I too have used a fairly wide variety of ESC's over the years (first sub 1979 or '80) , both in surface ship models and in my submarines. I believe that Captain Andre is right on the money regarding Vantec speed controllers. They are as close to bullet proof as you will find...anywhere. The only way they could be more rugged would be if they were built out of cast iron and porcelain. They just don't seem to fail, are very easy to set up, and very competitive in terms of cost.
"The Japanese solders would die for the Emperor, which made them formidable. The U.S. Marines would die for each other, which made them invinceable"...Iwo Jima