The fight for the Holy Grail is on! Released in 2011, Fate/Zero is a historical fiction anime in which 7 Masters summon 7 Servants to participate in the Fourth Holy Grail War. Centuries ago, the Einzbern, Tohsaka, and Matou families created the war in order to obtain the Holy Grail, an omnipotent wish-fulfilling machine. Set in 1994, this anime takes place a decade before the events in Fate/Stay Night. Not only are the majority of the Masters skilled magi, but the Servants are also amazingly powerful Heroic Spirits throughout all of history. So, who is the strongest participant in the Holy Grail War? Keep reading to find out!
10 Kariya Matou
Master of Berserker, Kariya was a late addition to the Masters as a result of his disinterest in learning magic. However, upon learning that his adoptive niece was being torturously trained in his place, he agreed to partake in the war and win the Holy Grail for his twisted father.
In order to catch up to the other Master's magic capabilities, his body is infused with crest worms which literally eat him alive from the inside out. After 1 year of enduring this, "half of his limbs become dysfunctional and distorted, resulting in a limp. He has a sickly pale complexion brought on by the constant deterioration of his health." Even though they essentially destroy his body, when the war begins his mage craft is not much less than his opponents. But since he summons the energy-draining Berserker, he is not able to provide enough energy for the Servant to survive. Despite being one of the weakest masters in skill and experience, his strong conviction and large pain threshold allowed him to persevere for as long as he did.
9 Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald
A 5th generation nobleman from the Magus Association, Kayneth was a confident genius in multiple areas of mage craft. His Volumen Hydrargyrum, an offensive and defensive shapeless mercury, caused some issue for the other Masters to the point that Kiritsugu considered him a threat. However, Kayneth's cowardice and arrogance was his biggest downfall.
Kayneth would hide away and make his Servant Lancer fight without him present. Their differing methods of fighting ultimately ended with Kayneth betraying his Servant to save himself -- that didn't quite work in his favor, and he perished for it. The only redeeming aspect of this man was his tremendous magic skill and expertise.
8 Gilles de Rais, Bluebeard (Caster)
The first Servant to make this list is the sadistic killer Gilles de Rais. Paired with a serial killer as his Master, the two are a creepy couple. They bond "through over-extravagant and unorthodox methods of murder" and, though both are relatively weak respectively, they become a threat due to their recklessness and insanity.
Caster evades both Saber and Lancer, who are considerably stronger than him, and even puts up a resistance difficult to defeat. In his final battle, he manifests a giant monster with that is only able to be taken out with Saber's Excalibur.
7 Kotomine Kirei
At the beginning of this series, Kotomine Kirei was a hopeless and unhappy individual, unable to understand himself or others, often questioning the nature of his existence. When he was picked by the Grail to participate in the war, he studied magic under Tohsaka Tokiomi, though he was perplexed with why he was chosen in the first place.
He was initially the master of Assassin until the Servant was defeated, then began to scheme with Tokiomi's Servant Archer. After murdering his mentor Tokiomi to become Archer's Master, Kirei begins to understand that the only thing that brings him happiness in life is the pain of others.
His lack of fulfillment in life allowed him to fight without hesitation or fear, making him extremely capable in both combat and physical ability. His Black Keys "boast great power and a high difficulty to master, so [he] is a strong and rare expert at utilizing them in battle" and his Super Bajiquan fighting style is expertly unparalleled. This man is definitely not someone easily defeated.
6 Emiya Kiritsugu
Also known as the Magus Killer, Kiritsugu was adopted into the Einzbern family to win the Holy Grail for them. From a young age, catastrophe and despair have followed him, forcing him to kill his father, his mother-like-mentor, and basically anyone he has ever loved. His dream to become a "Hero of Justice", a person that could save everyone, ended "as it was impossible to save one person without losing another".
Kiritsugu was trained in magic, assassination, and various arsenal of weaponry. He is known to be calculating and emotionless. A natural rivalry between him and Kirei occurs, and the two fight fairly evenly before Kiritsugu gains the upper hand on him.
5 Lancelot, Knight of the Lake (Berserker)
Kariya's Servant Berserker is a literal beast. The strongest class of the 7 Servants, he is summoned with Mad enhancement, which turned him into an unreasoning and forceful fighter. In life, Lancelot was one of Artoria's Knights, but after having an affair with her Queen, he desired to be punished for his misdeeds. Instead, his King forgave him. When Artoria died, Lancelot descended into madness. "Seeking punishment for his actions, he was forgiven by the one person who he desired it from the most. The wretchedness he felt from that simple act was overwhelming.”
As a result of being in the war with Saber, Berserker was incredibly hard to control, disobeying orders from his Master by going after Saber. He was able to hold his own against Gilgamesh, a feat not many can accomplish, and had an especially strong Noble Phantasm that allowed him to fight with almost any object or weapon.
In his final battle, he was close to defeating Saber, but his Master ran out of mana to provide for him, so Saber was able to land a killing blow. Lancelot was a loyal and just knight in the end. He was the 5th Servant to die in the Holy Grail War.
4 Diarmuid Ua Duibhne (Lancer)
This handsome knight lead a rather tragic life. Honorable and chivalrous, Diarmuid was put under a geis, a curse to forcing him to run away with his Lord Fionn's wife. After pursuing the runaways and much bloodshed, his Lord decided to accept their marriage and welcome them back home. While hunting with his Fionn, Diarmuid was fatally injured in a boar attack. His Lord had healing abilities that could have saved Diarmuid from death but was unable to see past the knight's transgressions.
Servant of Kayneth and his fiancée Sola-Ui, Diarmuid has a strained relationship with his Master. They distrust one another and have conflicting ideologies about how to fight in the war. Diarmuid had several opportunities to land fatal blows upon Saber and Kiritsugu but refused to go against his knightly code of battle. He had 2 Noble Phantasms, "Gae Buidhe, a spear that makes any wounds caused by it unhealable, and Gae Dearg, a spear that pierces through mana," both of which are on par with Berserker, Saber, and help in defeating Caster.
The only reason Diarmuid died when he did was because of his Master's desire to protect himself and forsake the Grail, forcing his own Servant to commit suicide. Remember the rage of Diarmuid!
3 Iskandar/Alexander the Great (Rider)
The King of Conquerors, Iskandar the Great was the young Prince of Macedonia in the 4th Century BC. He both trained as a soldier and studied philosophy as well, powerful in both strength and mind. He was the leader of the largest empire in history, extending his reign to Corinth and Persia. His goal was to make it as far East as possible: "I want to behold Oceanus with my own two eyes. I want to leave my footprints at the beach beside that endless sea.”
His 2 Noble Phantasms are nothing to scoff at. His most powerful is Ionioi Hetairoi: Army of the King, a Reality Marble with an army of every soldier that, after dying and becoming a Heroic Spirit, continues to follow his lead. He defeats Assassin with this move and is even able to match the strength of Gilgamesh with it.
Iskandar was a proud King, a marvelous leader who fought and lived his life valiantly.
2 Artoria Pendragon, King Arthur (Saber)
Fate/Zero reimagines the mythic legend of King Arthur as Artoria Pendragon, the King of Knights. Her gender was irrelevant because she was the noblest and most self-sacrificing knight to ever live. However, she concealed her gender from the world, marrying a woman and keeping her title of King. At her death, "she reflected on her personal failures, regretting her life as King."
Servant of Kiritsugu during the 4th Holy Grail War, Saber was significantly more skilled than most of the other Servants. She matched Lancer and Rider equally and defeated both Caster and Berserker. Moreover, her capabilities in the war are not as powerful as in real life: "she is not able to achieve the power she had during life...Kiritsugu could not provide sufficient Magical Energy." Essentially, no Master can keep up with her outstanding abilities.
Saber desired the Holy Grail in order to change her country's history and likely would have won against Archer if Kiritsugu did not force her to destroy the Grail using her Noble Phantasm Excalibur instead. She was the 6th and final Servant to die in the War.
1 Gilgamesh (Archer)
You mongrel, of course, Gilgamesh is the most powerful character in Fate/Zero! The King of Heroes was the ruler of ancient Mesopotamia, 2/3 God and 1/3 human. During the war, he rarely goes all out, believing that fighting seriously is beneath him. Though his hubris and arrogance are not unfounded: his legend is the origin upon which every hero is based. Gate of Babylon, his Noble Phantasm, is one of the strongest in the war. "The heroes of various myths are derived from his legend, so his Gate of Babylon possesses all of their Noble Phantasms."
Archer respects Saber and Rider and deems them worthy of his attention, though he is undeniably the strongest of them all. "Gilgamesh is the most powerful existence among the Servants in both the Fourth and Fifth Holy Grail War and the strongest Heroic Spirit."