Knowing the fight, knowing your ship, using a little teamwork, and basically being a heads up type of player will achieve far far better results then just gear.
But WHY bring common gear if you don't have to? Just to prove the point that it is the player, and by extension the entire TEAM, that makes the match.
Sure, you use normals to get your bearings. To learn the encounters. Practice your art! Just by having the UNDERSTANDING that you're PRACTICING and LEARNING puts a player in a very very strong position against a player that isn't.
But once you've mastered the basics, don't waste your time trying to get all Elite Gear to move ahead. Just move ahead.
Elite isn't a Gear Set. Its a Mind Set. It's saying that you're ready to accept new challenges as a member of a team.