Blood Bowl – An Interview with Waterbowl Champion, Hankok

Waterbowl was another big success this year, with well over a hundred attendees again.  You can read our report on the event itself here, but today we’re talking to the coach who prevailed over an extremely strong field to take the title: Liam ‘Hankok’ Hank.

Liam, congratulations on winning this prestigious and storied tournament! Tell us a little about how you came to play Blood Bowl, and your experience in the Tournament scene so far.

My BB journey started in late 2019/early 2020 with Blood Bowl 2 on PC.  I was absolutely shite, beyond bad.  I just wanted to level some Chaos and bang on mens.  The whole progression aspect of players and teams I really enjoyed, which kept me hooked.  I ended up finding out about Twitch and the whole BB community that resides there.  I made friends and it eventually led me to finding out that BB was originally a Tabletop game.  In 2022 I attended my first TT tournament along with a bunch of other BB2 first timers (DimmyGee, NecroGnome) and with PurpleChest guiding us we attended UKTC.  We had zero expectations and actually did really well, managing to get 3rd place.  Since then I’ve grown to really enjoy TT, it being my preferred way of playing BB by a long shot.

Tell us about the team you took to Waterbowl.  Did you select it for purely competitive reasons, or were there other factors involved?

I ended up taking Undead to Waterbowl.  I couldn’t bring myself to take Underworld or Amazons, both of which in my opinion are probably the top dogs, especially in the ruleset available at Waterbowl this year.  I don’t have enough experience on either, and not particularly sure I want it (laughs)!  Undead are comfy, they have all the tools, and are efficient TV wise.

Hankok is crowned Waterbowl 2024 champion by Leipziger

What was your thought process behind your roster selections and the skills you took?

I was back and forth on how to build the Undead for ages, in all honesty.  Traditionally I’d build nearly any team Guard-heavy, but honestly you can’t really control Zons or Underworld at the moment, so I was a bit cheeky and lent into being a bit of a banger.  I think one of the few ways you can properly beat Underworld is getting rid of the Snotlings and just turning them into a low-strength team with a good ballcarrier. So the build ended up being:

  • 2 x Mummies, 1 with Block
  • 2 x Wights, 1 with Mighty Blow, 1 with Guard
  • 3 x Ghouls, all with Block
  • 5 x Zombies
  • Ivan ‘The Animal’ Deathshroud
  • 2 x Team Re-rolls

How would you describe your playstyle with this team?

Playstyle with this team specifically is an odd one, you obviously for the most part react to the situations accordingly, but with having Ivan it changes it a little.  He’s not a great stand alone piece as you have to baby him quite a bit.  He can’t dodge off, so ends up useless if marked; so a lot of the time you are keeping him just in range to be a pain, but not putting him in the scrum of things.  I didn’t make the team particularly Guard-heavy, so I had to pick my moments when to pile in and generate contact.  Late on in drives you are generally sacrificing pieces to generate space; the Ghouls are great for that though, they can really utilize gaps due to their speed and the Wights can usually toddle up afterwards and plug any gaping holes.

What did you expect this tournament’s meta to look like, and did it match your expectations?

The tournament’s meta ended up looking pretty much as I expected, lots of Amazon Dribl and Drulls and lots of Underworld Varag.  At the end of the tournament, 8 of the top 10 were either UW or Zons.

The Hexalotl Jaguars. Credit: Fowler

With hindsight, would you have made any changes to the roster?

No, it, much like myself, was perfect!  Jokes aside, I talked about it with a few good coaches, a lot of them leaned towards taking Sure Hands on a Ghoul, but I vastly preferred having 3 blodgers available to make plays.

Did you have any particularly tough matchups?

Well, day two was rough.  I knew at the end of day one there was a boat-load of UW at the top, so I expected 3 games of that to be honest. I was pleasantly surprised that game 5 was against Dark Elves, even if the other two were against UW!

Game 5 was probably my hardest game of the tourney; it felt like proper BB compared to Starbowl.  The coach, Vagabond (Phil) was a cracking Delf coach.  I managed a typical 8 -turn bash-team drive, not without drama mind, as he did the glorious elf BS cage-diving and 1D-Pow’ing my Ghoul.  Luckily, dirty Ivan was about to Strip the Elves of the ball!  Vagabond decided not to push for the win on his drive, after poking and prodding my defense for a while. I then managed a dirty 1D-sack myself on turn 7, but failed to retrieve it, allowing him to pick it up and tie up the game.  Sadly I Pow’d rather than Pushed during my One-Turn attempt, leaving me one push short.  Great game!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start playing this team in tournaments?

You can’t honestly go too far wrong with Undead, you push forward and make space with the Mummies when you need to, you can make cheeky plays with the fast Ghouls when you have to, stamp on high-value player’s heads with Zombies when available.  There’s no magic recipe to being good with any team; just play lots of Blood Bowl and enjoy the learning curve.  Yes it is steep, but I’ve found its rewarding.

We couldn’t agree more!  A big thank you to Liam for taking the time to talk to us.

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