ok so i promised to do writeups awhile ago and but i forgot so here we go
Lavos - lavos came out of nowhere and leveled up into a monster in multiple old gens. he just seemed to be playing at a different level than everybody else for a little while, especially in gsc. sadly he seems to been de-trophied and ragequit (although i still think he won that classic fairly lol), but as with most players, he will probably return. very volatile player who you can see exponentially grow since his advent in 2011-2013 timelines.
SoulWind - soulwind is a player that makes absolutely hairbrained crazy offensive plays all the time and somehow they end up working out. he's the type of guy to double hydro pump on keld vs latios even when his opponent has 0 point in not dracoing, and still catch the tyranitar on the switch. just a playoff making machine who has been sort of at the top for a long time now, but just has not been able to win that trophy yet. perpetual playoff contender in essentially every qualifying tour.
Ciele - ciele won like 3 individuals so he probably deserves to be in that top 10 slot. i think the only reason he isn't higher on my list is because ciele never really bragged or made a point of his wins, he just kinda grabbed the trophy and went. very precise builder and player, who did things all on his own. however, i always felt like something was missing, and i can't explain what.
Sweepage - yeah yeah i know you all hate sweepage nowadays but sometimes i seriously felt he was just on another level in the game. as a builder he was pretty solid too honestly, although a lot of his playoff teams were handed to him by other players on this list. taught me a very interesting lesson in pokemon for sure about regretting plays.
bad ass - bad ass had a pretty meh return, but i remember him being a visionary in the builder and in the game. he taught me a lot about how to play when i was starting to get good post spl5 -> spl6. he was just another example of an ultra-solid player whose accomplishments are now forgotten because he wasn't a massive loudmouth. big contrast to certain players whose skill derives more from their own proclamation than from the actual manifestation of it.
panamaxis - when i was just starting to play (09-10) panamaxis was THE player i heard about. super creative, super offensive, super good. not much to say here b/c unlike the others on the list, his peak is now a distant memory. it's happened long enough ago in my childhood that i can barely remember it.
gr8astard - hugo was the best teambuilder smogon had seen up until ppl like abr came along. he just knew
what the next best thing would be. his bw squads were legendary and i'd say he was personally responsible for propelling the metagame forward in gen5-gen6. as a player hugo was kinda like bloo-lite; he had good game sense and was a perpetual noobslayer. if he was as good a player as he was a builder, he would have been won more than ost.
10. ABR - yeah, abr should probably be higher at this point. i just hate putting newer guys above everybody else who i grew up looking up to. probably the spiritual successor to bloo, only this time instead of just being an amazing player, abr is an amazing builder as well. probably the most innovative one in recent years. as a player abr is pretty boring, but the guy just doesn't make mistakes. on top of all that, abr is lucky as hell. to be a top player you need to have luck on your side in pokemon, but this guy has it all. building, playing, and luck. will probably win another trophy as soon as this next tour cycle.
9. tamahome - i think when i started learning adv back in like 2011-2013 dracomalfoy was regarded as the best living adver. i remember challing him on pokemon online and asking him for advice on my teams. tama's remained consistent nearly 10 yrs later not just in adv, but in tiers as new as SM. i think most players know him more as a dpper than adver nowadays, but the classic MalfoyStall that i remember facing repeatedly during my early years playing remains fresh in my mind. guy has had multiple prolific spls, and is overdue for a big tournament win. hope to see him in classic poffs this yr.
8. M Dragon - i personally hate the way mdragon builds and plays, but can't deny that he's one of the best old gens players on this site. up through bw mdrag was at one point top 5 in every tier, which by itself is pretty impressive. i can't really name another player who i'd want to help me more in tiers like gsc than mdrag. guy has decades of knowledge and remains one of the best today.
7. Philip7086 - phil is another player who i didn't get the clearest look at during his prime. which is kinda a shame, b/c i always saw him as one of the best during the dpp-bw era. just a really impressive player, although i can't remember his prime all that well, which leaves me with little to say.
6. Earthworm - when i started playing in 08-09 and asked who the best players were, the answers i typically got were VIL / Earthworm / Gouki. pretty much sums up my early years in smogon/ comp mons in general. ew however didn't really play that far into my tenure, as i remember him dipping for a long time starting in like 2012. i also remember playing him on that old PO server ran by funk and being destroyed by moltres in adv. when i played him, i felt like there was just something i was completely missing. like he really just had one over me. now that ew has returned, he hasn't shown that same level of skill i and many others remember him for. during his day tho, ew was probably ahead of pretty much everybody else. even during early bw i remember him being "the" guy to beat.
5. Bloo - super consistent. enigmatic. kinda a jerk. i think during the 2013-2016 years bloo was considered the best player in competitive pokemon and was fangirled by basically everybody. i don't remember there being a player that ever disputed how good bloo was. looking back, bada was right that bloo was the ultimate noobslayer. she brought the absolute best new teams, and managed to curbstomp everybody she faced. that tar/zam/glisc/skarm/loom/jelli stall that she used to spam still gives me nightmares. (REPLAY
) <--- possibly the worst game of pokemon ever. god 2014 was so long ago. looking at this replay reminds me of the absolute circlejerk that surrounded bloo. real cult of personality stuff. anyway, bloo was never a teambuilder, but as a player, she just knew the move to make. the inability to build puts her a rung below everybody else on this list though.
4. McMeghan - i'm still sour i lost to mcm in my best stour run like 4 years ago. i def woulda won that year. anyway, mcm had probably the craziest winning streak in tournament history. he piled up unofficials on his record when those still meant something, and currently holds stour + classic, probably the most celebrated trophy combination possible. guy is a serious monster when it comes to innovation, and as a player you can just never be too sure what move he will make. a cut above the rest for sure, mcm is imo the ideal offensive player. he's never passive, always using innovations, and despite taking numerous breaks has never turned rusty. looking forward to another classic run this year.
3. BKC - bkc has probably been the best player in gens 2-5 at a point in time during the past 6-8 years. starting probably w/ adv, moving onto dpp, then bw, then finally gsc. guys a great builder, one of the players i hate to face the most, and has a list of accomplishments in every tournament imaginable bar like grand slam. when it comes to old gens, bkc knows exactly what works. he's the player ppl like abr/tdk look up to in terms of teambuilding and enthusiasm for the game.
2. Ojama - name kingpin speaks for itself. another holder of the classic/stour trophy combination. defender of the faith.
1. Tesung - tesung is an old friend of mine. haven't seen him in awhile, but that's ok. probably the best natural pokemon player to ever exist if u want the truth. something about tessy just made him the complete package; as a builder he was probably only above average, but in the luck + playing categories, this guy was something else. people forget that tesung used to be THE luckiest player on this site, but he also used to be the best player too. this guy won 2 stours in quick succession + made classic finals and qualified for gslam. he was good at every tier at an incredibly fast speed, and as soon as he came, he left. tesung probably is just about the epitome of raw skill / instinct that you can get in this game. mcm / ojama / bkc all think hard to make their plays. tesung, by some miracle, just knew
what the right move was. guy was a fucking brick but guy knew exactly what to do and when to do it.
i think this about rounds out my list. i've been in the comp scene for about 11 ish years now and i can say that the median level of competition has certainly grew. i think that most players considered top now were probably around what we considered top back then, but there is definitely more fierce competition now just by the nature of smogon's expansion. lots of names could have made this list. husk, zak91, mop, gouki, loki, malekith, lady bug are a few i can think of off the top of my head. bab is up there too.