We have been around for 2 years. There was only one time that PvP could support tiered gaming. As for other games with Tiered brackets there is only one I have played that did it well. I am quite familiar with it, and let me tell you in the game that implemented it the best, R8s would still end up against R1-4s from time to time if there weren't enough 6-8s on to fill their brackets.
There aren't enough players in STO, let alone STO pvp to support tiered brackets you would have the exact same situation you have now. Why do you think this game went free to play? It was cause they weren't making any money and hadn't been for a long time. Cause they lost half their sub base less than 2 months after release.\
Furthermore, gear isn't -that- uber important in this game there's some gear to avoid, but it's more about character build and skill of the player... two things you can't easily quantify. What do you do do Win Streak brackets? Okay... what if you happened to be in a 4 man team half the night or worse for a couple nights. And it puts you in their bracket... Or you end up in a pug that Face Rolls everyone 15 and 0 repeatedly. Then you get put in the High End brackets? You'll just get Face Rolled again and again.
For that matter what about when we grizzled jaded and bitter veterans roll new alts? We do that you know. Infact I have a cmdr sci that I really need to work on. I can assure you when she hits RA, she's going to be facerolling poor hapless newbies just like my VAs do.
The numbers just aren't there. And the number of people in the ques that don't care if they win or lose is way too high. We called them Mark Farmers back in the day, then Emblem farmers and now dlithium farmers. But they are all the same cause cryptic believes that you should be rewarded equally regardless of if you win or not.
Which completely screws up pvp.
The only people that will win are people that want to win.
You should really join opvp, and ask for a team if you want to win. Because pugging it ain't going to cut it unless you are a grizzled veteran like the rest of us.
There is no bracket system and there never will be. Your best bet is to find some buddies to play with and enjoy the experience. You will get better as you pvp more. I came into the game months after most of the other remaining veterans. There was a learning curve. I'm sure some of the guys 'round here that know me from when I first came to sto's pvp could tell you stories about some of my lol builds that would curl your toes and make me snicker in fond memory. (Tachyon beam 1 with like 50 aux!, 115 weapon power on an Escort, Original, very very sucky Torpedo spread on plas torps! and soo many other lol instances in those first couple months of me pvping)
Starcraft didn't have brackets and it's by far the most successful competitive game of all time (no one used the lol ladder system. It was all about getting good enough to go play on the asian servers or PGT Tour) so no you don't need brackets to have successful pvp. You just need people that aren't getting equal rewards just for showing up to the match and people willing to suck it up and learn to play.
Agreed about the possiblity that numbers will be a factor, as i've stated.
I will say this again as well, as the OP originally stated, we aren't worried about facing a few vets, there is one in every match usually outshining everyone. We just dont want to have to face a full premade game in game out.
I think your comment on rewards vs performance is worth serious merit though. I think your right, it's a bit of a communist system isnt it, no matter how u do you still get your reward rations.
I use to think, "well pvp seems unbalanced, so i'm glad there arent any real rewards" But that is only a good viewpoint to have if your seeing movement toward 'balance.' With no real way to know what their cooking up and no comments on the boards (that i've seen) it's easy to lose heart.
As far as starcraft goes, i never had the interest in micromanagement to play that competitively but i played my fair share when i should of been attending classes, and i'll always remember those matches fondly, because we could decide thrilling matches once we decided where everyone's skill was. There were 2 guys that we would send 4 or 6 people against and they would STILL stomp us (granted this is when we were still new ) Although i still think they would take at least 2 of us out before the other 2 would have enough to clear their base.
Correct me if i'm wrong but doesnt Starcraft have leagues? Bronze Diamond etc, based on some weighted scale? Granted the player base is a lot stronger than this one obviously. But the point remains.
Maybe the way to increase the playerbase is to have pvp that is satisfying and competitive and welcoming to new players? - Instead of a 'what the hell just happened' experience. Not everyone (sad to say) has the heart to put up with getting owned while learning how to overcome it, ( i do and it's still rough to take when you get popped repeatedly and you don't quite understand the reason for it, Nor are there any avenues to find out, (i.e. equipment/setup armory, critical breakdowns of what happened and to whom after the match) Setups do change quite a bit though so i'm thinking a breakdown from match to match, call them sensor scans if you want, that give you information about friendly and evemy ships systems etc. After the match you could fly to a nearby starbase and look at all the pertinent scans that were taken during the match.
In the 'Not Impressed' thread i've commented on exactly what i would change with the post battle breakdown to make it a little more enlightening.