An Inside Look: Keystone Master, Valor, and the New Rating System in Mythic+ Season 2

Recently, there have been several changes discovered surrounding the Mythic+ reward structure in Patch 9.1. Recall that, in Patch 9.0, the Shadowlands Keystone Master: Season 1 achievement series has been earned by timing all dungeons at specific levels (+15, +10, and +5). These achievements have also been linked to the Valor Point upgrades system, with the Keystone Master achievement required to upgrade items all the way up to 220 ilevel. In contrast, Patch 9.1 is bringing a new in-game Mythic+ Rating system that will directly correlate to the Shadowlands Keystone Master: Season 2 achievement series and the Valor rewards. Instead of timing all the dungeons on +5's, +10's, and +15's of any affix combination, you'll need to earn 750, 1500, or 2000 rating to earn the achievements that unlock the corresponding Valor gear upgrades.

There are, however, some key differences between the new in-game rating system and the Raider.IO score model that will impact players hunting for these achievements. Most importantly, Tyrannical and Fortified weeks will both contribute to your rating, with whichever run is the lower of the two earning rating at a reduced level. All of this information was summarized in a recent Wowhead article, which generated a lot of controversy among the community—mainly due to the arrival of incentives towards completing keys on Tyrannical this season.

Let's dive deeper into the new system and unpack all of the ways the new system will change Mythic+ rewards.

We have to do both Tyrannical AND Fortified Keys?

A lot will change about Mythic Plus in Patch 9.1 - in particular, the reward structure is being re-worked to revolve around an in-game rating system similar to the RaiderIO score model. The most notable systems being moved to this are the Keystone Master achievement series and, by extension, the Valor Point upgrade requirements. In Patch 9.1, Keystone Master will move from “time all of the dungeons on +15” to “earn 2000 in-game Mythic+ Rating,” and the new in-game rating system has a few differences from RaiderIO score. Most importantly, it rewards your performance on both Tyrannical and Fortified weeks, with your best run being worth full points and then your best run from the other affix being worth extra points equal to about a third of its value.

All of this information was put together into a Wowhead article by Squishei which generated a tremendous backlash against the new Fortified/Tyrannical requirements. Taking a step back, however, there are some big advantages as well as some subtler implications of this new model that are worth considering - a great many of which were laid out in this fantastic reddit post by /u/Tonric.

Several of the points in that post can be summarized as the rating-based model offering a new flexibility that simply does not exist with the binary nature of the current Shadowlands Keystone Master: Season 1 achievement. Right now, you can have a Mythic+ page on Raider.IO that has several 18’s, 17’s, and 16’s, but if there’s a single 14 or depleted 15 on there, you do not have Keystone Master. This new system gives you a great deal more flexibility.

New Incentives and Benefits

Although in theory you now need to have 16 dungeons timed rather than 8 of them, most people who have Keystone Master have done more than just the 8 timed runs that were required to earn it, and the baseline set of say +13 keys in most dungeons across a mix of Fortified and Tyrannical gives you an extraordinary amount of ways to make further progress towards the achievement. You can upgrade your best key from a +16 to a +17, or you can push up that lowest key you have (even from +13 to +14), and if there’s a keystone you really don’t like, you can just put up a lower key and then never ever go back there.

However, there are some further benefits not enumerated in that post, which might help actually address the root of the problem. Statistics show that at the +15 keystone level, Tyrannical and Fortified are now pretty even in terms of difficulty - in fact, many top players would argue that the easiest weeks to time lower level keys are the Tyrannical weeks that don’t have other nasty affixes accompanying them (which is, admittedly, fewer weeks than it should be). Furthermore, during the recent Great Push tournament, Tyrannical was the active affix on two of the six dungeons and those were the two dungeons that were timed at +28 and +27, while the Fortified dungeons were only done on +26 and +25 (though admittedly the dungeons themselves and the affixes active in them were huge factors here).

Despite the evidence that the affix is not the brick wall it maybe once was, especially in the higher keys, Tyrannical still has a very bad reputation for many players, which is a big problem that Blizzard should take steps to solve. The fact that it is for many players a less fun affix leads to that visceral response against the affix being associated with rewards under the new structure, but one of the problems that Tyrannical had was the lack of incentive to play when it was active. If you enjoyed Fortified more, or had more success during it, there was no reason to go and do a +X Tyrannical key when you did a +X+1 Fortified key the week before. In this way, adding incentive to go and do that key is in fact SOLVING part of the problem with the affix, though there’s certainly more that can and should be done.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, most of the players who currently have Keystone Master should be able to earn it next season, though there are some who have only done 4 Tyrannical dungeons this season and may need to bump that up to all 8. There are, however, also players who do not have Keystone Master now that would have it with next season’s model without any additional keys ran. Additionally, there are likely many players who will enjoy the process of pushing up their rating (we’ve built a whole community around it here at Raider.IO!) who will therefore find themselves pushing towards an achievement they never came close to in previous seasons!


About the Authors

Dratnos hosts the The Titanforge WoW Podcast. He’s also an Officer in the World 36th guild poptart corndoG, and a commentator for events such as the MDI and the Race to World First! He streams on Twitch, where he likes to review his friends’ logs.

Starym is an old-school raider with a wide history of World Firsts under his belt. He is a long-time news writer and interviewer for Icy Veins and formerly Manaflask. Having raided in the Race to World First (RWF) until the end of The Burning Crusade, he has been covering the events since Cataclysm and the RWF has become his greatest passion in WoW. A (Tauren, obviously) Warrior main at heart, when pushed, he will admit to loving Diablo more than WoW and, thus, should be punished.