Destruction Warlock PvP Rotation and Playstyle (Shadowlands / Patch 9.1)

Last updated on Aug 10, 2021 at 21:46 by Mysticall 7 comments

PvP requires you to perform various actions in the course of a duel, match, or battleground: interrupting/silencing enemies, damaging them, bursting them down, defending yourself, keeping yourself alive, etc.. It is a game mode that fully utilises your kit, especially spells that are rarely used in PvE. On this page, we go through all the spells you need to use in PvP as a Destruction Warlock, how you should use them, and we explain what your playstyle should be.

This page is part of our Destruction Warlock PvP Guide.


Playstyle for Destruction Warlocks

The Destruction Warlock has two roles when in an Arena: set up kills with large Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts and survive. Destruction Warlocks are powerful because they have strong single target damage and the ability to crowd control enemy teams. Most of your damage and kills will come from your Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolts and Conflagrate Icon Conflagrates. You will survive by using Fear Icon Fears and Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coils on enemies. You can also use your Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway to create distance.


Before Gates Open

Have a plan for who you will be mainly using your crowd control on. Destruction Warlocks are able to use their main crowd control, Fear Icon Fear, along with Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil. You also have Shadowfury Icon Shadowfury. This has a somewhat short cast time and will AoE stun anyone that is in range for a small period of time.

You should also use Create Soulwell Icon Create Soulwell to generate Healthstones for you and your teammates.


Damage Rotations


The Opener

The opener refers to your team's opening crowd control chain and damage done as soon as you get out of the gates. The main goal in the opener is to force your enemies to use their cooldowns, especially their Unchained Gladiator's Medallion Icon Unchained Gladiator's Medallion.

If any of the enemies use their trinket in the opener, they are in trouble. In the opener, Destruction Warlocks should focus on maintaining Immolate Icon Immolate, using Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate charges to generate Soul Shards while dealing damage, and fishing for Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt opportunities by casting Fear Icon Fear to bait interrupts and find Chaos Bolt windows.

This is the rotation you should use on your target at the beginning of the game.

  1. Cast Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway from your pillar to another part of the map.
  2. Use Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle and place it behind a pillar.
  3. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate once to generate charges of Backdraft Icon Backdraft, generate Soul Shards, and to get the cooldown rolling.
  4. Apply and maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on all enemies to generate Soul Shards. If the enemy team starts behind a pillar, you can use Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm to put your Immolate Icon Immolate on all of them.
  5. Cast Fear Icon Fear to bait interrupts and create Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt windows.
  6. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to deal instant damage and generate Soul Shards.
  7. Once you have at least 4-5 Soul Shards and the enemy do not have interrupts, you will be able to use your burst rotation.

Burst Damage

  1. Ideally, you will have 4+ Soul Shards before using your burst rotation.
  2. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Backdraft Icon Backdraft stacks.
  3. Cast Soul Rot Icon Soul Rot to trigger the Haste from Field of Blossoms Icon Field of Blossoms.
  4. Use Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal on your kill target.
  5. Use Havoc Icon Havoc on the enemy you are not targeting.
  6. Use Dark Soul: Instability Icon Dark Soul: Instability.
  7. Use Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil on the enemy you are focusing.
  8. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  9. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  10. Cast Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate once, or twice if you do not have enough Soul Shards.
  11. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt.
  12. Cast Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm on the enemy.
  13. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards.
  14. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt whenever you have 2 Soul Shards and a stack of Backdraft Icon Backdraft.
  15. Cast Immolate Icon Immolate if you need to refresh the DoT.
  16. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate as a filler.

If you get interrupted when casting Incinerate Icon Incinerate or Fear Icon Fear, you should immediately start casting Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt or Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm.


Sustained damage

Sustained damage is damage you do when your burst cooldowns are not available.

  1. Maintain Immolate Icon Immolate on all enemies.
  2. Cast Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt when you have 4-5 Soul Shards, and only if you have Backdraft Icon Backdraft charges.
  3. Apply Havoc Icon Havoc and follow it up with a Mortal Coil Icon Mortal Coil to prevent enemy players from interrupting your damage and to heal yourself.
  4. Cast Cataclysm Icon Cataclysm if multiple targets are stacked.
  5. Use Soul Rot Icon Soul Rot if you are Night Fae to deal spread damage.
  6. Use Conflagrate Icon Conflagrate to generate Soul Shards and generate stacks of Backdraft Icon Backdraft.
  7. Cast Incinerate Icon Incinerate to generate Soul Shards.


Unending Resolve Icon Unending Resolve is your primary defensive ability and should be used if your healer has no defensive cooldowns and you are at high health. You will not be interrupted while this is active so you can use this time to cast Fear Icon Fear to stay alive or Chaos Bolt Icon Chaos Bolt for damage.

Dark Pact Icon Dark Pact is an extremely powerful defensive PvP talent on a short cooldown. This should be used whenever the enemy team lands crowd control on your healer and you are caught in a stun and can not get away. This can be used while in any form of CC, and while interrupted.

Demon Armor Icon Demon Armor is an absolutely mandatory PvP talent. This talent is what makes Destruction Warlocks so tanky and should be used against every single team.

Healthstone Icon Healthstone should be used when you are at very low health and your healer does not have defensive cooldowns to keep you alive.

Demonic Circle Icon Demonic Circle, should be placed away from the enemy team, but close to your healer. Make sure you coordinate when you will be using this so your team can position themselves accordingly. You will want to use this when the enemy team is using their offensive cooldowns and you need to create distance between you and them. Use the same concept when you need to take Demonic Gateway Icon Demonic Gateway.

Summon Infernal Icon Summon Infernal should be used to stun enemies that are trying to chase you. This will typically best used when enemies are using their burst cooldowns and you are close to dying.



Curses allow you to weaken a target based on which curse you use on them. Effectively using a curse on an enemy could prevent a lot of damage that the target will deal. Below are the curses that you have and the best time to use them.

  • Curse of Weakness Icon Curse of Weakness increases the time between the enemy's attacks. This should be used on a melee DPS to prevent incoming Physical damage.
  • Curse of Tongues Icon Curse of Tongues increases the cast time of all spells the enemy casts. This should be used on a caster DPS to prevent or slow down incoming spell damage.
  • Curse of Exhaustion Icon Curse of Exhaustion reduces the target's movement speed. This is a very flexible Curse and can be used to slow down melee DPS or slow down enemy healers to make them easier to crowd control.


It is advised to use Macros to use abilities on enemies or allies without having to target them. For this reason, we have a page dedicated to them.



  • 10 Aug. 2021: Updated for Shadowlands Patch 9.1.
  • 08 Mar. 2021: No updates needed for Patch 9.0.5.
  • 05 Dec. 2020: Updated Damage Rotations to include Covenant Ability.
  • 27 Nov. 2020: Removed outdated Traits and Essences.
  • 30 Oct. 2020: Updated all Damage rotations.
    • Updated Defensives section.
    • Add Curses section.
  • 20 Jan. 2020: This page was checked for Patch 8.3 and no update was deemed necessary.
  • 09 Dec. 2019: Page added.
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