I love the folks who say 'if you have to use sauce you are covering up bad Q' (and I consider many who say that to be friends). My response to them is 'why do you use salt and pepper then, or chile powder, or garlic powder, or smoke wood...just cook that meat straight up' And how is adding a vinegar mop not saucing and changing the meats flavor?
If I am going to judge a piece of meat, or a box, or a plate of food, I am going to take a look to see if it is appetizing, and if there is a smoke ring, or not, it all comes into play if the food looks good. For me, I don't need to see a smoke ring for a piece of meat to look good, but, there has to be something. I might well judge down for a piece of meat with a large smoke ring, not because of the ring, but, because overall, it just doesn't do it for me.
I'm feeling bearish, and I'm packing a Wusthof Grand Brisket slicer from MABA
"perhaps...but then again...maybe not..."