These are the end times. You need 7000pp to get to the top1000, players all around the world are competing fiercely for their ranks, and you want to make it to the top too.
You play this game a lot, for sure. Maybe you are thinking things like:
"Osu is a game about hard work, the more you play, the better you get!"
"The best players in osu are also the players that worked the hardest! Hard work pays off!"
"Everyone who works hard can make it to the top! I just have to play more!"
There is a reason why people always say "play more", right? For sure you can become a pro if you really follow their advice. Well... no.
You are making a costly mistake. Improvement at osu is not only about work, and people who claim that they made it to the top only as a result of their hard work, are lying. There is a component that we hate looking at, because it is outside of our control. For this reason, it is often times overlooked completely. But it is too powerful for us to ignore it.
Talent is very elusive and hard to measure, but there is a simple way to do it.
Think of talent as the thing that caused the difference in skill between two players, that put the same amount of effort into the game. If we think of it like this, we can measure it just fine, because playcount is a decent approximation for effort (hitcount is even better, to be seen on peoples profiles), and pp is a decent approximation for skill. If someone gets more skilled with less effort, we can call them talented.
Green would be an example of a talented player (lower playcount than everyone around him).
Red is an example of an untalented player (higher playcount than everyone around him).
Keep in mind that "talented" is a relative term, which means that it only becomes meaningful in comparison. We call red untalented, because he is less talented than the reference group, other people around rank 5k.
If we went back in time and checked how red was doing when he only had 1k pp, we may have found that red was a relatively talented player.
So, why is this relevant?
Simply put: As soon as you find yourself in the "untalented-bracket", it is time to bury your dream of becoming a top-player. This is particularly true if you get there early.
The top-players became top-players through hard work, but they were also very talented. You will find nobody in the top100 who isn't extremely talented, and the overwhelming majority worked very hard in addition to that. As a result, you will never catch up to them, if you are "just" hard working.
Hard work may beat talent, but it can't beat talent and hard work. The top, has both.
But if you find yourself in the "average-bracket", or possibly even in the "talented-bracket", go ahead and play more. See how long your talent lasts. As soon as it runs out, you know that you are close to approaching your limit as a competitive player.
Great effort will get you far, but if you lack talent, it will never get you to the top.
Lastly, a word for people that lack talent.
Change your goals. Osu can be an extremely fun game, especially without the pressure of playing for ranks. Discover new music, play with friends, play interesting maps. It's all about what you make of it. A more talented player once said "plz enjoy game", and this is good advice regardless of how talented you are. Settle for less, but enjoy it all the way.
Good luck to everyone! It's a rocky road that leads to the top100. Let's hope that you have the talent to make it there.
There are cases where people put effort into the game in wrong ways, such as only playing for SS. In that case, their lack of success is not necessarily a result of them lacking talent, but rather a result of a misapplication of effort. It can be hard to tell the two apart sometimes, but what I wrote above still holds true either way.