Jelle's Marble Runs is a YouTube channel that produces marble racing videos, including competitions such as the Sand Marble Rally, Marble League and Marbula One. It was created by brothers Jelle and Dion Bakker.

History

The Marble Runs Era

  • 16 December 2006Jelle creates his original YouTube channel. He releases videos of a variety of uncommentated marble machines that he builds, either in his room or as commissioned works. The channel also has an educational portion, with Jelle posting reviews of marble rails and various marble run mechanisms.
    His first video on this channel may be his first Christmas race as well, "Kerst Knikkerbaan 2005." A few videos get decent views such as "Very Long Marble Run 50 Meters!" and "Future marble track."
  • December 2008: Earliest surviving YouTube video with Jelle, from a local Dutch TV profile of a commissioned Christmas marble run.[1]
  • 28 December 2010: Jelle posts one of his first truly viral videos (that would reach over a million views), "Big Marble machine: 1000 marbles!!" There would be several other videos of the "1000 marbles" machines, commissioned marble runs all with Jelle's iconic 1000 marble lever: once that number of marbles falls on to the lever, the mechanism tips over.[2] 
  • 7 June 2013: Jelle posts a popular "marble mosaic video": "1000 subs special: Marble Run 1000 Marbles test." He would make another mosaic for 10K subs and one for 100K subs, the latter of which has now been reuploaded to the new channel.[3] 
  • 15 April 2015: Jelle posts the "Marble Race: World Cup 2015" video. This is probably the first marble race from Jelle where multiple teams compete across several different tracks, from a wooden track to Quercetti Skyrail. The video would get millions of views and Jelle makes a 2016 World Cup video next year.[4] 
  • 31 May 2015: Jelle publishes "Big Marble Run Machine: 11.000 Marbles!!!" After building the so-called "Knikker Tsunami," Jelle posts the footage and it goes viral, flooding his channel with subscribers in an unprecedented way. This video remains on his new channel, always remaining one of the channel's most watched videos.[5]

The Marble Racing Era

  • 19 September 2015Jelle publishes "Marble Race: Longest Sand Marble Run Ever!" This is what's now known as the "750 feet Sand Marble Rally" and Red Number 3's first victory. At this time, marble racing remains the channel's secondary focus, with Jelle prioritizing large-scale marble runs like his annual Christmas builds.[6] 
  • Near the end of 2015: Jelle changes his channel's name to "Jelle's Marble Runs."
  • 27 February 2016: The 750 feet sand marble rally is crossposted to r/videos, gaining thousands of upvotes. This Reddit thread remains one of the most important primary documents in JMR history, as in this thread Greg Woods (u/KE0BVT) hears about Jelle for the first time. He hosts his voice-over of the race on his personal channel and posts it as a comment.[7]
  • 10 March 2016: After reaching out to Greg, Jelle reposts the 750 feet sand marble rally with the commentary track on his own channel.[8] 
  • 6 April 2016: YouTuber Ozzy Man Reviews makes one of his two voice-overs of Jelle's races. This first video delivers many views to the source video "Thrilling Ball Race + Easter Eggs Marble Race." As of April 2020, the source video is reuploaded to Jelle's new channel.[9] 
  • 8 April 2016: With the positive reception of the 750 feet race, Jelle plans a second 500 feet sand marble rally, but with more marbles out the gate. He asks for name suggestions on YouTube and Facebook. Most names for the SMR athletes, like Comet, Pollo Loco and Dragon's Egg, arise from these suggestions.[10]
  • 15 April 2016: The 500 Feet Sand Marble Rally is posted, with Greg's commentary. While this video seems to go viral on social media, it does not translate to a huge amount of views for Jelle on that specific video.[11]
  • 10 June 2016: The first Sand Marble Rally series begins as Jelle posts the video "Sand Marble Race: Qualification for tournament". The first half of the season lasts until July 22, after which 13 of the 33 marbles were eliminated and the field was slimmed down to the current 20-marble lineup. The second half of the season lasts from September to November.[12]
  • 10 July 2016: Jelle asks for names for the 16 original MarbleLympics teams on YouTube and Facebook.[13]
  • 5 August 2016: Jelle introduces the first video of the "Marble Olympic Games" (MarbleLympics 2016), with commentary by Greg. The event lasts until September 9; the tight production schedule means Jelle mostly reuses decoration and track designs in his World Cup videos, all of which would change in 2017. [14]
  • 10 October 2016: Jelle announces his channel has over 100K subs and eligible for a silver play button from YouTube. The celebration video, a marble mosaic, has been reuploaded to his new channel.[15]
  • 24 November 2016: Jelle posts the first video in the Hubelino Tournament, whose first run of eight videos lasts until January 2017, with four extra videos through the rest of 2017. While the Hubelino Tournament never had the views of the MarbleLympics series, iconic events like Funnel Spinning were first introduced here.[16]

The Tournament Era

  • 30 June 2017: Soon after the 2017 MarbleLympics begin in earnest, u/BCleader101 and u/Jamesjpk123 create the r/Marblelympics subreddit. For the first time, a fan community outside the YouTube comments can discuss and track a MarbleLympics series as the videos are posted.
  • 19 August 2017: The 2017 MarbleLympics concludes after six weeks of events (starting from July 1, 2017). Jelle gaining 40,000 subscribers in the process, according to SocialBlade. While the channel had several viral videos up to now, subscriber counts would noticeably accelerate for the next six months as well.
  • Autumn 2017: Anton Weber ("Mellacus"), discovers Jelle's channel and offers his services as a composer for the upcoming Winter MarbleLympics. Designer Orion Biedrzycki ("Hershy") also joins the team and produces graphics and team logos for the coming year.
  • 15 December 2017: The first video of the MarbleLympics 2018 Qualifiers is posted, with the actual games occurring from January-April 2018. These are the first MarbleLympics to involve an outdoors shoot outside of the Netherlands (Austria, in January) and one to involve an organized committee of fans reviewing the footage and event design, the International Marblelympics Committee (IMC). The IMC would disband following the 2018 MarbleLympics.[18]
  • 19 December 2017: Lego (u/TheLegoDude007 on Reddit) creates the Marblebase Discord server, which will grow at the same rate as the channel and becomes a lively chatting zone for serious fans and eventually IMC/JMRC members.[19]
  • 28 April 2018: The 2018 MarbleLympics concludes with the sand moguls, a month after the penultimate Ice Hockey event and with the existing stadium canonically "destroyed in an avalanche."

The Post-Deletion Era

  • 21 November 2018: While attempting to delete his Google+ account, Jelle also deletes all his YouTube accounts, including his main account with 620-630K subscribers. Later attempts to recover the account by YouTube are unsuccessful.[20]
  • 25 November 2018: Jelle explains his crisis on r/TIFU, which also goes viral with thousands of upvotes. Jelle starts to see his old subscribers flow back having heard the news. However, he is later banned on the subreddit due to the mods claiming he violated advertising rules in the post.[21]
  • 26 January 2019: Jelle posts the MarbleLympics 2019 Qualifiers. Within a week, the video goes viral on r/videos and other social media, and Jelle sees hundreds of thousands of subscribers return to the new channel. The video remains the most watched video on the new channel, having eclipsed 12 million views.[22]
  • 10 February 2019: Jelle and Mellacus found the Jelle's Marble Runs Committee (JMRC), a smaller, invite-only committee of fans helping video production. The Committee would grow from five to eventually over a dozen members.
  • 22 February 2019: The MarbleLympics B-League (later renamed the Showdown) is announced. It is announced that there will be twelve competitors: the teams that failed to qualify for the 2019 MarbleLympics, two Hubelino Tournament teams, and two fan-made teams that would be chosen by a vote. This was the launch of the fan-made team competition.[23]
  • May 22 2019: The short-lived channel Jedi's Kidvids, a place for Jelle and Dion to post old videos that no longer fit the main channel as well as videos aimed at children, is launched. Only three videos are posted.[25]
  • 30 May-21 June 2019: Graphic designer Tim Ritz (u/conqu287) posts "Marblelympics: Rebranded", a series of kit designs for each active team on the channel, each including a new logo, shield, jersey, and logotype. While initially designed as fanwork, the JMRC makes them the official team logos on 3 July, following Pim Leurs' decision to step down as logo designer for the channel. The logos make their first appearances in the Marble League Showdown 2019.
  • 11 June 2019: The 2019 MarbleLympics concludes after starting 19 April 2019, spanning eight weeks and a record 16 events. With sustained buzz among fans throughout the series, the channel reaches more than 470,000 subscribers.
  • 25 July 2019: After the success, both in popularity and execution, of the 2019 MarbleLympics, Dion announces JMR will be aired on TV for the first time as part of ESPN's The Ocho special. Because ESPN didn't want to get sued by the International Olympics Committee for the use of the term "lympics", JMR's negotiations for the contract were protracted and complex. They blurred out the word "lympics", cut out of the commentary any use of the word "lympics" and Greg Woods rerecorded a couple of lines.[26]
  • 27 July 2019: Dion posts for the first time on the JMR Facebook page about Marbula One, a circuit racing event but with marbles. Much of late 2019 is spent with Jelle, Dion and Mellacus brainstorming event design.[27]
  • 11 August 2019: Mellacus posts on the MarbleLympics subreddit officially confirming the name change of the MarbleLympics to the Marble League to avoid issues with the International Olympic Committee and announces the move to the new subreddit.[28]
  • 30 September 2019: Jelle's new channel hits 500,000 subscribers in a remarkable bounce back. The JMRC also begins to expand at a steady pace at this point, with more help needed to envision Marbula One on top of other recurring series.[29]
  • 15 February 2020: JMR releases the first video in Marbula One. With its faster pace and improved production quality, the first new series in many years rejuvenates the channel. The first race (Savage Speedway GP) is now one of the top 6 most viewed videos on the channel.[30]

The Mainstream

  • 15 March 2020: Twitter user @.davdchristmas comes across a snippet of the 500 feet sand marble rally (from back in 2016) and reposts it. The video goes viral on Twitter and accumulates over 30 million views, bringing unprecedented media exposure for JMR. In the next 24 hours, JMR regains the number of subs the channel had prior to its accidental deletion.[31]
  • 23 March 2020: With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving the world in fear, hundreds of thousands of sports fans commit themselves to marble teams in Jelle's marbleverse. The channel reaches 700K subscribers[32] after wide media coverage: a segment on BBC[33], profiles in Time Magazine[34] and CNN[35] and interviews across the world. The night before, ESPN re-airs the ML2019 highlights video and introduces millions again to marble sports.[36]
  • 5 April 2020Marbula One Season 1 concludes. With close to 800K subscribers and tens of thousands of committed fans discussing the channel, Jelle and JMR begins creating Marble League 2020 as well as receiving offers from other commercial partners interested in partnerships.[37]
  • 18 April 2020: The first video in Marbula E is released as JMR partners with Formula E team Envision Virgin Racing. What was intended to be a fun extra by Envision during the season's suspension quickly gains its own momentum as JMR fans take to the project[38], rocketing each of the first 3 videos released in the series to over 1 million views.
  • 17 May 2020: Marble League 2020 is announced to begin with qualifiers on Thursday, June 18. In a twist, talk show "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" is revealed to be the exclusive sponsor for ML2020.[39] With the two fanbases meshing with each other, a new generation of JMR fans is born. The following day, the channel rockets for the first time to 1 million subscribers.[40]
  • 25 May 2020: The Last Marble Standing tournament is announced, featuring 6 dairy-themed, one-time teams competing in 6 events to win the Cravendale Cup. The games take place during the first 20 days of June.
  • 16 August 2020: The 2020 Marble League concludes, with $80,000 donated to several food banks, and $20,000 donated to the International Rescue Committee, all in the names of 8 Marble League gold medalists. During this time period, the channel surpasses 1.25 million subscribers.

Spin-off YouTube channels

During the Marble League, another YouTube channel was created, originally called Inside the MarbleLympics, later was renamed MSPN. The two channels were associated with each other until 2019.

Gallery

References

  1. RTV Utrecht (19th December 2008). Amersfoorter maakt knikkerbaan van 120 meter lang.
  2. Jelle Bakker (28th December 2010). Big Marble machine: 1000 marbles!!!.
  3. Jelle's Marble Runs (7th June 2013). 1000 subs special: Marble Run 1000 Marbles test.
  4. Jelle's Marble Runs (15th April 2015). Marble Race: World Cup 2015 (knikkerbaan).
  5. Jelle's Marble Runs (31st May 2015). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “Finally, after some days of hard work, it's (almost) complete! Here i present my newest Marble Machine "Marble Tsunami!"”
  6. Jelle's Marble Runs (19th September 2015). Marble Race: Longest Sand Marble Run Ever!.
  7. MarbleMaster (27th February 2016). Oddly Satisfying (Marble racing in sand). Reddit.
  8. Jelle's Marble Runs (10th March 2016). 750 feet Sand Marble Race (with commentary).
  9. Ozzy Man Reviews (6th April 2016). Ozzy Man Reviews: Thrilling Marble Race.
  10. Jelle's Marble Runs (8th April 2016). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “Thank you all for requesting marble names! I have now selected the best names for the coming race next friday.”
  11. Jelle's Marble Runs (15th April 2016). Thrilling Sand Marble Race with commentary! (better than Formula 1).
  12. Jelle's Marble Runs (10th June 2016). Sand Marble Race: Qualification for tournament.
  13. Jelle's Marble Runs (10th July 2016). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “Here are the participating marbles from the MarbleLympics 2016! (Marble Olympic Games) Now i need good names for the marble teams!”
  14. Jelle's Marble Runs (5th August 2016). Marble Race: Marble Olympic Games (part 1, opening).
  15. Jelle's Marble Runs (10th October 2016). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “My Youtube channel has surpassed 100,000 subs!!!”
  16. Jelle's Marble Runs (24th November 2016). Thrilling Hubelino Marble Race Tournament (Part 1, Funnel Spinning).
  17. Jelle's Marble Runs (23rd June 2017). Marble Olympic Games 2017 Qualification.
  18. Jelle's Marble Runs (15th December 2017). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “And FINALLY here's the first video of the Winter #MarbleLympics 2018! This video is the qualification group A Curling! With thanks to Dion Bakker, Anton Weber (Mellacus), Orion Biedrzycki and Greg Woods !”
  19. TheLegoDude007 (19th December 2017). Discord server for all the marblelympics fans to convene, Chat, and smack talk!. Reddit.
  20. Jelle's Marble Runs (22nd November 2018). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “Bad news, our Youtube channel is gone. So we have to start all over again. Fortunately, we still have all videos on an external drive so we can still upload them again. And there's still some hope that Youtube will recover it. First, we will wait for a reply from Youtube before we will do anything. If they can’t do something for us, we need our subscribers back and upload our video’s.”
  21. MarbleMaster (25th November 2018). TIFU by accidentally deleting my Youtube Channel with 620K subs. Reddit.
  22. Jelle's Marble Runs (26th January 2019). Marble Race: Marble League 2019 Qualifiers.
  23. GrandAdmiralMellacus (22nd February 2019). Big News about the B-League and Fan-Made Teams. Reddit.
  24. GrandAdmiralMellacus (22nd March 2019). Fan Team Contest: The Winners!. Reddit.
  25. Jedi’s Kidvids (22nd May 2019). Pokèmon Hubelino Marblerace.
  26. Jelle's Marble Runs (25th July 2019). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “We are very proud to announce that we have entered into a partnership with the largest sports channel in the world: ESPN, owned by The Walt Disney Company. Together with Espn8 "The Ocho" and team Jelle's Marble Runs we worked for months to realize this spectacular show.”
  27. Jelle's Marble Runs (27th July 2019). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “Jelle and I thought about a new concept for coming year: “Marbula 1””
  28. GrandAdmiralMellacus (11th August 2019). Renaming the MarbleLympics and new JMR Subreddit. Reddit.
  29. Jelle's Marble Runs (30th September 2019). Jelle's Marble Runs Facebook. “So happy and proud!💪😃 After the ‘crash’ we’re back in a year, that’s unbelievable. Thank you for believing in us and all the positive support”
  30. Jelle's Marble Runs (16th February 2020). Marbula One: Savage Speedway GP (S1R1) - Marble Race by Jelle's Marble Runs.
  31. @davdchistmas (15th March 2020). “Day 4 with no sports: Marble1 racing is intense!”
  32. GrandAdmiralMellacus (23rd March 2020). We Reached 700 Thousand Subscribers. Reddit.
  33. JMR_throwaway (16th March 2020). Our BBC segment!! (credit to u/ GGhost27). Reddit.
  34. Megan McCluskey (16th March 2020). Go Comet! How Competitive Marble Racing Is Becoming an Enthralling New Fixation for Sports Fans. Time.
  35. Calum Trenaman (23rd March 2020). In a world gripped by fear, marble racing proves welcome distraction. CNN.
  36. Kimberly Elchlepp (19th March 2020). When you Needed it Most. . .ESPN8: The Ocho Returns on ESPN2, Sunday, March 22. ESPN.
  37. Jelle's Marble Runs (5th April 2020). Marbula One: Midnight Bay GP (S1R8) FINAL - Marble Race by Jelle's Marble Runs.
  38. Jelle's Marble Runs (18th April 2020). Marbula E Race 1 "Paris" - Marble Race by Jelle's Marble Runs & Formula E.
  39. Skystrykr (18th May 2020). And the sponsor of the 2020 Marble League is.... Reddit.
  40. @jellesmarbles (20th May 2020). “Unreal, 1.000.000 #Youtube subscribers! Thank you so much for believing in us, we’ll keep on rolling!”
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