Not sure that's a recipe, but... LOL
I did alot of research on smokers before I bought mine. Got burned by Traeger pretty good and I didn't want to make a similar mistake. I went Rec-Tec, but Yoder was my runner up choice. Everything I read says they're great smokers. Rec-Tec was just more affordable. I think you'd be happy with the 1500, especially if you're doing large cooks.
As far as competition... I'll have to let some of the others answer that. I don't compete, but there are plenty here who do and are darn good at it.