I talk a lot, but I know I’m not that great of a player, especially as a Runner. (Corp I think I’m perhaps above average, but not necessarily strong.)
There’re some folks from Portland that did well there and up in Seattle that I consider to be excellent players, and I know two of them have posted here. (@bluebird503 and @JohnnyCreations unless I am being spectacularly forgetful.) My roommate (who I frequently refer to as a source but who doesn’t post here) came 5th/6th at both those regionals and I consider him to be pretty strong, though our local scene is pretty small and it’s hard to tell for sure now, we’re going to be trying to prep for next year’s tournament scene as best we can.
I think part of the… problem’s the wrong word, maybe difficulty? Part of the difficulty in telling is also that there’re differences in being a strong player and a strong deckbuilder. It’s one thing to take a strong deck, make it better/more suited to you, and do well with it – and it is not a small thing, either. It is, however, different from winning with something entirely new – which isn’t easy either, but widens the field some.
For instance, my roommate falls within the former category – he’ll see something he likes, like Scorched Imaging, or Supermodernism, or Red Coats, and then tweak it to be better and do very well with it. Undeniably, to me, a strong player. But he’s not great at building a deck from the ground up, he’s unlikely to try out a new ID or archetype until it’s fairly clear that it’s strong.
There are others, here and elsewhere, that come up with these decks that end up being archetypes. Many of them are also good players, but I think it’s a different sort of skill than just being a strong player – they influence each other but don’t necessarily come in equal measure, if that makes sense? There are also, after all, a number of players that win entirely on strength of play, and don’t actually build decks that work well for anyone else, so it’s worth looking at their lists with a grain of salt.
At least, this is what I’ve theorized, based on how, as Kingsley beat me to saying, there are excellent players out there that make entirely wrongheaded claims here and there that I can’t see any actual basis behind but manage to win anyway, and there are people that seem to be relatively on-the-ball but, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t won much of anything big.