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RetRollSpective – Team Momo

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to focus on Team Momo, a team that debuted in the 2016 Marble League. Read on to find out how this team has persevered through the competition!

The official logo for Team Momo, designed by Tim Ritz.

Team Momo has never been a boring group of marbles. The team hails from the villages around Om, one of the oldest cities in the world. The four original members of the team first met in Temple of Om, one of the most popular restaurants in the city, where they talked about their passion for marble sports as they ordered plate after plate of dumplings. The four ordered so many dumplings that the restaurant ran out of them. When the four met early in the night, they were strangers, but when they left Temple of Om a few hours later, they seemed as if they were inseparable. A few days later, when they decided that they wanted to make their dreams of being in marble sports a reality, they named themselves “Team Momo” after the dumplings they had ordered the night they became friends.

Mo, Momo, Momomo, and Momomomo accumulated great interest in their early days not just because of their memorable names, but because of their talent in marble sports and optimistic charisma. Team Momo began training in 2011, and in early 2012, they began competing in the Ramen Bowl, a prestigious marble sports competition held in downtown Om. Within a year, they had risen to the Ramen Bowl’s championship league, and in late 2013, they won their first Golden Noodle. They won a Bronze Noodle at the end of 2014 and earned their second Golden Noodle at the end of 2015. As a result of their repeated successes in the Ramen Bowl, Team Momo was invited to participate in the first season of the Marble League and accepted without hesitation.   

Team Momo has the distinction of being on the first Marble League podium in the tournament’s history.

The team’s unique names, coupled with a strong showing in the 2016 Marble League events, quickly made Team Momo one of the most popular in the competition. It seemed very hard to dislike a team that was quirky, yet charming at the same time. Team Momo had the honor of earning the first bronze medal in Marble League history in Balancing and went on to earn two more bronze medals in the Long Jump and the High Jump. 

All four members of the team celebrated their first gold medal together in the Precision Slalom, which proved the team’s chemistry to be beneficial in competition. The team sat in fourth place leading into the final event, Hurdles, in which Momo reached the final race against the top three teams: Mellow Yellow, the Savage Speeders, and the Thunderbolts. Despite missing the podium, Momo maintained a marblous fourth place overall for the team, automatically qualifying them for the 2017 Marble League and securing their place as a team known and loved by fans across the marblebase.

“I kept surprising myself over and over again in the final event,” Momo recalled. “I kept thinking that I didn’t have the endurance to keep going, and then I got to the semifinals, and then I realized that if I went too fast, I might run off the track like Pinky Toe. When it came down to it, I just didn’t have the energy to get myself rolling in the final. But it was still a really good run for me, and most importantly, for the whole team.”

Team Momo’s best finish in a JMR tournament to date.

However, where 2016 was perhaps one of the best years Team Momo could have hoped for, the 2017 Marble League brought one of the most difficult years that Team Momo could have imagined. The now infamous Fidget Spinner Collision event, which was inspired by the oversaturated trend of fidget spinners that year, completely changed Team Momo and the Marble League as we know it. As Team Momo faced against the Midnight Wisps, racing toward the battlefield, all Team Momo and the Midnight Wisps wanted to do was their own personal best, regardless of how many marbles were left on the arena or how much they fought against the fidget spinners. The two teams raced onto the battlefield, collided, spun out into the fidget spinners, collided again, and a shriek of shattered glass erupted from the center. Momomomo, unable to control themselves from the rapidly rotating blades of the fidget spinner, was knocked into Wispy so hard that a chunk of their glass broke away from them.

Momomomo later said, “It felt like my life, everything I had worked for, it was all flashing before my eyes while I could only look back at the piece of me left in the arena…everything that was happening at the present felt like it was in slo-momo.”

Momomomo, clutching to their crutches, joins their team in an embrace at the Bakker Bowl arena.

The event continued past the injury, but not for Team Momo, which had to withdraw immediately from the event as they cared for Momomomo. In the next event, Greg Woods announced that Momomomo would not be able to compete for the rest of the 2017 Marble League, and would be substituted with Mimo, the first alternate ever for a Marble League team. Mimo was one of the best athletes competing in the individual division of the Ramen Bowl, and their recruiting on Team Momo ultimately gave the team the momo-motivation they needed to continue pushing forward. 

In the Relay Run, Mimo’s first event in the Marble League, Team Momo obtained their first silver medal in the Marble League. Momomomo reappeared in the stands to watch Team Momo get another silver in Block Pushing, and came down to the arena with crutches to congratulate their teammates on their bronze medal in the High Jump. Sadly, Team Momo’s mid-Marble League push proved futile to keep Team Momo in the top five, though the team remained in ninth place at the 2017 Marble League’s end.

Team Momo’s silver medal in Relay Run 2017.

The following offseason was, apart from training for 2018 Qualifiers, a time of deep concern and reflection for the team. Thankfully, with healthy donations from across the marblebase, including the Midnight Wisps, Momomomo was able to afford the medical care they needed to recover from their injury, which had seemed fatal at the time it happened. While Momomomo recovered, the team regularly checked on them while training Mimo as an official new member of the team. 

Mo has said of Mimo, “Just because they have an ‘I’ in their name doesn’t mean they aren’t for the team. Mimo has been a truly fresh addition to Team Momo and always inspires Momo, Momomo, and myself to be the best we can be. We have no intention of benching them, nor will they ever replace Momomomo: Mimo’s not only a great team member, but they’ve also strengthened the bond of our family.”

Team Momo also received several complaints that their logo looked like a smelly green trash bag over the offseason. When asked about it after the 2018 season, Mo declined to comment.

Team Momo appeared in Group B of the qualifying events with Momomomo fully recovered, which the fans were overjoyed to hear after a nearly silent off-season from the team. They scored twenty points, just enough to qualify and get the marbles rolling for their appearance in the 2018 Marble League.

However, this season proved trying for Team Momo as well. The team placed thirteenth in the first two events and was dead last overall after the second event. Team Momo got ninth place in the third event, rising to fifteenth overall, but got twelfth in the fourth event and faced yet another series of injuries. Momomo was replaced with Mimo in the retry after Team Momo got stuck on the bobsled track due to altitude sickness, and Momomomo knocked into a corner while on the bobsled the second time, incapacitated for the rest of the ride. Doctors quickly assisted the two team members, concluding that they would be okay, but not fit to compete in the rest of the 2018 Marble League.

Team Momary becomes the first team merger in JMR history

When Team Momo was notified of this, they quickly reached out to several marble teams, even the Green Gang from the Hubelino Tournament. Ultimately, the team merged with their close friends, Team Primary, for the rest of the season, forming Team Momary. This caused controversy in the marblebase (especially among Balls of Chaos fans) because Team Primary did not qualify for the 2018 Marble League, but the IMC approved the merger and allowed Momary to compete. The full team, featuring Mo, Momo, Prim, and Mary, competed in Team Pursuit, getting eighth place, proving that the team was viable and had the potential to grow as the season continued, even as it sat in ninth place in the standings.

Team Momary got its first gold medal in the Snow Rally, as Momo narrowly defeated the Savage Speeders in two races. This rallied the marblebase around the team in hope that they would be able to rebound from their difficult start. Although Team Momary got a silver medal in Curling, the team struggled in the remaining events, landing in twelfth place overall at the 2018 Marble League conclusion.

Team Momary’s only individual medal in the 2018 Marble League.

After Team Momo and Team Primary amicably split up, Team Momo was expecting to have another quiet offseason. On the contrary, the team appeared in both of the practice events with other Marble League teams, with Momomo and Momomomo back to compete. During the 100 Meter Water Race, the team placed in the top ten, and they reached the semifinals in the Amazing Maze Marble Race, proving that the team had recovered from its injuries.

Unfortunately, Team Momo was unable to qualify for the 2019 Marble League. After a successful first event, where Momomomo placed eighth in Funnel Spinning, the team was unable to keep its mo-momentum going and finished the Qualifiers eleven points away from securing a spot. When asked about how the team felt, Momomomo seemed hopeful:

“Being part of Team Momo has made me realize something: that I can’t quit when things don’t go my way. So we didn’t qualify this year. That’s not how I wanted things to go, but it’s not going to stop me. And it won’t stop our team from mo-moving forward.”

The team began their extended offseason by taking a vacation around the world, something they had not been able to do since 2015. They were visiting Prim and Mary in Van Gotterdam when news about the Marble League Showdown broke. The team returned to Om the next day to start training again.

Fan opinion of Team Momo was mixed going into the Showdown. Most expected that Team Momo would not win the Showdown, an expectation that the team itself shared. It was the fans that predicted that Team Momo would get injured—yet again—that bothered the team.

“The fans don’t need to tell us that we keep getting injured. We know,” Momomo said, disheartened. “Every day that something gets in the way of the five of us competing together, it hurts us too, e-mo-motionally. Momomomo and I have done a lot of rehab in the past year and a half to ensure that we’re best prepared for the conditions of the Marble League. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Team Momo competing in Collision for the first time in two years.

Team Momo started the Showdown off strong with Momomomo’s fourth place in the Sand Rally, but experienced a downturn in Collision, placing seventh, and a further downturn in Funnel Spinning, placing eleventh. With one event to go, Team Momo sat in ninth place, barely in the bottom four spots. The last event, Balancing, was the first Marble League event they had ever participated in, and as such, their experience proved to be fruitful. Team Momo placed fourth with a score of 346, earning nine points and jumping up to sixth place. The Kobalts, their fellow veteran team from 2016, placed fifth with a score of 345, just one unit under. As a result, Team Momo qualified for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers.

Coach Momomomomo revealed to the team over dinner at Temple of Om that they had received an official letter from the JMRC, which invited the team to compete in the first season of Marbula One. Team Momo accepted without hesitation and agreed for Momo, “Winning Dumpling”, and Mimo, “The First Reserve”, to represent them in the tournament. The team’s poster depicts the two athletes in one of the restaurant’s signature baskets of “racing dumplings”. Team Momo was also selected to host the third Grand Prix of the season at the team’s Momotorway on 29 February and 01 March 2020.

The official promotional poster for Team Momo in Marbula One, designed by Jack Ironhide.

Mo-moving Forward

an addendum by Ramen Powder and Stynth

Momo and Mimo exchanged glances as they traveled to the Savage Speedway, where the inaugural Grand Prix would take place. They both knew that the team had a statement to make here: that they were worthy to compete with the best of the best in marble sports. Having not qualified for the Marble League in 2019 and tainted by injuries in the previous two leagues that they did participate in, this was a fresh start for Team Momo: a start that could drive their ascent back to their glory days.

Momo participated in the opening Grand Prix of the season, qualifying in P3–very respectable. Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep pace with Clementin and Starry upfront and fell back after the ramp on the first lap. Momo couldn’t catch up at any point during the rest of the race and finished the first Grand Prix in twelfth, not scoring any points.

“This race showed me how much the level of competition has increased; after the first lap, I was left in the dust and never recovered!” Momo commented after the race.

Despite qualifying well, Momo could not maintain a good position at the start and fell to the bottom half for most of the race.

Mimo would race in the next GP: the O’raceway. After qualifying in P11, they hoped to climb positions early, because they knew that this was a more technical course with an off-road element too. Sure enough, Mimo rose to as high as fifth in the first lap, before falling to seventh in the next few turns. The next lap was not as kind though; after hitting the second attenuator in the sand section, numerous marbles passed and Mimo found themselves in the bottom four. Then, they were put into the same situation Momo was in at the Speedway; a back position with little room to make up ground. After finishing the race in a measly eleventh place, Team Momo was one of two teams that had no points yet, much to the dismay of their fans.

The next race was a different ball game though; it would be held at the Momotorway. Momo would be racing once again, this time on their home course, and aspired to net a strong finish to kick-start their points haul in Marbula One. Qualifying didn’t go as planned, as it resulted in Momo starting from P13, but they were undeterred. They made up some ground in the first lap, only to lose it right away on the turns, and the next few laps saw nothing but disappointment as Momo continued to fall. By Lap 5, they were trailing in last. While Greg Woods commented on how close the photo finish was for the lead, Momo finished the race almost a second behind the rest of the field. It was devastating seeing Team Momo, with their best marbles, fail to perform competitively in marble sports. The team was the only one remaining with 0 points; symbolic of their status performance-wise at that moment.

Momo lags behind the race leaders at the Momotorway and half a sector behind Yellow. 

With Mimo qualifying in dead last at the Hivedrive GP, it seemed that all was lost. There were no expectations for Team Momo to gain any points once again, but Mimo remained calm. Gaining several positions in Sector 1, Mimo finished the race in ninth. It wasn’t much, but it was a placement high enough to kick-start their pursuit of points and to reinstate hope. Momo qualified at the Greenstone GP in P4 and stayed in the top four for quite a bit, but a late pit-lane entrance cost them. Still, it resulted in a sixth-place finish– the best Team Momo had seen. Mimo also qualified in P4 at the next GP, the Short Circuit, and translated it to a seventh-place finish, even racing in second at one point. The previous two GPs got the team out of the bottom spot, and while Team Momo wasn’t in championship contention, they had directed their momentum forward; something they valued much more.

Three days before the Razzway GP, Coach Momomomomo called Momo and Mimo in for a meeting. Neither of the racers knew what was in store for them, but the coach seemed firm about this.

“Mimo, let’s have you race again at Razzway. The course design is one that I feel suits you better, while Momo excels at the elements of the final course, at Midnight Bay.”

Mimo and Momo were unsure about the proposition at first, but Coach Momomomomo insisted that they trust them. When the day of qualifying rolled around, Mimo got ready to qualify for the Razzway GP. Their target was a time of 29.80 seconds, set by Vespa of the Hornets. As this was the only qualifying lap set before Mimo’s turn, there was no knowing what sort of time would spell well for the team.

Mimo began their descent through the opening chicanes of the Razzway’s first sector, going high on the first curb but avoiding the second. Despite missing the speed boost going into Turn 6, their first sector time was eight-hundredths clear of Vespa’s. They kept it smooth in the hairpin, maintaining control before the attenuator, and drew left, to prevent any unwanted contact and slowing. This maneuver set them up perfectly for Turns 9 and 10 – losing minimal speed throughout. Mimo transitioned into the third sector, their margin ballooning to 1.62 seconds. The fans were getting audibly on edge, and once Mimo crossed the line, the tension became cheers of exuberance. Mimo set a time of 28.72 seconds – 1.08 seconds clear of Vespa’s time – and had the provisional pole position.

Mimo holds pole position for the first time in their Marbula One career.

The Raspberry Racers, with Razzy, were the next to set a qualifying time and faced a notably difficult challenge in the second sector: the attenuator. Trying to steer clear of it, they hung left just a little bit, but that led to their downfall – riding the split for an onerous distance. They could not recover from there and qualified under Mimo. Similar challenges faced the Balls of Chaos, Team Primary, Thunderbolts, Snowballs, and Team Galactic. With every misstep from another team, Mimo’s second sector looked all the more impressive, and Coach Momomomomo was grinning because of it.

Smoggy gave the team a momentary scare, setting a qualifying time just seven hundredths slower than Mimo’s. While their speed proved to be fierce, they couldn’t match the clinical precision that Mimo had; a skill that was crucial to master the second sector. Rapidly would go on to set their qualifying time as the final marble of the day, for the championship-leading Savage Speeders. After being in the green following the first sector, and avoiding the attenuator in the second, things looked good for the Speeders and worrisome for Team Momo. However, they fell just short, fourteen hundredths down, and Team Momo earned pole position for the first time in Marbula One.

The fans, once dormant after Momo finished last at home, were roaring. But, more importantly to Mimo, the coach, accompanied by the rest of the crew, was beaming. Coach Momomomomo could not have been more right that Mimo would take well to the technical course design, and they all knew it. Marbles were in awe at their performance, many saying that their second sector should be shown in schools. In a press conference, Mimo was asked how they felt about reaching this point after the past struggles the team faced in Marbula One, to which they replied:

“Of course, I feel great. I’m tremendously grateful for Momomomomo, for believing in me and my abilities, and I feel that all of us athletes on the team have a lot to learn from them. Pushing through adversity isn’t easy, but it’s familiar to us. This was the first step, the next is to maintain a good performance in the race tomorrow.”

Mimo would go on to rest up adequately for the following day, as the Coach made sure of it. Many marbles, fellow competitors and fans alike, wished to have a word with the pole sitter. They were all met with a stern Momomomomo, telling them to “save it for after the race”. Meanwhile, Momo was studying Mimo’s qualifying lap and training on their own to prepare for the final GP of the season.

Race day at the Razzway rolled around, and Mimo was more than ready. Looking behind them when positioned in the starting grid, and seeing big-shots in Smoggy, Rapidly and Orangin, Mimo gulped but focused their determination upfront.

A train of racers stares down Mimo heading out of Turn 5.

“And we’re rolling!” Mimo sprung out of the gate, but immediately got overtaken by Smoggy, who lunged past them. Smoggy going high on the first curb allowed Mimo to whiz right by, and the first reserve found themselves with the lead once more. Hearing that most of the field was stuck between Turns 4 and 5, Mimo didn’t pay attention, and instead, ensured that they would not lose the lead once more.

Taking a glimpse behind, however, they could see that Smoggy was closing in once again, having just overtaken Limelime to retake second place. A bump from Limelime sent Smoggy right on Mimo’s tail, which allowed the Hazer to get the best of them following a swift move past the Turn 8 attenuator, now infamous after qualifying. Smoggy, Mimo, and Limelime were a few lengths apart going into the final turns of Lap 1, alarmed by the news that the safety marble couldn’t get the rest of the field dislodged. Ascending the belt and catching up to the stragglers, Mimo found themselves amid something that no marble had seen before.

“As they snake around, heavy impacts here. Oh, this is all going wrong. Nearly everybody is stopped and we’ve got a red flag. A disaster here at the Razzway.”

To the news that the race would be restarted, Mimo made their way back to the starting gate, where they would start on pole once again. They gasped as they rolled past Smoggy, hearing a grumble given that their effort to get the lead had been for nothing. Through radio, Coach Momomomomo alerted Mimo not to let this opportunity go to waste; to hold on to their good position.

A restart could have startled Mimo, but it would not at the Razzway GP – it motivated them.

Following a fan getting loose from the stands and onto the track and conveyor, Mimo grew more nervous by the second, awaiting the resumption of normality within the stadium. It didn’t help that Greg Woods had wondered out loud whether the marbles up front had depleted their energy. The lights were on, and they were rolling once again. Mimo, yet again, couldn’t seize the moment and lost the lead instantly to Smoggy. This time, another challenger had got past as well: Rapidly of the Savage Speeders. Mimo, frustrated, picked themselves up and utilized the speed boost to perfection, shooting past Rapidly and Smoggy. This lunge was eventually to little avail, however, as Mimo faced the infamous Turn 8 attenuator. What was once a beast that Mimo tamed elegantly, now was not as kind, and Smoggy retook the lead.

Feeling some pressure from Orangin for second place, Mimo fended them off, now only a few lengths behind Smoggy at the end of Lap 1. A poor exit off the conveyor, though, and Orangin swiftly took second place. Mimo responded well by displaying their overtaking skill in sector 2 once more, shutting the door on Orangin mid-way through the hairpin. The attenuator caused them to lose speed, but it was not enough for the O’ranger to get by. In the next three laps, Mimo and Orangin were locked in a back-and-forth duel for second place, with Wispy, Anarchy, and Shock momentarily joining the fray. This battle for the bottom two podium spots allowed Smoggy to pull ahead, but Mimo, having successfully held off Orangin after Lap 5, set their sights on the leader.

Mimo missed the speed boost on Lap 6, which allowed Smoggy to maintain a decent gap upfront. However, when Smoggy approached the infamous attenuator, nearly covering the entirety of the first part of the split, disaster struck. Rolling directly over it was egregious for them, as Mimo soon gracefully maneuvered past. Smoggy nearly made an overtake in the third sector but was faced with a block: Mimo had seen it coming. Unfortunately for them, Smoggy had planned their next move and executed it perfectly on the hairpin of Lap 7 – a near-identical overtake to what Mimo pulled on Orangin earlier in the race.

Mimo chases Smoggy as Orangin prepares to pass them.

Mimo stayed in second for most of the next two laps, experiencing a brief back-and-forth with Orangin once again on Lap 9. Going into the final lap, however, Mimo was too eager to take the lead from Smoggy, as they were side-by-side for an instant on the straightaway between Turns 5 and 6. Smoggy was aggressive in the turn afterward, laying down the block to ensure that Mimo wouldn’t get by. Orangin took advantage of their loss of momentum, and Mimo could not catch up. It would end up being a bronze medal for Team Momo across the line.

“That ranks up there with some of the most challenging races I’ve ever competed in…” said Mimo, gulping down a bottle of water before continuing. “I’m happy to say that it was one of the most rewarding races too, and I’m exhilarated that I even had the opportunity to do so.”

“Our team is taking the right steps to finish this season strong,” affirmed Coach Momomomomo. “And I trust that they’ll do the best they possibly can at Midnight Bay.”

A podium (mo)moment that Team Momo desperately needed.

Momo remained to compete in their final of four races for Team Momo, and after a series of intense training sessions in between the events of the Razzway GP, they traveled to Helarve a few days earlier than the rest of their team. “There were a few landmarks that I wanted to revisit before all of the tourists came swarming in,” they noted in a pre-race interview, referencing their 2019 trip to the town to see the Wisps. “The clock tower is a marvel on its own, but it’s even cooler when the Willow Wisps gather around it closer to midnight. Legend says that if your eyes meet with a Willow Wisp, good fortune is coming your way.”

The racer declined to mention whether they had locked eyes with one of the spirits, but their qualifying performance would have validated it. Momo set provisional pole position with a time of 24.97 seconds. Their record stood until Speedy’s lap, where they rolled off the belt during Clementin’s run and finished with a time of 24.54 seconds. The next day, Momo took their P2 starting position to the left of Speedy, whose eyes were closed as they took deep breaths in and out.

“I’ve known Speedy for years, and I know when they’re in a race—let alone a tournament—to win it. At that moment, before the light signals lit up, I knew they would do everything in their power to achieve that.”

Sure enough, the starting gate lifted, and Speedy lurched forward with grace, handling the turns of the course with ferocity and accelerating ahead of the rest of the racers. Momo, trailing in second with Prim at their back, attempted to nudge ahead of Speedy coming out of the tunnel. But they would only push Speedy forward, creating a larger gap between them heading towards the glass bridge. 

 I spy, with my little pri… mom!

From then on, Momo continued to battle for the podium and a position in the top half—but they recall feeling gassed to take on the lead. “Prim was able to wrestle the lead away for a few laps…but there was no beating Speedy. They weren’t looking back.”

Team Momo watched from their pit lane corral as the O’rangers, Hazers, and Savage Speeders took the team championship podium. With 39 points overall, Team Momo finished in eleventh overall, a satisfying improvement from being in last four races earlier…but still with much to be desired.

“Our second half was stronger, no question,” commented the coach. “Consistency is becoming one of our tougher challenges to overcome as a team, but our potential is here. We just need to develop it into the outcomes we want, and maintain them.”

After the crew from Marbula One headed back to the villages around Om, they were met with raucous cheers from the crowd. Marbles all around the city were delighted to see the team once again, notably Mimo after their breakout performance at the Razzway. Coach Momomomomo, however, was unsatisfied.

“We improved in the back half of Marbula One, yes. But it was still only good enough for eleventh. We can’t guarantee that we’re good enough to qualify for the League yet, so we need to focus on training.”

The team would have a break in the following week before resuming their intense training for the Marble League 2020 Qualifiers. Momo and Mimo stayed at Om, as did the Coach, and they planned to explore the lesser-visited outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, Momomomo went rock climbing at the Himarblelayas, after mentioning that they wanted to start preparing for tougher events again, and Mo and Momomo explored areas near the city to engage in little, fun ‘mini-sprints’, that would help them get into the competitive mindset they needed but also allowed them to let off some steam.

The following week, Mimo found a letter addressed to them that appeared different from the regular fan mail they received and was surprised to see that it was from Dragon’s Egg, a marble now participating in the Marble Rally. Mimo and Dragon’s Egg had known each other before Mimo’s debut in the Marble League, of course, in the Individual Division of the Ramen Bowl. They eagerly opened up the letter, to which it read:

“Dear Mimo,

How are you? I heard about your bronze medal at Razzway in Marbula One– congratulations! You’ve grown so much as an athlete since we met a few years back in the Ramen Bowl.

Speaking of the Ramen Bowl, I’m writing to you to ask if you, and the rest of Team Momo, would be interested in overseeing the 2020 Ramen Bowl in place of me on the advisory board. I’m still on the board, but it’s taking place in a little over four months, which clashes with the Marble Rally season, but the Marble League should be over by then. If only a number of you are available, that’s fine too.

Good luck in the Marble League Qualifiers! You have my full support.

Dragon’s Egg.”

Mimo was excited to hear from their old friend, quickly contacting Coach Momomomomo about the offer. The Coach smiled upon the opportunity but reminded that Marbula One may resume around the time too, covertly alluding to the idea that they planned to reinstate Mimo as a racer again if they were to be invited. As a result, Momomomomo said that those not participating in Marbula One could be free to oversee the Ramen Bowl. The rest of the team were happy to do so as well, once they received the news.

Coach Momomomomo, however, made sure that the team remained focused. They were training harder than ever, but also getting adequate rest, as they needed it.

“How many laps more, Coach? It’s too much!” Mo spluttered, exhausted after a rigorous set of laps.

“With every lap, we get closer to getting enough points in the Qualifiers. We’re always on the edge, this could be what pushes us through.”

A few months later, the team entered the Andromedome to present, yet muted fanfare. Fans were happy to see that Team Momo had a chance to qualify, but they weren’t expecting very much from an organization that hadn’t medaled in the Showdown and had a subpar showing in Marbula One. One sour Limers fan remarked as Stynth descended the grandstands,

“So what if the Limers didn’t get a chance to qualify? I know we’ll see Team Momo throw away their chance. I bet you a box of Choco’rangers.”

Stynth politely declined the rash offer, joining the rest of the JMRC to watch the teams enter the arena and oversee the Qualifiers. Following an abysmal performance in Balancing, where Team Momo placed nineteenth with a score of 240, Mo spun around the funnels with confidence, placing first with a time of 2:34.51.

Mo continued to spin in the final funnel for eighteen seconds after Kinnowin dropped through, doing everything they could to have the longest time of both heats.

Team Momo startled fans when they had difficulty with the starting gate in Block Pushing—with the green flag crashing back down on Mo as they prepared to roll down the course. Mo declined to report an injury at that moment but stated during the main tournament that they were “surprised and shaken up” by the accident. In a redo of their heat, the team had only pushed 54.8 centimeters, placing last overall. Despite winning a qualifying event, they sat in the relegation zone with one event to go.

That left their chances of qualification up to Momomo in the 5 Meter Sprint. They were facing Red Eye, Wasp, and Indie of the Crazy Cat’s Eyes, Hornets, and Indigo Stars respectively. The rest of the team could only watch and hope it would be enough. With Momomo falling back and finishing last in the heat, the Momo fan section was in silence.

“It’s over, isn’t it?” Mo asked their captain, beside them.

Momomomo didn’t respond. Instead, a tear rolled down their eye.

The remaining heats took place, with every marble seemingly at the top of their game in the final qualifying event. Tension was in the air throughout the Andromedome, especially for Team Momo. Momomo’s run clocked in at the eleventh-best time, which gave the team 35 qualifying points. Due to their funnel gold, Team Momo had qualified, in a historic, four-way tiebreaker. Momomo sprinted to their teammates after the revelation, as they were ecstatic. 

“We’ve done it! We’re back in the Marble League!” Momo bellowed as they hugged the rest of their teammates.

Momomomo, however, quickly rolled to the section nearby, towards Team Primary’s section of the grandstands. While Team Momo was celebrating, their fellow team’s spirits had hit rock bottom. To be on the losing end of the 35-point tiebreaker was agonizing for the fans. However, it was Mary, their captain, who was affected the worst of all, pinning the blame on themselves for underperforming in the funnel endurance event.

“Hey, it’s going to be okay. Don’t let this performance define who you are as an athlete. Not when you’re capable of so much more.”

Mary sniffled, remembering their winning performance in the very same event three years earlier. 

“We’ve been in this position before, last year actually, when we dropped out of the qualification zone in the final event. It was demoralizing, but we’ve taken the steps to rebuild. I have faith in you, it’ll get better.” Momomomo said softly.

“Thank you,” Mary replied.

With a quick turnaround to the main tournament, Team Momo appeared in the opening ceremony, gleaming as if they hadn’t ever left. The fans were thrilled to finally see the full team, as this was the first time all five members were competing together in an official Marble League. Momo fans, however, were anxious about what was to come, remembering the dismal performance the team had in Balancing in the Qualifiers.

The team, however, put all concerns to rest. With two finishers, they finished sixth in the event, a pleasant surprise for the Team Momo fan section. Double-digit points in their first Marble League event in over two years was very respectable, and it continued in the Halfpipe, with their time being good enough for sixth-place again.

Unfortunately, Mo proceeded to place last in the Funnel Endurance event during the main tournament. They couldn’t replicate their strategy of stealing momentum to be the last to drop into the green funnels, getting swarmed by the rest of the field and struggling to apply the technique in the black hole-style funnels. They didn’t comment on their performance afterward, as they exasperatedly stormed off the field. The coach watched them disapprovingly.

After earning two consecutive sixth-place finishes in Balancing and Halfpipe and seeming comfortable in that position, they fell to tenth. Heading into Newton’s Cradle, Coach Momomomomo opted to put in Momo and Momomo, who had begun training together as a duo early on during the 2019 offseason. Despite their promising results off the field, the two only mustered a 96.5-centimeter push through the cradle, finishing eleventh and dropping to twelfth in the standings.

“This isn’t quite where we’d like to be, but it’s still early enough in the season,” remarked the coach. “We have a lot of opportunities left to capitalize on.”

Mimo and Momomomo couldn’t quite do so in the Long Jump and Hurdles, placing eighth and twelfth respectively. But it was when Team Momo came back together as a group that they were able to shine.

“As I rolled down the ramp towards the block, I could hear The MarBeats’ “Carry That Block” in my head. ‘Mo, you’re gonna carry that block…carry that block past the red line…’ We didn’t get past the red line, but we got the closest we could,” said Mo.

The team earned a silver medal in Block Pushing 2017 by keeping Mo and Momo close to the front and Momomo and Mimo behind in a slightly more separated formation, replicating that strategy for Block Pushing 2020. Although Greg Woods described the team’s form as “disjointed”, it was clear that Mimo’s “momomentum” was enough to give Team Momo a final push, which put them five-hundredths above the O’rangers to win silver once again.

The team’s first Marble League medal since Curling 2018.

“As cool as it would be to medal in an individual event of my own one day…there’s no feeling like standing on the podium as a team. I missed that,” reflected Momomo, beaming as they rolled down from the second step.

Momo lined up at the starting gate for the Triathlon with renewed excitement and came through their heat in first by over two seconds. They went on to advance through the semifinal in an extremely tight photo finish over Pulsar of Team Galactic.

“Photo finish necessary, oh, they got it! I think they did! By one-hundredth of a second! Team Momo advances!” exclaimed Greg from the commentary box.

The final would go on to be one of the most exhilarating mo-moments in Momo’s entire career. Despite a rough transition onto the Marbula section, they held third going into the water, and a great lunge forward had them in the lead briefly. Foggy caught up to everyone in what was one of the most legendary comebacks in Marble League history, but Momo would hold on for the silver. They finished just behind Foggy and just ahead of Orangin in the final to earn a second silver for their team.

“We aren’t the fastest athletes,” acknowledged Momo in a post-event interview, “but we make up for our speed with our strength, and that gives us a significant advantage when we’re overtaking. It took us the entire season to realize that, but everything finally started to make more sense when Mimo was overtaken at the Razzway.”

Momo played back the footage, and we watched as Orangin took advantage of Mimo’s arrested momentum at the attenuator, overtaking them for a brief period in the penultimate lap. 

“That was a critical mo-moment, if I do say so myself,” Momo jested, smirking. “In all seriousness, that’s the exact tactic I’ve been training for all season, and it finally came through in the underwater sector of the semifinal. It almost came through in the final.”

Team Momo shares a podium with the Hazers and O’rangers for the second time since the Razzway GP.

At the end of the first half of the 2020 Marble League, Team Momo was back where they started – sixth place. They would earn two more sixth-place finishes in the Sand Mogul Race, featuring a strong racing performance by Mo, and the Relay, where they barely lost a photo-finish to the Savage Speeders. But besides a fourth-place finish in Team Aquathlon, the rest of Team Momo’s season didn’t see them place above seventh in any event.

“We felt good about the Aquathlon, but the way the bracket system worked out, we got put against two of the best teams in the league. Honestly, I didn’t feel confident enough heading into those match-ups. And it showed pretty quickly,” Momomomo admitted.

They finished eighth overall at the end of the season, earning 135 points and two medals to end their first Marble League in the top half since 2016.

“Overall, I’m satisfied enough with how things ended. There’s more that we could have done, and we’re going to learn from that and mo-move forward,” promised Momomomo.

The team returned to Om on a scenic train route, which took them through Herbotamia and the Himarblelayas. As they passed through Himarbleaya, the team decided to stay briefly and go on a retreat to the village of Momili to hike, ski, and drink hot chocolate.

After returning to Om, the team reconnected with Temple of Om and their manager, Memo, who was Mimo’s oldest sibling. They asked Memo if they were interested in managing the team, a proposition that Memo could not refuse.

Stynth visited the team in the days that followed to report on their offseason, as well as Memo’s new managerial position:

If I could describe Om in three words, I would say “aromatic, bustling, vibrant”. The city, stretched over hills and plains, was perched in a dense mountain valley with newer construction outlining the city as it reached towards the higher mountain peaks. As my tram traveled closer to the city center, the surrounding architecture got older but never lost its luster, with neon lights and other modern attachments dressing up the thousands of historic buildings.

Mimo joined me on the tram on the outskirts of the city center, instantly recognizing me despite my smug disguise in Shining Swarm gear. “Not that smug,” Mimo commented, looking over my notepad. “But an A for effort!”

Mimo and I talked for the next hour as we approached Temple of Om, where Team Momo would be making a surprise celebrity appearance in the kitchen to learn how to make dumplings. I learned of Mimo’s eleven siblings, all of which were interested in different things, such as the arts, journalism, technology, and more! We were about to meet Mimo’s oldest sibling, Memo, at Temple of Om: after running the restaurant for a decade, they would be announcing their retirement from the business to join Team Momo as their manager.

I made sure that we entered through the back door this time, and we met up with the team, already suited up in their personalized chef jackets and hats. Momomomo handed me my jacket, which was embroidered with the label “Stynth – Our Mo-most Dedicated Fan!”I don’t think I stopped smiling that night, both from the delicious dumplings we made and the laughs we shared. Thank you, Team Momo, for an experience I will always treasure!

from “Offseason Moments – ML2020 Part 2”, by Stynth
Illustrated by Betawolfs, Memo instructs members of Team Momo on how to make dumplings at Temple of Om.

The next day, Memo joined Team Momo for the first time at the Momotorway to discuss plans for the franchise. Many developments from that meeting helped broaden Team Momo’s influence around the world: it was here that the Momo’s Dumplings brand was developed in collaboration with Temple of Om. The team also began discussing future athletic opportunities, including captaincy changes and the possibility of adopting a minor league. To remain fully transparent with their fans, the team live-streamed their meetings online at Mooz conferences.

A few days later, a familiar JMRC-signed letter was sent to the team, to which they eagerly opened together, anticipating an invitation to come back for Season 2 of Marbula One. Sure enough, they were given the opportunity, and upon discussing race performance in Season 1 and event results in the Marble League, the team unanimously agreed that Momo and Mimo should remain as Marbula racers. This also meant that Mo, Momomo, and Momomomo would be heading to downtown Om for the 2020 Ramen Bowl, as they were delighted to reunite with some of their old competitors. Later in the week, the team was ready to part ways for the moment. Mo, Momo, and Momomomo were staying in a hotel in the heart of the city, while Momo, Mimo, Coach, and Memo would get ready to depart to Herbotamia for the inaugural Marbula One race.

Momomomo, the oldest and wisest of the team members, took care of the trio on their journey. Mo was especially excited to meet the teams in the Ramen Bowl, some of which they were sure to recognize from before, while others would be new faces to them. Momomo wondered about the types of events, and how they evolved and differed from standard Marble League events that they were used to.

“Over here!” exclaimed a familiar, deep, voice. It was a dark green and orange marble, soon revealed to be the famed 2017 Marble Rally champion.

Dragon’s Egg smiled as the Momo marbles rolled towards them, and was accompanied by numerous marbles that were recognized as past Ramen Bowl competitors. Teams such as the Ramen Runners, Efficient Eggs, Pho Flyers, and many more were present.

“Welcome home, Team Momo!” they called out in unison.

Momomomo paid particular attention to Shoyu and Mell, two marbles from the Ramen Runners. The Ramen Runners were the oldest team of the tournament, hosting the inaugural Ramen Bowl in 2006. They were a very proficient bunch of marbles, having won three Golden Noodles and two Silver Noodles. Of course, with the rise of Team Momo, the teams had a friendly rivalry when they competed.

Mo and Momomo were talking to the Boil twins, Hard-Boil and Soft-Boil from the Efficient Eggs, as well as Stew, the captain of the Brothballers. These were also marbles that competed with Team Momo back in the day.

Some of the other organizers and advisory board members ushered the crowd to the stadium, hosted once again by the Ramen Runners for the fifteenth edition of the Ramen Bowl team division. The opening event, Race to the [Ramen] Bowl, was traditionally the first event held in both divisions of the tournament and was being set up for the next day. After being briefed on administrative matters on the advisory board, the Momo marbles rested up at the hotel.

The next day marked the first event day of the Ramen Bowl, with the Race to the Bowl being the first of ten events. Mo, Momomo, and Momomomo, watching from the VIP stands, expected the Ramen Runners to win the event. However, Scallion of the Spring Onions, a new team in the Ramen Bowl, set an incredibly fast time to claim gold, to the awe of the crowd.

In the following few events, the Spring Onions continued to dominate in their debut year, against all odds. The Ramen Runners, Efficient Eggs, and Brothballers, teams expected to be at the top of the standings, were placing well, but could not keep pace with the championship leaders. Every time the Onions seemed to downturn, they would follow it up with a medal. 

“It’s a different feeling, seeing new teams steamroll through competitions with such huge legacies,” Momomo remarked. “How do they make it look so easy?”

“They make it look easy here, but no doubt it’s been tough to get to this point for them. The hardest battles are the ones we don’t get to see,” Momomomo said.

The final event was a circuit race, partly inspired by the breakout Marbula season. The Momo marbles had played a part in making this run as smoothly as possible, as the Ramen Bowl looked better than ever. Championship-wise, though, it had already been decided, as the Spring Onions had an astounding 34 point lead over the Ramen Runners. They had clinched the Golden Noodle.

Mo, Momomo, and Momomomo watched eagerly, wondering who would win the final event of the tournament. The Spring Onions, with Leek, had already made their way to the front– but they weren’t in first just yet. Tonkotsu, from the Ramen Runners, grew their lead with every lap, determined to close out on a high in the 2020 Ramen Bowl. On the penultimate lap, however, they stumbled. The crowd gasped as Scramble, the captain of the Efficient Eggs, whizzed by and claimed the final gold medal. The Ramen Runners would finish second and the Spring Onions third– and those three teams would turn out to be the overall top three.

Team Momo comes down to the field to congratulate the 2020 Ramen Bowl podium finishers, depicted by Ramen Powder.

“I think we have a lot to learn from this,” Momomomo said, as they observed the Spring Onions basking in their glory. “There’ll always be veterans that do well from experience, but some talent is unnoticed. You can never tell when a team might have a breakout season and win tons of medals, leaving everyone in the dust. That’s something we’ll have to learn to deal with.”

“Yeah, we kinda saw it with the Minty Maniacs in the Marble League,” replied Mo. “It’s amazing how the most unlikely of teams can pull that off.”

The team would bid farewell to their friends in the Ramen Bowl, congratulating the victors once more and thanking Dragon’s Egg, who found time to make a quick appearance the day after the closing ceremony. Mo, Momomo, and Momomomo made their way back to the Temple of Om, where they had a soothing dumpling dinner.

The final standings for the 2020 Ramen Bowl. Table designed by Ramen Powder.

Meanwhile, the Team Momo Marbula Crew had arrived in Herbotamia, ready for the inaugural race at Minty Mania. Momo would once again be the team’s opening racer, hoping that this time, they would qualify well and keep it. The course had a feature that was new to Season 2: a banked curve, which made up a significant portion of the third sector. Momo studied the curve intricately, trying to figure out what the best way to traverse through it would be.

In qualifying, Momo set a time in the latter half of the field, and despite their attempts to master the banked turn, they had a sharp angle coming out of it, which lost them a bit of time. Their time was only good enough for 11th, which made the field but wasn’t good enough for the two-lap shootout in Q2. They watched the follow-on rounds for qualifying and saw as Smoggy took pole, followed by Yellow Eye, Mallard, and Speedy. Three of those four were celebrated Marbula racers from Season 1 already, and Momo knew what they had to do: gain as many positions as possible to join the fray.

The following day, Coach Momomomomo alerted Momo to focus especially on the first turn. P11 had one advantage– it gave Momo the inside line. The lights were on, and off they went, and Momo would pull off an incredible move: gaining seven spots from the first turn alone. They were now positioned behind Yellow Eye, Smoggy and Speedy as they descended in the second sector of the first lap. The plan had worked beautifully.

Momo’s effort to master the banked turn had finally paid off – they were exceptional in the banking, weaving inwards and outwards to gain positions and to find the perfect line. Before Lap 5, they were in second place, right on the tail of Yellow Eye. However, disaster struck at the end of Lap 5, with Speedy being jammed in the guide of the conveyor. The race had to be stopped, and despite Momo getting by Yellow Eye briefly, it was all for nothing as the overtake was made after the yellow flag.

Momo resumes the race in P2.

The rest of the race had Momo fans on edge, but it was all for naught, as Momo stayed in second for nearly the entirety of the remainder of the race. Momo set a couple of fast laps when trying to catch up to Yellow Eye, and picked up the fastest lap point in the process. The Coach was incredibly proud, congratulating Momo heartily after the podium celebration.

“The plan has worked, big-time! Last season, we took four races to get any points, and look at where we are now!” exclaimed Momomomomo.

Momo smiled faintly, but something was bothering them. They kept it to themselves, however, to not damper the lively mood that their fellow crew members were in.

Later that evening, though, Mimo noticed something was up. It was rather unusual of Momo to be sullen after a good performance, let alone winning a medal. They asked their teammate what the issue was, to which they replied:

“Everyone’s saying that Yellow Eye led every single lap and that this was an incredibly dominant victory for them, the most dominant in history. And officially, it’s true, they did lead every lap recorded. But no one seems to remember that I made the move for the lead, only that it was after the red flag. It was a wasted opportunity on my part.”

“Look, Momo, the incident shook everyone up when it happened. You and I, we’re no strangers to this kind of thing. But everyone else, they haven’t experienced being out on the field, performing, when there’s a report of something like what happened to Speedy today. It was only natural that you’d handle it well.”

Momo saw reason in what Mimo said, but still looked glum, thinking about what could’ve been.

“Don’t dwell on it. The important thing is that everyone’s okay. Hey, next week, I’ll do my best to make sure that no one forgets our moves for the lead again.”

The next week rolled around, and indeed, Mimo would be racing at Orlango, returning to a slightly modified O’raceway course. Mimo had watched the footage of Minty Mania several times, watching their teammate’s brilliant overtakes in the opening turn, as well as Yellow Eye’s masterful maintaining of the lead. They planned on encompassing both elements in the upcoming race.

Mimo had a sub-par qualifying run, though, as their time of 24.717 seconds was only good enough for P14. The silver lining was that, once again, they had the inside line, but how effective would that be if Mimo was at the back? It turned out that it would be paramount to Mimo’s first move in the race.

The lights were on, and they were rolling for the second time in Season 2. Mimo, replicating Momo’s huge early overtake perfectly, made full use of the inside line to get into fifth. A strategic move high up on the curb, followed by a very fast line in the sand section, got Mimo up to second place, just behind Cerulean of the Kobalts. Mimo drew closer to Cerulean on the front stretch, managing to slot themselves onto the same level of the conveyor belt in the run-up to Lap 2. Then, a very clean exit off the belt, and Mimo darted into the lead. The Momo fan section was roaring out of exhilaration.

Now that Mimo had done the part of replicating Momo’s genius overtaking strategy, they had to replicate Yellow Eye’s skill in maintaining their lead. Lap by lap, they continued to time their conveyor exits precisely, to widen the gap to second place. It also helped that second place was a hotly contested position throughout the next few laps, and Mimo, strong on the sand section, left everyone in the dust. Tumult, Wispy, Billy, and Snowstorm were dueling for the bottom two podium positions, and Coach Momomomomo advised Mimo to pay no attention and to focus on what was in front.

Mimo’s lead was a massive 4.29 seconds with three laps to go, and while it looked like it was an easy gold medal for the First Reserve, Mimo caught a glimpse of Red Eye behind them. The Crimson Cat was approaching, trying to make up some ground, and they did an exceptional job of it on Lap 17. The lead had shrunk to less than a second after just one lap. Mimo, though, was undeterred; channeling their energy forward and making no mistakes, and they crossed the line to win the O’raceway Grand Prix. The fan section was in jubilation, chanting: “Mi-MO! Mi-MO! Mi-MO!” louder than any other team.

Mimo after the race overjoyed to be on the top step of the podium.

Momo and Mimo sprinted towards each other after the race and podium celebration. “I told you! I told you, no one is forgetting about us now! Team Momo, at the top of the table!”

Indeed, Mimo was right. Team Momo and the Crazy Cat’s Eyes had both won a gold and silver medal in the first two races, but the fastest lap point that Momo won at Minty Mania put them in first overall. It was the first time that Team Momo, competing with Marble League teams, had reached the top of the standings.

Coach Momomomomo was crying tears of joy. They could not have been more proud of what the team had achieved; how far they’d come since being in the Marble League Showdown the previous year. In a team meeting held the next day, the racers, Coach, and Manager Memo discussed what their strategy should be going into the next few races.

“Of course, we couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. But we do need to keep in mind that in almost every season, we get all of our podiums, or good finishes, in one consecutive band of events. 2016 is the exception – you guys did a great job of consistently winning medals, and that’s how you were so close to glory up until the end. We need to return to that style of competing.”

The team decided to send Momo to the next Grand Prix, the Honeydome, to rest Mimo up, and as Mimo also expressed interest to race at the Aquamaring, the fourth GP. The Oceanics-hosted course had some similarities to the O’raceway, in the sense that there were long straightaways where Mimo hoped to reenact what they pulled off in Orlango.

At Buzzpig, home of the Bumblebees, Momo was ready to set a qualifying time. They would have to adapt to the unfamiliar sections of the course – being the Bee Dance section and the Hive. Momo set a time of 31.959 seconds. Like Mimo, this was on the cusp of elimination, but having placed eighth out of twelve racers, they had guaranteed a position on the grid. Momo gulped, however, when they saw the remaining qualifying hot laps; as every marble that set a time afterward did better than them. This meant a start from the back of the field in P16, but with Team Momo now being known for making huge gains in the race, Momo had their work cut out for them.

In the race, Momo would go on to make the large gain they envisioned, but it wasn’t smooth sailing for the podium just yet. Speedy and Bumble were dueling at the front with them, and while Momo held the lead briefly, a masterful move in the first sector allowed Speedy to get by. Momo held the podium spots for a few more laps but fell into the clutches of Starry, and to their dismay, Yellow Eye. By the end of it, Momo finished in fifth – a solid result, but felt bittersweet. Yellow Eye, meanwhile, got the bronze and the fastest lap. The Crazy Cat’s Eyes made the podium for the third time, overtaking Team Momo in the championship.

A great triple-overtake by Momo on Lap 3 in the Bee Dance section.

“We’re still only four points off the leaders, and well ahead of third place. The Crazy Cat’s Eyes are on the top of their game, no doubt, but we can easily take it back in Dunduei,” affirmed the Coach in an interview.

Mimo was competing at the Aquamaring, with Red Eye being their main target to beat. Those two had secured the top two positions at the O’raceway, and with four points separating the two in the team standings, they were the ones to watch out for here. Mimo qualified in P8 – good enough for Q2 and the team’s best qualifying performance to date. Unfortunately for them, Red Eye set the second-fastest time in Q1. Mimo couldn’t make up any ground in Q2, but Red Eye fell back to sixth, so the Crazy Cat’s Eyes would start right in front of Team Momo for the race.

Despite Coach Momomomomo being optimistic, the race went in the complete opposite direction to what Team Momo needed. Mimo fell to the back of the field, while Red Eye shot up to the lead right from the first lap. Despite a hard-fought battle with Bolt, Red Eye emerged victorious by nearly three seconds with the fastest lap, while Mimo finished in fifteenth place, outside the points. The Crazy Cat’s Eyes’ lead ballooned to 30 points, and Team Momo was now left in between a rock and a hard place moving forward.

Momo, however, was more determined than ever to make up for the deficit. They made it to the third qualifying round at the Tumult Turnpike GP – another first for the team. Starting in P3, through some wonderful moves in the banked turn, Momo set their sights on the lead in the race. Unfortunately, they fell back a little bit, and by the end of the race, Team Momo had gained just two points on the championship leaders.

In the final race before the winter break, Mimo qualified in P7, unable to make up ground in Q2 once more. Red Eye qualified in second, so the Coach made it clear that getting to the front of the field was crucial. Sadly, Mimo once again was unable to follow through with the intended plan, finding trouble traversing through the sharp turns and the ice bridge at the Arctic Circuit GP. While Red Eye finished mid-pack, Team Momo finished a Marbula One race in dead last for the first time in Season 2.

Mimo finishes ahead of Rapidly but with no points to their name.

Mimo was heartbroken after the race. Their blowout victory seemed like nothing but a fever dream at this point, with their two misfortunes being the rough patches that separated their team from the Crazy Cat’s Eyes. Coach, observing them closely, sympathized with the reserve member’s struggle but was desperately looking for a solution to get Team Momo back on track.

Out of the blue, Memo notified Coach Momomomomo and the team members that they were invited to a five-event Marble League Winter Special, hosted by the Minty Maniacs. The remaining members of Team Momo had joined the Marbula crew as they had finished up at the 2020 Ramen Bowl, and they were eager to participate. Momo also expressed their interest. Mimo, however, felt that circuit training would be a better use of their time, given their poor form. They agreed that Mimo would participate in the final event, Ice Hockey, as this required all five marbles but would be training for Marbula One before that.

“The Himarbleayas may seem fierce, but being aware of your surroundings makes it easy to tame this beast. Hopefully, we’ll be able to push through in this short series,” said Momomomo, telling their teammates about their experience going rock climbing.

In a meeting before the opening event, the Ice Dash, the team had to decide who would represent them in the individual events, as this was still unclear. The individual events, Ice Dash, Snowboard Cross, and Speed Skating, were held in Marble League 2018, but Team Momary placed poorly in all three events back then. Coach Momomomomo was set on sending out Momomo, Mo, and Momomomo in that order, giving their Marbula racers time to train and rest. Momo, however, openly expressed their interest to participate in an event, saying that they needed to remain competitively active during the break. Momomo wasn’t confident with being the first representative either, so it was decided that Momo would replace Momomo in the Ice Dash.

Momo would be racing against the Raspberry Racers, Pinkies, and Balls of Chaos in Heat 2. They watched as Blue Eye reset the record in the first heat, leaving the stadium in awe as the Crazy Cat’s Eyes had the spotlight. Fueled by their desire to overcome them, Momo advanced to the semi-finals, just two-hundredths of a second off Rezzy from the Raspberry Racers. 

In the semi-final, they were pitted against the Snowballs, Team Galactic, and the Cat’s Eyes, being side-by-side with Blue Eye. Momo kept true to the middle, dashing as fast as they could, and reset the record once more. They grinned momentarily – before facing a hard collision with Starry of Team Galactic at the line. Taking a medical check before the final, Momo was a little shaken up, and could only get bronze as the Crazy Cat’s Eyes won gold in the first event again. Momo, though, was thrilled to be back on the podium, with the team continuing to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Momo was happy to take a bronze home in the Winter Special but felt unfulfilled for the rest of the tournament.

In the next couple of events, Mo finished in the bottom half in the Snowboard Cross, while the team captain set a time in Speed Skating good enough for fifth place. To the Coach’s dismay, however, the preparation for Bobsled did not go as planned. Momomo was reported to have altitude sickness, and the team was obligated to let them rest. This meant that Mimo had to substitute in, which turned out okay, as they placed in the top half. Momomomomo was worried that Mimo was losing valuable Marbula practice, and rightfully so.

Going into the final event, Team Momo had an outside shot at the title from sixth, but the Oceanics were easily the favorites to take the Winter Special. The Coach targeted a podium, which required them to clear the first two teams at the very least. Alas, this did not happen, as they were no match for Team Galactic in the Round of 16. Placing fourteenth in the event, Team Momo fell to ninth overall, in a similar fashion to Marble League 2017. They watched longingly as the Oceanics, O’rangers, and Hazers made up the overall podium.

“We struggle so much in collision-style events,” lamented Mo. “We were in a good position, but maybe we’re doomed to mediocrity after all.”

“It’s good that we’re participating in these off-season events. We know where to improve, and we’ll make the effort to do so,” replied the Coach.

The entire team was ready to head to Lewara together, which had a very different, more tropical climate to that of the Himarbleayas. Momo was set to race at the Raceforest GP, hosted by the Jungle Jumpers. They were antsy in the starting blocks after the Winter Special, especially since this would be the first time they were competing with the individual championship leader, Red Eye. Whether the Crazy Cat’s Eyes would slow down in the second half was not in Momo’s control, but whether Team Momo would bridge that gap was.

Momo was to set a time in the penultimate pair of marbles, right after Bolt. They weren’t used to the slower pace that this course required, and unable to make up ground, they could only place sixteenth out of eighteen marbles. If both Billy and Red Eye did worse, Momo would still make the field, but that was an incredibly tall order. Billy did not, as they made it to seventh, but it was Red Eye’s performance, the best of all Q1 times, that deepened the sinking feeling in Momo’s stomach. The team had failed to achieve a grid position for the first time all season, and now as already behind the Green Ducks as well, they were only going to lose more ground on the championship lead.

“Coach was right,” sighed Momo dejectedly to Mimo later that day. “Taking part in the Ice Dash in the Winter Special felt great in the mo-moment, but I could’ve spent that time training. Here we are, paying the price.”

Mimo didn’t say anything in response. They wanted to console their fellow racer, but they knew that making it up on the track the next week would be a thousand times better than any words at that moment.

Team Momo’s home Grand Prix, with their map designed by Spex.

The eighth race on the calendar was to be held back at home for Team Momo, as the Momotorway Grand Prix would return for the second season of Marbula One. The track, while being an all too familiar one to the team, was also one where Momo had placed sixteenth on in Season 1. Mimo needed to turn things around completely. Surely, their attempt to fulfill their championship aspirations couldn’t get any worse here, right? Or so, Mimo thought.

Mimo would go on to set a fairly slow time in Q1 and was barely in the DNQ zone before the final pair of racers set their times. With Shock riding the split before Sector 2 very egregiously, they set the worst time of the day, allowing Mimo to qualify for the GP. They did have some of their first-half magic in them, as Mimo climbed several spots throughout the race, but it was only good enough for seventh. Meanwhile, Yellow Eye claimed gold at Om, eliminating half of all teams from championship contention then and there.

After a few weeks of waiting, Momo lined up for the Palette Park GP. They managed to qualify this time in P11 and hoped to gain several positions again in the race. Red Eye qualified in P15, a season-low for them, but Momo didn’t pay attention. Instead, they were more focused on the teams that were right on Team Momo’s radar: the Thunderbolts and the Green Ducks. Bolt only qualified in P14, Billy; a DNQ. The race was a great opportunity to make up some ground on those two teams, but every time Momo could make an overtake, they’d get their place taken from them by another marble. Despite being in sixth for a decent part of the mid-race, Momo finished in tenth. A bit of a missed opportunity, considering Bolt and Red Eye didn’t do much better. Team Momo was now the lowest team, in fourth, that was still in championship contention, but given that it was near impossible to usurp the Cat’s Eyes, their eyes lay on second place for now.

Race 10, the Misty Mountain GP, would take place a couple of weeks later again, having been delayed due to navigation issues around Mount Huaze. The track was quite literally clouded in mist, bearing an aura of mystery and foreboding, similar to an aura that the Hazers carried themselves. Mimo, though, took well to the course in qualifiers – making it to Q2 and just missing out on Q3 by qualifying in P5. The race, however, was an entirely different story. Mimo climbed all the way to first, in a close battle with Cerulean and Bumble. They heard that Clutter had been stuck in the safety marble lane, but Mimo, while concerned, made sure to focus on the race. On Lap 9, Bumble had gotten stuck on Turn 6, but they were still in race conditions as Cerulean and Mimo stretched their margin to third incredibly. Four laps later, a red flag was called, and the four-second margin evaporated with a race restart.

Mimo got swarmed up by the field in the first lap of the restart, falling to eleventh at one point. They tried their hardest to make up for time lost, and gained a few spots, but finished in eighth at the end of it. It was such a letdown that Mimo’s hard work in most of the race had gone to waste. Momo watched them from the sidelines, remembering how their overtake at Minty Mania for the lead had been in vain. This was far, far worse. In an interview, Mimo tried to be optimistic. “I did my best,” is all that they had the heart to say.

In the penultimate GP, at the Savage Speedway, Momo qualified in P13 and made up no spots during the race. However, the attention was all on Red Eye, winning the race from pole and setting the fastest lap for the first-ever 27-point haul in a race, in nearly seven minutes of pure racing domination. Both the individual and team titles were now unassailable, but Coach Momomomomo wished for the team to close out on a high. At Helarve, for the final GP of the season, Mimo qualified in P8 making it to Q2. Previously, starting in the mid-pack spelled trouble for the first reserve, but not this time. 

Despite being in last after the first lap, they made overtakes in nearly every lap to get closer to the front. Dueling with Cerulean, Razzy and Rapidly, Mimo finished the final race in fourth, the team’s best performance since their win at the O’raceway. It was enough to put Team Momo back in the top five overall, and both racers in the top twelve individually. 

Mimo rests by the conveyor belt, having completed their second season of Marbula One ninth in the Racer’s Championship.

“This was not an easy season,” remarked Coach Momomomomo. “We struggled in the mid-season after a great start, team morale was low, and our hard work was in vain at times. But in the end, we pulled through, and improved massively from Season 1.”

A few days later, Momo and Mimo were waiting for their flight back to Om. They thought about the team’s place in marble sports, now in the presence of unmatched, perfect performance. In a way, the Spring Onions topping the Ramen Bowl opened up the possibility of such domination, and the Crazy Cat’s Eyes in Marbula One allowed Team Momo to experience it firsthand.

“You know, looking back, it feels silly that we considered the Cat’s Eyes our rivals. They’re masters of the sport, but if we could maintain our early good form throughout, we may be able to put up a fight,” said Momo.

Team Momo remained yet to have a tournament where they didn’t win all of their medals in three consecutive events following 2016. With the Marble League 2021 Qualifiers coming up, they hoped to achieve this in the tournament but had to train hard to ensure qualification. In the meantime, they enjoyed the rest of their offseason cooking and eating dumplings, as well as watching the Marble Rally and cheering on Dragon’s Egg.

Manager Memo received a memo about a practice sand rally taking place in the Cat’s Dunes near Felynia Coliseum, where the 2021 Marble League would be held. Momomomo was the team’s most proficient rally marble, and appropriately, was chosen to represent Team Momo in the race. They finished in third to earn a bronze medal behind Indie and Rojo Uno from the Indigo Stars and Rojo Rollers – a very fine performance considering all 28 teams had taken part.

Momomomo finished third in the 2021 Practice Race, a potential bellwether for the 2021 season…

“If this is how we’re going to do in the qualifiers, I have a very good feeling about the Marble League this year,” commented the Coach.

In RetRollSpective, Team Momo has seen a rollercoaster of events occur over the past five seasons, but the team is still very well regarded by other marble athletes and the fans for its fun, its traditions, and its achievements in competition. With hope, the team will continue to charm its fans through its talent and its passion. Best of luck to Team Momo in the near future, keep on rolling!


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