Overwatch Sombra – Playing the Game’s Most Tactically Powerful Hero

Overwatch Sombra is an offensive hero with advanced stealth capabilities, and who uses electromagnetic energy to disable enemy shields. She can also hack opponents. Sombra additionally has an ability that allows her to see her opponents, even through walls, if their hit points have fallen to less than fifty percent.

Overwatch Sombra is the ultimate lurker hero

If you feel that you have the soul of a hacker, and like lurking in the shadows, you will do colossal damage to the enemy team with this character. Sombra’s gameplay is very distinctive. You cannot, for example, like Reaper, remain in plain sight. Your goal is to wreak havoc during team battles by using your hacking or EMP to help your allies eliminate everyone. You must focus upon limiting the abilities of powerful heroes like Genji, upon whom your own abilities are most effective.

Your role is really to flank the opposition

The enemy team must never know where you are, and only if you can do this can you develop Sombra to her full potential. One especially effective tactic is to hack the aid packs behind the enemy team. Without support, or the ability to heal themselves, it will be impossible for their tanks to maintain their defense. However, you also need to be very careful, as Sombra is a fragile hero.

Overwatch Sombra has only 200 health points

Although her invisibility is quite practical, it rarely saves you in a fire zone. This is because Sombra immediately becomes visible if she takes damage, so if an enemy team blankets an area with fire or delivers AOE damage, Sombra’s invisibility will immediately vanish.

Never forget that the vision of certain heroes like Hanzo or Widowmaker can easily spot Sombra. On many such occasions, your translocator will be the difference between death or survival, so you must place it with some care.

Sombra’s Debut

When Sombra first came out, her ability to hack opposing heroes and aid packs, as well as to become invisible or hack an entire team with her ultimate ability gave the impression that the hero was overpoweringly powerful. However, in reality she is not so. Sombra has an interesting game mechanic with her hacking, but when you consider that she is actually a very difficult character to play, you realize that this character has been carefully balanced with the other Overwatch characters.

Sombra’s competitive debut took place at the first OGN Overwatch Apex tournament in South Korea, where EscA and Lunatic Hai had already secured their places for the play-offs. At that time Sombra had just come out, and as the game was not a high stakes match, EscA simply decided to experiment with the new character. He quickly died twice and then changed heroes. What EscA did not know is that Sombra comes into her own on maps like Anubis and two-point capture maps.

The reason people had problems playing Overwatch Sombra initially is simple

The character lacks pure damage and the ability to take hits. Sombra, while she does exceedingly well in offense and support, lacks the heavy offense kit of other DPS heroes. Her only offensive capability is her main weapon. In fact, the first uses of Sombra in competitive play were when Asian teams began to use her as a unique support hero. The fact that her capabilities allow aid packs to reload faster for her own team while negating them for the opposition, and the ability to easily disable Reinhardt’s shield or Genji’s mobility is very interesting. Nevertheless, many pro teams do not care for the complex play mechanics of this hero.

Overwatch Sombra posing


Overwatch Sombra reborn

When Blizzard saw that pro teams were avoiding Sombra, they gave her some major buffs. For one thing, they shortened the cooldown of her hack to just 8 seconds.

She was also given light buffs on her ability to hack healing packs, and her translocator. Another ability that makes Sombra more powerful is that hacked aid packs are now visible to your allies through walls. The fact that the cooldown of the translocator has been reduced to just six seconds gives Sombra even more opportunity to fill up her ultimate ability and be a real game changer.

Coordinating with your team

Overwatch Sombra is difficult to play because she is a low-damage hero who requires clear and meticulous team coordination. Nevertheless, with the buffs that Blizzard has given the character, Sombra has really attained her true potential. She is an effective choice for both attack and defense on Anubis, and other maps where there are two points to capture. Taking control of the aid packs on the map allows her to easily fulfill her role of secondary support, as well as allowing her to quickly charge her ultimate ability.

Charging Overwatch Sombra’s Ultimate Ability

Since Sombra’s ultimate ability is by far the one that loads the fastest in the game, she can have it in reserve and ready to use during each push, if her team wins the first fight.

It becomes almost impossible to pass for the opposing team, since each fight will start with Sombra hacking the entire opposing team, and with them having no ulties to exploit. The Taiwanese team Flash Wolves were one of the first teams to use this tactic. They showed how difficult it is to pass in front of a well-placed Sombra.

Maps in which Sombra dominates

Overwatch Sombra works particularly well when defending the second point of Anubis and the first point of Volskaya. But she is very useful when attacking the first point of all point capture maps as well, since she can break a defense like no other with her EMP. Shields and ultimate defenses can be neutralized while your own team moves on the point easily.

Sombra can also be very good in defense on the first point of the Numbani and King’s Row hybrid maps. There are many aid packs on these maps that you can control to limit the options of the opposing team. Pro teams are starting use Sombra on some control maps like Oasis’s University and Nepal’s Sanctuary for similar reasons.

Overwatch Sombra in combat


Sombra’s Skills

Sombra’s main weapon is a submachine gun that has a damage falloff, that is to say, it is far more effective at short and, to some extent, at medium range, while being more or less ineffective at long range. The gun work on the left click.

Hacking works on the right click, and is useful because it prevents an enemy from using his skills temporarily, and can be used on health packs to make sure they spawn faster for your allies or are corrupted for your opponents.

Stealth, which is activated using the left-shift, makes Sombra invisible, and increases her movement speed. The translocator allows Sombra to teleport back to it regardless of her position on the map. Finally, the EMP is a shockwave of electromagnetic energy that paralyzes the skills of all your opponents and removes their shields.

Overwatch Sombra primary weapon


Hacking

Overwatch Sombra has the ability to hack her opponents and temporarily deprive them of their abilities, or corrupt aid packs. This prevents enemies from using them. However, they will appear more frequently for your team. Do bear in mind that if you take damage while you are hacking, the hacking is interrupted and is unsuccessful. Also remember that you can hack Torbjörn’s turret. The turret is deactivated for a moment, which is quite enough time to completely destroy it. The hacking has a cooldown of about 8 seconds, while the time required to hack a target is 0.8 seconds.

Hacking Health packs

When Overwatch Sombra hacks a health pack, it reappears three times faster for your teammates, and is unusable to players of the opposing team for a specific period of time. As soon as Sombra hacks the pack, she and her opponent can see a skull displayed above the pack representing that the effects of the hacking will remain on the health pack. The skull acts like a timer. As the skull loses its color, that indicates the time that remains until the pack reactivates for all players on both sides. Sombra’s hacked health packs can be seen through the walls by her allies.

You can hack the same pack again when there is only 20% of the hack time remaining. However, do bear in mind that a health pack that has already been hacked by a Sombra on the opposite team cannot then be hacked by a Sombra on your team until the timer expires.

Overwatch Sombra hacked health pack


Stealth

Sombra becomes invisible for around 8 seconds and her speed increases considerably. The stealth ability is disabled if you attack, use offensive abilities, or take damage. The cooldown of this ability is 6 seconds. Note that turrets cannot target Sombra when she is stealth mode.


Translocator

Sombra launches a translocator beacon to which she can teleport instantly while it is active, even if the beacon is still in the air. The beacon remains active for 15 seconds. The cooldown of this ability is 4 seconds. Enemies cannot destroy your translocator beacon. However, do bear in mind that they can target it with their weapons and shoot you when you actually teleport.


Sombra’s passive ability

Sombra has a passive ability that allows her to detect enemies with less than 50% of their health points through walls. This allows your team to have continues cognisance of wounded enemies, thus allowing your team to target them and take them out.


EMP

Sombra can generate a broad wave of electromagnetic energy that disables enemy shields and hacks all adversaries within the area of effect. This ability, triggered at the right time, can easily break an opposing team’s defense, or shatter an enemy combo, even if from such potent heroes as Zarya and Pharah.


Some tips while playing Overwatch Sombra

While everyone knows that hacked health packs that are used by allies come back faster, what is not commonly known is that each hacked health pack that is used actually contributes to Sombra’s ultimate ability.

While using stealth, remember that exiting from stealth takes a small amount of time, during which you are relatively helpless, so you should ensure that you are not directly in front of an opponent, or in a vulnerable position when you exit from stealth.

Remember that the translocator is primarily an avenue of escape. The best combination to use the translocator with is to hack a health pack and then to put the translocator beacon on it. You then have 15 seconds to lead an assault, with the insurance that you can teleport to the health pack in case of danger.

Since your ultimate attack, the EMP, is an area of effect attack, it is best used while in the midst of your enemies. The best method is to go into stealth mode and throw your translocator into the middle of a group of enemies and then teleport to it while it is in the air and activate the EMP.

Overwatch Sombra hacking


Sombra’s weaknesses

Without an exit translocator handy, Sombra is very fragile, and will usually not be able to escape if she is caught in a cross fire by a group of enemies. This is especially true because her stealth mode vanishes if she suffers damage. Therefore you must always remember that Sombra can only play effectively when in perfect co-ordination with her team. Without this co-ordination, even Sombra’s ultimate attack is not of much use. This is entirely a hero that depends upon team play and cannot possibly go solo.


Synergies with Sombra

D.Va

In Overwatch D.Va is an extremely mobile character, and this allows her to quickly assist an infiltrated Sombra who has been spotted. But above all, a team that protects themselves under Reinhardt’s shield when D.Va uses her ultimate can find themselves suddenly defenseless when Sombra deactivates the shield.

Roadhog

When Sombra hacks Reinhardt, Roadhog can easily snag the hero with his steel hook.

Zarya

Zarya’s graviton orb pairs very well with the EMP, making sure that all the players caught in the area of effect are unable to defend themselves for a considerable period of time. If the combo between these two heroes is timed right, the enemy will be completely destroyed without any means of defense being possible.

The EMP can similarly leave enemy teams defenseless against other powerful heroes on your side. For example, your EMP can leave opponents defenseless against a Reaper. The EMP also cancels out all shield and barriers making opposing heroes that depend upon these for their survival extremely vulnerable. For a concrete example, Zenyatta loses all of of its shield points, without any possibility of transcending.


Overwatch Sombra is strong against…

Sombra can be a formidable weapon against most enemy defenses because of her EMP or hacking capability. She can spell the destruction of an entire team.

Mercy

Mercy is especially vulnerable to Sombra, as if she is hacked her entire team loses support.

Tracer and Doomfist

If Sombra hacks Tracer or Doomfist they become easy target for your allies.

Overwatch Sombra art


Sombra’s weaknesses and counters…

Widowmaker

Widowmaker’s ultimate ability, infra-sight, reveals the location of all opposing heroes, which includes a Sombra in stealth. This ensure that Sombra loses the element of surprise that is her strength. Hanzo also has this capability – to a lesser extent – with his sonic arrow.

Junkrat

With his traps and grenades, Junkrat can easily interfere with Sombra’s tactics, and neutralize her quickly.

Winston

Winston’s tesla cannon is a good counter to Sombra, as it can easily flush out a Sombra trying to escape or even target a Sombra approaching in stealth mode. In addition, Winston has enough mobility to hunt down a Sombra who is trying to escape.

Pharah

Sombra will find it extremely difficult to counter a Pharah who is flying through the air. Sombra’s submachine gun does not have sufficient range to reach a Pharah in the air, and it is almost impossible for a Sombra to kill a Pharah in the air if she has not hacked her beforehand. When you consider that Sombra has only 200 life points, she can effortlessly be obliterated if even two of Pharah’s rockets reach their target.


The future of Sombra

Sombra has continued to gain in popularity, but it is unlikely that she will often be used on convoy maps such as Dorado or Gibraltar, due to the fact that those maps have large open spaces and very few health packs. Not everyone can play Sombra effectively, which prevents many teams from using her as a complementary DPS.

Nevertheless, pro teams around the world realize that this hero has tremendous potential in many situations. As Sombra begins to be played increasingly in the Overwatch Apex, the best Overwatch Championship in the world, she is far more likely to become a fixture in team arsenals around world. In a coordinated pro team, Sombra can be used effectively for offense or defense.

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