I've always loved Zenyatta and he's my most played Hero. My brother is a huge fan of Mercy and like many, believers her to be the strongest Support Hero in the game. We thought we'd have a chat about their strengths and I wanted to put my case forward as to why I believe Zenyatta is far better, people just haven't adapted to his pre-launch changes. Here's how we got on (you might want to get a cup of tea and snuggle in the for the read). 


Lewis: There’s a general consensus amongst the Overwatch competitive community that Zenyatta is inferior to both Lucio and Mercy. Since a timer was added to his Orbs, combined with an inability to double stack them, there’s a view that he heals for too little while having less utility than Lucio’s shielding or movement speed, or Mercy’s damage boost. I totally disagree and think Zenyatta, on the whole, is actually stronger than Mercy. Players in a competitive environment have simply failed to adapt to his changes or see his potential as an artillery healer, that’s a true threat to the opposition, unlike Mercy that outputs no damage and is effectively little more than a pocket healer. In contrast, Zenyatta can not only deal high damage and bolster the damage of his entire team, but his ranged heal (effectively now a heal over time) makes him versatile without the need to constantly be near his team. Before I ramble on some more, why do you think Mercy is seen as the stronger healer?

Players in a competitive environment have simply failed to adapt to his changes or see his potential as an artillery healer, that’s a true threat to the opposition

Gregg: Mercy is a different type of healer, a pure healer so to speak.  Sure, we can rat-a-tat-tat with our gun (and should when appropriate), but we’re there to make everyone around us better. Mercy is an amplifier of hit points and damage. Let’s take a look at a few examples, first the “Holy [email protected]#t!" moment when you absolutely have to  keep somebody alive, you want mercy with her happy-happy stick firing yellow streams of vitality into your veins.    Mercy heals 50 HP per second, but Orb only heals 30 HP per second.   If Zenyatta is being played as a healing support then he simply can’t match the pure healing power of Mercy.   A dead team mate is contributing nothing. 

Mercy's Ultimate ability is unquestionably annoying.

Lewis: Is 20 health per second really defining the difference between Zenyatta and Mercy? To me, that's just a very flimsy reason to hold one over the other. Will there be instances where that 20 health keeps someone alive? Yes, absolutely. Will there be instances however where Mercy can't keep someone alive because she can't get to them to heal them? Yes and that's something Zenyatta doesn't suffer from. See someone low on health? Fire your Orb and let it do its magic. All the while you're still doing damage (unlike Mercy). Better still, when the shit hits the fan how incredibly good is Zenyatta's Ultimate? Not only does it totally counter the vast majority of enemy Ultimate abilities, but its healing is outrageously strong.

So yes, while Mercy might be ticking slightly higher on the healing charts purely from her happy-happy stick, it's also incredibly limited and whenever she needs to heal someone, she puts herself in direct danger. Worse still, your team is having to deal damage equivalent to 6 players because she doesn't do anything else. 

Gregg: If a 40% increase in base healing is a flimsy reason to play Mercy over Zenyatta then maybe you shouldn’t be a healer. You’re not looking at 20 extra health as keeping someone alive this second, but rather that even at 50% uptime, you are putting 600 HP / minute back on your team.   That’s 600 HP that the opponent has to once again remove to put you at a disadvantage.   Mercy is all about amplifying your team mates ability to a) stay alive and b) deal damage. As for Zenyatta firing his Orb: it simply does too little too slowly to make as much difference as Mercy’s heal.  It’s a second class heal so to speak.  

When the shit hits the fan Zen’s ultimate is great…assuming your team huddles up like shipwreck victims on a life raft. And, if a player isn’t taking damage it’s wasted on them. Mercy’s ultimate on the other hand is an absolute game saver. Team down, pushing the point and “Heroes never die!”, you’re all back on your feet with full health.  It’s a get out of jail free card. Your team can sacrifice themselves if need be, knowing that you can bring them all back.  You’re wrong about Mercy not doing damage as well. She does plenty, it’s just indirect. Her damage boost turns offensive heroes into cannons of destruction and using it on a teammate who is ulting is almost unfair. No comparison. Mercy absolutely creates more damage in a game than Zenyatta, heals more and has a better ult. Seriously, why would anyone pick Zenyatta in the first place?  He’s a great secondary healer, but you’re choosing a much harder road if you take him as your primary healing support. 

Lewis: Honestly, I think you're looking at Mercy with rose tinted glasses. Mathematically she does heal for slightly more than Zenyatta in a lab setting but it's fair to say matches don't playout perfectly and it's physically impossible to maintain those numbers as Mercy. If she's to keep everyone healed - all of the time - she'll not only be constantly out of position but might not necessarily be with who she needs to be with. Guardian Angel helps her somewhat but when Zenyatta can simply fire an Orb I'd argue that it's far more likely for Zenyatta to achieve greater healing output due to his range. You also have to factor in that most Heroes you need to keep alive (Reaper/McCree/Genji/Tracer) are targets Mercy can't keep up with or if she does, leaves herself so vulnerable. 

Honestly, I think you're looking at Mercy with rose tinted glasses. Mathematically she does heal for slightly more than Zenyatta in a lab setting but it's fair to say matches don't playout perfectly and it's physically impossible to maintain those numbers

As for the damage argument, there's absolutely no doubt Zenyatta is king here. His hitscan primary fire deals higher damage than Mercy, fires quicker and can be charged for a spike. He has the luxury of never having to stop attacking while she doesn't. There's also the fact his damage boost from Orb of Discord is team wide, higher than Mercy's and still doesn't prevent him healing. If Mercy wants to pocket a Hero with her damage boost, she's no longer a healer, has to maintain it constantly and is still putting herself in dangerous positions. Zenyatta simply fires it off and his entire team can deal 50% more damage. It's immeasurably stronger.

Where Mercy's Ultimate is concerned, it's definitely great - that's undeniable - but it's not preventative. It's simply a band-aid once your team has died. Any coordinated team will wait to burst down those revived due to the stasis animation. I've lost count at the amount of players I've instantly killed as they're brought back to life. In contrast, Zenyatta just doesn't let his team die in the first place thanks to his Ultimate. 600 health across 6 seconds? While factoring in his Orb of Harmony and total immunity on himself? Sure he has to hug people, but what mode in this game doesn't involve a team being close together? Capture Point, Payload, Hybrid...everyone is always close together.

Gregg: Oh my, you do need some help…

Mathematically is how you should be looking at most of the game mechanics. I “feel” like this is better or I “believe” this is better doesn’t help anyone. It’s a fact or it isn’t. Just because you have a feeling doesn’t make it true.   We once thought the world was flat.  Oops.

Mercy has no more of a problem staying in position than Zenyatta does.  He has no escape, where Mercy can swoop in, heal and move quickly to another team mate - putting herself out of harm’s way. Zen’s orb was fantastic pre-nerf when it never went away, but he has to keep his target in LoS and that is really his issue.  He can stand at the back, unprotected and without an escape mechanism only to be killed repeatedly by any good flankers. Against weak players he can hold his own, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Mercy on the other hand can fly - literally - from one point to another delivering healing where it is needed without as much worry of being left stranded and alone without someone to defend her. 

Against weak players he can hold his own, but that’s not what we are talking about here. Mercy on the other hand can fly - literally - from one point to another delivering healing where it is needed

Zen deals damage and that’s fantastic, but let’s face it there are probably 19 better choices than him when it comes to doing so.    If you are picking him to deal damage you are doing as much disservice to your team as if you are picking him as primary healer.   Please don’t be that guy. Don’t get me started on his orb of discord.  It sounds great on paper, but the second it touches someone they simply jump out of line of sight and it goes away. It’s nigh useless and even if they are a weak player who stays out in the open your entire team has to a) notice and b) take advantage of the bonus. It’s a great idea that simply doesn’t add up. Mercy’s damage bonus on the other hand goes directly to the person you are streaming to. They can pick any target, switch targets and even use their ultimate and get the damage boost. A player with Mercy’s damage boost applied can mow down enemies without worrying about her re-targeting, throwing another orb, figuring out who has the orb and then starting to shoot. No contest here, Mercy’s damage wins.   

Again, Zen’s ultimate has its uses, but the one I like the best is when an enemy Zen pops his ult and his team all crowds around it (since it only heals people in a very small area). Once it ends, Boom! You hit them with a Mei ult or a Zarya ult or anything that incapacitate the entire group before Reaper shows up with his Death Blossom to mow them all down or Pharah uses Barrage on the hapless idiots.    The second I see that Zen ult go off I start rubbing my hands together. Thanks buddy, for the team kill. So, I guess in a sense, Zen’s Ultimate is better at getting his team killed.

Lewis: Oh the gloves are coming off now. Balance of any Hero isn't just about metrics, but also about how it feels to a player - new or experienced. In this instance, mathematically they're both pretty even when you weigh up healing and damage boosting, they just do it differently. Based on that, Mercy being top tier is as a result of how players feel overall. It's like the Mei scenario all over again. I said months ago that she was amazing and that competitive teams simply weren't using her right and sure enough, she's climbing higher and higher. The same can be said for Zenyatta, people just haven't adapted to his changes or to understand that he's effectively a bloody strong ranged hybrid.

He doesn't need escapes when he has ridiculous range and accuracy. There's absolutely no need for him to be anywhere other than miles behind the rest, bombarding the enemy with Orbs from afar. Is he vulnerable to flankers? No more so than Mercy. Can Winston leap at him? Sure, just like Mercy. And while Mercy's Guardian Angel might zip her from one Hero to the next, she needs that because she's inherently more vulnerable than Zenyatta by design: she has to be near people, he doesn't. 

I think Transcendence is amazing. Gregg not so much.

Where Orbs are concerned, honestly the timer is barely an issue. Three seconds is a long time and more than enough for him to refresh if he snags vision or to keep healing someone once they've pushed out to the flanks. 90 health for an instant long ranged heal is pretty amazing, especially considering it can be repeatedly used with no cooldown. That's before you factor in Orb of Discord and the ability to constantly rotate it against targets. There's still nothing better in the game for spiking opponents down than a team focusing on an enemy affected by it. 

90 health for an instant long ranged heal is pretty amazing, especially considering it can be repeatedly used with no cooldown.

I also disagree with you regarding Zenyatta's Ultimate and Mercy's damage winning: she doesn't do anything besides provide the beam and a 30% gain for one Hero doesn't even compare with a team-wide 50% gain - while also factoring in Zenyatta's constant damage. As for Transcendence, it's best used when someone else has used theirs (Soldier: 76, Hanzo, Reinhardt) because it nullifies them instantly. It's a pro-active Ultimate, not one that's used only after the shit hits the fan (Mercy). 

Gregg: You might want to head back to math class! Mercy’s heal is not only different it’s better. 

There is a place for Zenyatta and when his heal didn’t drop off after three seconds out of line of sight that was in competitive play.  He was a powerful healer, but that nerf did him in.  Right now there are just better choices. If you need healing Mercy is better.  If you need damage, then just about anyone is better. If you need support then, again, there are better choices. 

Right now there are just better choices. If you need healing Mercy is better.  If you need damage, then just about anyone is better. If you need support then, again, there are better choices. 

He needs to be miles behind the rest as you say and that means that he is an easy pick for most flankers. It isn’t a big deal unless he is the only healer and then you are essentially playing 5 v 6 for most of the game. Mercy can L-Shift between teammates and even up into the air out of harm’s way. There is no comparison. He has no escapes and let’s face it, if he is miles behind the rest how effectively can he really pick out targets to heal?

Orb of Discord is a great ability in theory, but for it to be effective your team must all A) identify the Orb’d target and B) be able to attack it. In theory, practice and theory are the same. In practice, they are not (if that makes sense!). It’s great for burning down a tank.  A big target in the front but not so great for taking out other priority targets. Any good Lucio or Mercy will just move, drop the Orb and keep on doing what they do best. Mercy’s damage boost allows her teammate to focus down those pesky Lucios and enemy Mercys and makes some Ultimates almost overpowered. 

You’re just going in circles with your assumptions. Zen’s Ultimateis great if your team is clumped up. For a very short time it keeps them alive and then welcome to Hurtville, population - you. Zen’s Ultimate just post-pones the inevitable in most cases. Mercy’s on the other hand fixes mistakes.Your team can take more risks knowing that they will be revived. How many times have you heard, “clutch rez to win that game!”.  Probably many. I’ve never heard anyone say, “that Zen ult should have been play of the game.”

We can agree to disagree. That’s what make the game great.  Everyone can have an opinion and play the Heroes the way that they like to play them.

Who’s up next?  D.Va vs Roadhog? ;)


After that epic discussion, what are your thoughts on Mercy and Zenyatta? Is she better or worse than him? Are they about even? Let us know. 


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Last Updated: Jun 06, 2016

About The Author

Burnell 1
Lover of all things MOBA, Lewis splits his time between Heroes of the Storm, Battlerite and Gigantic.

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