Hello my brain-damaged compatriots!
So something I've thought about for a while is the differences in playing opposition that is clearly above your skill level (for me, that's the SHL and probably a majority of people on this site) as opposed to playing opposition that is about your skill level (so that, all things being equal, you come close to breaking even in terms of wins and losses). I'd like to hear anyone's opinions and experiences on this subject.
Being that I consider myself a weak intermediate (at best), I've struggled mightily in the SHL, as evidenced by my 5-11 record. Granted, I haven't played a ton, but I have no reason to suspect that record isn't about indicative of my skill - indeed, it might be misleading for being too good, as one win was when my opponent (a Kate player, I believe PPVP, but I'm not sure as I never saw one) never saw an SMC, and I quickly rushed my way to a victory behind a quandary or something like that as Biotech.
When @hayati announced the Novice League and was looking for entrants, I considered entering it, until I saw I did not meet the requirements (less than 6 months of ANR experience). Unfortunately, I feel like even that would not be particularly useful, as I think I'm likely good enough to be very strong against inexperienced players. Some sort of "Intermediate League" would be exactly what I'm looking for, but that has the issues being no clear lines where "novice, intermediate, expert" all end and begin. So there would invariably be some issues there, but they're probably not major, and could be dealt with.
But then I wondered if playing in the SHL was actually better for me than looking for people around my skill level - or even if playing in the SHL was actually bad for me. I want to know if, at the high levels of ANR, there's a learning curve where, if you don't have a strong foundation in the more beginner and intermediate plays, it becomes impossible to truly understand the advanced concepts. If that's the case, I should learn and master the concepts that are on my level first before pressing on. But is it possible to learn what you need to learn just by playing the best, and adjusting your game as you go along?
So, the big thrust I'd like answered - as a weaker player, what's the best path for me to continue to improve? Play against those of my approximate skill level and "split" often with them, or play against the best I can and learn by continued failures until I get it right?
To everyone who contributes, thank you for your time and effort.