I’m slowly but surely trying to become proficient at every Overwatch healer. I consider myself a seasoned Lucio, Mercy, and Moira by this point, comfortable playing them even in competitive or any team comp. I’m capable of playing Brigitte and Soldier 76 if the team comp favors it, and I am absolute rubbish at Ana. That leaves Zenyatta, who I’m enjoying the more I play him, but the difficulty scale and the drawbacks to his kit are dampening my spirit somewhat.
While I cautioned Moiras against focusing too much on dealing damage, Zenyattas suffer from no such restraint. Zenyatta is a full Support/DPS hybrid, since his healing and damage orbs are more than happy to do their own thing as long as he maintains line of sight, leaving Zenyatta free to spend his time winging balls at his enemies. These balls aren’t easy to use, due to having travel time and laser-perfect accuracy that punishes the slightest of miscalculations, but you better get good with them because they’re the only defense you’ll have to save yourself. Zenyatta has no mobility and no safety net, meaning flankers will love to make his life miserable unless he can scare them off with his own firepower. I grew up with shotguns in Team Fortress Classic, crossbows in Team Fortress 2, and have pretty much always avoided high-accuracy characters in my lifelong quest to main support, so Tracer and Doomfist have caused me to switch off Zenyatta on regular occasion.
Despite his fragility, Blizzard has given him a few tricks to help him stay alive. He’s the only hero with no footsteps whatsoever, and his right-click lets him charge up a volley of 5 shots that can easily shred a single target if they all connect.
Even better, his charged shot doesn’t care if you have less than 5 ammo loaded. Buddhism really is full of miracles.
Because of his limited and single-target healing, Zenyatta should prioritize leaving his healing orb on the other healer. This leaves the other healer more capable of healing the front line, where you aren’t really durable enough to survive. I’ve found the best positioning for Zenyatta is right in the middle of the team. This gives you maximum protection from flankers and lets you keep an eye on everyone so you can throw healing orbs to whoever needs them most.
This is usually the part where I’d showcase a mobility trick, but Zenyatta doesn’t have any so here’s a GIF of Symmetra abusing a Zarya ragdoll.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule on who to prioritize Discording on the enemy team. I try to target whoever someone else is already firing on, so they’re that much more likely to secure the kill. Pharah is always a threat and a high-priority target to debuff, but I feel out of position if I’m somewhere that she and I can see each other. But the most important thing is to make sure you’re playing with a mic and are calling out who’s been discorded. This ensures your team can actually make maximum use out of it, since nobody but you has been conditioned to look for which enemy has the orb on them at any given moment.
It’s a long and troublesome road, but I do feel myself getting better at Zenyatta the more I play him. Maybe sometime in the future I’ll be able to write another article on him, one that goes into more detail and isn’t entirely surface-level strategy. But as Zenyatta himself would say, “Always strive for improvement.” (Not to mention “Pain is an excellent teacher…”)