While he expertly wields the powers of the Void, it is his wisdom that earns him the respect of the Koprulu sector’s greatest leaders – despite his penchant for dramatic entrances.
Long ago the Protoss exiled the Dark Templar from their ranks after they refused to join in the newly established mind link that would merge the race into one consciousness. The Dark Templar were forced to wander the void in search of a new home, and in doing so they gained new powers from the Xel’Naga – the power to control darkness and minds. For millennia Zeratul and his people refined their new abilities from the shadows, biding their time as the universe descended into chaos. When the Zerg destroyed the Protoss home world of Aiur – shattering the mind link – the Dark Templar were forced to respond in aid of their brothers, and Zeratul lead the mission to save as many Protoss as he could. It was then that he ascended his people’s exile and forged a new alliance between the two factions.
Now he watches the events of the universe unfold from the shadows, for they are his allies and doorways for him to open. As a melee assassin hero, Zeratul uses the shadows as his weapon to sneak up on unsuspecting enemies to quickly dispatch them before they realize what has happened. Indeed, Zeratul has his Permanent Cloak ability that will automatically turn him invisible once out of combat, and is the focus of his entire play style as he must use stealth and speed to avoid detection and damage. Zeratul can also use his Blink ability freely while cloaked – or otherwise – to quickly move around the battlefield for position and evasion.
Once in position he can unleash his quick Cleave attack that spins his powerful Psyblade to damage all surrounding foes. The attack can be buffed with talents to do additional damage when used while stealthed, and adding damage over time effect to those affected. Cleave scales very well with Zeratul’s level and by the end of the game it can quickly dispatch weaker heroes on the enemy team.
Along with his stealth, Cleave is complimented by Singularity Spike, a psychic attack that will stick to the first target it comes in contact with to damage and slow their movement speed. With talents the Spike can be fired multiple times and done while in the cover of shadows to aid in the setup of a kill. Timing the attack is important as there is a slight delay on its damage and an observant foe will recognize this and enact defensive measures.
Zeratul has two great Ultimate Abilities, both with their own purpose and it is up to your play style to decide which of the two choices you go with for your games. First up is Void Prison that traps all targets – friend and foe – for five seconds, while trapped they are invulnerable and unable to move. The prison is a good way to control a group fight that is getting out of hand, or a great way for you to escape harm should you be caught out of position. Then there is Shadow Assault that grants Zeratul the power of the void and his basic attacks will cause him to charge his enemies with an increased attack speed for six seconds. Both Prison and Assault have excellent max level talents that compliment them well. The Prison can be buffed to no longer trap your allies, and Assault can gain life stealing effects while lasting three seconds longer.
When playing Zeratul it’s not entirely your job to clear and push lanes, although you should help when you can. No you are there to harass enemy heroes and get kills as you bounce between lanes, and you will be even more effective when setting up attacks with your allies. Most of his talents will buff first hit out of stealth and add damage to his melee attack, and as such you should focus on quick burst damage before you blink away from harm. Shadow Assault will kill a lot of heroes when activated at the right time, but should you be caught out of stealth early you’ll crumble fast. Your team will have to compensate for the lack of a body on the lanes and as such you’ll need to rack up hero damage and kills to validate your absence from the lanes.
When playing with friends you will want to set up the team to compliment Zeratul, and this means adding tanks and controllers while avoiding specialist like the Siege Tank and Abathur. Team fights will come down to how many bodies are on the field to soak up damage and having a specialist and Zeratul will hurt your team and make it easier for the enemy to focus down your tanks. From level one he can pump out some serious damage and it is your job to constantly push the enemy out of their lanes while avoiding your own death. He’s a blast to play if you get his timings down, and he’ll easily pick up solo kills if you catch the enemy out of position. Be patient and get to ganking.
Remember the best piece of advice an assassin can ever hear: “ dead rogue does no damage.”