Thanks to a change with the Hydra in 2022, we are now able to use Provoke against the Head of Decay. In this case, it doesn’t work the same as in other areas of the game; it does not target whoever provokes it. What it does do, however, is force the head to only use its A1 skill, preventing those pesky cleanses. When looking for a champion to best deal with this head, try to find someone who can bring other important skills for dealing with hydra to the table. There are a few key champions that work well in hydra for this role.
Skull Lord Var-Gall has an A2 that places Provoke for 1 turn on only a 2-turn cooldown so it’s fairly easy to get him to go twice per round and keep it up the whole fight. If doing so, make him the fastest on the team and bring speed manipulation in the form of Increase SPD buffs and Decrease SPD debuffs. He’s also a great target for the Head of Mischief and places Decrease ATK as an AoE. His base stats are very high so it makes it easier to get him to the higher level requirements.
Soulless has Provoke on 2 skills which makes it easier to keep it up the whole time or close to it. Reflex artifacts and Refresh accessories can also be helpful. He also does great damage, extends debuffs (you can’t extend Provoke though!), and can remove buffs. He makes a great pair for important debuffs like Uugo and Ukko. For example, if you can keep up Block Buffs the entire time, you don’t even have to worry about having a “mischief target.” Soulless can extend that debuff and make that easy.
Khoronar has Provoke as a skill plus an AoE A1. Putting him in a Taunting set is great help along with his frequent counterattacks to keep the debuff up the whole fight. Also pairing him with an Ally Attack champion is a great combination. Besides the Provoke, he also brings AoE Decrease Attack.
Warchief could be said to be the most reliable source of Provoke due to his cooldowns. His A2 puts up Provoke for 3 turns on a 3-turn cooldown. His A1 also provides a chance to Provoke. His A2 also can steal 2 random buffs from the target but given it’s a single target, the value is low as you’d likely only be hitting the Head of Decay. You may find it hard to fit him into your team verus many of the other provokers can also be Mischief targets and perform other roles. However, if you can find yourself covering all the bases and having block buffs up 100% of the time easily, you can probably use him well.
Jizoh is a great “budget” option that you’ve probably vaulted long ago. He can be used well as a Mischief target + if built in a Reflex or Relentless set, he can keep up Provoke on the Head of Decay pretty well. It might be recommended to have a secondary provoker as backup, however like Husk as your damage dealer.
Master Butcher might be the most “budget” option out there. He’s only a rare. He has a 2-turn Provoke on his A2 and a 1-turn Provoke on the A1. He works very well in Reflex gear to be able to come back to the A2 skill frequently as he doesn’t have an A3 to use. His passive also heals all allies so can be a great support in a hydra fight. He’s also great in other content like Bommel so worth building out fully.
There are many other champions that should be mentioned including Bivald the Thorn, Maulie Tankard, Kantra the Cyclone and Husk. Keep in mind not all provokers can keep it up for every turn as needed; pairing weaker or conditional provokers is a smart strategy. Someone like Husk (and even a Krisk) is best as a secondary Provoker to help cover another champion.