Supreme Support: How to Zenyatta

What’s up, Monkeys? Your Supreme Leader here, back with another Supreme Support and this time we’re focusing on everyone’s favourite orb-throwing monk, Zenyatta.

For those of you who don’t know me or haven’t played much with me, some background info: I am in no way the best Overwatch player around; I just really enjoy the game and play it on different levels. My main account was at 3750 SR (at the time of writing) and I’ve had smurfs in Diamond, Platinum, and Gold. The point of this series is hopefully to help you guys rank up in competitive by sharing a little about my playstyle. These are just things that work for me, I am not saying you need to play like this as we are all different people.

Playing Zenyatta, the Master of Balls

Role: Support
Health: 50
Armor: 0
Shield: 150

Primary Fire – Orb of Destruction: Deals 46 damage per hit at a rate of 2.5 shots per second. Has 20 “rounds” of ammo and a 2 second reload.
Secondary Fire – Orb Volley: Charged, rapid fire volley which fires up to 5 orbs depending on charge time. 46 damage per hit and requires 3 seconds to fully charge.

Orb of Harmony: Places a healing orb on target ally which heals 30 HP per second (must maintain line of sight).
Orb of Discord: Places an orb of target enemy which amplifies the damage they take by 30% (must maintain line of sight).
Transcendence: Experience tranquility! Channeled ability. Zenyatta becomes immune to damage, gains movement speed, and heals for 300 HP per second in a 10 meter radius for 6 seconds.

Mei’s Personal Settings
Horizontal Sensitivity: 80
Vertical Sensitivity: 55

Zenyatta is a long range, hybrid support character who requires good mechanical skill and positioning to keep his team alive while also assisting with DPS (damage). A good Zenyatta player is constantly juggling his balls (Orb of Harmony/Orb of Discord) between allies and enemies while at the same time providing supporting fire and damage (primary/secondary fire) for his team. He requires awareness, positioning, and target prioritization to be the most effective.

Proper orb management is what makes or breaks a Zenyatta player. See a low health ally? Get that Orb of Harmony on them and then observe your other allies. Is another one low? Throw your orb on them! But here’s the tricky part: while you’re juggling healing orbs around your team you should also be juggling your debuff orb around the enemy team. Your Orb of Discord is what strikes fear into your opponents and what makes you a such huge threat. A well placed Discord orb on a key enemy target (such as their Support or Tank, or whoever is giving your team a hard time but remember you can’t Discord through shields!) will mean deleting that player from the fight and in turn improving your team’s odds of winning the teamfight. Just remember that both Orb of Harmony and Orb of Discord are not “set and forget” abilities; you need to maintain line of sight or they’ll cancel and return to you after three seconds!

So far, that’s two orbs to juggle but wait — you’re supposed to be laying down supporting fire too, remember? Enter Zenyatta’s other orbs: his Orb of Destruction (primary fire) and Orb Volley (alternate fire). Orb of Destruction is quite easy to hit with and requires little leading, so generally you’ll be using these reactively or to help your team focus down a target, such as one you’ve Discorded. Meanwhile, a fully charged Orb Volley can pack a punch and tends to be used predictively around corners or down choke points to help secure some quick kills.

Finally, Zenyatta’s ultimate ability, Transcendence, can help you turn teamfights around because it pumps out so much healing. It can heal through many (but not all!) high damage ultimates, so ensure you’re timing it well — especially because it doesn’t charge as fast as say, Moira, Mercy, or Ana’s. Usually, you want to save it and use it defensively when your team is taking (or about to take) a beating unless you’re sure you can win the fight, then you can opt to jump in and use it offensively. Committing your ultimate is a big deal and using it at the wrong time can severely detriment your team.

So far Zen sounds pretty OP, right? Well, he’s not at all. What he offers in Support/DPS power, he pays for in mobility: he’s easily picked off by a good dive, flanker, etc. He is also super squishy and Sombra is the bane of his existence, in part because or her hacks. To avoid dying too much, try to position yourself towards the back of your team and around areas where you can easily duck for cover and rejoin your team. You may want to consider switching if you’re dying frequently or can’t hit with your Orbs of Destruction consistently because you’re not contributing enough to the team. In general, I like to play Zen when my DPS players are shit and I need to kill shit myself. But in general, Zen’s almost always a good pick as long as he’s not a solo healer because he simply can’t heal his team up fast enough unless he burns his ultimate.

Winning Games with Zen

Essentially, winning with Zenyatta isn’t difficult. It all boils down to your aim, orb management, and game sense. For aim, you can do some aim training drills like headshots-only with Widowmaker, but really it’s a skill that will improve as you play any hero. Orb management, on the other hand, is pretty unique to Zenyatta. However, I have an interesting strategy for improving this — playing Lucio (who is one of my all-time favorite heroes, but I’ll spill my secrets about him in another article).

As Lucio, you need to pay a lot of attention to your teammates and be ready to help them by healing or boosting them as fast as you can to keep them alive. In general, try to pay attention to which teammate is in need of heals and which enemy is your biggest threat and position yourself accordingly. After a while, you’ll get some decent game sense — knowing where your allies are and how they move or how they tend to get hurt, and then switch back to Zenyatta and use this sense to react and place your orbs accordingly.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I out-heal the damage being pumped into my teammate?
  • Which enemy is the biggest threat to my team at this moment?
  • How charged are my teammates’ ultimates?
  • How many ults does the enemy team have charged?
  • Which teammate is essential to keep alive at this moment?
  • Who are my team fighting right now?
  • Who is alive and who is dead right now? (AKA, please, please, PLEASE for the love of GOD use your killfeed!)

As you answer these questions, you should know what orbs to place on who and when. The more you get used to this, the more useful you’ll become and maybe one day you’ll be able to carry games on him!

General Tips and Tricks


  • Always keep an eye on your Discord target. You can move your Orb of Discord at will so always switch to whoever your team is fighting at the moment and don’t just leave it on a single target until they die.
  • Do not forget that healing is your primary goal, so always have an orb on a team mate… preferably the one that needs it most!
  • Always remember who you last threw your Orb of Harmony on and what they are about to do. Example: You last threw your Harmony orb on your Genji and he is off to flank the enemy so you should try to put yourself in an angle where you can still see him while he flanks so you can help him safely pick off an enemy.
  • Always have allied health bars turned on and check nearby walls for allies that might be far away or hiding.
  • Watch your positioning, especially when using your ultimate.
  • Call out Discords! It will help your team focus them down.
  • Both Discord and Harmony orbs will remain on their targets through Transcendence.
  • Discord orbs can act as a small wallhack to help with lining up charged shots, but be remember that it will cancel after three seconds if you don’t have line of sight.

And there we go peeps, my guide to playing Zenyatta. Remember, this is not a “do this and win” guide. This is just what works for me and will hopefully work for you, too! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it useful. Until next time, pass into the iris!

– kazumi_kiss

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