Two of my favourite games - Twilight Struggle and Through the Ages - have relatively recently had widely-accepted Western-origin game theories overturned soon after a good software implementation came out, due to the impact of high-level play by Chinese players.
Looking at Twilight Struggle, many years of international English-language competition had resulted in a meta that, broadly speaking, valued working towards a favourable endgame board state while thinning the deck to neutralise your opponent’s events.
Then the Chinese players came along, fighting tooth and nail for every victory point, always with an eye to overturning dominance of a region exactly when necessary, aiming for early wins, and actively pursuing the Space Race… and they won, and kept winning. 10+ years of theory overturned.
More recently, the new edition of Through the Ages came out, and despite wide-ranging sweeping changes to the game, most English-language players still concluded that, as in the previous edition, science and military were more reliable ways to win 2-player games, and this largely influenced 3-4 players games too. Indeed, falling behind in military was widely regarded as a mistake only made by very green players and many new players complained that not being able pursue a peaceful route to victory was a flaw in the game(!)
Then came the Chinese players, and bam, suddenly early strong culture pushes were revealed as not only viable, but more reliable and effective under many circumstances. Many assumptions were overturned, and theories shook up.
I’m sure this has happened over the years for games like Go and Chess too, but I don’t really know much about the history of these games. Anyone have any insights into these games, or others?
I just find it fascinating that the language barrier can result in these wildly different and contradicting game theories being developed over years and years, and only really put to the test when different groups of players clash on the international stage.