Sorry Marv but noone is stopping anyone from getting into that top 10 or top 20 players. Its the individual player's own skill which is the key here.
In games with a big enough scene yes you have tournaments for tier 2/3/4 teams/players. AOE scene is too small to have money tournaments for tier 2/3/4 players.
What's happening here is quite natural for a game with such a small scene. I would not expect anything else.
There is a obvious reason why most people will never be top20. It’s called time.
You cannot play 8 hours a day if you don’t earn money with that because you have to spend your time elsewhere while the top 10 players now have 2 very good streams of income. So they seen while playing on Twitch and tournaments. If you live in a low cost country is easier to start but otherwise more or less impossible
But it’s not what I meant anyway. I meant in general that there is a group of 200 people or 300 people who likes to play tournaments Aswell where you don’t get stomped by some expert player in round 1
You have pro tournaments where you can’t play and have no chances anyway then you have open for all where Aswell the pros sign up even if the price is few hundred dollars so you get rekt very early and then there are small tournaments for lower players where you cannot sign up because you have high rating (which is fine imo) I only remember that OGN tournament which focused on that semi pro group
Well anyway just some thoughts from me.