Zealot Guide by CPKevin

Zealot Guide by CPKevin


Base Stats

Model: Zealot
Race: Protoss
HP: 150
Shields: 100
Energy: 150
Damage: 10
Attacks: 2
Attack Speed: 1.2
Range: Melee
Armor: 2
MS: 2.25

Table of Contents:

1 – Introduction
2 – Quick Build
3 – General Items
4 – Skill Analysis
5 – Skill/Build Order
6 – Zealot for Beginners
7 – Advanced Techniques
8 – Conclusion

1. Introduction: 

The Zealot is an extremely high DPS Protoss hero that excels when played efficiently. Relatively weak early game, the zealot reaches its full potential in the mid to late game.  If played correctly, the zealot can scale rapidly, making it one of the biggest threats on the battlefield.  After reading this guide, I hope that you will not only learn how to play an effective zealot, but also how to shut one down.

2. Quick Build:

Q, R, Q, R, Q, R, T, W, W, W, E, E, E, T, Stats

3. General Items:

Early game – around 10 minutes:  port, speed, soul drain, level 2 attack, level 1 energy

Mid game – 10-30 minutes: port, speed, soul drain, protoss relic, obs/dweb, level 4 attack, level 2 defense, level 2 energy

End game – 30 minutes+:  port, speed, soul drain, nova, protoss relic/obs/dweb, level 5 attack, level 5 defense, level 5 energy

4. Skill Analysis:

Skills taken from HA3x, credit to Jetlag

KakaoTalk_20150102_214753645 Charge (Q)
Description: The zealot charges to an enemy at 2x speed and deals (20 / 32 / 44) damage. The zealot may be redirected mid-charge to run in any direction. Lasts 6 seconds or until the zealot attacks an enemy.
Range: 9
Cost: 30
Cooldown: 7 seconds

My Thoughts: Charge is one of the most versatile skills in the game and is what makes the difference between a good zealot and a great zealot.  It can be used to escape, engage, chase, last hit, or even just to travel across long distances.  By using charge effectively, the zealot can be a deadly force with great escape potential, making it my favorite hero to play.

KakaoTalk_20150102_214753691 Stone Form (W)
Description: Converts the zealot into a stone zealot, with a ranged attack capable of hitting air units.
Range: 3 / 4.5 / 6
Cost: 3 energy/second
Cooldown: 1 second

My Thoughts: This skill is pretty straightforward.  This allows the zealot to become a ranged hero.  The delay between the two regular attack swipes is gone, and the zealot does the full two swipes worth of damage in one attack.  This skill is heavily draining on energy, so it is best used in situations where the regular attack is not a viable option.

KakaoTalk_20150102_214758938 Psi Blades (E)
Description: Increases the physical damage of this hero by (10/20/30) percent.
Physical Damage Buff: 10 / 20 / 30

My Thoughts: Great passive ability to increase base damage of the zealot.  When in game, don’t put too much thought into this skill.  It is taken last (levels 11-13), and doesn’t really affect your playstyle as a whole.  You get it when you get it, and you shouldn’t worry about it otherwise.

KakaoTalk_20150102_214759110 Leg Enhancements (R)
Description: Passively increases the movement speed of the zealot by (18/36/54) percent.
Movement buff: 18 / 36 / 54

My Thoughts:  Increased movement speed is essential to playing the zealot.  A great accessory to Charge, the increase in ms will allow you to close the distance between enemy heros faster, thus taking less damage as well as dealing more back.  As Charge doubles the current ms, the more speed you have, the faster you charge.

Note: This ability also increases the move speed for the Zealot’s spawns.  However, you should already have maxed this out before level 7.

KakaoTalk_20150102_214801497 Warp In Zealots (T)
Description: Warps in 6 zealots anywhere on the map. Do not spawn immediately, and have a short spawn-in time as well as spawning with a slight delay between zealot.
Cost: 150 / 120
Cooldown: 90 / 72 seconds

My Thoughts:  This ultimate is the backbone of the Zealot hero.  As the Zealot has absolutely nothing in regards to AOE (save nova), you will have to rely on farms for the extra income boost.  Whether or not the Zealot can establish farms determines if the Zealot hero will be an unstoppable force, or inevitable feed.  Just like minerals, the Zealot’s spawns are also a finite resource.

5. Skill order:

Level 1: Q – Charge
Level 2: R – Leg Enhancements
Level 3: Q – Charge
Level 4: R – Leg Enhancements
Level 5: Q – Charge
Level 6: R – Leg Enhancements
Level 7: T- Warp In Zealots
Level 8: W – Stone Form
Level 9: W – Stone Form
Level 10: W – Stone Form
Level 11: E – Psi Blades
Level 12:E – Psi Blades
Level 13: E – Psi Blades
Level 14: T- Warp In Zealots
Levels 15-20: Stats

This is my tried-and-true build order for any matchup and any map.  Having played zealot since vanilla, I can honestly say that this is no doubt the most ideal build order for nearly all situations.  In the follow sections, I will break apart the build early, mid, and late game, and hopefully show why this build is so effective.

6. Zealot for Beginners:

As the Zealot is a relatively micro intensive hero, it is recommended that you have a firm grasp of Hero Attack before attempting this guide.  This includes knowing what heroes have what skills, what the shop items do, and generally which situations are favorable to engage in.

Once you feel you have an idea of how the game works, you are ready to play Zealot.  In this guide, I will assume that we are playing on Solar, since it is played 90% of the time in pubs anyway.

Starting off early game, it is usually better to critter.  Although either critter spot can work, the ursa critter is much better because it is easier to last hit.  When the game starts, ping the large crits and head to the tower.  Hopefully, your team knows what they’re doing and heads to the tower as well.  As a 2.25 ms hero, there will likely already be an enemy hero at the tower already.  Back off if you do not have the proper support, and don’t lose any shields/ health unnecessarily.  However, if you feel that your team has an advantage, try to teamfight and get an early kill.  With 2 armor, you can tank many early game auto attacks while your teammates burst down squishy heroes.  Additionally, you can attempt to trap someone on the ramp leading onto the xel-naga tower, usually guaranteeing the kill.

At 43~ seconds game time, it is time to head to the critters.  Start by pulling the ursa into the small crits, then pull them both into the cannons.  Timed correctly, the wave of zealots should pass by at exactly that moment.  Use the creep to tank the crits, and try last hitting as much as possible.  Once you have pulled two waves of critters (after 2 mins), you should be level one.  Get Charge, and continue pulling the same way (ursa -> small crits -> cannons), only this time use charge for a guaranteed last hit on the ursa.  With a few last hits on the small crits as well, you should be level 5 with over 700 minerals at around 5:30 – 6 minutes, provided no noob teammates steal your critter exp.

When you reach level 5, warp or charge (if energy allows) back to the base.  Use the 700+ minerals to purchase a warp prism, speed item, and soul channel.  Throw down your warp prism, move it to the closest mining patch to the beacon, and hotkey it.  Here’s where it gets fun.

At this point in the guide, I am ready to give away a secret for the zealot hero.  Charge.  Charge is extremely powerful at level 5 and here is why:  Most players who have played zealot do not realize that Charge is not just a melee skill.  If you do, then you need to change your mindset.  Charge can be channeled through any other ranged attack to do the full damage, and from a distance.  For example, if the zealot uses soul channel on a target, then uses Charge, then the target will take the full Charge damage as long as soul channel is active at the time of using Q.  This opens up multiple possibilities.  If there are tanks on a ledge, soul channel + charge will take them out without ever having touch them.  If a weakened hero is running away, soul channel + charge will likely finish them off.  Use charge with soul channel and it will be a deadly combination in the early game.  If you need a quick escape, use charge on any targetable ground unit and immediately move command in the safest direction.

Back to the guide, once you reach level 5 you have a formidable amount of burst damage.  Go from lane to lane looking for opportunities.  The zealot is tanky early game with 2 base armor, so diving for kills is not unreasonable.  Ideally, use Q to engage, get some auto attacks in, if the enemy hero begins to run then use soul channel + Q to finish them off.

Hint: soul channel only heals health, not shields, so use it when you are no shields or diving towers in order to maximize survivability.  Hopefully you are able to pick up a few early game kills to supplement your team, and set you ahead of the curve.

Hint: After crittering, I usually go back to base once between levels 5-7.  This may be different for different players and situations.  Staying in lane as long as possible will allow you to reach level 7 faster.  If staying in lane is too risky, feel free to go back to crittering to get to level 7 asap.

Once you hit level 7, get your ult and go back to base.  Warp a round of zealots to the innermost critter spots, as those are more likely to be safer.  Send a zealot to scout the corner expos, if those are still in the fog of war.  Start spending minerals on attack upgrades, as this will help your ganks.  Defense is not necessary, as Charge or even just regular movement with max R and the speed item is enough to get away.  One level of energy is not a bad idea either (more details why below).

From here on out, focus on ganking unsuspecting heroes and keeping farms alive.  Try to sync your warp prism with your ult cooldown (I will go into this in more detail in the Advanced Techniques).  Warp whenever possible, and aim to take all four farms on your side by the 15 minute mark.  Keep a zealot at the very corner of the corner expos to keep an eye out for sneaky expands.  As each round of warp-ins contains six zealots, five per critter patch is more than enough to sustain farms. If your farms are ever at risk, make sure too pull them away to a safer critter patch, or keep them nearby and return them once the threat is gone.

Throughout the mid game, you should be actively rotating around the map and ganking unsuspecting heroes.  Be sneaky, use your incredible speed and the fog of war to your advantage.  Continue using charge, soul channel, and stone form in combination with each other to burst down enemy heroes.  Make sure to pull your farms if they are at risk, as the zealots do little in the way of fighting creep.  I like to get the crit hit item (protoss relic) once you get to level three attack, and buy obs if detection and map vision is sparse.

If you’ve reached the late game, hopefully you are well fed and miles ahead of other heroes in stats.  At this point, you should have maxed out on all ups, with an end game item lineup of port, soul channel, speed, nova, and obs/dweb/protoss relic.  If the opposite team is turtling well, make sure you use the income from farms to buy expos, thus benefiting the whole team. If you have done a good job at denying enemy farms and replacing them with your own, then victory is not far.  You should now be able to take on any hero 1v1, and in many cases, 2v1 or even 3v1.  Continue ganking and teamfighting, and wait for a window to go for the final kill.

If, for whatever reason, your team is struggling in the mid to late game, try your best to clear waves with nova, and gank squishy heroes that are out of position.  Feel free to upgrade creeps as well, as it might provide the extra bit of pushing power needed to regain map control.  However, take care not to be underleveled or underfed, as it is difficult to recover once it starts snowballing.

That’s about it for the beginner’s guide; if you feel that the previous paragraphs were more common sense and obvious, then I hope you will find the following to be more helpful.  From here on out, I will assume that the reader understands everything said above, and I will try describe previous techniques in more detail, as well as give additional tips and tricks in order for maximized efficiency of the zealot.

7. Advanced Techniques:

Early Game: As you can probably tell, the zealot is weakest in the early game.  This is not to say it is bad or ineffective, but that it reaches its full strength once farms are established.  This is why it is vital that you do not die before your farms are set, and even more importantly before level seven. Just one death will delay your farms, and disrupt your rhythm.

The rhythm I refer to is the syncing of the warp prism cooldown and your ultimate cooldown.  The ultimate cooldown is 90 seconds, while the warp prism cooldown is 45 seconds.  This means that you can go back to base once in between every ult cooldown, or twice for every zealot warp in.  While in lane, keep a watchful eye on the ultimate cooldown, and note that ideal opportunities to port to base exist when the cooldown is half over, and when the ult is live. Account for the 2~ seconds of warp back time.  Learn to stick to this rhythm throughout all stages in the game (earliest being most important) in order to play the zealot most efficiently.

Hint:  Always try to warp from the beacon instead of the battlefield.

Early Game Ganks: Even during the critter phase the zealot is a threat to laning heroes.  The reason why we pull ursa -> small crits -> cannons is to allow a longer interval of free time to gank lanes.  Keep an eye on the lanes, and if one hero overextends or is weak, use charge to close the distance.  By level four, you should have 3.15 movement speed (6.3 with charge), which is more than most other hero’s base speed.  This will allow you to chase and charge again if necessary.  If possible, it is good to have 1-2 kills before your first warp back around 5:30-6 minutes.

Hint:  If the other team is playing extremely defensively and no opportunities for ganks exist, then pulling ursa -> cannons -> small crits -> cannons once you have a level of speed might make it easier to last hit.

Psitrous Oxide:  This active item increases your hero’s timescale by 20% for 15 seconds.  Using this in the early game will allow you to get farms up quicker and assist with ganks.  Although this offsets the rhythm I previously discussed, an advanced player can improvise and still play efficiently.

Double Warp Prism:  If you find yourself constantly starved on energy it is a good idea to buy a second warp prism.  Hotkey it to the same button as your first prism but pressing Shift + Hotkey.  This will allow virtually unlimited warps whenever you want.  I have yet to find myself in a situation where both prisms are on cooldown (provided you turn off sharing).

Obelisks:  Using obelisks as warp in points is not exclusive to the zealot, but a good strategy nonetheless.  Sell your port if you have no room, and buy 3-4 obelisks and place them in your base.  Double click one to select them all, and place them spread out along the middle of the map, as well as the corners.  This way, you have more map control and maneuverability without wasting a slot on powerfield.  Don’t forget to rebuy your port before warping out.

Level one energy:  In the early game, attack ups are predominately what you should focus on, but a single level of energy is not a bad idea.  This is because level one energy will raise your energy pool from 150 to 157.  This may not seem like much of a difference, but this will allow you to use the Charge + soul channel combo twice (80 energy each time), with no delay in between.

Farming:  As previously stated, farming is the backbone of the zealot hero.  In order to increase survivability of farms, it is a good idea to set them on patrol, thus distributing damage taken from critters.  In your early warpins, it can be beneficial to warp into the far critters, attack move into the close critters, then set them on patrol.  Do this immediately after you warp in, as you will have to wait for your energy to recharge anyway. Without a solid amount of stats, patrol only one critter patch at a time.  If you happen to be staring at a respawn timer, or just have excess APM to micro with, move your farms back and forth between critter patches in order to maximize income.

Hint: the reason why you can’t just patrol between two patches is because the zealots will split up (four will run to one patch while two to the other, or any other split combination).  Fighting critters with a split zealot force is a good way to lose control of farms. By having one zealot patrol between the two patches, and having the five other zealots follow the “leader”, it is possible keep the zealots together.  However, the front one will take all the damage, and die fairly quickly.

Increasing patrol range:  If your side is being pressured, patrol the zealots farther from the critters and into the entrance of the base or to cannons if possible.  Although this will add a small delay to your income every 30 sec, your farms will have increased survivability.

Splitting farms:  Once you gain a solid number of stats (6-10), then your zealots are ready to be split.  Send two to three to each critter spot and set them on patrol.  Use the remaining zealots in combat, or spread them across the map to gain vision.  This accomplishes many things.  Firstly, you make it harder for farms to be cleared as you have less zealots farming.  Some players may not think that it is worth it to clear farms of only two zealots.  You also have more of a “reserve” of zealots so that you can easily replace farms that you lose.  Lastly, extra zealots scattered around the map on hold position are great at providing vision.

Warping on high ground:  The zealots ultimate can also be used to secure high ground vision.  Simply position the warp in somewhere on the low ground so that one (or more) of the corners of the hexagonal outline covers the high ground, and a zealot will warp to that point.  This is especially useful on solar, as a DT can quickly swap positions with the warped zealot in order to capture the tower.

Using critters as slingshots:  If you find yourself in a position where you need to cross the map quickly, you can obviously use charge on a neutral or enemy target to slingshot across.  While looking for possible slingshots, do not discount farms as a potential target.  If the ingame timer is close to 30 sec or 00, move your farms to the side and use critters as a slingshot.  After you get the charge off, return the farm to its original position.


Engaging heroes:  While engaging enemy heroes, try to make sure you have kill potential.  It isn’t usually worth it to expel the massive energy cost of soul channel, charge, stone form, just for the enemy hero to port away.  General rule of thumb for a successful kill is as follows: (assuming at least level 2 energy) Charge -> soul channel -> W (turn on stone form) -> stutterstep and target hero for 3-4 attacks -> W (turn off stone form) -> Charge and repeat.  If you are facing a decent player with a fast port finger, it might be better to lead with soul drain to disallow his warp.  Against speedy heroes that are running away, make sure you save charge as a chaser ability.  For example, if you are chasing a vulture, use charge to chase then activate stone form for a massive amount of ranged damage. Nova can also be used at any point for extra burst damage.

Flying heroes: Flying heroes are a bit trickier, but much more satisfying to kill.  Dweb is not a necessity, but is a good way to guarantee a kill.  While engaging flying heroes, it is important to remember that they can also take charge damage if it is channeled through soul channel or stone form.  Use this to your advantage for that extra edge.  If you use Dweb, surround the immobile target with zealot spawns for more dps. Carriers in particular have a lot of surface area and can be burst down relatively quickly.

Last hitting:  Charge is a great tool to use in order to secure last hits.  However, it can be tricky to pull off in some situations.  Using charge while auto attacking (regular form) will result in a 1 second delay in the charged damage.  To get around this, either run a short distance away then charge the target, which will cause damage immediately at the point of impact, or use soul drain then charge (whilst autoattacking), which will damage the target as soon as you use it.  Of course, a good player will always be trying to last hit creep.  With stone form’s immediate damage (as opposed to marauder shells or stalker projectiles), it is not difficult to secure last hits.

Disengaging a battle:  If you feel that a fight is not leaning in your favor, your best option might be to run away.  Use charge on a targetable unit (can even be destructable rocks) and immediately right click in the direction of your escape.  If you do not click quickly enough and the zealot closes the distance, you are out of an escape ability.

Hint: Do not use soul channel if you plan on escaping since you will not get the movement speed bonus if charge is used during soul channel.

Juking heroes:  Because of the zealot’s speed and maneuverability, it is possible to juke heroes.  Act like you are charging away, but once you lose aggro, come back in for the kill.

Strafing:  Against heroes with powerful free fire (or even targetable) spells, such as ghost EMP, tank ult, broodling W, sentry Q, etc, it is a good idea to strafe while engaging them.  Strafing is just moving around from side to side in an unpredictable pattern, in order to make it harder for the opponent to hit you.  Some spells are harder to dodge than others, but strafing is never a bad idea.  In the FPS Halo, there is a technique called the Ghandi Hop, where although it doesn’t actually change your position, it looked intimidating which made it more likely for opponents to choke.  The same logic should be applied here.

Observers:  As the dominate farmer for your team, it is the zealot’s job to spread obs in case of cloaked heroes.  Observers should replace Protoss Relic.  If there exists no cloaked heroes on the opposite team, use zealots for vision in order to save a item slot.

Backdoor:  Although I personally avoid bds, there may come situations where it is necessary.  The amount of single target damage the zealot can deal makes up for its lack of AOE while backdooring.  Combined with a warp in, you can easily get multiple buildings off of an unsuspecting team.  Set an obs close their base in order to make a proxy warp in point for zealots.  Send zealots in one entrance, while charging through another.  If they start to set up defenses, it may be better to both rush the same entrance.  You can implement a hit and run technique to your backdoors, constantly charge in, deal damage, charge out when enemy heroes port back, and charge back in once they think you’re gone.

Dancing:  In some situations you may realise that your best option is to dance.  To do this, type /dance into the allies chatbox.  Dancing takes approximately 4 seconds and your zealot is uncontrollable during that time frame.

Hint: Zealot spawns can dance as well.  Warp in a round of spawns and use /dance for a quick rave party.

8. Conclusion:

Zealot can be an extremely powerful hero if played correctly.  Focus is on farms and ganking.  Thanks for reading.

Credit to Ixidor and Darkangel for helping with content.


CPKevin 03-01-2015, 14:01

Wait, is this published already?

Primo 03-01-2015, 03:26

Great guide from a pro zealot player. How would you lane with it tho? Say 1v1 solo vs vik cuz I had hell trying to one ih.

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