I started playing this game back in 94, right between Unlimited and Revised. I got into tournament type play about a year after I started. Type 1 was the primary format, with occasional Type 1.5 and Type 2. This was when you could buy Black Lotus
for $100 and a Mox would set you back $60. I live near a college town, and there has always been a fairly large group of Magic players in the area. We would go to the tournaments every Tuesday evening, and play. You had everything there, people playing all sorts of Blue/White control variants (almost all of them with Moat[/moat]), White Weenie Aggro, Land Destruction, Discard ([card]Hymn to Tourach got REAL old), and Gabe with his ever present Juzam Djinn
However, there were several very very good players that would bring what would be now called a Rogue deck. When you had to play these guys, it didn't matter if you had look in Scry magazine and prepared for the top level tournament decks, you were in trouble. I am not saying that their decks won every tournament, but they were really excellent deck builders. They were playing in the top level amateur tournaments and even in professional events. You had to build decks not only to deal with the 2 or 3 decks you knew were going to be there, but also the decks that you didn't know. Everyone, if you wanted to be at all successful, had to build decks that maybe drew rough inspiration from the current decks, but you had to build against the unknown. You could occasionally get away with a bad play (not very often against the best players) because you were both packing something the other wasn't expecting. Your decks had to be creative, attempting to use cards in unexpected ways (sometimes with poor results). You were constantly looking for the advantage over your opponent.
Decks that did well generally wouldn't do as well the next time, because people would start building to exploit a weakness. Decks were constantly changing and evolving until they reached their pinnacle. If it was good enough, they were taken to a top level tournament, but most died in those hard fought battles in a little hole in the wall sub shop. Everyone trying to create the perfect card interaction.
On the way home, we would discuss what we saw played, and what worked and what didn't. What ideas others had, and if/how they could be improved to get a bigger advantage. You very rarely talked about the mistakes you made in a match (unless it was colossal mistake), but what card interactions were needed to generate advantage.
Around Weatherlight/Tempest this started to change. You would go every week and instead, out of 30 people, there being 20 different decks, there was only 10 different decks. This just kept up. Finally, I quit playing tournaments. You would go, and you might have 1 or 2 people playing Rogue decks, mostly because they didn't have the cards to build the meta-decks. Most of the decks were very very similar. Sure, there might be 3 cards in Deck A that were different than Deck B, but they were effectively the same deck. I started to get frustrated, seeing the same decks over and over. Also, Type 2 started to become the primary format and I just didn't have the money to buy cards all the time. I mostly dropped out of the game.