So I've got a few smurf accounts, with my lowest in Bronze 1, and my highest (this account) in Gold 1 on promos into Plat, and after playing >100 games in each of these 3 Elos, I've made a few observations about each one that I thought were kinda interesting:
Of the three, Bronze seems to have the least smurfs. Most players have a good grasp of some fundamental concepts (CS, objectives, champion mechanics, etc) but they seem to struggle when putting all the pieces together. This seems to be the place where most legitimately new players end up.
Bronze players are by far the least toxic out of the 3 brackets, and seem to be the least likely to surrender... and for good reason! In Bronze, it ain't over til a nexus explodes, you can't underestimate your opponent's capacity for self-sabotage!
This is where the highest concentration of smurfs are. People from all Elo brackets are clashing in this tier, and it can be VERY difficult to climb out of if you get unlucky. People still don't flame very much here until you get to Silver 1, where legitimate players are struggling to climb up through the slog of smurfs at the top of the bracket, but once you do hit Silver 1, it can be a nightmare.
My best advice for this bracket is to keep your head down and your mouth shut, because you never know what will trigger someone. People are fighting tooth-and-nail to hit Gold for those end-of-season rewards, and it can really take a toll on the mental.
While Gold has fewer smurfs than Silver, it has more of what I'd call "specialist" players. Sometimes they're one-trick ponies, sometimes they're running a weird strategy that works only for them somehow, but a lot of the players here are traumatized from the climb out of Silver, so they don't like to give up roles or play with someone who isn't going strictly by the meta.
People in this bracket really know their thing, but they have issues with confidence: either too much and they throw, or too little and they miss opportunities. Mechanics aren't an issue for most people in this bracket, just decision-making. People also tilt really hard. They don't rage like high Silver players, but many will often just check out at the first sign of any difficulty and go on autopilot (or worse, start trolling,) which can make it very difficult to stage a comeback.
Anyway, that's been my experience so far, what do you guys think, anything you'd add or change? With so many millions of players on this game I'm sure someone out there has had a different experience!