They used to have big rewards for the winning side in the tourneys, but they removed it. That's why old players like myself have lots of weird special items such as boats, motorcycles, police cruisers and more.
I don't know why they removed it, and let everyone get a prize (the tier rewards). Maybe it's because of just the reason you mentioned - people getting left out and can't get that item ever again in any other way.
I like the combination idea... "Get 2 of this, and 3 of that and you get one of these"
Not sure about combining it with tourneys though.
It would limit the people who could get the crafted item/merc/business to those who win tournaments, which I think is pretty shitty.
It would be great if you could combine certain loot items to become a more powerful item, or a cheaper item, or something else entirely.