Truth be told, I rarely saw an issue in being the bottom tier in the old match-making. Few things gave me as much glee and fun as wrecking tanks that were supposedly superior to mine, because back in the day, you generally still could deal with top tier tanks' better performance parameters thanks to skill and knowledge (of weakspots mainly).
I've come back to playing the Chi-Ri for a bit recently and this tank is a good example of that phenomenon. 57% Winrate in it over a length of 227 matches. Mostly by playing it back in the day when the first iteration of Pearl River was still a thing, along with a today-rarely-seen friend of similar skill-level to mine (fuck reallife, really). We knew where to shoot and despite the many drawbacks and weaknesses of the tank, it wasn't unplayable as long as you knew what you were doing. Today though? No chance. The maps don't regularly give you the opportunity to ambush and outmaneuver the enemy anymore. It's a front to front slug-fest for the most part and here two, maybe three things count: Penetration, frontal armor and alpha. None of which the Chi-Ri offers, few to no ways to let skill compensate for raw number-advantages thanks to map-design, which puts it even further back and then you have to consider the tier differences and super-heavies on top of that. Tier progression was bad in the day already, but it only got worse between powercreep and abandoned balancing-attempts. Not even all T8s are on equal footing yet, about two years after they started to balance the T10s more properly to each other.
Same for the 59-16. I fucking three-marked that thing with the autoloader, simply because I had fun driving the tank and I never felt overwhelmed by the enemy tanks even if I had to drive behind them and ended up on maps like Ensk all day. In fact, some of my most memorable games in the little pest were on Ensk and Himmelsdorf, as the lowest tier tank in the match. Today? It has a better gun, better mobility, technically less punishing matchmaking and still, you just can not do anything good in it. In fact, driving a light tank is one of the most sure-fire ways to actually loose a battle. Just WTF?! I had more influence on the outcome of the battles when I was three tiers below the top tier tank for crying out loud... What is wrong with you, WarGaming?!
It's just a giant shitshow and it gets worse the longer they drag their feet about the glaringly obvious issues of the game and I am willing to bet, that 3-5-7 wouldn't be half as bad as it is, if they had come around and fucking balanced the entire line-ups better and not half-arsed it so badly. That it takes the better part of a year to even begin balancing the T8s after they powerbuffed T10 and T9 left and right was bad enough already. That they haven't come down to T1 after over two years, considering that this is where the long-term player-retention begins, is beyond belief. That they haven't even made it down to T7 by now, is just... I am at a loss of words.