I will just say it upfront, it wasn’t easy.
It was quite a big achievement for me this season that I achieved Shadowlands Keystone Master (KSM): Season One as a feral player, where I finished and timed all Shadowlands dungeons at 15 or higher level. After reaching 3.3k Raider I.O (rio) in BFA Season 4 as a feral main, I thought reaching KSM this season would have been an easy task but it was much much harder than I foresaw.
So, what made it hard for me to achieve KSM? A TLDR version is that feral is not one of the meta specialization (spec).
A longer explanation is that many of the players in mythic + community are looking at what the top or pro players are playing and then decided that those are the only classes that are viable. Not only do many of them play one of the meta spec, they only choose those classes for their group even when it wouldn’t have mattered for achieving their goal and often it backfires.
If you have a guild or a group of friends that are into mythic + then you can get away with not playing the meta spec. To time a 15 mythic dungeon is not hard but it does require skills from each player. The tank must know the route to optimize Pride usage and the DPS and heals must know when to use cooldown appropriately. With the current meta being range DPS friendly, the only melee class that players are looking to take are windwalker monks and outlaw rogues. However, if you look at the RIO ladder based on specialization, there are plenty of players that are pushing higher than mythic + 20 on every specialization.
While I do have friends that push mythic +, I didn’t have a regular group so I pugged the majority of my 15 dungeons for my KSM. My experience can be summed with the following, “wait, you are feral?” Usually, I would be removed straight away or they would say “sorry, was looking for a boomie (the range dps spec for druid).” I don’t think I would be exaggerating when I say that four out of five keys, I will be invited and then removed because of my choice of spec.
It was frustrating that I was turned away or blamed on for key depletion so many times just because of my choice of spec. While the meta spec player mess up mechanic or didn’t provide a single interrupt is not blamed because he/she provided 0.5k more dps. Now, I do believe everyone can play this game however they want. If they don’t want to play with and/or play a non-meta spec, that’s up to them but when they do play with one, the criticism shouldn’t be on the spec or class that the players are playing but on the mechanic.
While my road to KSM as a feral player may have been frustrating, there were some silver linings to playing an off-meta spec. I have also received positive feedback and admiration for playing a feral. One of my favorite comments that I received right after I obtained my KSM was some random druid messaged me privately while I was in Oribos. “Did you get KSM as a feral?” he/she asked. After I replied “yes,” he said “keep fighting that good fight.”
So, to all the non-meta players out there, I just want to say “keep fighting that good fight.”