Low-seeded national champions

  • Neftochimik finished 3rd in the regular season but later won the play-offs in the Bulgarian league. This gave me the idea to discuss what the lowest rank of an eventual national champion is in a domestic league anywhere in the world. I am too lazy to go across all championships with stats sheets from previous seasons, hence I though a discussion would be worthy in case you guys remember such unusual season finishes. I don't even know if there has been research on that matter already, a quick search on the Internet says otherwise.


    Berlin (3rd-seeded after a disastrous regular season) could theoretically be champions if they beat Friedrichshafen. Chaumont (6th) could pull a surprise in France, although they are yet to start the semifinals. The most impressive achievement so far this season (up to my knowledge) comes from Turkey where Fenerbahce (5th) lead 2-0 in the final series against Arkas and are a win away from a remarkable triumph. How about previous seasons? Anyone remembers something or has anyone already done a similar research?


    Such a discussion is, of course, only possible in leagues/seasons with play-offs, for the champion wins the regular season otherwise and that's it.


    I started with male competitions as that is my area of interest but I won't divide between genders. I will do so only if it becomes too long. Feel free to include female teams as well.

  • In polish women league Muszynianka won the championship few years ago starting from 5th place.

    This year, in second division women league we had final between 5th (Joker Świecie who won) and 7th team (Wisła, silver medal)

  • Fenerbahce (male) is on the way to get one this season. They finished regular season 5th and now won 2 matches against Arkas in the final. If they win the next one, they will get the title. And all they did was simply changing their coach to Sordyl and transferring Hidalgo.

  • Fenerbahce (male) is on the way to get one this season. They finished regular season 5th and now won 2 matches against Arkas in the final. If they win the next one, they will get the title. And all they did was simply changing their coach to Sordyl and transferring Hidalgo.

    Didn't you read my post to the end? :D

  • This is perhaps a bit off-topic as it's not about surprise champions per se, but I was talking to a friend the other day about how unpredictable this season is in both male and female tournaments. Basically winning the regular season hasn't proven to give the certainty of a spot in the finals (or the championship titles) in some tournaments. To be fairly honest, as someone who's always rooting for the underdog, this has been a pleasure to watch.


    Last year's winner of PlusLiga (Skra Belchatow) finished 6th this year, while both 1st and 2nd seeded teams barely survived the semifinals. In the female league, the 3rd and 4th teams after the regular season are the ones playing the finals.


    As for the Brazilian league, long-time champion Sada Cruzeiro was eliminated by the 3rd seeded team 3 matches to none in the semifinals. In the female league, 3rd and 4th seeded teams were eliminated in the quarterfinals, giving room for the 5th and 6th seeded teams; long-time winner Sesc-RJ didn't even reach the semifinals as well.


    If we include continental/world leagues, it's worth mentioning Zenit Kazan and Sada Cruzeiro being out in the group stages of WCCH and Eczacibasi being eliminated in the semis by Minas, who has a significantly lower budget. Vakifbank and Eczacibasi are also out of the CL finals.


    So far, this has been one of my favorite club seasons since I've started to follow volleyball. I hope there are more examples out there!

    Gold - European Championship 2013 (M) Prediction Game
    Bronze - World Championship 2014 (W) Prediction Game

    Bronze - Volleyball Nations League 2019 (W) Prediction Game

  • I agree with you about the unpredictability of the season! This is the case in most (if not all) leagues I have followed. It is hard to put ranking on international competitions, though, this is why I mentioned only domestic ones. But you are right, even international tournaments have been a pleasure to watch lately.

  • I remember that Piacenza was 4th or 5th at the end of regular season but then won the play-offs in 2008/09 season.


    In the women's league, Perugia finished 5th in the regular season but then won the play-offs in 2006/07 season

  • I remember that Piacenza was 4th or 5th at the end of regular season but then won the play-offs in 2008/09 season.

    I checked it and you are absolutely right! Even back then I didn't pay attention that Piacenza had finished 5th in the regular season. Which is a pretty impressive achievement and shows how truly competitive the Italian league was 10 years ago.