Get ready for marbles to be the next big esport

I'm not sure there's a better YouTube channel right now than Jelle's Marble Runs, home of Marbula One, the world's preeminent marble racing event. Yes, marble racing is a real sport. Yes, it has athletes—are you going to tell me Minty Maniacs team captain Minty Flav isn't a star out on the raceway? Like Blaseball, Jelle's Marble Runs is a delightfully absurd sport with its own deep lore. And now it's going to be a videogame.

Jelle's Marble Runs dropped a trailer for Marble League 2021: The Game on Saturday, and I am liking what I'm seeing. I mean, let's just hit the trailer bullet points here: 

  • "Ultra-realistic physics"
  • "A compelling story mode"
  • Design your own marble team
  • "Take key managerial decisions as the season unfolds"
  • Stats for marble athletes
  • Multiplayer
  • Commentary by Greg Woods (*the* marble racing commentator)
  • Marbles

Do the graphics in the Jelle's Marble Runs game look absolutely rudimentary? Yes, but I say that doesn't matter when the field of marble esports is so ripe for the plucking. I don't know why you'd watch League of Legends on Twitch when you could instead watch a dozen marbles hurtling down a track.

Jelle's Marble Runs will surely make a great esport because anyone can play it. You won't control the marbles directly, of course. That would be ridiculous. They're the athletes—you're the coach putting together a team that can win it all. That will make this game significantly different from other marble games I love like Marble It Up!, but clearly there's no one way to have fun with marbles.

According to the trailer above, Jelle's first videogame will be out this fall, but it's attached to an Indiegogo campaign that seems to be struggling to reach its funding goal of $81,817. I don't know what happens to the game if it falls short, but I hope the developers have the resources to soldier on anyway. Based on the "early development footage" it might look pretty rough, but there's no sports game I'd rather play this year. One YouTube commenter sums it up well: 

"Of all the sports games in the world, all the companies who tried and failed, and yet a little channel on Youtube tops ALL of them with a game about marbles… Bravo Jelle, long may we roll!"

Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).