Hi I am wwlos (pronounced double-los) and I just returned home from the ESL Legendary Series Season 2 Lan! I’m the guy who got attention for bringing the Feign Death Hunter, and while we never actually got to see the power of that particular deck, my Handlock deck with Leeroy went 3-0 against Ostkaka, Roger, and Reynad respectively. Since its debut I have received a lot of praise from players within the circle, and a lot of requests for the decklist. On my run for qualifying in the Season 2 Lan this Handlock list went something like 8-1 in the conquest format, and improved on that record in the ESL Lan. It’s extremely similar to the oldschool Handlock that was run when Leeroy was yet to be nerfed, so it’s not like it’s any new idea or anything, but it works once again. The idea behind the construction of the deck was removing some of the bad cards from the modern Handlock and exchanging them for four cards that haven’t been played in Handlock in a really long time, but are benefited heavily from the Emperor Thaurissan effect. The four cards added are Faceless Manipulator, Power Overwhelming (PO), Alexstrasza (Alex), and Leeroy Jenkins. I am going to discuss these four cards and their roles in the deck, because it seems as time has gone by their effectiveness has been forgotten.
Faceless Manipulator and Leeroy are the two cards that people kept telling me were liabilities when I first made this list a couple of months ago. While Leeroy can’t be truly defended, because it is at worst a completely dead card, Faceless does not deserve the same criticism. I must stress that you don’t need to keep every piece of the combo for the combo, sometimes value from Faceless and Power Overwhelming is just too good to pass up and that is okay. Alex is often used as a heal, and that IS OKAY. People see combo decks and assume that is your only win condition, and that is simply not the case with my list. I will get to more of that later though, now back to Faceless. Faceless is one of the best cards in the deck because he can turn your opponents win conditions into your win conditions. In a meta where warriors are playing out YOLO Grommash and Giant Frothing Berserkers with charge, you can often just faceless your opponents charge minion and win the game that way. It has happened for me countless times. Faceless is a five mana copy the best card on the field, and used to be seen a lot more when the 5 mana spot was weaker. When you are playing Handlock there is always going to be a high value card on the field, and the ability to copy that for so cheap is what makes this card not a liability at all.
Power Overwhelming is a card that is easiest to imagine as a standalone in Handlock because of its synergy with Shadowflame. In the older lists players recognized how often they might have to PO a Watcher to clear board, and again this is an okay thing to do when playing this deck. My favorite use of PO is actually with combination of Alex. The way I have won a lot of my games is by controlling the board with a couple of my beefier minions without too much concern for my opponent’s health because I would have both Alex and PO in my hand. Depending on your Emperor the turn you are able to play these two cards together you can effectively put your opponent down to 11 health, which requires just a belcher and a giant to win said game for you. If all else fails Alex is an incredibly good heal and your sixth BGH target, its ability to stick on the board in Handlock is notorious.
Now to the most exciting yet arguably useless inclusion, the combo card Leeroy Jenkins. For the combo to work all you need is one of the three pieces to be in your hand when you play Emperor Thaurissan, when this happens you can burst 20 damage, for at the most 10 mana, with only three cards. This would work in the old Handlock often due to the decks ability to grind out games and draw cards with the Warlock hero power. Well surprise Handlocks can still do those two things very well so often times you can achieve this combo and it simply wins the game. Combolock is a deck that is seen on ladder sometimes, but there are hints that give the deck away, like extra spell removal or the eerie lack of Mountain Giants. Here we don’t have those hints so a player that is unfamiliar to your style will never truly know if he is going to be burst down at any moment. Leeroy can be the worst card in this deck, but with the amount of draw in Warlock having the card sit dead sometimes is worth the risk when it can win you unwinnable games.
Why should I play this list over regular Handlock? Isn’t it worse against Hunters?
These are the two questions I received the most, and to answer them I have to stress something else about this deck, its success is in tournament performance not ladder performance. The ladder has more Hunters yes, but often times your ability to draw Molten/Sunfury/Belcher are the real only way to beat Hunters. I don’t think I have cut enough of the anti-aggro cards to justify this deck being called THAT much worse in the Hunter matchup. That being said purely as a tournament deck I think this deck easily wins 2/3 matchups you’ll see in a conquest bo5. It is a deck that absolutely destroys the mirror match, favored in the Patron match, and even when your opponent figures out what you are running, they often run suboptimal plays to try and stop you. When only three of your cards are combo pieces and 2/3 of those cards can be used in other fashions, the fact that your opponent will make suboptimal plays is why I didn’t care that players at the Lan would see my list after my first series against Ostkaka. I simply believe that at this moment in time this list is stronger than any other Handlock list you would want to play in a tournament. It does have success on ladder as well, but I must stress it’s not really built for that environment. I would at least hope people would try it before judging it because I believe it is really as good as it gets right now outside of Patron and Hunter in the conquest format.
I stream at twitch.tv/wwlos for my team Vicious Syndicate (@ViciousHS), and my Twitter handle is @wwloshs. I hope you enjoyed the read, and I wish you all success in competitive HS!