After reading most of the reactions, I thought I’d go into more detail on the step-by-step process of creating the lst. It’s actually pretty simple.
The first step was to take out criteria that I considered irrelevant in the making of the lists. Those criteria were:
The reason is actually pretty simple. Lets say we take the argument that making the most money means therefore you had the most skill. In that case by that logic, you’d have to say Newbee are the greatest Dota2 players of all time (despite that they probably even weren’t the best Dota2 players of 2014). More relevantly, you’d have to tier every tournament solely based on prize earnings. Meaning something like Shoucraft NA run by TB is almost as important or more important than any MLG victory won in 2011. The same weekend MMA won MLG Columbus, Lyn won a Chinese SC2 tournament with 4 times the prize pool. Lyn was not 4 times the player MMA was at that moment. Fruitdealer’s GSL victory is more important than Life’s GSL victory in 2015. All money earning measures is how much money you earned. It’s a cool stat, but doesn’t particularly reflect on the skill of a tournament.
Secondly, online tournaments and qualifiers were discounted. ESL Korean qualifiers have a harder competitive list than WCS NA and WCS EU combined. But there is no prestige, no lan pressure, and the difference in reward between winning that qualifier and winning a tournament is massive. No one remembers who won what qualifier to make it into ESL in 2012, but everyone remembers Naniwa winning MLG in 2011 despite there being 0 Koreans in attendance (Do Select and Moonan even count?)
The second step was to quantify concepts to myself. Most importantly the difference between 1st and 2nd, and preparation formats vs non-prep formats.
The difference of course is the prestige, the difficulty, the reward, the legacy, the history. But it is also the difference of exactly one series. How many second places do you need in order to make it equivalent to a first? Some people say you could have an infinite amount. In that case You’d have to put Seed/Sniper/Jjakji over soO as an all time great. And I hope that looks as ludicrous to you as it does to me. Basically I settled this by making a mental note of first places and measuring the raods taken to the finals. For instance IEM Cologne 2014.
In terms of pure difficulty and skill I rate Polt’s runner-up of higher quality than HerO winning the exact same tournament. In the blink meta, it made it so only 3 Terrans became worth a damn in TvP: Maru, Taeja and Polt. HerO beat ForGG twice, Innovation, Jaedong and Polt. ForGG was already bad at TvP before that meta hit. Innovation got kicked out of the GSL because Zest used the blink all-ins to kick him out. Jaedong was good, but wasn’t nearly as impressive as he was in 2013. Polt on the other hand beat Mana, Stardust, Classic, Rain and then lost to HerO. Mana was pretty bad at PvT and couldn’t abuse the meta. Stardust was really good and was top 8 in WCS EU. Classic was cracking near Top 5 Protoss players of his race and would win the GSL a few months later. Rain was a Top 5 player of his race (arguably Top 2) and would be in the semi-finals of GSL in a month. HerO won in a favorable meta against Terran players weak against Blink All-ins, barely won against Jaedong, and then beat Polt. In his run I’d argue he only had two impressive performancs against Jaedong and Polt. Polt played in a god awful meta for Terran against one of the better Protoss’ of Europe in Stardust, beat a future GSL Champ, then beata Top 5- Top 2 Protoss before losing to HerO.
Basically for me it was all about context, the runs, the metas, who they played, how the played and the degrees therewithin.
Now preparation vs non-preparation. Basically I believe that preparation adds a large amount of complexity to any matchup. If given time, a player can devise and create a strategy that can maximize their chances of beating anyone, no matter how superior the other player is. It adds pressure and requires more skill and composure and hard work to the equation. Marathon tournaments have a completely different set of problems though. Foreign lans are much more susceptible to technical issues. Then you have to deal with jet lag, travel issues, being in a foreign country, fighting against a multitude of playstyles, you have to have endurance and you have to think of the fly. While I do respect the preparation format more, it is pretty ludicrious to say any non=preparation format is worse solely because of the format.
In the end, prep vs non-prep only mattered when compettiion at a foreign event was similar to a GSL (Tournaments like IPL 5, MLG Fall, IEM Toronto, IEM Cologne all spring to mind). In those cases, I added it into the back of my mind as a factor among many to consider.
Now I can get to the actual ranking part. First I thought up of every player I considered to be in the greatest of all time from 2010 to now. Then I listed all of their Top 4 placings at every Premier Event. Then I tiered each event they were at based on the competition. So then whats’ the difference between something like MarineKing’s MLG wins and Leenock’s MLG win? Why are they tiered differently. I basically went through the entire player list. I then wrote down how good they were for their respective race and only counted players that were either in the Top 10 or Top 5 of their race Then I cut everyone else out unless a player had an extremely hot run and played above their level (Sjow, Haypro, Patience all fit this example). I then took that list and theory crafted exactly how many players I’d need to add in order to say every one of the best players in the world at this very moment are here right now. Then I wrote down the paths of every single Top 4 run they did and only included players in my list. I then made sure to include players if a player was only a matchup god (Ryung in TvT is the first example here). So now I have a list of the greatest players and their achievements based on a 4 tier system on the competition that played there.
So for instance let’s take Parting’s WCS 2012 victory and measure it against MKP’s MLG Spring Championship top 3 placing. Parting’s WCS 2012 was a tier 3 tournament. It had basically all top 5 Protosses, 1 of the top 5 Zergs (Roro), a top 10 Zerg (Stephano) a middling Zerg in Curious and a bunch of strong foreign players that could on a very good day crack a top 10 performance of their race maybe (Grubby, Lucifron, Sen, Vortix, Scarlet). I’d need to add maybe 7 Koreans to make this a tier 1 event.
Now lets look at MLG Spring Championship. This was mid 2012, so MC, Alicia and Oz were all either top 5 or top 10 Protoss (this was during Alica’s run of second places, Oz coming off ro8 GSL, MC being MC). Then you had MKP, Polt, MMA, Thorzain, aLive. 2 of the Top 5 Terrans in MKP and Polt. MMA, Thorzain and aLive were around top 10. (MMA had come off Iron Squid and this was right as he fell. Thorzain DH Stockholm, aLive was falling from his top 2 Terran performance in early 2012, but was still in the upper echelon). Then you had 5 Zergs: DRG, Stephano, Violet, Symbol, Leenock. The only Zerg missing was Nestea (life had yet to exist). To knock this up to a tier one then you needed more Terrans (Byun, Mvp, Taeja) and at least 1 more of the Protosses (Naniwa, Genius or Seed).
Now look at their paths. Using my grading scale Parting only beat 4 notable opponents: Scarlett, Suppy (Who had a peak performance here), Sen and Creator. MKP to get 3rd beat: Symbol, Stephano, Thorzain, loss to DRG, loss to Alicia. If you really stretch here you could say Parting beat a top 10 Zerg, two foreigners in Suppy and Sen who played around top 10 level and Creator, Top 3 P. MKP beat a 2 Top 5 Zergs and then a top 10 Terran, and other multiple equivalent players to Sen/Suppy in Dream/Grubby/Golden. In terms of content you could make a case here that Marineking’s top 3 run was harder than Parting’s victory at WCS.
For me context was everything.
So basically after doing all of that I had a list of about 20 or so. I then measured their years of consistency. Let’s take Maru as an example. 3.5 years non-relevant. OSL to now he was a Top 3 Terran. During that Top 3 Terran era, he was top 1 for the first half of 2014 and in my eyes the best Terran of 2015 so far. I did this for every player.
I then annotated that by writing down their years as compared to the metas they played in. For instance, winning in a crapsack age as the blink era for Terran was worth more than winning in a golden age for Zerg in the bl/infestor era.
Then I judged Innovation and refinement. What builds/styles did a player innovate (in the sense that he was the first to do a build consistently, players credited that player with the build and/or players copied him after he had done it - like Stephano and the 3 hatch) Then there was refinement. Nestea created and refined Muta ling/bling, but DRG took that refinement a step further than that. Generally I had to measure the degrees of refinement and innovation. Let’s take for example Life. He created a strong counter-attack style that was extremely refined and was uncopyable for 2012. While never replicated perfectly, it was then used by multiple players from 2013 onwards (most notably Curious, Leenock, Jaedong, Soulkey and Pet). He got maximum points possible in refinement and a decent amount of points in innovation. Stephano got maximum points in both.
Then you had to measure adversity, which I touched upon. Basically this comes down to metas, how many players of your race could you learn from during your time (For instance Nestea was the only zerg worth a damn in 2011 until DRG/Leenock rose up), outside influences (MMA’s team situation) or injuries.
Then I measured things like relative increased skill overtime, how dropout/retirements may have affected the overall skill gap, and then measured the differential between TOp 1 and Top 5 of each race. For instance in the latter half of 2012, Top 3 Protoss were: Parting, Creator, Rain. It then went on a pretty decent gap between them and 4th pce of P. In 2013 It went Soulkey, Jaedong and then a humungous gap between them and 3rd best Zerg. 2014, it went soO and then a gap so massive it was only comparable to Nestea’s 2011 era, until you got to the second best Zerg.
Then I added in X factors for each player: Clutch, composure, versatility, play style, series planning.
Now take every factor I measured up and then grade two players head-to-head on every level (measured and balanced runs, prestige, achievements, time of consistency, peak consistency, innovation, refinement, adversity and x factors) and grade them. That’s basically what I did for every player that could have made the list of the Greatest of All Time. If you go through the entire thing, you could probably deduce the rest of my Top 10. Simple right?