This is in response to everyone here who has been talking about whether the combat was more skill-centered before or after the combat update. I've been playing on a 1.7 server for a couple hundred hours now and one thing has been overwhelmingly clear to me: I am having more difficulty in combat than I did in 1.9 and later. It's not because I have less skill, but rather because my skills don't apply. Let me be clear: I am having very little difficulty, I'm quite good in combat. But I'm not as good as I am in 1.9+, and it is entirely due to the low skill ceiling.
So hold whatever opinions you want about which one feels more fun, but in the end you have to admit the fact that the higher skill ceiling lies with the combat update. I knew this right away, but it became much clearer to me when, after getting used to the new combat system, I went back to the old one for a while.