‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
When people try to rank their favorite teams or players, the arguments I’ve often seen are reductionist statements that try to simplify a complex, multi-variable analytical problem down to a few essential points. The most common of which is generally results. For instance, in Dota the entire year can be considered a failure or a success depending solely on a team’s performance at The International. In the case of Starcraft 2, people point to the number of titles won rather than the player’s and the forms of those players on that particular patch. In the case of CS:GO, people always assume that the best team in the world must also have four to five of the top twenty players.
As this is an incredibly complicated topic, so I will just break down the three archetypes and explain how each argument is fundamentally flawed if taken only in isolation. In the first case of The International, the most prominent example I can pick out is Wings winning TI6. They won that tournament in an incredible fashion and in such a way that they changed the way people viewed Dota forever. Despite that victory though, I’d say the best team of the 2015-2016 circuit was actually OG.
These were the results of Wings:
1st – TI6, ESL One Manilla, Summit 5
2nd – Nanyang Season 2
Top 4 – WCA
These were OG’s Results the same year:
1st – Frankfurt Major 2015, DreamLeague 4, DreamLeague 5, Manila Major, ESL One Frankfurt
2nd – Defense 5, Summit 5
3rd – MDL Winter, EPICENTER
Top 4 – Summit 4, Sli S1
12-16 – TI6
When you lay out the results like that it’s clear that in terms of peak consistency that OG far surpassed Wings from the 2015-2016 period. That is why for me, that particular OG team was the best of the year despite Wings winning TI6.
In Starcraft 2, you need only look at the careers of TaeJa or soO. TaeJa won a mass of premier LAN victories during the hardest period of Korean SC2 when KeSPA was involved. In terms of actual top players he played against, I hand counted them back in 2015 and found out that he beat more top players than any player in history up to that point outside of Life and Mvp. As for the idea of titles meaning everything, you need only look at soO. He has gotten to six GSL finals throughout his career, four of which were consecutive and done during the hardest period of SC2 history. While there are plenty of players who have more titles than him, the people who could legitimately be placed before him on an all time-greatest list could be counted on one or two hands at most.
Finally, we come to the idea of the top team having all five of the best players. This functionally doesn’t make sense as things like tactics and teamplay are considered pillars of how a team becomes the best in the world. In the case of the LG/SK rosters for instance, everyone believed that they had some of the best players in the world throughout every iteration. Whereas for me, I think only Coldzera and FalleN were in top 20 status in the first iteration of that. The version that had Felps had three top 20 players in Fer, Coldzera, and Felps. The last iteration with boltz only had two with Coldzera and Fer. While that is one of my favorite teams to watch, it was never the skill that drove them over the edge, it was their ascendant teamplay and composure that set them apart from the rest.
For me at least, rankings are fun and a chance to spitball about the best teams or players in a particular esport. While it is easy to try to reduce the argument to a single factor, it takes away the nuance and the exceptionalism of what made that particular player or team so great to begin with. That is why I think it’s critical to always consider a multi-variable analysis when these rankings are done.