Drama. Injuries. Rivalries lasting years. Nail-biting finishes that go down to tenths of a second.
The Marble League has had its fair share of the above. That’s right, Supa-Fans, The Marble League. Started in 2016 by brothers Jelle and Dion Bakker from The Netherlands, The Marble League (previously MarbleLympics) has grown from a tiny 16-team tournament, to a whopping 31-team event, requiring qualifiers and a B-League just to contain all of it, and it is the most wholesome, amazing sport content on the internet you’ve probably never even heard of.
First and foremost, yes, we’re talking about marbles, and despite rumours to the contrary, we definitely haven’t lost them.
Teams of five (four main athletes and one reserve) compete in all kinds of events, from high jump to rafting, the sand rally to curling, and with expert commentary from Greg Woods, you’ll believe that these little balls of glass are operating under their own free will, and not just the force of gravity. Check out the opening round of the 2019 ML Showdown and tell us you don’t feel bad for the little guy who got stuck and ended up in last place.
Like any good sport, there’s a stack of teams to follow, from league mainstays Savage Speeders, O’Rangers, or the Chocolatiers, to the newcomers Green Ducks and the Hornets, each team is unique in their colour scheme and design, and all have their own quirks that make them special. Here’s a brief rundown on a few of the teams in the league.
The Limers share a deep rivalry with one of the other fruit-themed teams, the Raspberry Racers, who have consistently pipped them at the post whenever they go head-to-head. This rivalry ended poorly for fans of Team Primary recently, who had the unfortunate luck of having their section of the stadium sit between the Limers and the Racers during the qualifiers for this year’s League. As debris and tensions escalated in the stands and onto the track, the Limers inadvertently caused a DNF for one of the members of Team Primary, and a brawl broke out in the stands between all three sections as a result. #LimeTime
With the Oceanics fall from grace (more on that later), their old rivals the Turtle Sliders have found new energy and spirit, and have entered the 2019 Showdown with the aim of showing their rivals what it takes to be the true marble kings of the ocean. Not much is known about this new incarnation of the Sliders; however, with Coach Splint knowing a thing or two about getting turtles into fighting shape, they’re definitely ones to watch during the Showdown series and Qualifiers. #ShellShocked
The Indigo Stars (formerly Purple Stars) have had a rough beginning in the Marble League, having had to withdraw from 2017’s event due to illness, and missing the 2018 event entirely. 2019 saw them finally make it through the 2019 Qualifiers and onto the Main Event. With the incredibly-named Coach Montoya behind them, the debuting team took home the Bronze medal in the Surfing, and a stack of top-10 finishes throughout the event. #FiveStars
Each event is purpose-built, whether it’s a giant tower of K’Nex (remember those?), a 130cm long balance beam, or even a 3D-printed bobsled down a sculpted snow course, there’s no denying the amount of work that goes into making each event representative of the real-life sports they’re based on is second to none. Coupled with the amazing production value that goes into the League as a whole, it suspends your disbelief just enough that you’ll be cheering for your faves and booing their rivals as they compete for points, medals and overall position on the ladder.
The 5 Meter Sprint is exactly as it says on the tin. Each team selects a member to compete in a 5-metre dash down the straight track. Fairly simple, just like our 100m sprint but shorter, and marblier. You’d think a team calling themselves the Savage Speeders would excel in something like this, however in 2019, despite a time of 6.367s, Whizzy came in dead last. This event was won by Yellow, the Team Captain of Mellow Yellow, with a blistering 6.159s.
Meanwhile, over at the Winter Games, the halfpipe is contested by two teams simultaneously, with all four team members trying to stay within the halfpipe as long as possible, and the times of the three members who stay the longest are combined to give the team their score. In 2018, the members of Balls of Chaos with their 29.49s time beat out all other teams by a second or more to gain the gold.
All sports have their low moments, the whole ‘deflategate’ saga in the NFL, Aussies ball-tampering in the cricket – the list goes on. But nothing can possibly compare to what happened to 2019 Marble League host team, the Oceanics. After 12 events of doing incredibly poorly and already securing themselves last place on the ladder without a single medal going into the elimination race; after failing to make it to the finals, team owner Tide was called into a private meeting and summarily fired from the team. Fans left the stadium in droves, the Oceanics section of the stands was considerably empty for the remainder of the events, barring one final protest from fans at the end of the final event.
Not all drama is performance-related however, as 2017 saw the near-retirement of one of the members of Team Momo. During the Fidget Spinner Collision event, Momomomo and Wispy (of the Midnight Wisps) collided in the centre of the arena, shattering Momomomo, who literally left a piece of himself in the arena that day.
After receiving medical treatment, Momomomo had to watch from the stands as his team, with reserve-player Mimo, finished out the nine remaining events and secured themselves ninth place overall. Momomomo made a full recovery, returning to training with the team and qualifying for the 2018 Winter League, but received a concussion during the Bobsleigh event and once again was relegated to the stands. After just missing out on qualifying for 2019, Momomomo and the Team are back in the 2019 Showdown, hoping to earn a spot in the qualifiers for 2020’s event.
With such a healthy fanbase (490k subscribers on the Jelle’s Marble Runs YouTube alone), a massive wiki full of the history of the League, and an incredibly active community helping shape the lore and world (and providing some good memes in the process), The Marble League is a great way to spend a couple of hours catching up, or tuning in weekly as events unfold. Of course, that’s not to mention the other projects Jelle and the team work on, the Sand Rally, Hubelino Tournament and the upcoming Marbula 1.
We recommend grabbing some friends, some snacks, picking a team, and going in blind to the full events over on the JMR channel, and we’ll see you and your favourite teams for the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers at the end of the year!
All imagery from the JMR Wiki.