Humm if you want to know more about koven playing after the tyrant big sponsor, you have to summon funito the smurf tracker, koven rarely used his main nick for 1x1, but he was still active for several months, i am almost sure he kept playing for a year after those events.I feel your arguments are the same as saying Maradona don't belong to the best football players in history because he only had 2-3 really strong years and you really nitpick what you want and ignore facts.
Or you maybe think your own Carlos vela is a greater player then Maradona because he play in the modern game and had a longer career?
I knew you would not, it was more to show you that your statement here was wrong about they just staying 1-2 years and mentioning that they actually won what they came for since you said
This is also false, Koven held #1 from 99 intill he retierd (02 according to OP list) then Halen took it, Grunt as far as I know never held 1, but he had some high rating nicks and won tournaments. When they all changed game Chris took it, then it was between him and Daut intill Viper.
Grunt also played from AoK intill 03 (this is 4 years not 1 or 2) then he dominated the other pros in other games intill 08-09 (AoE3 TAD expansion). And according to OP list he were also AoC active in these years so again much longer then "1 or 2 years". And yea they were not evenly matched, again Koven was undisputed 1 as long as he stayed, you can throw in 10 more nicks who the nr 2 was (Chris, Geek, Fire, Grunt, Halen, Capoch, RD_Champion, Jordan, kmkm+++ take your pick)
And no it is not the same as saying Viper is AoE4 legend, if Viper had played and held top ranking + won all the biggest tournaments in AoE4 for several years and set the meta each patch you could say it was the same, Viper tournament win was what 1 week into AoE4, Grunt made the meta for years in AoE3.
I think you joined the scene under voobly when the game was "dead" and had 1500 people online max and underestimate how many players that played AoC on the zone, it was really buzzing and alive and you can compare it more with today then the voobly years.
That a player like pG_fire don't even make the top 50 or get a mention I find criminal when I see alot of the other nicks on this list, he like Grunt were competive and changed games for money after AoC and won WSG AoM and later became WC3 pro, but AoC was his original game (Like Chris he was teenage prodigy, going to the top very very young 13-14 yo).
I think when you watch their game you compaire them with Viper 2013 and not seeing them for the time they were played.
Like the Kkab post you mention I also remember it differently, yea they got payed and Chris made drama about it, but I also remember KKab saying Halen did not take it seriously because he were already rich and played drunk every night for practce, and then you say Koven grinded games for a year like he tried to go top, he was sponsored to play a few games a month and this is what he played as I remember it, if 5 games a month is "grinding" ok, but this I can be wrong about since I were not very active in the scene around that time.
To me zone in his last year wasn't that impressive, around 1200 players simultaneously but some of them playing cs or dm in the same lobby, there were only 4 big rooms with 300 cap limit, the other lobbies were empty with 4 users those with the agincourt naming, who knows maybe during the 2001-2004 there were more users but i am not sure as internet wasn't that accesible for gaming back then globally.
If you really believe that halen played drunk or that koven played 5 times in a month then you are still having the picture of those players being gods of this game and i highly doubt you would see them as normal early gamers and not something super special, while those players were living for gaming the other pros like daut had to stop their education to compete against his family will, then again not the same conditions and lets not forget the third world had no access to a good internet or even decent computers during the first aok-aoc years.
Just compare them to themarinelord or other full time gamers in aoe4, it isn't about them being the best players and the most gifted, they are just the players that can spare more time and take it like an investment unlike the rest of the players, imo they are just sharks waiting for the next big prey.