When the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters were trailing the two-time Japan Series champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks by 11½ games in the Pacific League in late June, almost no one expected them to end up as league champions, let alone Japan Series champions, by the end of the season.

That, however, is why they play the games.

"There were a lot of surprises this year, for example, the presidential race in the United States," Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday afternoon. "Also like how we overcame a big deficit during the season against the Hawks. People make predictions, but those predictions don't always come true."