Starcraft 2 Zealot Unit Counter

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Click Here to Get The Osiris MethodThe Zealot is a staple in the Protoss army. This melee fighter is used in virtually every ground-based Protoss army, if only to soak up damage for more powerful ranged units like the Colossus.

The Zealot's low cost, native armor of +1, Charge upgrade, and solid health totals make it relevant all game long. Since Zealots appear at all stages of the game in Starcraft 2, you will want to be sure to study and memorize these Zealot counters!

Protoss Zealot Counters

While Zealots can be easily countered by the Protoss player, their low cost makes them an appealing option. Even when you are using units that counter the Zealot, it is still sometimes wise for your opponent to incorporate the Zealots anyway. Zealots are cheap melee units with generous health totals, so they can serve as tanks for long range units. Here are the primary Zealot counters you can use to make sure these tanking Zealots do not stick around too long:

  • Stalker (early game): Before charge or before any other units come out, a well-microed Stalker is able to easily kite a Zealot without taking damage. Mastering this micro is essential to success in PvP.
  • Oracle (early game): While the Oracle is not used as a primary attacking force, it is good to know that the Oracle can quickly burn down Zealots (and Sentries) in the early game. If you can delay the Protoss opponent with early Gateway pressure and use this advantage to sneak out an early Oracle, it can be game over for the opponent.
  • Colossus: The Colossus is the primary means for Protoss players to counter mass Zealots. Players will need to protect their Colossus with ground forces of their own, as Colossi with no tanking units are very vulnerable.
  • Archon: Archons are a straight-forward Zealot counter. Zealots are considered biological so they take bonus damage against the Archon. The Archon's splash damage also increases its effectiveness against the Zealot. Be careful not to overproduce Archons since they are such large units that they might not all be able to get in range simultaneously.
  • Sentry: The Sentry does not counter the Zealot directly, but its Force Field ability can be used to protect vulnerable ranged units from the Zealot. Zealot armies can also be split in half with Force Field, making them easier for other Protoss units to handle.

To protect against Zealot backstab attacks, try to avoid maxing out as Protoss but rather leave your supply cap at around 185 out of 200. This gives you the opportunity to warp in reinforcements wherever you need them to stop enemy Zealot warp ins. If you max out, you lose this ability to warp units in to where you need them.

Terran Zealot Counters

With the release of Heart of the Swarm, the strength of the Zealot has diminished significantly in PvT. There are now just too many good Terran unit counters to the Zealot.

  • Hellbat: Hellbats absolutely shred Zealots, especially once the Zealot count increases. The splash damage from the Hellbats adds up as more and more Zealots enter the battle. If you are using mostly bio, you can still mix in some Hellbats to deal with Zealots. Make sure to get Infernal Pre-Igniter.
  • Hellion: In early game skirmishes, Hellions can fill the role of the Hellbat as a Zealot counter. Hellbats do the job better once you form a large unit ball. Kiting is required to make the Hellion work.
  • MMM: While normally Marines and Marauders will lose to Zealots, with Medivac support and good shoot-and-scoot micro, bio ground units can actually counter Zealots.
  • Ghost: Ghosts deal bonus damage to light units, and with EMP, it only takes a handful of Ghost shots to take down a Zealot. While Ghosts cannot tank Zealot damage, it is surprising how quickly Zealots are burned down by Ghosts which have Marauders in front of them to soak up damage.
  • Banshee: Banshees are fast enough and do meaningful enough DPS that ignoring the Banshee while trying to do damage with the Zealot does not work out very well. The Battlecruiser is too slow to chase down Zealots and can be ignored by a Protoss player with good micro.
  • Thor: The Thor dominates the Zealot on a supply for supply basis, but Thors are also a lot more expensive than Zealots.

Even bio players should add in a couple of Hellbats to help counter Zealots. You do not need vehicle upgrades for Hellbats to be effective against Zealots.

Zerg Zealot Counters

Zealots are just like a high powered, slower, and more expensive Zergling. As a result, the same units that are good against the Zergling tend to do well against the Zealot.

  • Roach: Roaches are good versus Zealots because of the +1 armor and high HP total. The native +1 armor reduces Zealot damage by 2 since the Zealot has 2 attacks with each swing. Kite with the Roaches for best results.
  • Zerglings: When upgrades are equal, 4 Zerglings takes down 1 Zealot. When the Protoss player's weapon upgrades reach one point higher than the Zerg's ground carapace, Zerglings start to lose very quickly against Zealots. Keep that in mind.
  • Roach & Hydralisk: Hydralisks deal a ton of DPS, but get chewed up by Zealots. Roaches in front of the Hydralisks can help soak up damage while the Hydralisks dish out the DPS.
  • Ultralisk: A hard Zealot counter. A few Ultralisks can take down a dozen Zealots with no problem. The native armor of the Ultralisk significantly reduces Zealot damage.
  • Brood Lords: Like any ground unit that cannot hit air units, the Zealot is countered handily by the Brood Lord.
  • Swarm Host: Zealots are not fast enough to meaningfully catch up to Swarm Hosts, allowing Swarm Hosts to use several waves of Locusts before the Zealots ever get in range. Since Locusts do well against Zealots, no Zealots ever get in range.

While Banelings specialize in destroying light melee ground units, they are too expensive to be a true Zealot counter. It is much cheaper and more efficient just to use Roaches.

Mutalisks are not great against Zealots since Zealots can easily ignore Mutalisk damage for a long time before being taken down. Zealots have high DPS and can cause a lot of damage. Add a Spine Crawler or two at each base to help prevent Zealot backstab attacks.

Video Guide: Zealot Unit Counters in Action

The video below demonstrates some of the micro required to counter the Zealot with units of all races.

"Shoot and scoot" micro should always be used with ranged units against Zealots, even after the Zealots have Charge.


Zealots are easy to counter with all three races. Just make sure you do not focus all your damage on the enemy's Zealots while their more powerful units like the High Templar and Colossus go unchecked.

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