Is Sombra Weak? Is Sombra Bad? No, YOU ARE: A Second Guide to Sombra

Is Sombra Weak? Is Sombra Bad? No, YOU ARE: A Second Guide to Sombra

Pls no Sombra. Sombra is weak. I'm throwing the game. We are losing thanks to Sombra. Don't play Sombra in competitive.

I've got enough of this shit and I'm really angry now. Winston ain't got nothin' on me.

2 months ago I started focusing on Ana, because I realized how strong she was. I even said in one of Reddit AMA's that she's fucking OP and when people realize that, she'll be EVERYWHERE.

I got downvoted to hell and laughed at (this is happening with Sombra too now :) ). 

Ana was strong even when she was released, Blizzard knew that. And yet they had to buff her significantly, because low-skilled crybabies in a big amount cried that she was weak. What we ended with is a granny monster that is an 100% pick in every match.

Blizzard KNEW how the Biotic Grenade was and didn't want to buff Ana at all - but they listen to the community so intensely they decided to indulge us and deal with the monster they created on our own. 

The same stuff is happening with Sombra now. Believe me - if Blizzard buffed Sombra significantly, she'd become totally obnoxious. And yet when I take her into competitive I have to leave chat most of the time, because people are exploding and pushing me off her, even if I have 30+ hours play time on her since release (The golden weapon helps to calm them somewhat).

If you're looking for a basic guide to Sombra, you will find it here. This is an advanced rant with advanced strategies and angry sentences.

There are countless threads and comments like "How to make Sombra viable" and "Why is Sombra so weak" and "Sombra is just a useless Tracer" and "We don't have a slot for Sombra in our composition" both on Reddit and official forums. 

I'm here to say this:


Yes, Sombra is a difficult character with high skill floor and rewards game sense more than raw aim. This is a problem for bronze, silver and gold players, since game sense is something that people start using in platinum ranks and higher. That's why for majority of people she looks weak - they think you just need to go invis, kill everybody and teleport back.

I agree with the sentiment that Sombra isn't really weak. Her kit is more based towards her Ultimate, and having a more unreliable base kit. This is similar to Symmetra/Mercy where the emphasis on their kits are their Ults. That isn't to say that Sombra is weak simply because she shares the same structure as them, who are comparatively weaker than their fellow supports.
Basically, Sombra is a hero who is very reliant on team coordination, similar to Mercy. Her effectiveness is severely limited if you don't play on a sufficiently large party size. Don't really bother with her in soloq, unless you really want to use EMP to break a defensive hold. She's considerably weaker in uncoordinated teams, and thus her perceived weakness. That's not to say that she's bad. It's just that she requires a whole team geared towards her playstyle and composition to be fully effective with her, kinda like el Presidente, but better.

- Sandshrewz

The problem isn't the hero's stats though. It's the skill of the player.

Please, read this before reacting

This guide / rant / essay doesn't argue that Sombra is the best hero ever now. Sombra will probably never be a pick like Soldier: 76 who is viable in every mode, composition and map. She is not a solo queue hero. A team or a Sombra player that doesn't communicate will make Sombra useless.

I argue that the big majority of cries of "sombra weak, sombra bad" comes from players who aren't familiar with Sombra's real playstyle. It comes from players who tried her for 1 - 2 hours, played her like a Spy or Tracer and failed miserably.

She is not overbuffed to the level of Soldier or Ana that she'd be viable every time. No, she's a specialist who you use when the need arises. I'm not saying she's ridiculously strong. 

I'm saying that she's not bad or weak. I'm saying that if you think that, you just don't know how to play her properly.

Now, with this out of my system, let's go through the reasons, explanations and myths surrounding Sombra, so we can all agree that 99% of Overwatch playerbase is talking out of its ass.

P.S. One final thing - as with every hero, if you're not pulling your weight, switch to another one. I am NOT saying you should be playing Sombra all the time in every composition, on every map. If you're not doing good, switch.

First, how about you watch this competitive solo-queue, Sombra-only footage / montage or Codey, the best Sombra ranked GM 11? I'll wait right here.

Done? Let's begin debunking all the stupid shit you've got in your head about Sombra which is completely false.

1. "Sombra is just a worse Tracer"

Fuck me, how do I hate this sentence with all my passion! I've seen it probably a gazillion times by now and holy Mother of Boobs and Teacups, how completely wrong it is!

Sombra and Tracer have only 4 things in common.

  • First, the ability to get out of a fight instantly.
  • Second, they are both labeled as "offense".
  • Third, both their ultimates charge crazy fast.
  • Fourth, they are both female.

Here is where the similarities END. Okay, both can do this, I'll give you that.

Tracer can't get behind an enemy team undetected if they are looking at the chokepoint or have their audio enabled. Sombra can.

Tracer can't wait behind enemy lines in a weird position for a fight to break out, hack somebody, damage somebody and teleport to safety behind her own team. Sombra can.

Tracer can't instantly teleport to high ground while invisible to surprise her prey while it's focused on a teamfight somewhere else. Sombra can.

Tracer can't disable all defense mechanisms against your ultimates. Sombra can.

Tracer can't make enemy flankers' lives hell by denying them Medpacks. Sombra can.

Tracer can't get immortal just by standing near a hacked Medpack. Sombra can.

Tracer can't disable Reinhardt (and stopping him mid-charged) and D.VA, making them completely useless. Sombra can.



2. But, "Sombra can't 1v1 assasinate people!"

Well, duh! She isn't supposed to! And even then, she most certainly can. It's just you probably suck at tracking.

Yes, it's a bit harder to kill a target with Sombra when compared to a Tracer or Genji or Soldier, but using this argument is stupid. It's like saying "Winston has such weak damage he can't kill anybody" when it's. not. his. job.

You are supposed to be the cheating guy who shoots at enemies from positions they don't expect. You are supposed to be ready in positions where it's easy to finish off a target that got hit by a random poke shot. You are supposed to charge your ultimate by poking, peeking, doing hit n' run, hacking Reapers, Genjis, D.VAs, Reinhardts and Zaryas, not dying, laughing at your opponents and then blasting them off the map with EMP when your team is ready.

And even then, she is quite able to kill unsuspecting characters. Zenyatta's death is whimsical when I get a jump on him, Mercy gets hacked and shot to death, hacked Ana can't do jack shit against me. Torb is as good as dead, D.VA and Roadhog are huge ultimate sponges.

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3. "Sombra's weapon sucks!"

It might get repetitive, but no, YOU suck. 

Yes, the spread is there and it takes longer to deal the same damage other classes can, but try shooting it into a tank. She's almost like Reaper in that regard. Of course you'll have problems with characters that have small models, but everyone has that problem except Soldier and McCree - which is how it should be, since every hero needs his own special place and area of expertise.

Personally, I think the damage will get buffed at some point due to all of the crying, but it's quite good as it is. I have zero problems killing people with Sombra.

4. "There is no slot in a competitive team for Sombra"

Here's a Sombra main with 63% winrate on her. How is it possible, if she's so weak?

You're damn right there FUCKING IS. 

Ever tried Sombra + Widow + Roadhog + Zarya on attack? Or Winston + Zarya + Sombra + Genji? Or even Rein + D.VA + Soldier + Sombra?

No? Then stop pretending like you have all the answers, because you most certainly don't. I know I know, the META! Remember that time when Zarya wasn't in the meta and nobody played her? Season 1 anyone? Yeah, thought so.

Sombra is A-okay as a second DPS when the Sombra player knows how to play with the team and stop doing the "place TL, get behind enemies, try to get a pick, fail" stuff. She is not the fucking TF2 Spy people! Stop playing her like him or Tracer goddammit!

She can even take a space of a support if your team knows how to fight near Medpacks. Or a tank, if she hacks D.VAs and Reinhardts regularly.

5. "Sombra requires a coordinated team :("

If by "coordinated" you mean telling your teammates that you have EMP ready + wait for the teamfight initiation and calling out hacked targets and medpacks, it's the same stuff as Zarya + Hanzo ult, Zarya + Pharah, Reinhard + Soldier etc etc.

Yes, you should be using Sombra's hacked packs (which even at high Diamond doesn't happen if I don't remind my team of the fact 5x) and shoot the guy she hacked or shoot enemies when the shield is hacked but that's about the highest coordination requirement she needs. 

Actually, you don't even have to tell her somebody is low to go and finish him, since she sees that automatically. 

6. "Pros don't play her, so she isn't good!"

Well, here you'd be completely wrong, since they do play her (FaZe used her in the monthly melee on Anubis and Hollywood, Fnatic used her successfully in 2CP attack at Dreamhack adn Complexity play her almost every match) and I have another point to make. 

Strategies on pro level develop over time. It takes months to test a new hero and its synergy with the old cast, when even 1 change makes the whole lineup perform in a totally different way - and that's with not taking counters, maps and modes into account.

7. "If she's not bad, why does she have such atrocious winrate in competitive?"

Because of the exact reasons I'm writing above. People suck with her and people suck with playing with her on their teams. 99% of playerbase doesn't understand the correct Sombra playstyle and thus can't adapt to it.

Another reason why she has low winrate is that almost nobody practices her. Why should they? It's much more efficient to invest the time into perfecting Soldier or McCree who are viable in every mode, in every team, on every map. 

Nobody put practice in Ana when she was released, because they believed she sucked. Her winrate proved that! The only problem with winrates is it's only numbers and as such very liable in interpretation. Of course a newly released hero will have atrocious winrate numbers when there aren't people who can play him and teams that can play with him!

Until the hero gets overbuffed, the playerbase will not want to have anything to do with him, because it's simply not worth the time that could be better spent by winning with Soldier or D.VA.

How EXACTLY then should I play Sombra? Can you provide some more specific pointers to what to do and what not to do?

Glad you asked. Yes, I can and I will. Thank you for your interest.

Example: Hanamura Defense A

  1. Go invis and throw the translocator directly in the room above the big medpack (which should already be hacked) in the house where Widows usually shoot from.
  2. Teleport there and wait for the cooldown or for the enemy Widow, who you can kill for lulz.
  3. When the enemy team starts poking through the choke, throw the TL back to safety and start hacking Reinhardt or Zarya or DVA. Then, start shooting and as soon as they notice you (all this usually takes at least 6 - 7 seconds if they EVER notice you before you kill somebody) teleport back to your team and heal up. 

You'll be surprised how much ultimate charge you'll get and how effective you can be in preventing enemy attack.

The lesson learned here is: Use the Translocator to get behind and ABOVE the enemy team. To places where nobody but D.VA, Genji, Widow and Winston can get - but where except for Widow nobody can really do much from.

Don't use it just as Recall. It's a positioning tool as much as a save-my-latina-ass tool.

Example: Hanamura Attack A

  1. Hack the Medpack in the house and tell your team at least 5 times that they should not charge healer's ults before your EMP is charged much.
  2. Go invis and throw the Translocator through the choke gate directly into a doorway on the left platform, where the big Medpack is.
  3. Teleport there and hack the big Medpack.
  4. Go out in invis and assess the situation - if your team is ready to push in, tell them to attack and hack Reinhardt, D.VA or my favourite - Mei.
  5. Start shooting at anybody who got hit by your team, or somebody you can kill / force out of the fight.
  6. If you won the fight, take the point. If not, throw a Translocator back through the window, hack the second Medpack, heal up and try again, this time with EMP.

What to do as Sombra

  • use your Translocator to get into surprising positions, such as above and behind enemies (Hanamura B the roof of the shrine on point, Hanamura A on top of the gate, behind in the Widow Room), leave it in a "safehouse" only when you know there's gonna be big damage flying around - you can always throw it in the middle of a fight and escape
  • start attacking with your gun AFTER your team begins their attack so they don't focus on you
  • hack D.VAs, Reinhardts, Genjis, Winstons, Zaryas, Anas, Mercys
  • use invis as a positioning tool almost whenever it's on cooldown, it makes you the fastest character in the game and its cooldown is short
  • teleport back to your Translocator exactly when a Sticky Bomb or D.VA ult is going to explode and you won't be harmed at all
  • if caught in a crossfire, throw the translocator up in the air, teleport to it when it's highest, cloak there and run
  • use EMP to break Lucio ult or before enemies pop up their defensive ultimates
  • kill Zen in 0.02 seconds after using EMP
  • use your Translocator along with your passive to quickly jump to low health and out of position players to quickly finish them off (credit goes to Figrin)

What not to do as Sombra

  • using your Translocator only as "Tracer Recall" on a Medpack somewhere behind the teamfight, in a "safehouse"
  • trying playing like Tracer and assassinating enemies without helping your team all game
  • hacking Soldier, McCree, Lucio and other characters that have nothing to lose by being hacked (hacking Soldier to prevent him from healing or hacking McCree if you really need that Flashbang not to go off is of course the correct play)
  • not hacking anyone
  • trying hacking when people are shooting at you
  • hacking after EMP (it applies hack and yes, people do it all the time)
  • using EMP without your team around or against 1 person
  • using invis as escape tool when everyone is looking and shooting at you
  • not hacking Medpacks at all or focusing 100% on them and not helping your team with DPS
  • bumping into enemies or walking straight in the crossfire while cloaked
  • not switching to another hero if you're not pulling your weight
  • not killing Zen and Zarya after EMP

If everything goes as planned, I'll be updating the Sombra guide with videos of strategy gameplay where you can see all of this in action. Until then, you'll have to make with the written form.

Remember, Sombra is not bad - YOU ARE. 

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