‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
In games like Dota2, Overwatch, and Starcraft 2, one of the critical components that needs to be examined when considering a player’s legacy is the patch. The patches change the entire game and naturally test players in completely different ways from previous versions of the game.
For instance, let’s look at Dota2. At TI8, the patch proved that end game hard carry heroes were the most effective tactic for that tournament. Part of it is because of the heroes, the other part is because of how the comeback mechanic worked. Now let’s look at a team like Virtus.Pro. This is a team that specialized in win lane, win game for the entire year during the DPC. While I do think Virtus.Pro underwhelmed at TI8, part of their loss was certainly because of how the patch worked.
When we go to Overwatch, the patch can instantly make or kill players that are even considered elite. Consider for a moment Ryujehong. He had a bad Overwatch Season 1 and there are plenty of support players out there right now that are better than he is. However that comes with the caveat that his greatest days as a player was when he was playing Ana. Should Ana become the most important support hero again, then it is completely possible that he could instantly be a top 3 support in the world in that meta.
Finally, when it comes to SC2, people like to rank players as it’s an individual game so you can just count results. The essential problem with that is the context is lost. Achievements now aren’t the same as achievements back then and vice versa. For instance, there was a furor around ByuN at the end of 2016 as the best player in the world at the time. There was also a belief that whatever skill level people were at now must be greater than whatever skill level people were playing back then.
That is a loaded statement that ignores the minute details of the problem. How is the game testing players and in what ways is it different. How much knowledge and tools does a player have at their disposal to figure out a particular problem? For instance, when ByuN was incredible, it was also during a time when the muta style of ZvT play was essentially dead because it was a bad style to play. Unidirectional games are ByuN’s forte and so when the game moved away from that, he fell off.
Even if we look back at unidirectional metas for Terran, I’d argue that ByuN wasn’t the best at it. INnoVation in 2013 was. He played a very similar style, but in a meta where the muta style was still viable and during the height of the KeSPA pro houses. So even though ByuN was playing in a later era, I’d argue that INnoVation, not ByuN, was the peak of that style of play.
These are all things that people should consider when trying to assess and rate player legacies, particularly in games where the patch can wildly change the game.