Depends how long you wish to stay with the game I guess, for us, we have been there since the beginning so it’s a non issue. I tend to devote my life to one main game for years. Right now that game is overwatch, before that I did 5 years on WOW, before that about 10 years on counterstrike . I love games with a learning curve, and indeed I am still learning things about Overwatch even now.
Perhaps it may put new players off. Maybe you’re right, perhaps it should be around 1 month of gameplay to unlock.
Similar things happened with WOW, at the beginning we grinded for hours and hours to get to level 60 and the full wrath set. Then they made an expansion, new green gear was better than the stuff we had worked on for months. That was the begining of the end of Wow for me. Although I do have fond memories of rl guild meets and 40man raids.
I’ve digressed, I don’t have all the solutions or even if there is a solution to smurfing. I guess there is a balance of a drop in drop out fun to play game that some people want, and a serious competitive mode that others want. The way I see it right now is the former is spoiling the latter somewhat and that Veteran level players that have put the work in to get where they are should have some form of compensation to prevent new(old) players just making new accounts and ruining their day.