There was in GW1, and it was no less of a grind. Go back and look at the requirements for that armor. I never had a single piece of ascended gear in GW1 because I was unwilling and unable to farm the required zones.
I'm not sure what you're remembering, but there wasn't any gear tiering in the first game beyond whatever expensive skins you wanted to farm. There was Infusion, but if you didn't want to do the one sort-of easy mission necessary to get it yourself, you could buy a five-minute run for donations.
Yeah, that one has me confused, too. Infusion wasn't really all that tricky, and other than that, the only real "grind" would be to get top runes and insignias, and they were nothing compared to what this Ascended armor looks to be.
The armor grinds in GW1 were for looks only, which was fine. Getting max stat armor (not including runes and insignias) was very, very easy and quick, and GW1 did not suffer from that ease or speed.