compete against the O’rangers and Savage Speeders, two second-place teams that did move on to the semi-finals, and then, the finals.
The Friendly Round for the 2019 Marble League, which featured the four auto-qualified teams, fared better for the team. The team got second place in all events except for the Underwater Race, where they finished third. The team finished in third place overall, in a comfortable five-point margin above the Savage Speeders and two points behind the O’rangers in second.
The Midnight Wisps entered the main tournament as the team to beat but began the season disappointingly as they placed in the middle of the pack during the first four events. The Savage Speeders dominated in contrast, holding a steady lead at the top of the standings until the fifth event, where they placed dead last in the 5 Meter Sprint. The Wisps placed second-to-last, earning just one point, and in the next event, the Midnight Wisps’ disqualification for pushing the relay block in the other lane denied them from scoring any points. They fell to thirteenth place overall.
“The stakes were high for the next few events, and I made that known to them,” Coach Wyspy disclosed. “It’s one thing for our team to make comebacks as we did in 2018. Comebacks like those are dependent on a series of early victories that give the team the spark it needs. That spark will eventually ignite a flame that grows into a serious force to be reckoned with. We didn’t have that spark yet.”
The team finally earned their first gold medal in the Block Pushing event, an event in which they had performed mediocrely in the 2017 Marble League. The team breathed a huge sigh of relief and followed swiftly in the next event by placing second to last in the Summer Biathlon.
Thankfully, their low finish was offset by two consolation points, which were granted to the team due to an equipment failure on the starting gate. Wuspy came back as strongly as they could in the next event, Hurdles, and earned the Wisps a second gold medal with a time of 8.744 seconds. Could the Wisps mount another comeback in the second half of a season?
The answer was a resounding “no”. The Wisps tied for fifteenth in the Hubelino Maze, earning just one point alongside Team Galactic, and continued to place in the bottom half of most of the remaining events. The team’s only saving grace was their silver medal in Rafting, which raised them to fifth in the standings, their highest point of the 2019 Marble League. In the end, the Midnight Wisps finished in tenth place with 128 points, a place which they had been able to rise out of in previous games. This time, it was simply not to be.
Though the team as a whole was too distraught to speak up, Coach Wypsy addressed their disqualification in the postseason coaches’ conference, expressing: “I still don’t understand why my team was disqualified in the Relay. The block that was knocked over was not in the path of any passing athlete, and would not have changed their results.”
What would have been a request to revoke the disqualification was ultimately lost in the heat of the moment, as Coach Quickly expressed their dissent distastefully. Following the conference’s adjournment, however, the two coaches were seen approaching members of the Committee in solidarity. That moment would be critical in founding a unique relationship between the Speeders and Wisps going forward – even if the disqualification still stands to this day.
The Will of the Wisps
an addendum by Ghostly, NordiqueWhaler, and The Emperor
Following their disappointing tenth place finish, the Midnight Wisps returned to their home in Helarve. The team was dejected, for the first time not being in the top half. The disappointing scene was a stark contrast to the air of celebration from the prior year.
The team was in a state of shock, surprised at themselves for performing so poorly, hung up on their failures. They would simply roll around their training facilities without any drive behind their practice.
Coach Wyspy noticed as much, stating to the Helarve Daily, “The team is disappointed in themselves. It’s currently clouding our focus on what we want to be as a team. We need to boost our morale, and quickly. As far as that goes, I may have an idea or two…”
The Wisps rolled on a bus, unaware of what their Coach had planned for them. Throughout the long ride, the athletes were confused. No matter how much they asked, Wyspy’s lips were sealed. After over an hour of riding, the bus rolled to a stop, and the marbles rolled off the vehicle, then stopped in amazement.
“Is this… Harva National Park?” Wuspy stammered. “But… aren’t we permanently banned?”
“Let’s just say, we pulled some strings and had the park change ‘permanently’ to ‘temporarily’,” Wyspy joked, enjoying the Wisps’ reactions. “Not only are you guys allowed in, but you can also race along the main path. We have the whole place to ourselves.”
The athletes quickly thanked their coach, eager to race through the park where they first met. As they dashed through the park, memories rushed through their heads. As Wospy and Wispy pulled ahead of the other athletes, they recalled the inspiration they had felt upon forming the team.
Remembering the hope and inspiration the athletes had at the beginning of their formation helped the team regain the motivation to give their all to training. But that wasn’t all that was accomplished that night. Unbeknownst to the athletes, Wyspy was paying close attention to the race between the members. The coach had recently received news of Marbula One and decided to test which athletes would be the best for such a competition. Because Wispy and Wospy were the fastest on the team, they were selected to represent the Midnight Wisps in Marbula One, as “Threat Level Wisp” and “Ghost Rider” respectively.
“What a surprise that was!” Wispy exclaimed to the Helarve Daily. “Not only did we get a surprise trip to the place where we first met, but Wospy and I were selected for Marbula One. Needless to say, the both of us are more ready than ever to give our everything to our training!”
The Wisps practiced on their track in Helarve. The track, Midnight Bay, offered perfect views of the shore and incorporated the famous Helarve Clock Tower in the middle of the track, as well as a floodlit tunnel and an invisible bridge. Wispy and Wospy would run practice laps leading up to the first race at the Savage Speedway. It allowed the Wisps to prepare for what was to come, as the rumor had it that it was one of the hardest tracks in all of Marblearth.
Wospy remarked about preparing for Marbula One before the first race: “To prepare for this tournament was a lot different than the previous three Marble Leagues we were in. This is only one type of event compared to many different, unique ones. We will have to be consistently good from the start to be up with the other teams.
Train as they might, it proved to be insufficient at the Savage Speedway, where Wispy got tenth place. The racers’ confidence took a massive hit, after expecting great results from themselves. That finish was only the beginning of the Wisps’ struggles. After starting at the O’raceway on pole position, on the third lap, Wospy fell off the conveyor belt, becoming stranded at the bottom!
“It was horrific,” Rojo Dos said when interviewed after the race. “I couldn’t do anything but watch as they plummeted towards me. I’d like to think I slowed their momentum at least a little when Wospy hit me, but it was still a nasty fall.”
Wospy rolled towards the pit lane, dizzy from the fall, and stopped. They sat there, tears in their eyes as they saw their pole position from the beginning of the race slip away from their grasp. The world was spinning as fans screamed and other racers kept up the race, most unaware that anything had even happened.
As the racers approached the final turn, they were shocked to see the stunned Wospy, sitting just outside of the pitlane. As marbles roared past, Rapidly noticed Wospy, slowed their speed, and changed direction, bumping Wospy into motion again. Wospy was surprised to find themselves rolling, but they recovered as quickly as they could, pushing through the shock and pain of the fall to finish the race.
Wospy slowly rolled over to their team, dejected and hurt. “I’m sorry, Coach. I… all that training… wasted. You should just bring out someone else, I’m only a hindrance to the team.”
“No, you aren’t!” a new voice cried out. The Wisps athlete turned around to see Rapidly rolling up to them, their silver medal shining bright. “You are not a hindrance, Wospy.”
Wospy ignored the Speeders’ athlete’s words, asking instead, “Rapidly, why did you get me rolling again? You could’ve won the race if you hadn’t slowed down for me.”
“I did that because there’s more to this sport than just winning,” Rapidly replied. “I believe that no marble should be left behind, not when I can do something about it. You are more than this one fall, and I know you can push past this. You managed as much back in 2018, remember?”
Rapidly’s words resonated with Wospy. The marble recalled 2018, where the team had pushed past their tenth place overall in the tenth event and won the full league. If Wospy had pushed past their flaws then, what’s to say they couldn’t do the same now?
Wospy glanced up with a newfound determination in their eyes. “Thank you, Rapidly,” Wospy earnestly says. Though still uncertain of themself, Wospy once more found the motivation to go on.
The same, unfortunately, could not be said for Wispy in the next race at the Momotorway. Wispy qualified fourteenth and finished twelfth. Soon after came Wospy’s turn to show off that determination at the Hivedrive, qualifying in fourth. Come the race, Wospy would get third, getting the Wisps their first Marbula One medal!
Changing up the pattern, Coach Wyspy selected Wospy to race at the Greenstone, who got a respectable sixth in qualifiers and seventh in the race. Up came Wispy at the Short Circuit, who qualified tenth and finished a disappointing thirteenth. Wispy would make up for the prior race at the Razzway, where they qualified fifth and finished fourth.
Now, it was finally time for the Wisps to perform at their home track: the Midnight Bay Circuit. It was Wospy’s turn to race one final time. What better way to end the season than with a strong performance on their home GP? Wospy qualified in seventh… and finished in eleventh. This left the Wisps in twelfth in the final standings, with only 34 points.
The Wisps had received another poor finish, and yet something was different this time. Instead of feeling down and mournful, the team was more motivated than ever! Rapidly’s words had meant a lot to not only Wospy but the team as a whole.
A few months later, the Wisps focused on getting back in shape for Marble League 2020. After winning it all two years prior, the team couldn’t stay consistent enough in 2019 and finished in tenth. Wuspy knew the Wisps were better than that and aimed to get back into contention.
“Last season, we had some trouble maintaining success. We had a bad start to the season in thirteenth and got caught in a cycle of medaling and finishing poorly in consecutive events…until we just stopped medaling. Knowing how well we have done in our other seasons, we believe a better start could not only keep us in contention but keep us motivated,” noted Wuspy at a conference before the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.
Getting there suddenly became a question, as after a subpar showing in the Balancing and a dismal showing in Funnels, the Midnight Wisps were projected to be in the relegation zone. Fortunately, Block Pushing was still on the schedule, and as in 2019, the Wisps excelled and won the event, getting a much-needed 25 points that put them in an excellent position to qualify. Even with Waspy, the reserve, subbed in for the Sprint, the Wisps were able to afford a near-last place finish in the Sprint to finish ninth overall and qualify for the 2020 Marble League.
“I’ll admit, I was nervous for a bit, but still had confidence knowing our comfort with Block Pushing,” Wospy commented after Qualifiers.
Wuspy’s belief that the Wisps needed “a strong start” was evident in their team’s Balancing performance: 353, just two centimeters shy of the Raspberry Racers ahead of them in second. Still, it meant a podium to start things off. The next event also proved that the Wisps could be returning to form as they finished fourth in the Halfpipe, just 0.09 seconds away from having two straight podiums to start. However, two eleventh-place finishes in Funnel Endurance and the Long Jump sent the team to sixth, even after placing fifth in Newton’s Cradle. This was the lowest that the Midnight Wisps would rank the entire season.
With Hurdles and Block Pushing coming up, the Wisps had a prime opportunity to lure in medals and points. In Hurdles, Wuspy went in the fourth heat and was surprised to see that Razzy had shattered their record. That motivated Wuspy to try to get it back, and although they did not break the record, Wuspy still won their heat and advanced in a heat featuring both Swifty and Smoggy, two of the fastest marbles running that day. The semi-final was different, as Wuspy would still advance but Yellow Eye broke their record. The final allowed one last rematch with Yellow Eye, but not a battle with Razzy as they would leave with an injury. The Racers sent Ruzzy in, and to the surprise of the other competitors, the reserve won the gold medal. Wuspy got a silver out of that and shared the moment with the Raspberry Racers reserve without any hard feelings.
“After the race, Swifty and I came up to Ruzzy and congratulated them on making history. I had never seen a marble come in for another in the middle of an event. To step in a captain’s shoes especially after Razzy had two record-breaking runs, and still won proved why they are the defending champions. Ruzzy may have some potential,” remarked Wuspy after the event.
The twenty points from their Hurdles silver sent the Midnight Wisps back in the top five before the event they had been waiting for: Block Pushing. After winning the event last season and having the best score in the qualifiers, the Wisps came in very confident. Coach Wyspy went all out and instructed the Wisps to perform the “Iron Willow” in the first run. It was an all-in formation and was a high-risk, high reward. The move paid off, because not only did the Wisps get the best score, they obliterated the record the O’rangers had from 2017 with a whopping 85.8 centimeters! That score was more than enough for a gold medal.
“We call this tactic the Iron Willow. It’s so risky, but if executed perfectly, strong and gracefully, it’s worth the payoff,” explained Wispy. “We come apart after pushing the block up, nearly off the track, so that we maintain our momentum, and then come back together for one final push. If you watch the replay footage, you’ll see how we accomplished that in the first heat. It takes so much out of us that we were winded during the second heat, but it was worth it.”~from “Podium Moments – ML2020 Event 7”, by Stynth
After Wospy got a decent performance in the Triathlon, finishing sixth, the Midnight Wisps were in second place at the halfway point. Even though they did not podium, Wospy enjoyed the Triathlon and hoped they could see it again for future Marble Leagues.
The Sand Moguls followed and strangely it was Wespy who competed instead of Wispy, who won this event to win the League back in 2018. They only placed tenth, and Wispy followed them with an eleventh in the Sprint. The two united to work together in the Black Hole Funnel. Their first run clocked in at 47.53 seconds, the best in their group and fourth at the time. The second run they had was 48.03 seconds, which was the best score of any team’s second run. That gave the Wisps a sum of 95.56 seconds and a silver medal.
“Wispy and I knew what we needed to do to get on the podium, and that was to keep on rolling,” stated Wespy. “In recording both of our runs above 45 seconds, I believe we did just that, and maybe even a little bit more.”
After slipping off of the podium, they got back on because of this medal, though they fell off again after an eleventh in the Relay Race and twelfth in the High Jump. The next event was the Team Aquathlon, which featured an underwater section after a sprint section above-ground. The first round had the Wisps squaring off against the Thunderbolts, whom they obliterated. The Wisps faced the Oceanics in the quarterfinal, holding off a late run from the team that had just beaten the O’rangers in a water event to advance to the semifinal.
“If there was any team we had to lose to…even after what happened in 2018, we’re happy it was the Wisps,” admitted Sea. “They proved that they deserved it.”
In a battle with the Hazers, a team who had shown their comeback skills in the water a few events earlier, in the Triathlon, the two teams were neck-and-neck the entire race, which ended with the Midnight Wisps winning by 0.08 seconds to set up a showdown with none other than the Savage Speeders. Just two seasons ago, the Wisps beat the Speeders by one point and hadn’t had a major clash since then. That all changed in the final: the Wisps started with an early lead before the Speeders rallied to force a photo finish. By 0.01 seconds, the Midnight Wisps held off the Savage Speeders in one of the closest finishes in Marble League history, earning their fifth medal and second gold, tying their medal total from 2018.
“It was almost fitting that the final was like this against the Speeders,” Wispy said after the event. “They are a hot team right now, so getting a win against them could be enough to take a shot at a second title. Two events remain for us to hold our form, and we are moving on to Collision.”
The two teams congratulated each other after the event as they both inched closer to the O’rangers. However, when the groups were drawn for Collision, Wespy noticed something interesting. They were paired with Team Momo, and this would be the first time Momomomo would partake in this event in the main tournament since that fateful day.
“The memory of the event still haunts me to this date, even after winning a championship.” Wispy recalled the event. “To see Momomomo like that is something I have to live with forever. Hopefully, they have gotten over that.”
Collision would see a door open unlike any other with the O’rangers finishing dead last in their group. The Midnight Wisps had some close calls starting with a draw against Crazy Cat’s Eyes. Then two calls went their way. During the highly anticipated rematch with Team Momo, one of the Momo marbles left the arena and bounced back in. The ruling was it would not count toward their total, as they had left the arena, and the Wisps won that round. Another ruling in the round against Mellow Yellow had Yelley teetering over the edge, but since they were mostly off of the arena, they too would not count to their team’s score, and the Wisps also got this win. They would advance out of the group with seven points…but would run out of luck when the Hazers bested them in the quarterfinal.
The Wisps failed to fully capitalize on the O’rangers’ dead last finish, but a team that answered that call was the Savage Speeders, who won the event and took the lead in the standings. With just the Marathon to go, the Wisps were in third place, sixteen points behind the Speeders and ten points ahead of the Minty Maniacs, who had just snagged a bronze in Collision; their sixth medal of the season.
Wyspy sent Wospy for the finale, as it was a Marbula One style event, and Wospy had proven successful in Marbula One before, with a bronze at the Hivedrive. Not many reporters gave the Wisps a shot in this event, as the Speeders sent Speedy; the reigning Racer’s Champion of Marbula One claimed P2 after the placement race, making a Speeders victory seem inevitable from the start. However, early on Speedy faded, and Wospy charged up to second place during Lap 5, only behind Yellup from the last-placed team, Mellow Yellow. If the race was called after Laps 5-10, the Midnight Wisps would have stolen the Marble League out of nowhere.
Unfortunately, the Marathon was a 33-lap race, much longer than the Grands Prix from Marbula One. This was bad news for Wospy, who after grabbing the lead in Lap 10, lost it on the following lap and started to run out of energy for the later stages of the race. Even worse news, Minty Fresh, who started behind Wospy in P16, jumped all the way to second and went on to battle with Yellup for the lead. Minty Fresh would go on to win the race. A combination of that, with Wospy falling to eighth place, led to the Wisps not only losing the title to the Savage Speeders but losing out on the podium altogether.
Although the fourth-place finish was just as good as their debut season, and they ended up becoming the second team to not score a Lead Cube point, it still devastated the Wisps. The team declined to speak to the media after the race, and Wospy was seen dejected in the hallway outside the Wisps locker room. Minty Fresh and Rapidly tried to comfort Wospy, to no avail.
“I had it.” Wospy cried to themselves. “I could have won this for the team; instead I’m an embarrassment. Surely this won’t come back to bite us… right?”
There was only one word Wispy did say when they finally spoke to a reporter. “Pain.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Wisps though, as when they got back to Helarve they were escorted to Harva National Park. When they got there, a crowd of marbles came to greet them, including Stynth. Willow, the manager of the Wisps, was with the Mayor of Helarve, and they announced that Harva was now going to be named “Midnight Hollow National Park”, dedicated to the Midnight Wisps.
“We wouldn’t have trespassed through the forest all those years ago if we didn’t appreciate the beauty of the hollow. We owe our entire career as athletes and our entire friendships as marbles to this very place.”
Wispy paused for a moment, listening to the forest around them. One by one, Willow Wisps started appearing in an arch over the stage. Wispy smiled.
Shortly after that, the Wisps took some more time off to explore nature. They went on a retreat and met up with the Savage Speeders just outside of Thorston. The two teams shared a hike in the forest while reminiscing on the past few Marble Leagues; namely the most recent one.
“They are not the villains some fans think,” said Wospy. “Not just Rapidly, but the whole team was there for us after that experience at the O’raceway. We’re still upset after losing that auto-qualified position, and overall podium, so it’s nice to talk to a team that is always there for us.”
During the hike, Rapidly mentioned, “For a team that had zero tournament experience before joining, [the Wisps have] been constantly up there with the best of the best.” That sparked an epiphany in Wispy. The Harva region did not have any marble tournaments, though there was a junior hockey league nearby that Wispy had competed in as a member of the Werewolves.
“You know…it might be interesting to have a friendly tournament with some of the other local teams in the area…maybe at Midnight Hollow,” Wispy proposed to their teammates. The team would come up with an appropriate name for the tournament, too: Midnight Melee.
While preparing to host the tournament, Wyspy received an invitation for Marbula One Season 2. While it wouldn’t be for another few weeks, the Wisps believed that their Midnight Melee would give them a nice warm-up before the season begins.
October would be the perfect time to host the tournament, with preparations for Halloween festivities occurring. The Wisps sent out fifteen invitations to the hockey teams, new local teams, and some teams that hailed from other tournaments, as well. A notable entry, Team Plasma, accepted the invitation after they had participated in the Herbotamia reunion. The Blood Moons also came from another tournament, hoping to bounce back from their sixth-place finish in the Stardust Classic Reunion. A bunch of new local teams was invited, as well, including the Demon Eyes, Vampires, Zomballs, and Ghost Riders, who were coached by none other than the Ghost Marble from the Marble Rally.
The Candycorns of the Surculo tournament were also invited and quickly formed a rivalry against the Pumpkin Patch, the former Fruit Circuit team. The Skeletal Strikers were invited as well after a letter of recommendation from Mallard of the Green Ducks. The Wisps had invited the Banana Splits, but only two of their marbles (plus coach) signed on. Fortunately, the former Hubelino team, Team Phoenix, had heard about their conundrum and offered to fill their remaining spots to form a merger, aptly named the Burning Bananas.
Wispy was excited to find out that some members from the Helarve Werewolves, the local hockey team that they used to compete for, had accepted their invitation for the tournament. A few more teams from the league joined, including the Rubow Charging Rhinos, the Wandering Stars (a merger of the Polaria Stars and Sotsevsa Wanderers), the Sliding Serpents (Las Veglass Sliders and Marblopolis Serpents), and the Dragon Roses featuring a merger from Zuro (Dragons) & Lewara (Roses).
Due to the limited number of spots in the tournament, a few other teams didn’t get to participate and joined the stands to cheer on the others. This included the Vellis Chasers, Draklin Defenders, and the Werewolves’ rival; the Thorston Storm. Wispy initially had thought they would be lucky to get eight teams at most to accept the invitation. Instead, they got a full slate of sixteen and even more watching in attendance.
The Wisps also announced that to help balance the tournament, the scoring system would be a bit different. Instead of the traditional Marble League scoring, it was going to be 20, 17, 14, 12, 11, and so on, similar to the Marble Rally scoring system.
The opening ceremony would take place inside the Clock Coliseum; Helarve’s new stadium that had been built a year ago in a bid to host the previous Marble League. While not as big of a fanfare as a typical Marble League would have held, it attracted fans from all across the globe and was live-streamed on Cable Marble Media as well.
“We’re ready to roll!” Wespy exclaimed as the first event was ready to get underway.
Funnel Endurance would face the competitors first, and atop the tower of funnels sat eight of the marbles, including Wospy, who advanced out of their first heat alongside Brains, Pyro, and Butternut. The final had those athletes along with Cranium, Gloomo, Sandy, and Scale. Unfortunately, Wospy was the first to fall, starting off the tournament with an eighth-place finish for the Wisps. The winner of the event was Brains from the Zomballs, who bested Cranium of the Skeletal Strikers, and Gloomo from Team Plasma to round out the podium.
Event 2, Hurdles, led to another shockingly mediocre finish for the Wisps, due to Wuspy not making it out of their heat even though their time was faster than other heats’ competitors. They were placed in what turned out to be the fastest heat of the event, being beaten by both Cranberry and Lunar. It was even more surprising that two reserves finished on the podium this event, including Slither from the Sliding Serpents and the aforementioned Cranberry from the Zomballs. Slither took home the gold, while Cranberry won bronze, with Haunt from the Ghost Riders winning the silver. After the end of the first night of the tournament, the Zomballs were leading just ahead of the Sliding Serpents, with the Ghost Riders and Team Plasma tied for third.
“We need to push ourselves even harder, and earn a medal soon if we want to compete for the crown,” Coach Wyspy stated.
On the second night of the tournament, the Wisps elected to host the events at Midnight Hollow, so that they could incorporate the park that had led them to compete in Marble Sports into their tournament. The first of the outdoor events were Balancing, where an old tree trunk was being used as a balance beam. The format of the event was still the same, and the Wisps turned in a superb showing with a score of 362. Amazingly, three other teams topped that score, including a whopping 441 from the Dragon Roses, which would have been a Marble League record. It was impressive enough that their saying, #UpTheRoses, was trending all over. They beat out the Blood Moons and Demon Eyes for the other podium spots, and the Wisps’ fourth was enough to get them into seventh place.
“There’s still plenty of the tournament to go,” Waspy said. “Plus…the next event is Block Pushing.” All it took for the Wisps was the first push to prove why they were the record holders in this event. They pushed the log as if it was nothing, and got 89.3 centimeters on the first push, a new record! Their next best push was 84.1, and the Wisps dominated the event, winning it by nearly 30 centimeters more than the next closest team; the Candycorns, and 35 centimeters more than the third-place Werewolves. The gold was all the Wisps needed to launch themselves to the lead in the standings at the halfway point.
Night 3 began a bit earlier, right before sunset back at the Midnight Hollow for a special event; the Nature Run. This featured sixteen marbles going down a long trail in the middle of the forest—not only to compete for points but to take advantage of the scenery for an event. A special guest came by to test the track, being none other than the current Marble Rally leader; Ghost Plasma! They raced alongside the Ghost Marble to preview the scenic run that awaited the competitors (Ghost Plasma dominated). The athletes themselves struggled, with some flying off the trail entirely and getting lost. In the end, Wespy placed fifth in the madness of a tightly contested race between the top eight. Trick from the Candycorns won the race in a photo finish over Rose of the Dragon Roses and Split of the Burning Bananas. While the Wisps did lose the lead to the Dragon Roses, they were confident about the next three events.
Later that night, the teams returned to the city for the dreaded Midnight Tower; a multi-storied and frankly massive track with its start at the legendary Helarve Clock Tower, followed by a Hubelino track circling the tower and descending into the Midnight Bay Circuit, which had been modified to include a new Gravitrax section where the invisible bridge once stood. This was ultimately followed by a sand mogul dune that led to a final splash down into the Midnight Bay for the final leg of the race.
Waspy was chosen to race for the Wisps, dominating their heat; in the final, they would fall behind on the circuit but gain some ground in the Gravitrax and get close in the final plunge. While Mess from the Sliding Serpents and Vlad from the Vampires finished on the top steps of the podium, Waspy stole the bronze away from Gibbous of the Blood Moons, making this the first individual medal they had earned in their career! The team celebrated their breakthrough after the event, and thanks to a fourteenth-place finish from the Dragon Roses, the Wisps were back in the lead by seven points.
Night 4 had only one long and exhausting event: Ice Hockey at Helarve’s Super Rink, a giant arena with eight rinks in one building. This amenity would allow multiple games to be on at the same time. To the surprise of the other teams, the Wisps had managed to get Greg Woods, the Marble League Commentator, to announce the scores and highlights live during the event! Ghost was also hired for the last two events to keep track of the stats.
In the first round, all the teams that hailed from the hockey league won their matches. Wispy, using their gold medal-winning experience from the 2018 Hockey event as well as their time with the Werewolves, got a hat trick in their first-round match, defeating the Demon Eyes 5-1. In the second round, the Wisps had no trouble against the Sliding Serpents, winning 4-2. The semi-finals brought a reunion match between Wispy and their former team, the Werewolves. The match went to overtime, and Wispy scored the winning goal, advancing the Wisps to the final. After the match, Wispy met up with the Werewolves and proudly thanked them for participating in the tournament, as well as getting their career started before forming the Midnight Wisps. The Werewolves would get the bronze medal over the Pumpkin Patch 3-1, while the Wisps moved on to face the Charging Rhinos in the final.
The three-time Cannon Cup-winning Rhinos took down the Wisps 4-3 and earned their first medal in the tournament. The silver all but locked up the Midnight Melee to the Wisps, as they now had a seventeen-point lead over the Dragon Roses, and a nineteen-point lead over the Sliding Serpents, clinching a final podium. Both of those teams would need a miracle to de-throne the Wisps, but the podium race was much, much tighter, with ten other teams still battling for the final spots.
On the final night, a full house arrived at the stadium for the Midnight Bay Grand Prix: a perfect way to end the Midnight Melee on the shore of Midnight Bay, just like in Marbula One. The track was returned to its racing form but would be slightly shorter, with twelve laps instead of the sixteen from the prior Marbula One season. The grid would be in reverse standing order, with Eyeball of the Demon Eyes starting in the pole and Wispy in the back.
Wispy climbed the grid early during the race, while Salazar and Thorn of the Serpents and Roses respectfully, never threatened and were at the back of the pack for most of the race. The fight for the title appeared to be over. But, a back-and-forth battle between Ecto of Team Plasma, Zucca of the Pumpkin Patch, Daydreamer of the Wandering Stars, and Count of the Vampires kept the podium battle hot.
In the end, it was Daydreamer who won the race over Crescent from the Blood Moons, but neither would finish on the overall podium. A bronze medal from the Pumpkin Patch’s captain earned them enough points to give them the final podium spot, even with just one bronze medal. Wispy finished in fourth, more than enough to secure the Midnight Melee title. Count and Treat finished fifth and sixth but were too far behind in the standings, and Ecto gave Team Plasma the other podium spot with a solid seventh-place finish.
The closing ceremony took place on the track, with the non-podium finishers racing by the grandstand. Atop the podium, the Midnight Wisps stood triumphant over Team Plasma and the Pumpkin Patch, winning the league by 25 points. There was no trophy given out, but rather, a sense of pride and accomplishment. It was not a Marble League championship, but it still felt good for the Wisps, who knew the biggest success of the tournament was not winning it outright.
“Overall, this tournament was a huge success,” Wuspy said after the tournament. “Every team was able to leave here with a medal, we got to stay in shape to prepare for the upcoming M1 season, and we had big fan support for all the teams here. Thank you all for coming out and watching our tournament.”
Zucca of the Pumpkin Patch talked about the tournament in a press conference after the ceremony. “The Wisps were gracious hosts throughout the tournament and we hope to come back another time. They allowed our team to grow and we ended up finishing on the podium. Who knows, maybe one day we could join the Marble League.” Zucca also called out the Candycorns for being a phony Halloween team saying they were “sus”.
All the proceeds from the event went to food banks around the Helarve region. The Werewolves sent a letter to the Wisps, thanking the team for an amazing tournament, and asking if it would become an annual tradition. The Wisps did not comment at the time.
After the tournament, it was time to head back to the track for the second season of Marbula One. Wospy got the first start at Minty Mania, having asked Wyspy to not race at the upcoming O’raceway due to last season’s incident. With the new form of qualifying, four teams would not make it to the race this season, and Wospy qualified, just barely, in sixteenth. Unfortunately, the race did not go any better for them. After watching Speedy get stuck in the conveyor belt on the fifth lap, Wospy had a flashback to their incident just a season ago and did not recover for the rest of the race, finishing in fifteenth with a time five seconds behind Starry.
“To see our friend and fellow racer Speedy fall gave me nightmares,” Wospy said after the race. “It was a horrible flashback to last season. But knowing that I got a medal when I came back, and given Speedy’s elite status as one of the best racers of all time, I know they will bounce back.”
Wispy was selected to race at the O’raceway and stormed on the track with vengeance, holding off Billy for pole position. It was the second straight season a Midnight Wisp grabbed pole position at the O’raceway. However, they didn’t lead any lap of the race, as Wispy was stuck in the midpack, and finished there in eighth place. Things got worse for the Wisps at the Honeydome, as Wospy failed to qualify—marking the first time the Midnight Wisps had failed to qualify for anything. Wispy had a decent race at the Aquamaring, finishing in fifth, but Wospy continued to spiral downward following a third consecutive race with no points, placing fifteenth at the Tumult Turnpike Grand Prix. Frustrated fans started to call for not only Wospy to be replaced in Marbula One, but to be removed from the Wisps altogether. In the last race before the break at Arctic Circuit, Wispy missed out on the final round of qualifying and finished the race in sixth place. At the halfway point, the Midnight Wisps sat in twelfth overall with 29 points, all of them coming from Wispy.
“We need a break. We’ll re-group and be back in the second half more ready than ever,” a disheartened Wyspy stated to the press.
Fortunately for the Wisps, a morale boost would be on the way shortly, as they were able to watch a private viewing of the “Midnight Miracle” documentary before it was released to the public. The documentary by Marble Sports Films highlighted the 2018 Marble League championship season, and how the Wisps came out of nowhere to steal one of the most stunning championships in marble history.
“We knew a movie was going to come out shortly after we won the Marble League, we just didn’t know how well it would look. Marble Sports Films put on a masterpiece of describing the 2018 season way better than any of us would have.” Wispy exclaimed.
With the announcement of the Marble League Winter Special, the Midnight Wisps looked forward to competing on snow and ice for the first time since their championship three years prior. The entire team traveled to the Himarblelaya Mountains on a quest to win a winter league again, establishing themselves as the rulers of the cold.
Wospy volunteered to lead the team in the Ice Dash but got stuck in a hard group that featured Swifty and Starry, placing twelfth. Wespy was chosen for the Snowboard Cross and looked good for a majority of their run before a late surge from Razzy stole advancement from them, meaning they would end up in ninth. Wuspy turned in a better showing in Speed Skating with a sixth-place finish, and with two events left, the Midnight Wisps were in tenth, just like in 2018 before their double gold medal-winning run.
The next two events were Bobsled and Hockey, events that the Wisps medaled in. Unfortunately for the team, that success was not to be duplicated as they finished twelfth in Bobsled and fell to the Minty Maniacs during the first round of Hockey, a bout that was a rematch from 2018. The previous champions of winter finished the Special in twelfth overall, with no medals to their name.
“Yeah, this tournament was a complete dud,” Wispy said after the closing ceremony. “We all thought that since we won in 2018, it would be similar and that we would be able to contend again. We did not, and we need to reevaluate ourselves as a team before the second half of Marbula One resumes.”
To start that second half, Wospy finally earned points at the Raceforest, albeit only two, with an eleventh place finish. Wispy put up another midpack performance at the Momotorway, finishing in sixth. At Palette Park, Wospy once again qualified in sixteenth…but suddenly climbed the table late in the race, and got to second place behind Speedy.
On Lap 16, Speedy was overtaken after a poor belt exit. Greg Woods chuckled: “Wospy, into the lead – and that was from dead last!” Speedy accelerated past Wospy the next lap and built up a bigger lead, but the two were neck and neck again at the penultimate lap.
Wospy tried to exorcise their demons and took advantage of a massive opportunity when Speedy blew the split turn in the penultimate lap, moments after Wospy had set the fastest lap. Wospy was in the lead with just one lap to go. Although a Tank Bowl between Limelime and Ruzzy just ahead of them enacted a Blue Flag, Speedy’s final go before the end of the race was not enough. The two marbles nearly crossed the line together, but by nine-hundredths of a second, the clock had struck midnight at Palette Park. Wospy had turned it all around and won a Marbula One race for the first time! Speedy congratulated Wospy on the win after the race, stating it was ‘one of the best races of my life.’
In their “The Edge of Glory” addendum by Fouc, Rapidly recalled that what happened in private was much different. “Speedy was being diplomatic in public. Losing two close finishes like that made them heartbroken. They told me we can’t train together anymore, because Speedy needed to focus on themselves. And the best thing I did that season was knowing I’m on my own, but not isolating myself.”
Rapidly smiled warmly, picking out a letter from Wospy sent after Palette Park. “Dear Rapidly – I wouldn’t have won that Marbula gold without you,” they read, “… At my lowest point, you kept me going on the track and showed me one failure didn’t mean I should be left behind… The world of marble racing needs you to contend like you always had.”
When interviewed about their letter to Rapidly, Wospy also smiled. “I knew they were having a rough season too. After I won, I thought that if there was anything I could say to lift them up, I now knew exactly what I could say. Rapidly gave me the motivation to go on, and I knew they would be able to push past this.”
The Wisps and Speeders’ friendly rivalry added another epic chapter with this race. After a short scheduling delay, Wispy appeared to compete for the Wisps at Misty Mountain and made it to the final round of qualifying, but had to settle for P4 to start the race. The race turned out to be controversial, with three marbles getting stuck and a late red flag. A bit shook from the commotion, Wispy would fall to sixth and finish the race in that spot. On the way down the racing order, they were passed by Rapidly, who finished third and earned their first Marbula One medal in over a year.
The Wisps, already knocked out of championship contention, could still settle for a podium, pending a double gold medal. The Wisps did get a double something to end the season, but unfortunately for them, it was a double DNQ, as both Wospy and Wispy failed to qualify in their final races, the latter happening at their home track, the Midnight Bay Grand Prix, where Rapidly won the race the following day, completing a redemption arc that was seemingly spurred by the will of the Wisps.
The Wisps finished the season in ninth with one gold to their credit. Wispy would finish the individual championship in eleventh, compared to Wospy’s twenty-third.
As the season winded to a close, the team returned to Midnight Hollow again to enjoy the full midnight moon, listen to the sounds of the clock tower, and bask in the scenery of the night sky from one of the overlooks just outside the forest.
“Who knows what the future will bring after an up and down year like this one,” Wespy told their teammates at the park. “No matter what, we will have each other, a title, and the moments we have and it all started right here.”
“These past four years have been an emotional ride, here’s to many more together.” Wispy added. The team toasted to that with Non-Descript Yellow Soda as the night carried on.
To kick off their preparations for the 2021 Marble League, Wispy got a head start in Felynia after being invited to the official Practice Race. Things looked good early on, but taking the upper path at the first split sent Wispy down the table and into twenty-first at the end of the race. Regardless, this was a good opportunity to test the climate in the hosting area, with the Qualifiers coming up soon. Their work would be cut out when they were drawn in Group A, alongside six other top-tier teams from 2020, four Showdown teams, including the runners-up Jungle Jumpers, and the newly reformed Gliding Glaciers.
“The Qualifiers are different this time, so we only need to worry about half the teams. All we need to do is finish in the top half and we should be good…especially since Block Pushing is here again,” Wispy said. To the distress of the Wisps, Block Pushing was pulled from Qualifiers at the last second and replaced by the Wave. Regardless, they hoped to maintain their status as one of the elite teams, and qualify for their fifth Marble League.
In RetRollSpective, the Midnight Wisps are the dark horses of Jelle’s Marble Runs—they have finished in the top ten of every Marble League they have competed in, proving themselves as staples of the competition, especially with their “Midnight Miracle” in 2018. If their performance is anything like what we witnessed that year, we should never count them out. Best of luck to the Midnight Wisps in the future, keep on rolling!