The essence of heroes: The way of Zen with FaZe Forsak3n

Overwatch Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch

Behind the curtain of every hero is a story. Behind every story is a spirit. The essence of heroes is an ambitious interview series that aims to uncover the nature of each hero by asking its most skilled specialists to reveal their thought processes. In doing so, we also learn a lot about the hero behind the keyboard. This time we ask: What is essential to “The Way of Zen"?


You started out in G2 with well-known names such as numlocked, KnoxXx and of course Shadowburn, who you knew from TF2 and played with. The latter never left your side and to this day is still a teammate in FaZe. Were you a package deal and always looked for new opportunities together or was that pure coincidence?

I met ShaDowBurn around 4 years ago when we both played TF2. Later he joined my TF2 team and we spent a lot of time competing together against the best European teams in various tournaments and leagues, building a long history and coming up with a hardware sponsorship deal. After such a period of time you learn a lot about a person, both the qualities in game and human factors, therefore we built trust and confidence about going pro together in Overwatch.

At first, we were aiming to get into a team together or build one for us and some players we were confident in as the core of the team. Finally, after having numerous mediocre results, splitting was an option, but then ShaDowBurn got contacted by Slasher about creating an International team, and they had a number of open slots on various roles for me to try-out. Soon we became FaZe.

I am happy to play whatever my team needs in order to succeed

As for G2; It began with me standing in ("mercing") for Reason Gaming at the Insomnia 55 TF2 International LAN and other competitions prior the event date. The roster consisted of some present Pro Overwatch players who were formerly the best TF2 players: KnoxXx, MikeyA and Hafficool. KnoxXx and Numlocked who also were at the event, were already planning the roster under G2 for Overwatch Beta. Neither I nor ShaDowBurn was invited to join their initial roster, but luckily we all got into the beta nearly at the same time and two of their players (Tek and Flippy) were absent due to TF2 Dreamhack Winter, so we were able to substitute for them and that gave us a good start.


As with seemingly most professional players, you had to find your role. You first played flex tanks but found to support relatively quickly. Do you think support is the role that fits your talent the most? Does it not itch you sometimes to play something else? At least on your public ladder history, support is your least played role. Is it just because support is frustrating to play in ranked?

In fact, I have had time to make progress in every single role because I often swapped whenever we had difficulty finding a player for a specific role that we lacked on the team, and I enjoyed learning to play different roles instead of forcing to stick to just one.When FaZe (formally WEUNITED) roster was finalized I ended up playing the Support role. Previously, I always liked playing fragging characters in other games, typically the ones with fast-paced movement and aggressive play style, but now I am fond of playing the Support role because, as well as any other role in Overwatch, Support has its own interesting aspects and difficulties that make it very enjoyable to play. Apart from everything, it's a competitive team game, therefore I am happy to play whatever my team needs in order to succeed because the most important is the overall team result.


FaZe finds themselves in an interesting situation as the Apex teams come back, other Europeans invade and some North American teams find their stride. At the same time you are playing at a constant ping disadvantage. It also seems that you are playing out of your element online, as your performances have historically been much better on LAN. In my humble estimation, the meta hasn’t been kind to your team either. How is the state of mind in the team? Is your team holding out for offline competitions where the real fame lies?

We obviously know that we are playing at a disadvantage, but we are minded to think that it is possible to get used to literally anything and it shouldn't be the reason for our failure. However, it brings some limitations into our game for now, especially when performing reactive actions, thus we need to position safer and play based on predicting, that makes us unable to go for some certain dangerous plays, and positional mistakes are more critical. Therefore it's very hard to achieve the stability within the dive comp while in this situation. On the positive side, this temporary disadvantage will end up making our play even stronger in the future because it is expected to be solved within the next few months by our organization.

FaZe is a different beast offline. Here we see Forsak3n in action on Hollywood against Rogue on Zen.

The World Cup is coming up once again and I imagine a Latvian such as yourself has to look at the concept with some disappointment, as it favours bigger nations in its qualifying structure. Could Latvia, a nation of barely two million people, field a serviceable team and if so which players would you pick? (Note: This interview was conducted before the top 32 nation cutoff)

I am looking forward to the Overwatch World Cup, especially after the great success it had last year. My chances to get into this competition are quite poor and it's unlikely to happen because Latvia is not even in top 50 as of now, though there are three pro players including me: Sharyk (from eUnited, formerly ANOX) and Clown (formerly LDLC, OWKings), and some players from less known teams. It would be an interesting experience to prepare together for this kind of a tournament and see where it would bring us to.


Let’s move into “The way of Zen”. The interviews in the essence of heroes are centred around specialists who get to play the hero they are most known for more than 80% of the time. According to Winston’s lab, you get to play Zen only 20% of the time with the rest mostly being Lucio. I still felt it you were the outstanding talent on the hero, especially when rewatching performances from the Overwatch Open. Flame aptly described you as “the Zen that throws atom bombs”. Your fragging and damage impact seemed extremely high. Why is a talent like yourself forced to play other heroes than Zenyatta?

In the previous patch, Zenyatta was a very situational hero mainly picked against Tank comp heroes as there was nothing affecting his survivability because he was able to maintain the distance, therefore Zenyatta could deal a lot of damage and put Orb of Discord on priority targets that was very dreadful for the tanks. At the same time, Zenyatta's heal was incomparable with Ana's, thus it was beneficial to run Zenyatta within the Dive comp. We found our results to be more consistent when playing around the Wipe Combos than hosting raw fights focusing discorded targets, therefore we picked Ana over Zenyatta and played around ShaDowBurn's Dragon Sword or Zombs' Visor. As for now, Zenyatta has a way higher popularity after new Lucio 2.0 patch.

For a while, Blizzard tested a buff to Orb of Discord on PTR which would allow the ability to be used on targets behind shields. Did you consider this to be overpowered? If so, how would it have broken him?

I think the buff would make a minor change for Zenyatta in terms of positioning when casting Orb of Discord at the beginning of the fight, but it's unnecessary because I can usually cast my Orb of Discord on one of the priority targets as soon as the fight starts, so the buff would only bring harder times for Reinhardt players.


Your ability to win duels when attacked in the backline particularly stands out. Have you found it to be harder to win duels against top notch Tracers and Genjis as the arms race of player skill is constantly stacked against Zenyatta? Should you even be able to win those fights?

Previously, when playing Zenyatta in the old dive during the ELEAGUE Overwatch Open times I could setup a comfortable and, at the same time, aggressive position where I could accept a duel from a detached player from his team with me having a great chance for the success or at least survival by getting back into safe position among my teammates with heal as a bait if I was to lose it. I have noticed that the very top DPS players started to use special timings and weaknesses of our team structure when aggressing on me, therefore I have to be more creative with positioning when being alone. Normally, fair duels should never happen because it's a mistake of giving a chance to lose a player unless it's a setup and there's a safe route for any situation.


Zenyatta shares some obvious synergie,s especially with flankers as they get to be healed for a while even outside of LOS without you having to sacrifice your positioning. That said, Orb of Harmony is fairly low upkeep and you probably don’t have to spend a lot of attention on your flanker. With that in mind, which hero do you think Zenyatta needs to work the most with in the typical composition? Who does he depend on the most?

In the current triple DPS-meta Zenyatta finds himself the most efficient when working with Soldier 76 by positioning together because they both can participate in the fight while keeping a relatively large distance and help each other in case of aggression, thus staying safe.


When you played Zenyatta in your team, were you the one calling the targets you discorded or were you mindful of the opponents your teammates were going to be able to hit and then reactively put Orb of Discord on them as your team was in the process of getting to them?

I usually try to discord predetermined easy targets or over-extenders as soon as we force the fight and repeat, so normally those are the same targets as people call they are on. If something is blocking my vision, I am discording whatever is left and dealing with it by myself.

And dealing with it he does...

Could you share one piece of tech with us. Something like a trick with Zen that you rarely see other people do or a specific position on a map you find Zen to be incredibly powerful at?

Yes, Orb Volley is OP, use it!

You are asked to create an RPG character for the game “Create the best Zenyatta player in the world”. You are allowed to spend 10 skill points and there are no limits as to how many you can spend in each category as long as the total sum is 10.

  1. Aim/Mechanical skill - 5
  2. Game sense - 4
  3. Shot calling - 1


Complete the sentence.

TwoEasy is ...

...choking on a toothbrush when cleaning his teeth

We are currently the most... 

...Russian team in NA

In a hypothetical scenario where my girlfriend and Shadowburn are fighting for their lives in deep water and I can only save one, I...

... would be playing MGE with ShaDowBurn :P


If you enjoyed this, make sure to check out the last part "The Art of Ana" with Chipshajen.

Keep current with all the latest competitive news via @GosuOverwatch on Twitter.


Is Zenyatta in a healthy spot now?

He's still too rarely picked. He needs a little help!
Thank you for voting!
He enjoys exactly the representation that a hero should have.
Thank you for voting!
Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch
Formerly a writer in WoW Arena. Now heavily emotionally invested in Overwatch. Really just a wiggle. Twitter:@Yiskaout Contact mail: [email protected]


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