I've been making B&W prints since the 1950s and as you say for the longest time VC papers were inferior to graded. That changed at some point, late 80s - early 90s, and VC papers are my choice now. I can make better prints by using half grades and splitting filters for dodging burning etc. Prior to using VC, we had to modify our developers and do things like sponge hot strong developer onto local areas. And then there was the practical side of it, not having to stock so many different grades. So, IMHO VC papers rule.