You're correct there was a time when my Grandpa couldn't buy a team strong enough to qualify for the world he wanted to play in. He merged with thus the Sunbelt Dan Smith teams, and eventually My Grandpa and Eddie joining forces. Heck one year him and Travis even sponsored a major team together.
There will always be limits of some sort that a way past must be found to reach that next level. At lower levels, perhaps it is simple enough that two teams merge rosters. Say the top two D teams merge to play C. As you go higher and higher, the talent pool capable of playing that level shrinks thus you must cast a wider net to build teams. This could mean having to cover equipment, flights, rooms, or some combination there of.
Now if a sponsor/manager does not have the budget then they must make a decision merge or stay put. My grandpa went as high as he could individually and in effort to keep climbing merged.
The teams I have put together have been on my own to this point and I have found the limit for myself in team building individually with regards to budget. I have also had various conversations with others over the past two years about mergers for the purpose of moving up and creating a higher classed team. The main reason I haven't done it is because of the work obligations I currently have.
Perhaps one of the differences in outlook is because of my history being around the game I accept that success at the next classification level will not be immediate and I will take some lumps in progression, that I might spend a good chunk of my own money to finish middle of the pack the first season knowing that the goal in moving up is a three year plan minimum if you're building a team. The thing to remember is players individually can and will always move up faster than entire teams unless there is a massive budget. A player can easily join a higher class established team. A rising team must be retooled and meshed together to perform.
Year 1: evaluate current roster and add a few players to the equation. take a lot of lumps adjusting to the pace of play and higher talent.
Year 2: evaluate roster of who was able to perform at next level and who got exposed. subtract and replace accordingly. Perform more consistent at that level, make some in season moves, depending on adjustments perhaps ready to compete at top of classification level by Worlds.
Year 3: evaluate and perform add and subtract to roster. ready to contend whole year.
The problem is in this instant gratification society, these things take time and chemistry. You cannot guarantee chemistry so you have to necessarily play some tournaments to evaluate. It also requires that someone associated with the decisions have the ability to live and breathe evaluating. I spent three hours alone talking players and opposing teams with my grandpa on Saturday alone this past week.
Again, even at the major level, the MWS title this year for my grandpa was year 3 of him and eddie returning to sponsoring. Year 1 they were up and down and all around while SIS was on its unbeatable year of dominating everyone. Year 2 they made changes improved and were one out away from being in the undefeated seat. Year 3 they won it.
I would be interested to hear what you are referring to as the stronger roster restrictions of the past. From my understanding Major has always been unlimited rosters. When you talk about the efforts of Dan Brown, that sounds like efforts to properly classify players which I am all for. I know that Stro both in Washington and on a National level, and Sean Melvin as the head of California have made great efforts to enforce stricter player classifications. I think if players are properly classified instead of being permitted to sandbag and drop back down then the level will continue to grow.