Overwatch Zenyatta Strategy Guide
If you prefer to learn things in a video format over text, here’s a link to practically EVERYTHING BELOW which I cover in about 12 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISQZcTk_daA&t=629s Time stamps are also embedded throughout the video so you can skip to which bits suit you.
Without further adieu, let’s get onto the guide!
- Zenyatta is armed with orbs of destruction, dealing 48 damage per shot, and is the 2nd fastest travelling support porjectile weapon behind Ana unscoped shots. Zenyatta can also charge up 5 orbs to release them all in one burst, dealing 240 damage in total one shotting any 200 HP Squishy (Called an orb volley)
- Zen does a surprising contribution to shield break, hence he thrives in 20-30 meter ranges in which he still can apply his discord and harmony orbs, whilst trans if needed
- Note that there is a recovery period of 0.65 seconds after using your orb volley, in which you cannot shoot. Hence, do not use orb volley in duels up against a tracer or a genji (Even when turning a corner in close range)
- Up against higher level tracers and genji’s, they can and will abuse audio queues to avoid getting hit by orb volley, hence they are most likely to strike in that 0.65 time frame
- Instead, use orb volleys when turning around a corner when you’re unscouted (IE The enemy team do not know where you are) in order to surprise someone with 5 orbs
- Building upon this idea, if a widowmaker, or a damage boosted Ashe (IE A Oneshot hitscan/fast travelling projectile) has their crosshairs on the corner you’re peeking, and you want to orb volley, you can abuse the animation of orb volley when Zen ducks his head to his chest after he shoots his orbs
- To abuse this, charge orb your orbs before peeking the corner, then when peeking, release your orbs, then immediately crouch in order to lower your head hitbox dramatically
- Also, your DPS (Damage per second) is less than half when constantly using orb volleys Vs shooting normally, so don’t overuse this for the sake of using it
5 Pieces of Zen Tech/Tips:
- Weave in your discord and harmony orbs as animation cancel to Zen shooting his orbs normally (Credit to KarQ) This is done by immediately discording/harmony-ing the few frames after you shoot. If you do this perfectly, your RoF (Rate of Fire) will not be compromised
- Taking advantage of Zen’s animation ducking his head to his chest as mentioned prior
- You can oneshot a tracer via discord headshot + Melee (124.8 + 39 = 163.8 Damage).
- General tip for all characters: Since tracer and genji are both zippy, fast moving characters, if they are close enough, you are guaranteed to hit a melee if you spin your camera in 360 Degree in the time taken to complete the melee animation)
- This doesn’t really work on console unless you’re Mouse and Keyboard or if you have incredibly high sensitivity
- A simple strafe technique: You want to move left to right and right to left at the rate of fire of zen’s orbs with your crosshair at the same location that you’re firing the orbs at
- Place your discord and harmony orb BEFORE Transcendence. The amount of times I’ve forgotten to do this in the heat of the moment…
Dueling with DPS:
Now I’m going to keep this brief because I know this is a major problem for a lot of zen players out there, myself included… The reality of the situation is that there is no possible way of you to guarantee out-duel the enemy tracer or genji (Especially after those crazy genji experimental buffs) at the higher levels (Past 3500).
Between Bronze and Platinum is the “Light” area to where if you simply have better mechanics and positioning (Positioning is vital, I will go way more in depth on this later on) you will outduel the enemy DPS.
Master, Grandmaster and Top 500 is the “Dark” area to where you will almost lose every single duel you take no matter how good you are simply because of the natural disadvantages you have (EG Hitbox, no mobility slower projectiles, no instantaneous damage such as Swift Strike) HENCE there is typically more awareness for your own team to help you out and peel for any flanky DPS (Unless they’re Doomfist because otherwise, you should legitimately swap to Brig Moira anti-dive. Your team would otherwise have to play so passive and invest so many resources (Sombra Hack, Brig Armour, Dva boosters, Dva Matrix, McCree stun etc. which detract from the frontline just to help you out)
Diamond is this ‘Grey’ area, where it’s really up for debate, hence just one other teammate to help peel for you is all you really need to avoid death. If you’re feeling particularly like JJonak or Alarm, this won’t be necessary. Although, like I said, there are some positioning factors to help you increase the probability in winning these duels.
Zen’s first ability is his discord orb.
This has a range of 40 meters, a travel speed of 120m/s, and will make the enemy receive 30% more damage to all incoming sources of damage. If the enemy loses LoS (Line of sight) from Zenyatta for more than 3 seconds, the orb will detach.
Simple: Always have discord active regardless of target; It’s better to have discord on something than nothing. Also place discord on DPS who are trying to duel you.
Advanced: Place discord on targets that are mirrors/Characters who are taking 1v1 duels against each other. This sounds simple (Similar to the ‘Discord before Trans’ tip) but this requires a high level of awareness, an overall understanding over damage break points, positioning (Again, I’ll come to this) in order to pull this off successfully.
- An example would be in the Goats Meta (Which will become more relevant when Competitive Open Queue becomes released) in which the Briggite would call for a discord to take a duel on the opposing Briggite from the Zen
- An example in 2-2-2 would be placing discord on the opposing Rein to force him to play more defensive. This becomes especially important against feeding Reinhardt’s who seemingly escape their ‘feeding,’ because your teammates don’t have any follow up
Zen’s second ability is his harmony orb.
This has the same mechanics as the discord orb but deals 30 HPS on a singular target
Simple: Place on flankers to give them an effective 90 extra HP
Advanced/Misconception: It is better to put your orb on a target that is about to take damage but is close to full HP, rather than a target that is on low HP but is safe
(Super) Advanced: Being able to read your team’s win condition will dictate on whom to place your healing orb on. For example, it would be of more value to place your healing orb on your Reinhardt if your team is trying to win via shield break up against a Brig Ana, Brig Mercy or Brig Moira anti dive instead of giving it to your genji who is unlikely to successfully win a duel against an anti-dive composition. (Unless he’s Necros, Whoru, Shadder2k or Cavalry)
Similarly, it would be of high value to harmony an Echo who is attempting an assassination on the Enemy Zen since that’s your win condition. It varies on each situation, how competent your DPS are, the enemy team’s composition, and what your team is trying to achieve in order to win that teamfight. If you want to ask more specific situations below, feel free to do so in the comments!
Zen’s Ultimate is transcendence
Granting invulnerability, 100% added movement speed (From 5.5 m/s to 11 m/s), dealing 300 HPS for 6 seconds to anyone who is standing within the 10 meter radius of transcendence. (These will be similar to the Lucio Guide with a few nuances)
Simple: Use in a Grav or Sigma Flux (Preferably at the last second), Dragonblades etc.
- Important to note: DO NOT Trans because of a sound queue. Just because Genji unleashes his blade and he says his Anime voiceline doesn’t mean you immediately press Q. Same with Grav; It might completely miss, or there might be zero follow up
- Also acknowledge damage breakpoints: For example, if a Genji dashes into you and swings (If you’re a full HP Zen) you will be left on 30HP, hence you can use trans at the very last frame before the second swing is unleashed
Advanced: Use trans aggressively which is particularly useful when the enemy has no Zarya. Think about using trans in this manner when:
- Your team simply doesn’t or can’t push through choke (Too much spam, No Lucio Speed Boost, Up Against Bastion Comp)
- Building on this idea, your tanks and your Rein/Tanks essentially have six seconds to kill whatever is causing the sheer amount of shield break with the consequence of giving the enemy a ton of ult charge. Discording this target will considerably help before the enemy team can build any destructive ultimates.
- You could also bait the Zarya grav if you have a Dva: Trans First, which will then give their Zarya the get-go to use Grav, then your Dva prepares to matrix in front of their Zarya when she tunnel visions on this idea that she has a free grav
Super Advanced: Ult track Sombra EMP, then hide from the main fight when you believe she has EMP, then use Trans after she uses EMP or when you believe the follow up from EMP will hit like a train. Similar with shatter, although in both of these situations, if you have fast enough reactions, you will get away with this (Unless Sombra hacks you prior to EMP, then you’re screwed unless someone activates the carry button on their keyboard)
- Also a map specific thing but on Hanamura Point B Defense where there’s not really a place to hide, the Zen would hide in spawn, wait until the Sombra is close to the fight or about to use EMP, come out of spawn, and use trans.
- This may seem as if it would take too long to travel from spawn, but if you direct your team (If they are in comms) To drop off the highground and retreat the the backside of point, this greatly shortens travel distance (This is mainly 3500<)
MEGA Advanced: Cooldown track abilities that may affect your successful outcome, and, just like the Lucio Guide, just because you use TRANS does not mean you are guaranteed to live.
- Talking about the first concept, Ana biotic grenade is a direct counter to trans, so in order to allievate this, the most obvious solution would be to force Ana nade (or if she wastes it but that won’t happen the higher up the ranks you travel)
- So, because there’s no “Force Ana Nade” button on your keyboard, there’s a few things and suggestions you can do. An example would be directing your Widowmaker to land a bodshot, your Tracer to land half a clip on the Ana in close range, hacking the Ana, Performing the seismic then uppercut combo (With no follow up shots) just to force nade, landing a juicy firestrike (or purposely aiming it at the Ana) the options are endless.
- Considering the last point that using TRANS does not guarantee you to live: Simple examples would be a nanobladed genji (Performing 255 Damage in a slash + dash) in which trans will be useless.
- In spite of this, identifying whether the enemy team have enough burst damage (Pulse Bomb, Rip Tire) to kill any single target will be helpful in determining whether your trans was a complete waste or not. Conversely a dragon strike does 300 DPS (150 per Dragon) so using trans will completely negate a grav drag combo (Including some extra healing from your other support to heal any surplus damage taken EG Rein Swings)
- This is done by ult tracking the enemy team’s win condition (Specifically with ultimates; Not in the vanilla fight) to identify whether they’re going to Pulse Grav, Rip Tire Grav, Nano Blade Grav etc.
Positioning: I’ve mentioned this throughout the guide as the MOST important concept to grasp as Zen. You can reach diamond by following the most basic level of positioning to a T even if you have Gold level mechanics I believe, and the more advanced level of ruling will help you to push on further.
Simple to Advanced: H.R.C. Rule – Health Pack, Route of Retreat, Cover.
Health Pack: Imagine on the experimental cards Jeff had released a patch giving Zenyatta 75 Extra HP? Imagine the outrage, the forums, the competitive subreddits! It would be overpowered in theory, wouldn’t it? Well, you can actually replicate this change by POSITIONING YOURSELF NEXT TO A HEALTHPACK. An extra 75 or 200 HP to take duels will certainly aid yourself in increasing the probability of winning these duels – Nothing more to say than don’t just position based yourself off of a healthpack in the middle of nowhere.
Route of Retreat: This is quite an uncommon and possibly least important thing out of these three rules when considering positioning, and can be substituted for ‘Rotations,’ although I find this to be a more complex concept. Essentially a ‘route of retreat,’ is an escape route if your team loses the fight. EG Hollywood 1st Point Defense Café (which actually abides by ALL of these rules)
Cover: Note that this isn’t referring to artificial cover such as shielding. This doesn’t need much explaining to why it’s a good rule to have. If you’re taking damage, you can immediately take a few step backwards, to your left or right and you are absent of danger. This also includes highground which also is another different form of cover (As you can back off from sed ledge if you are taking damage)
You ideally want all three, should have two, will struggle if you have one or less in which case you would be looking to swap character or rethink where you’re playing.
Super Advanced to MEGA Advanced: O.R.L. Rule – Off Angles, Rotations, Line of Sight
Off Angles: Anybody who’s seen my Lucio or Moira guide may be familiar with a similar concept, although this is especially important for Zen as he is the only support who can oneshot a 200HP DPS or backline support. You essentially want to be looking for soft flanks that aren’t too far away from the frontline fight whilst being unscouted to catch someone out of position easily. A GREAT Example of this is Rialto First Point Attack around the first corner; Where there is this short hallway to the left side of the payload when it’s turned around the first corner.
- You could have also seen these when Dallas Fuel recently played in the May Melee Tournament on Rialto 3rd Point Attack, where Crimzo takes an off angle to the left side killing baptiste
Rotations: This is changing position in relation to defend point or win the teamfight in a more advantageous manner. An example of this would be rotating from the Highground on Blizzard World Defense (The Highground closest to the attackers with the moving ride) to the backside of point
- Jayne had once said in his VOD Reviews that the PATHING of the rotation wasn’t the problem, but the TIMING of it was
- This concept holds true especially if the enemy team have a Lucio as the time frame for when you can rotate is even lessened. You and your entire want to rotate at the same time, not one by one (Similar with the ‘Golden’ Rule of Reinhardt: “First one in, last one out”)
- With Zen, this is especially important as you have no mobility and no immediate get out of jail free card unlike Biotic Nade or Immortality; Hence in a coordinated 6v6 match up, if you take poke damage to where a single Rein swing will you kill you, the enemy team will push in to take advantage of this
- You can clearly see this by Dallas Fuel vs Houston Outlaws Match Up in Goats, where on Lijang Night Market, Rawkus had taken significant poke damage when trying to get to point, giving OGE (Dallas Fuel Reinhardt at the time) to give free reign to swing
Lines of Sight: This is making sure you have Line of sight to both teams as much as you possibly can (IE You can draw a straight line between you and both teams) and you are within range to apply both orbs. This may sound obvious, especially the latter part, but good examples to where you may be playing too far back would be on Route 66 3rd Point Defense by the Lorry, and your Reinhardt is forced to play more passive if your team is holding by the closest corner as if he turns the corner to take a swing, you lose line of sight between him, the enemy team, and you.
- In order to achieve the former part, let’s take a look at a good example of this at Finland vs China, 2018 World Cup on Lijang Garden
- This is in the Goats Meta, where China are running Ana Goats and they have control of point, and Finland are running Zen Goats trying to recontest
- Finland realistically have two places to go and attack point: Across the Bridge, or through the left hallway/pathway on the opposite side of the map: They choose to NOT go across the bridge and instead go across the small pathway straight onto point
- This is because with Zen Goats, choosing to go across the bridge, China knows that if Fragi (Finland’s Reinhardt at the time, #FREEFRAGI) turns the corner at the end of the bridge, Finland’s backline do not have LINE OF SIGHT to Fragi whatsoever NOR the enemy team
- To make matters even worse, China’s Ana can pump in free value on both Fragi and her own team
- Whereas, travelling on the opposite side of the map, Finland can rotate their backline (IE Shaz who is on the zenyatta) to have line of sight on both teams, not to mention the mini healthpack nearby as well, Cover from either doorways, and a route of retreat if Fragi feeds and the fight is lost before it even begins
This concept as you can clearly see only comes into play at the highest of levels, but something to bare in mind.
Zen Lucio: Two defensive ultimates, if/when running this in Goats, make sure to coordinate which one you’re going to use (Most likely Beat first then Trans after since you can dictate when to trans based upon how fast the temporary shields are being eaten up). Other than Goats, and unless your tanks are taking 0 damage just don’t run this. A simple dive will dismantle Lucio Zen, and even if the Lucio successfully peels, it is unlikely that your tanks will be receiving any healing
Zen Moira: High Damage, High Healing, Defensive ultimate, what’s not to like? Well, again, a simple dive will dismantle Zen Moira since Moira can’t use her spray through shields (Monkey Bubble) hence she is forced to use her orb; If her orb is on cooldown and/or misses, she’d be expending her projectile spray (The ‘projectile’ is important as healing is not instantaneous) which she would be expending too much to heal through a simple monkey barrier hence the tanks would fall gradually.
Zen Ana/Zen Bap: Glass Cannon of a support duo. Great poke, and utility, and Zen Bap should be ran in poke double shield if you don’t need to rotate often/Rotate early enough. However, the healing can be inconsistent (especially with Ana Zen) as there is no AoE Healing; One second you may be receiving a Nade + Orb and the other you may not even get healing for a straight 10 seconds. Zen Bap is also vulnerable to dive and there is hardly any CC (Crowd Control)
Zen Brig: Maximised for the highest levels. Generally a consistent level of healing but needs to be managed well, hence it works best with optimised tanks and very aware Briggite to keep track of what’s happening to her entire team/who needs repair pack the post. Brig can also help fend off of a Genji Tracer or even Doomfist by bashing into his punch (Which puts them both into a neutral position on the ground). However, similar to the goats meta, Briggite would actually become the dive target and not the Zen (Since repair pack can’t be used on herself)
Zen Mercy: Typically seen as a good backline for dive, with instantaneous healing and mobility from the mercy. However, running this in a Deathball comp will make your Reinhardt most likely suffer as he can’t kite to safety, and the maximum amount of healing he can receive at one time is 85HPS, which detracts from Mercy’s strength of increasing the probability that DPS can win their duels.
Thank you for reading this far, any questions below and I’ll try and answer them as best I can.
Feel free to also share tips/advice below to help anyone who’s reading the comments as well :)