Skill is a stretch since my general definition of skill is the execution of strategy through physical ability. I really mean strategy when I say skill because really - pushing buttons every 1.5 seconds is not hard. Skill in an MMO comes from strategically gearing up, knowing the class, rotation (and what not), and teamwork. Example: In FPS games, the strategy is pretty basic; Aim for the head, usually you know which side someone's gonna pop out of if they run behind cover. It's your physical execution of the aiming that is your skill. Here in MMOs, it's less about the execution of ideas and more so about the creation of ideas - class mastery and what not.
Class mastery is obtained through time but not statistically static because of it. Example: It's physically impossible to get war hero the first day WH gear was released. It simply could not be done. Was the skill cap raised? Not necessarily. Maybe no abilities or tweaks were made to any of the classes in that particular patch (even though I know that statement is a gross lie...).
The point is that gear is a direct correlation with time with no real correlation with skill, just time and dedication. The ability to strategically gear up, knowing your class, and teamwork, are, once again, obtained through time, but affected by skill. That is, while your fight begins at character creation, it's affected by your skill, not time played. To put it a different way, you're saying how the grind is in a different way - grind up, play asap, play more than them, you'll have better stats. No, what I'm advocating for is to play so you get good. MMO PvP should test strategy, maybe even a bit of skill. The idea is that someone who's naturally more coordinated and intelligent can play for 2 months and be skillfully on par with one who's played for 6 months. My "/played" or rather "/skill" is directly affected by skill, regardless of when the character was made. Your "/played" is directly affected by time played, regardless of when the character was made, and so long as a gear gap large enough remains, is somewhat disregarding personal skill, as well.
Back to what I was saying - class mastery is directly affected by skill and strategy. Whilst practicing a normal sport or activity, you find that dedication and play time/practice do enhance skills. Substitute skill with talent, strategy, or whatever the activity measures as determining victory. The question arises of what is being determined in swtor? Player skill, or gear? Because gear is directly correlated with time played, you can substitute gear for time played (in this cause your "/played"), and then it sort of spirals downward from there.
In a normal sport, such as Tennis, time played is not being measured. Although time played does increase one's skill, it still has that "skillcap" or threshold that every person has - and that's what's being measured. Because let's face it, some people have genetics that make them stronger or faster than I am, whilst I may be more intelligent (No irl rerolls, so if they get fotm it sort of sucks for everyone else ._.).
The idea is that this personal skillcap afffects the measured performance skill as a function of time played - to put it another way, time played is more like your input while skillcap is the function, and lastly your performance based on your skill and time played. However, Personal skill in a real sport such as tennis works with the time played instead of simply working side by side like it does in swtor.
It can be noted that in SWTOR, one's personal skill does not work in conjuction, but with disjunction with time played - While skill does help, time is being measured as a completely separated entity - as gear (I've established that substitution of gear and time is valid, you can disagree...). In a real sport, they're together; skill is affected by time, but since skill is its own variable, a higher skilled personal is not required to play as long to yield the same results. Once again in swtor, one's time played, or "practice" is not for the sake of practice of skill, but for practice of time, and dedication, which is, honestly in my opinion dumb, since that's not really competition.