I'm planning on watching this year's ME final table soon. But without seeing Jacobson in action, I'd rate Greg Merson as the most skilled poker player to win the Main Event of the players you listed. The final three was a marathon and a testament to all 3's discipline and patience - he pulled the trigger with the QJ all in river hero bluff when he knew Balsiger couldn't call, took a massive bad beat with KK against Silva's AK and still stayed in complete control. Played almost every hand heads up optimally, never paid off Silva with second best hands. Almost always knew exactly where he was at.
To reach that far he lost with top pair + flush draw against top set, and came back from like 5 bbs. More than a few hero calls throughout the tourney, like middle pair on a 4-to-a-straight board against Silva. Classic chip and a chair comeback story. Whereas tons of players got lucky, Merson overcame
bad luck to get in there (losing with KK the final 3, I can't even imagine the heartbreak of something like that), and nearly always got his money in well from the final 2 tables onward (AK vs Kuroknoi's KQ for example). He value-bet thin and got calls from second best hands so many times.
I think this overall makes him the best Main Event winner. Just seems like he had to rely on his skill more than luck, and had to overcome the worst adversity/variance to take the title. He actually played poker.
He dealt with nits, ultra-LAGs, TAGs, all of them pretty casually.
Raymer and Hachem were both class.
Cada was atrocious and objectively the luckiest player to ever play that event. It's a black stain on the Main Event that someone can get their money in drawing to 2 outs preflop twice at the final table and end up winning. Even Darvin Moon at least took a flop before cracking overpairs and sets and bluffed off ace highs when he missed the flop.
I actually think Yang was underrated - played unsophisticated Kill Phil style but did so effectively, bluffed overpairs off hands, correctly made a big call against Khan with JJ on King high flop.
Gold was special, but again insanely lucky. He never ran into adversity, but using the deepstack is its own skill.
Eastgate is another deserved winner - he was lucky in the sense that Dennis Philips and another final tablist randomly shoved their stacks with air into his full house/set, but he generally got his money good every time.
Puis Heinz pretty much played like a maniac and happened to have the best hand when it mattered. Turned the best hand into a bluff (two pair on a flush/4-to-a-straight board), it just seemed like he didn't know what he was doing, and his lack of any follow-up results whatsoever, whether tourney or cash games, validates this. He didn't know where he was in the hands in the same way Raymer or Merson did.
Riess played well. I think Jay Farber was the better player and outplayed him, but Riess ran hot enough that he overcame it. Kind of nondescript, just another guy who won the Main Event.
Duhamel played well too. Did crack Affleck's aces, but did so with 10 outs, and did benefit from Cheong bluffing
off with A7. Mixed it up well, played creatively, I thought he was a great winner.