However, this leads open an important question: where does skill come from? It's widely believed that talent is somehow an innate thing, that the l33t players have and the hoi poloi don't. There's been quite a bit of research done on this topic, which is well summarised in Geoff Colvin's book "Talent is overrated". To quote the Amazon summary of the book:
"Greatness doesn't come from DNA, but from practice and perseverance honed over decades. And not just plain old hard work, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness."In other words, top performers do do a lot of work, but it's not the gear you need to grind, it's the skills. Yes, a skilled player with an undergeared character may do better than an unskilled one with good gear, but that's only because they have spent years developing those skills through practice.
What this suggests is that the whole debate on skill vs time is misplaced. They are the same thing.