I know this is a topic that has been beat to death, but bear with me, and please read all the way through before posting.
Since Tiers are obviously not going away, and mixed matchmaking also seems here to stay, I would like to suggest a modified system of progression. In this system, players would be given the option to take ships with maxed-out synergy and retrofit them up to the next tier. For a price, of course.
For the sake of example, let me refer to my old friend, the Lynx-M.
If I have max synergy on the Lynx-M, but find the ship is worthless in higher tiers, I am given the option to retrofit the ship for 500 GS or 500,000 IGC. If I choose to retrofit, my Lynx-M is stripped of all gear, it’s synergy bar is reset and upgraded, it’s base stats are improved by 5% per level, and it’s module slots are reconfigured to match the next tier. Any visual customization remains unaltered, and its role remains the same (Tackler).
So my Lynx-M (Now a Lynx-MR) has an identical slot setup and synergy bar when compared to the Fox. It can now mount additional weapons and modules consistent with a Tier 2 ship. The only downside is that it will remain at the very lowest rank of Tier 2 until I decide to retrofit to Tier 3. Whereupon my Lynx-M (Now a Lynx-MR2) will have identical slots compared to a Silent Fox.
So lets suppose I upgrade my Lynx-M all the way up to Tier 5 by maxing synergy and choosing to retrofit. Lynx-M > Lynx-MR > Lynx-MR2 > Lynx-X > Lynx-XR. The final upgrade from Tier 4 to Tier 5 places my Lynx-M (Now Lynx-XR) at the highest possible rank; comparable to a Lion-M. The drawback? Upgrading from Tier 4 to Tier 5 costs double what it would to buy a Lion-M. That’s the price you pay for skipping the grind.
This system would also apply to Premium and DLC ships, allowing them to forfeit their full synergy and synergy bonus to jump up to the next tier, where they would have to earn back their synergy.
This model encourages progression and development, and diversifies combat by introducing a wider variety of ships in the higher tiers.
Feel free to comment or make suggestions below.
*All numerical values are purely speculation and should not be considered actual statistics.