I think too much is made about the virtual medals actually meaning a lot. Yes they have meaning, but many players and organizers do this for fun and competition. I would say most do it for the fun and competition and not the medal.
If anyone knows about competition tourneys in foosball, pool, and darts. They have your nightly, city, state, national, and world tournaments.
The smaller nightly tourneys would be like the 16 player and the world would be like your 256 player tourneys.
Nothing should be taken away from winning a small tourney. You still have a 1 in 16 chance of winning the tourney which makes it about a 6% chance of winning. That being said would winning a world title be more important than a local nightly tourney--Heck yes it would be. Each tourney someone wins will have meaning to it. The competition and fun will be there. The larger tourneys will just mean more in the long run.
It is about having fun and enjoying the CC experience (praying for good dice). This is my thoughts on the subject. No one will ever agree 100% on any subject. God and Night Strike would agree that I can complain and give my views as much as anyone else
Have fun--run what you want to and play in what you want to and just enjoy it