Unexpected performances: Best esports underdogs of all time

Throughout esports history, rates and support were always with the one who got more popularity than the other. This situation creates a big morale boost for the players that leads to even more success. But is that correct? Isn't there any underdog team or player that surprised everybody?

In today's article, we made a top 10 list full of teams or players that came out of the box and left their signs on the stage.

The International 8 - OG

Credit: ESL

Also known as “The Greatest Underdog”, OG, a European team made a shock effect for all Dota 2 fans by winning The International twice in a row, the biggest Dota 2 tournament, while also being the only team who won TI twice.

Their story at The International 8 starts with being 4th in the group stage. Also beating one of the old TI Champion teams, Invictus Gaming 2-0, they were able to go out of the group with a total of 3 wins, 3 losses, and 2 draws.

For the main event, their rival was VGJ. Storm finished Group B on the top with 2 losses and 1 draw. Even though it seemed like a very easy elimination match for VGJ.Storm, OG made its first surprise by defeating their rival 2-0.

Their next rival was Evil Geniuses belonging to the same group as OG. Their loss on the group stage was motivating Evil Geniuses and they were believing an amateur chance for OG’s elimination of VGJ.Storm. Winning against Evil Geniuses 2-1, OG surprised a lot of people again and showed who the underdog is.

When it led them to the very final stage against another strong team of the TI, PSG.LGD had a very big trust to defeat this underdog and send it back to the place where it belongs. Not surprisingly, OG was able to win against PSG.LGD two times, one in the Upper Bracket and another in the Grand Final.

OG’s great story is still traveling from ear to ear and motivating the upcoming teams, who are described as underdogs.

Worlds Season 2 - Taipei Assassins

Credit: Taipei Assasins

While the League was on a path to get bigger globally, a Taiwan team Taipei Assasin made the first championship history of the League of Legends esports while being described as the underdog of the tournament.

After skipping the group stage, thanks to the draw system with other 3 teams, Taipei Assasin’s quarterfinal opponent were the champion of Champions 2012 Summer and also the non-defeated team of Group A, NaJin Sword.

Getting a 2-0 win against their Korean rival, Taipei Assassins moved to the semifinals, now their opponent was the European team Moscow 5.

Again, surprisingly Taipei Assassins showed its enemy to not see itself as an underdog, which was also a valid fact for their rival in the final stage of Season 2, another Korean team and first-team in Group A, Azubu Frost.

Their loss in the first match was seen as the end of their road with the angel of good fortune. Winning the second match, Taipei Assassins was able to keep the question mark on everybody’s head and after winning the other two matches, the question mark turned into a big blank on everybody’s head, as being the Champion of Season 2.

StarCraft II - Serral

Julian "Zoomstorm" Peters

In the previous articles, we have talked about the success rate of the Asian people on MOBA games and also the FPS success of the European, especially Scandinavian people (you can read the article from here).

But for this situation, Serral makes a big achievement by being the one and only Finnish player to win the World Championships in 2018.

Serral left his group with a non-beaten title against two of his Asian rivals and moved to the quarterfinals. While being the only player from Europe, he got the chance for moving into the Global Finals.

Matching with another Korean player Dark, Serral got his chance to pass through the other stage in the World Championships by dominating his opponent with a 3-0 score.

In the semifinals, Serral again matched with a very well-known, old champion, group finalist Korean player Rogue. Without even giving any chance to him, he put the biggest smile on his face and made a big step in the history of StarCraft history.

At the very last step of the World Championship 2018’s Final, Serral found another one of the greatest players of StarCraft and winner of several tournaments. In this exciting final stage, Serral officially became the winner of the Championship while also being the first non-Korean to the tournament.

FIFA eChampions League - OliverPN

Oliver “OliverPN'' Provstgaard Nielseni, a 17 years old professional Danish football player, made a big underdog history by winning the $75,000 FIFA eChampions League between all of the professional and famous footballers.

In the greatest tournament of FIFA 21, eChampions League was full of the greatest players, such as the first player from Europe, Hashtag Tom, 6-time FIFA champion Mkers Oliboli, and dominant eLaLiga League Champion DUX Neat110.

After defeating the Dutch pro player, Lev Vinken, OliverPN was also able to win against iMertAL from Turkey and move into round three, to come together with his Spanish rival, Nacho.

OliverPN was also able to win the Winners Bracket part and move into the Final Stage, which will be between him and Italian Caccia. In that contentious match, OliverPN surprised everybody and won the FIFA eChampions League, and became one of the greatest underdogs.

VALORANT Champions Tour 2021 - Acend

Credit: Riot Games

The latest Riot Games FPS game Valorant took the interest of a lot of people and of course the esports organization too. Mostly known teams took their places on the stage and showed the same successes as they did before. But there was one underdog team that nobody expected: Acend.

The most known teams were elected on the even Challengers stage and left the League to the other favorites, such as Heretics, FPX, and NiP.

Acend made his first surprise by leaving behind one of the favorites Ninjas in Pyjamas and also Ballista Esports and moved into having a playoff with the leader of Group B.

In this match between FunPlus Phoenix and Acend, even though losing just one match against FunPlus Phoenix, Acend won the Semifinals by 2-1 and moved forward to the Grand Final with their big and encroaching steps.

Team Heretics was a non-defeated team that came from Group A as a leader and beat Guild Esports by 2-0. Between their matches, Acend  won the cup as an underdog by winning against Team Heretics with a score of 3-2.

First NA Team on MSI 2019 - Team Liquid

Credit: Riot Games

The North America League has always been known as the weakest major league out of the four ones. But Team Liquid changed some tight opinions and made a little surprise when they arrived at the MSI 2019 Semi-Finals.

In the Main Event, they finished the group at 4th place and got the chance of playing in the Semifinals against the Chinese team, Invictus Gaming.

Their win against iG with 3-1 was making the esports fans think again about the NA team's performance. Even though they lost against the European team G2 Sports, they got the title of being the first team that reached the Finals of an international tournament.

IEM Katowice Major in 2019 - ENCE

Credit: ESL

At the IEM Katowice Major in 2019, a Finnish team ENCE gave a huge greeting to the biggest of the arena when they arrived at the final stage for the first and last time of their CSGO esports career.

With the leadership of Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, they were able to defeat Team Liquid in the quarterfinals, which resulted in their next station: semifinals, where they would come together with Na’Vi and beat them again, like a bull that focused on the reds.

During the Final stage, their rival was the Astralis, another Scandinavian team that became one of the greatest teams of the time. Without a chance, ENCE broke the Astralis and after their championship, they were known as EZ4ENCE.

VALORANT Champions Tour 2021 North America - Rise

Credit: Rise

Between all of the most popular esports teams such as 100 Thieves, FaZe Clan, Cloud9 Blue, or Gen.G Esports, Rise was looking like a little puppy between huge and very strong Pitbulls.

Well, this little puppy got stronger teeth than the massive Pitbulls, I must say.

After a postponed match, they were finally playing their quarterfinals against FaZe Clan. Even though there was not a big hype for FaZe Clan to win the tournament, It shouldn’t be that hard to beat an underdog team, or is it? Rise defeated FaZe Clan and put them out of the tournament while also moving to the Semifinals to play against a strong team, Cloud9 Blue.

Not surprisingly, Rise was able to win that stage and put a fear of losing against their next rival in the Upper Bracket Final, 100 Thieves.

Psychologically being in a very good situation, Rise beat a big guy and pushed them out of the North America elections, even their Canadian player Shanks shared a tweet that said “We are not supposed to be here” ironically.

Even though the final stage was a loss against lower bracket champion Cloud9 Blue, everybody took a lesson from that team and they have learned that Rise is nothing to be seen as a little puppy.

VALORANT Champions 2021 - KRÜ Esports

Credit: KRÜ Esports

The Argentinian team that was founded by professional footballer Sergio “Kun” Agüero, unexpectedly beat Sentinels in the group stage and moved forward to the playoffs as being second in the group.

In the playoffs, the Argentinian team was again able to shock everybody by beating Fnatic. After winning 2-1, KRÜ Esports moved to the semifinals, which was the end of the road for them.

Their loss against Gambit Esports was something expected again but nobody was thinking about this team's great performance for this year.

MSI 2016 - Counter Logic Gaming

Credit: Riot Games

Not being the weakest of the stage but showing their quality by winning against the biggest teams, MSI 2016 was a perfect year for Counter Logic Gaming that they could be proud of.

After their two wins on the group stage against Flash Wolves and G2 Esports, they were also able to not give a chance to win against SK Telecom T1 or Royal Never Give Up against CLG.

Moving forward to the semi-finals as a non-defeated team, CLG was able to win against Flash Wolves with a 3-1 score and make history by going through the finals.

Their loss in the finals against SK Telecom T1 was accepted by everybody of course, but this team showed how League of Legends can be very unguessable, especially in the tournaments.

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