If I should ever end up making a return to this game as a regular player (not likely), I will have to give serious consideration to rerolling on the EU server. I came to this conclusion after looking at WoTReplays again tonight to see if anyone had managed to get an Ace Medal on a tier 1 tank this update cycle. Of course, nobody had, or at least nobody who had done so had put a replay up on that site. So I switched over to tier 2 to see what I could find, and I found a replay of someone with an M2 LT who managed to get 13 kills (youtube link, WoTReplays link). I'll just give you the quick skinny on the game: it was a reroll, they played like absolute shit, but they mopped the floor. Business as usual, but because I was a little more interested in seeing how good of a reroll this guy was, I went searching for his account, and I tried to find him on every other server before I tried EU and found him there. What I found there was unremarkable, but what I realized is that this may be my own future with this game.
This line of thinking has its origins in this thread. When I saw someone having trouble getting an ace medal for a tier 1 tank, I was beside myself and thought, "There's absolutely no way this turns out to not be a cakewalk." Almost 900 games later, I'm left to face the stark reality of the new tier 2 meta: it's fucking dead, Jim. At least, it's dead on the dying NA server. On EU, there seems to be little to no issue. It's not just this last M2 replay I saw where the featured player was from EU server either. I think out of the last dozen replays I've looked at of tier 1 or tier 2 games came from an EU player. You can tell immediately when you get a replay from NA too, because the teams aren't full. This is something I went into more when I reflected upon my experience of playing the Koloho. I also felt for the longest time that I was the best Koloho player out there because I ended up surpassing everyone I saw on dpgwhores, but once that site started to show EU accounts, I no longer had a huge average damage or frag lead over all the other competition (I'm still on top for winning by a fair margin, but this could be higher than the EU numbers for similar reasons that my damage and kills are low by comparison). This drove the nail in for me that my performance on NA servers was no longer an accurate reflection of my ability. Being down 1-8 players every match left me short time after time on damage and kills that could otherwise go towards showing better play.
This idea of inaccurate representation of ability is something I've had in mind for a while when approaching this game. It's the reason why I don't play with premium account, because it messes with the average and top XP numbers and makes it impossible to distinguish between performance while having the perk and while not. It's why I don't play in platoons, because the influence of partnering with other players I can rely upon can have extreme impacts on overall stats (AutismSpeaks isn't nearly as good a Cruiser III player as I am, but if you looked our winrates alone, you might think differently). At one point, I got tired of these restrictions and started up a reroll on NA server where I could play with some other people, but even then, I only played Japanese tanks on that account, and I never play Japanese tanks on this one, because if I start playing the same tank across two different accounts, I feel it creates a situation where on neither account is there an accurate representation of what I can do with that tank.
Herein lies my ultimate dilemma, one for which I only need to find the solution if I actually find myself desperate enough to get back into this game. If I continue to play on NA server, I am going to be stuck going with and up against partial teams, denying me damage and kills, tanking my performance ratings and accounts stats to where they'll never be able to compete with only somewhat above-average performances elsewhere. If I move to playing on EU, I am going to have to play something on that server, but seeing how I've touched just about every tank now on the NA server for tiers 1 and 2, I don't really have much choice unless I want to play something I've used before, creating the stats split I would have liked to avoid. Now, one might ask, "But the game has changed several times before, so your stats are the accumulation of how you performed across several different metas and are never going to be truly representative of how you perform in the current or next ones." Sure, and there's the learning and growing process of the game, I'm not the same as I was back then, no longer accurate to my ability, blah blah blah. I guess the difference I see in this case is that the potential to perform as well as ever has always been there as long as the population has been healthy. Maybe I wasn't good at one point, but there were still 15 people on each side, and I could have killed as many of them as I like. I go into games today, kill five people, let the rest of my team mop up the other four, and am left going, "That's it?" I can't say to myself that I am any worse a player now than at any other point in the game's lifespan, but the population drop is taking such a toll on my stats that I can't really tell. The accurate representation of my stats was not only a rule to play by, but also a motivator. If I knew my stats reflected what I could do, then improving myself would be reflected in the stats. However, there's no amount of skill that can make up for the stripped opportunities of incomplete teams.
Perhaps I'll toss this idea around in my head a little bit more in the future. For now, this only serves as a reminder to myself that if I choose to face this problem, the solution I come to is probably not going to be one I like.