RetRollSpective – Jawbreakers

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to focus on the Jawbreakers, a team that originated in the 2016 Marble League and went inactive in the spring of 2021. Read on to see how this team crushed its competition!

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

The Jawbreakers were involved in marble sports for many years. The original team, consisting of Candy, Tidbit, Mouthful, and Tongue Twister, were originally involved in professional wrestling and competed against each other in lucha marbre leagues such as the Extreme Lucha Marbre Championship. Candy, the only athlete who remained on the team since its inception, is from the city of Jawnair. While Candy was a wrestler, they were known as “Royal Candy, the Jawbreaker”.

Candy, Tidbit, Mouthful, and Tongue Twister were known as the “elite four” of the ELMC and were in a fierce rivalry for many years. All four of them expressed their past distaste for each other in interviews:

“Candy has always been as annoying as a toothache,” Mouthful complained, after a gut-wrenching loss in Jawnair. “I could never see myself getting along with them.”

“Candy consistently crushes the competition,” told Tongue Twister. “Whenever I beat them, it’s a sweet victory for me.”

“Look, there’s a reason they call me royalty. They all know that I’m the best,” asserted Candy. “And they all know that I’m the glue that keeps everyone together in this rivalry.”

Tidbit shuffled off to the side when interviewed. “Honestly…I don’t care about Candy. It’s just Mouthful and Tongue Twister…they’re so relentless about winning against Candy that it makes me want to fight them even more.”

This lovely graphic of the Jawbreakers wrestling was designed by Betawolfs!

The Jawbreakers became individually famous as wrestlers but made headlines in 2010 when they decided to compete in an exhibition race as a part of the Surculo. The exhibition called for other sports leagues to participate in a short sand race down Colina Umerun to raise money for the preservation of Numerun Antigua. Thousands of fans petitioned the ELMC for what they thought was the impossible—an “elite four” team-up. After signing dozens of contracts and waivers, the Jawbreakers applied together, using Candy’s nickname as their team name, to compete in the race.

They finished third, a surprising feat for a team of professional wrestlers with no synergy between the four. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that a team of BASE jumpers, who nearly overslept after going out the night before, won the race. That team, the Jungle Jumpers, joined the Surculo the following year after retiring. The Jawbreakers followed in their footsteps not long after.

The original members of the Jawbreakers pose for a Marble League photoshoot.

“Everything changed after that race. We realized that we have much more in common than we thought,” Tidbit remarked. “We became less motivated to tear each other apart because we had that experience together, and it wasn’t long before we realized we wanted more of that.”

“We became more motivated to tear apart the Jungle Jumpers, which we were finally able to do in the 2015 Surculo,” Candy asserted. “It took us a few years to get through to the elite tournament, but we did. The Rojo Rollers gave us a run for our money, but we were triumphant in the end.”

With the announcement of the 2016 Marble League, Greg Woods extended an invite to the leading teams of many regional marble sports tournaments. This included the top three teams of the 2015 Surculo, and the Jawbreakers were accepted as the top team in the tournament. The Jungle Jumpers declined so they could vie for the 2016 Surculo championship.

The Jawbreakers debuted in eleventh place but quickly turned their season around by earning two back-to-back silver medals in the Relay Race (qualifying for the final on the faulty track) and Collision. The team peaked after the third event at second in the overall standings but stayed in the top three after Candy finished fourth in the Sand Rally. That said, the Jawbreakers did not fare well during the rest of the season, earning just three points over the next eight events. They finished seventh overall, landing in the middle of the sixteen competitors.

The Jawbreakers’ silver medal in Collision.

During the offseason leading into the 2017 Marble League, a major shakeup occurred in the team’s lineup, with every member leaving the team except Candy. When questioned about the changes, Candy was bitter:

“I was miserable last year [in 2016]. I don’t care how well we placed, you all treated me like I was a cough drop. Sugar, Sweet, and Taffy are all amazing teammates. They listen to me, and no matter what happens, at least we know we’re doing the right thing.”

Candy recruited Sugar, Sweet, and Taffy from Jawnair’s premier wrestling league, citing them as “some of the strongest, fairest” marbles they had ever known. Their decision seemed to pay off during the 2017 Marble League Qualifiers, where Sugar won the Sand Rally and put the Jawbreakers in the position to qualify in eleventh overall.

The Jawbreakers were optimistic about their performance in the main tournament, but they did not impress. The team did not make the podium once during the season, although they came close with Taffy’s 37.5-centimeter performance during the High Jump. With several finishes in the middle of the pack, the Jawbreakers finished the 2017 Marble League in thirteenth place. 

Tidbit joined sometime before the 2018 Marble League Qualifiers as the Jawbreakers’ reserve, hoping to bring back some of the inaugural season’s successes. Sadly, the team was never within reach of qualifying in Group A, staying in fifth for three of the four events and dropping to sixth after the Halfpipe to finish there.

The unqualified teams of the 2018 Marble League.

“I apologized to Candy about our many arguments. Well, I didn’t participate in them. I mostly sided with Mouthful and Tongue Twister,” Tidbit explained. “So I guess I apologized to Candy for siding with them. Candy forgave me, and I was accepted onto the team as a reserve member.”

After witnessing the 2018 Marble League from the stands, the Jawbreakers competed in the Consolation Race, submitting Taffy, who placed eleventh. Sugar competed in the 100 Meter Water Race and was unable to finish the race, placing twenty-fifth. The four team members competed in the Amazing Maze Marble Race and placed tenth overall, blocked from advancing to the semifinals by the Savage Speeders and O’rangers’ advancements.

The team was not expected to qualify for the 2019 Marble League, but then again, neither were the Chocolatiers. The Jawbreakers did not place above twelfth in any of the four events, failing to qualify in seventeenth place.

“It’s pretty clear that the 2019 Jawbreakers team is not the 2016 Jawbreakers team,” Mouthful mused. “Maybe if Royal Candy hadn’t been so bossy, we would have done better. I wish nothing but the worst for them.”

The team’s first individual medal in the Marble League, claimed by “Royal” Candy.

The Jawbreakers needed a breakout moment, and Candy, now appointed the team’s captain, needed reassurance more than anyone else on the team. After acquiring Gummy as the team’s coach, the Jawbreakers began training for the 2019 Marble League Showdown, a tournament that would define their placement in the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. Candy’s debut in the first event, the Sand Rally, gave them the justification they had been seeking for three years when they won the race:

“I promise you that we’re doing the right thing. Look, it just worked. I—I mean, we—just got our first medal in over two years. I think that means we’re on the right track.”

Tidbit finally competed in their first event during Collision, where the team lost during the quarterfinals and placed eighth. The Jawbreakers kept the rest of their placements in the middle and finished the Showdown in fifth, advancing to the next season’s qualifiers.

Jawbroken

an addendum by Roilan Estates

The 2020 Marble League approached quickly as Candy was pushing the team to their limit in an attempt to make it back to the main show. Almost every daylight hour in Jawnair was dedicated to training, rain or shine, under one of the most intense training regimens in the Marble League. Gummy was around to monitor the team, but Candy served as almost a player-coach when the team trained.

“Candy has emphasized our improvement and has encouraged us to keep the form from last season’s Showdown. It’s been encouraging, but has come at the cost of a lot of sweat and tears,” Sugar explained when asked about the training routine, “I don’t even know who won the Marbula One championship because all my time has gone to training, eating, or sleeping.” 

Determined as ever, the team entered the Andromedome for the Qualifiers. They had a slow start in Balancing as three of the four members fell off before 65 cm. Sweet did manage to make it to the end of the beam, but couldn’t navigate into the catch basin at the end, so the team left ten points on the board. Those ten points would not come into play, however, and the Jawbreakers finished the opening event in fourteenth place.

Sweet just missed the catch basin at the end of the beam.

Candy got the team back on track in Funnel Endurance. Keeping cool in a chaotic event, Candy managed to stay out of many negative collisions, and they finished second in their heat and fourth overall. The sixteen points earned landed them in ninth overall, but after a rough performance in Block Pushing, they found themselves below the cutoff line with one event to go. Against Candy’s campaigning, Gummy sent Sweet out in the 5 Meter Sprint. Unfortunately, Sweet got a slow start out of the gate and could never recover. They finished last in their heat and seventeenth overall. As a result of poor results in the final two events, the Jawbreakers finished in eighteenth overall in the Qualifiers – destined for another year in the Showdown. 

That off-season, Stynth got a chance to visit with the team:

“I received a tour of the wrestling gym where Candy had trained for the ELMC, which was attached to the Jawbreakers’ training facility. As I toured the facility, I ran into Tidbit, the team’s reserve.

            ‘Things have been a little tense since I recruited Mouthful to return to the team as our manager, but we needed this. Mouthful isn’t only putting Candy in their place, but holding the rest of us accountable for our actions,’ Tidbit explained. ‘The newer team members are having a rough time adjusting, but they’ll get there. We all will.’”

Outside of Stynth’s visit, the team stayed very quiet in the time between the Qualifiers and Showdown. The presence of Mouthful took the pressure off Candy to coach the team along with Gummy. Even so, the training didn’t lighten up. Each session was intense and Gummy was keen to continue pushing the team to their limit. Candy pushed themselves beyond the rest of the team and stayed upwards of three hours after practice was over, training by themselves. Determined to put themselves back into competition, the Jawbreakers arrived back in Polaria. Ahead of the Showdown, I caught up with a few of the members. 

“Candy took the failure to qualify hard,” Taffy remarked ahead of the Showdown, “They had such high hopes to qualify, but we couldn’t come through for them. We didn’t see Candy for the first half of the Marble League until Stynth came to visit. According to them, they had been training, but not with the rest of the team. Gummy kept up our training routine, but only with the four of us, not Candy.”

The Jawbreakers attempt to prepare for the Showdown in the absence of their captain, a photo courtesy of The Emperor.

“In all honesty, Candy just cares a lot more than we do,” Sweet added. “Don’t get me wrong, we care, but Candy is on another level. We do this out of the love of marble sports. The ability to compete is satisfying enough for us, whereas Candy has a more ‘win or bust’ mindset.”

 “Things just aren’t the same as they were in 2016, and who knows if they will ever be,” Tidbit remarked. “Candy may get along with Sugar, Sweet, and Taffy, but they don’t compete well as a team. There was something about the contrasting personalities of Candy, Mouthful, Tongue-Twister, and I that made us want to work harder for the gold.”

The 2020 Marble League Showdown began with the Relay, an event the Jawbreakers had struggled with since the member change. Trying to find some of their success from 2016, Tidbit was the lead leg—although they did well to get an early lead, the handoffs were poor, and they fell to third in their heat by the end. The Jawbreakers didn’t improve in the Halfpipe, where they placed eleventh and slipped to last overall. 

The highlight of the Showdown was in the Black Hole Funnel, where Taffy and Tidbit just missed the podium in fourth, but they would still need a great performance in the final event to avoid relegation. Candy closed out the Jawbreakers’ season with an eleventh place finish in the Sand Moguls, dropping down to last in the overall standings. The Jawbreakers had hit rock bottom.

A slow third handoff drops the team out of a possible transfer.

That offseason was shrouded by rumors and changes. Early in the offseason, Taffy received an offer to come back to the ELMC. They consulted Gummy and Mouthful on what to do, but with another year in the Showdown looming, they decided to accept the offer and left the team. To replace Taffy, the Jawbreakers promoted Tidbit to the main team and added Caramel to the roster as the reserve. Caramel had competed briefly in the individual division of the Surculo, where they met the Jawbreakers. However, their time with the Jawbreakers was very brief. 

Throughout the offseason, fans called for the Jawbreakers to be out of the league. With news that the Gliding Glaciers, who have similar uniforms to the Jawbreakers, were training for an invitational later in the offseason, tension rippled in the Jawbreakers camp. 

“It’s hard to ignore,” Sweet disclosed, “Hearing the following give up on you and call for your retirement is discouraging. You see it all the time. You start as the hot new team with expectations, but as soon as you start to slip, they give up on you. It’s not easy to focus on training to be better knowing the majority of people have written you off.”

Towards the end of the offseason, the team sat down for a team meeting regarding their future. It became apparent that the team no longer enjoyed competing in the Marble League and wanted to pursue other career paths: Sugar wanted to follow in Greg Woods’ footsteps as a commentator and returned to the Surculo to provide commentary, Sweet had found an affinity to travel in their time in the Marble League and took a job at Atlas Marbura, Tidbit went back to the ELMC to coach the younger generation of wrestling, and Caramel took a job as the manager of the Chocolatiers.

“This isn’t the end of us,” Gummy assured, “Don’t think of it as a retirement, but maybe just a hiatus. Someday, the joy will spark again and we’ll come back as fierce as ever.”

All 8 Jawbreakers offer a sweet goodbye to the Marble League, for now, graphic courtesy of BJV Dimafelix.

Candy, however, did not share the same feelings as the rest of the team and wanted to compete. For a second time since joining the Marble League, they were in search of new teammates but had serious trouble finding new marbles looking to compete. The members of the ELMC turned away the offer after watching the trouble of the marbles that had made the transfer before. Candy went back to the Surculo to try to recruit, but those marbles already had teams and were not going to leave. They were prepared to scour Marblearth looking for teammates.

They took to Felynia as a last-ditch effort to round up a group of marbles. It was there that they ran into Tongue Twister, who was in town on business for the ELMC. Candy begged Tongue Twister to come back to the team and help them out.

“I told Candy sometimes it’s best to just let a good thing end,” Tongue Twister later shared, “I’m sure that’s not what they wanted to hear, but it opened a conversation that they needed to have with themselves. Candy’s a perfectionist, but at some point that is damaging to their wellbeing.”

After talking with Tongue Twister, Candy was ready to accept the end. They officially announced that they were not entering the 2021 Qualifiers roughly two weeks ahead of the Herbotamia Invitational that eventually named the Gliding Glaciers as the team to replace them. Candy went back to Jawnair, and for the first time, wasn’t spending all their time training. Every so often, fans could spot Candy training around the streets of Jawnair, but the sunrise to sundown training was over.

A few weeks later, Mouthful approached with a note from Jelle. Written on it was an invitation for the Jawbreakers to have one last dance in the upcoming Practice Race. “The team all talked and decided there was only one option for who should compete,” Mouthful explained. Thus, Candy returned to Felynia, not as a marble desperate to find a way to stay in the Marble League, but instead as a veteran of the sport making one final appearance. It only amounted to eighteenth-place, but it was a sweet farewell for a historic team.

Candy crossing the finish line for the final time.

It was not gold, but Candy was content with that. For the first time in their professional career, they did not have to sacrifice everything to progress in their field. Instead, they met with the other members of the team, both old and new, to celebrate the careers they had. The team met with the Chocolatiers and traveled up to Lewara to a party thrown by the Jungle Jumpers.

Later in the year, I was able to get a candid interview with Candy to ask about their decision:

“I went to Tongue Twister for reassurance and help, and they gave me the exact opposite. I was so angry after that conversation, but they were completely correct. I got so caught up with my performance that I would value that over my health, beating myself up if I fell short of my expectations. Stepping away a bit will be beneficial for me even if it’s not what I might want… I like how Gummy put it; this isn’t the end of our team, merely an intermission.”

In RetRollSpective, the Jawbreakers had a host of issues over the past four years, and they could never make a notable breakthrough. Candy is the team’s most experienced athlete and cares the most about keeping the Jawbreakers going, but those aspirations are on hold for the foreseeable future. We hope they will someday experience their sweet victory one day, just as they did in lucha marbre competitions years ago. Best of luck to the Jawbreakers in the future, keep on rolling!

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