I have used the poor man's counter pressure filler - plastic tube in the cobra tap with a #2 stopper. Saw that in an old Brewing Techniques a guy was giving out at a club meeting, so it has been around for years.
Last year a very good Pilsner went down in the 2nd round due to poor bottling - I got rushed, and the beer had the diacetyl precursor, and then got to a diacetyl level that I picked up when opening the control bottle after reading the score sheets. The judges were right on that one.
This year the wife and I agreed that we would invest in a BBG if we had more than 1 move on. We had more than 1, bought the BBG, used it, and got a Bronze. Did it help the beer, I can't say for certain but I think yes. Did it hurt the beer, no.