Sigma is a commonly misunderstood hero. He has what appears at first to be a kit oriented on blocking damage and anchoring his backline: he has shield, grasp, and close-range CC in his accretion. But how you should actually play Sigma is not as a main tank. The main tanks (Rein, Orisa, Winston, Ball) have one thing in common: they can survive close-range aggression from the enemy. However, Sigma cannot do this. If Sigma fights close-range against any of the main tanks, they will either win the duel outright (Rein, Winston, and Orisa) or just run away from it and go for your backline (Ball).
Sigma is an off tank, but unlike the other off tanks (D.Va and Zarya), he can't really "pocket" his main tank. So how does Sigma get value? Let us take a closer look at Sigma's kit.
- His primary fire does less direct damage than Orisa, but has splash damage that allows him to hit multiple squishy targets at once, and he is best played at medium range (around 20 meters).
- His shield is paper-thin compared to the 1600HP Rein shield and the 600HP Orisa shield that comes every 10 seconds on cooldown. But his shield can be dropped and replaced almost at will! And when his shield is not the primary focus of the enemy team, it allows him to hold angles for quite a long time.
- His grasp makes it harder for him to be spammed out, and his accretion makes it harder for solo flankers like Reaper, Tracer, and Genji to force him out.
But the theme is clear: Sigma is not only self-sufficient, but hard to force out if the enemy team don't close the distance, and he is best when focusing squishy targets that are stacked together. You don't help your main tank a lot by stacking with them and throwing your abilities away, as the enemy can just close the distance and render your kit useless.
You protect your main tank (and your backline) by
- drawing attention AWAY from them…
- on an OFF ANGLE or on HIGH GROUND.
You are almost like Roadhog in that like him, you don't really require a lot of healing but do a lot of damage if you're not the enemy team's main focus and you use your cooldowns properly. Just like frontline Roadhog is a feed, frontline Sigma just means you get your abilities forced out early and easily get focused. Let's go over some examples:
Example 1. https://imgur.com/a/v4bREfi
Your main tank is playing Rein. Your team has just won the last fight and has pushed the payload close to the 1st checkpoint. A common mistake for beginner Sigma players is to stack with their Rein on the payload (blue). While you might be able to hit the enemy tanks a bit, if all you're hitting is tanks than Orisa is a better pick! Furthermore, once they close the range to you, you are very vulnerable to close range damage, and as Sigma you do not want to be fighting in close range. So how does Sigma get value? Take an off angle! Either (denoted in the example):
- (safer) Take the stairs up to the high ground, and use your shield and grasp to help you hold that angle. If the enemy pushes your Rein (green), they will either have to clear you out first, which is difficult and time-consuming; or you can just hit their backline for free, which puts significant pressure on them.
- (riskier) Go far left and hold the angle on the ground. Even though it is easier to hit their backline from there, you do risk being rushed and killed, cut off from your supports. But if you're drawing that much attention, your main tank can then push in, and since their frontline will be focused on you, they can potentially just run over the enemy backline.
In this example, if they decide to W+M1 your main tank, then you just eat their backline for free. If they decide to deal with you first, then that wastes time and forces them to look away from your main tank, which allows them to be more aggressive. Either way is a win.
Example 2. https://imgur.com/a/z9Vv7ZG
You are playing double shield (Orisa/Sigma) on Route 66 1st attack. Your Orisa decides to anchor on cart (blue), but you rarely want to be stacking on cart as well – because then you will be facetanking tons of spam damage from high ground (green). You don't also want to be "cycling" shields as well with your Orisa because the enemy has a lot of time to destroy them before they need to drop to contest cart.
Instead, you should be drawing attention AWAY from your Orisa in one of these three ways (denoted in the example):
- (safest) Go up the ramp to high ground. While you are still close to your Orisa, you are at least taking a different angle and are on high ground so you don't get spammed out early. More importantly, usually when you play double shield, your DPS play long-range heroes like Ashe that benefit from having high ground. What they can do is they can actually use your shield and grasp to help themselves take and hold that high ground angle for longer, making them more effective. If anything, don't anchor for your backline, because that's Orisa's job – instead, anchor for your DPS who want to be taking aggressive angles just like you!
- (safe) Go up the ramp to high ground, and then go into the cave. Once you exit the cave, start using your abilities to hold that angle and do damage. Even though it is split from your team, taking that angle draws a lot of attention away from them and onto you. Furthermore, by taking that angle, the gas station sign becomes less useful as cover. If they try to hide from you, they take damage from the rest of your team. If they try to hide from the rest of your team, you can still do damage to them. Attacking the enemy from multiple angles makes cover less useful!
- (riskiest) Go into the cave from the low ground and take an angle once you exit the cave. This is risky because the angle is on low ground and the enemy has an easier time chasing you down. But this angle is very useful if you're near the corner and don't want to turn back and go up the ramp, or if the enemy backline is on low ground (red).
When the enemy is holding a formidable defensive position, the worst thing you can do is stack as a team and brute force through a corner or a choke. You want to be splitting their attention as much as possible. Multiple angles mean multiple opportunities to win!
Example 3. https://imgur.com/a/xdvpvsE
You are playing with Ball as main tank on Volskaya 2nd defense. Ball is setting up in the mega room and planning to engage (blue) once the enemy walks onto point. Many Sigma players make the mistake of setting up directly on point, which leaves them vulnerable to being rushed down and at the mercy of their Ball to save them. Instead, before each fight, you should rotate towards the stairs and up to the high ground (pink). There, you can pivot between the forward position (position 1) to get some initial poke in, and then fall back to the rear position (position 2) if the enemy is deep on the point. Alternatively, you could take the risk and stay in position 1 even if the enemy is pushed up onto point, so you can put pressure and potentially get picks on the enemy backline.
With a Ball or Hog as your tank partner, you will often have to act as an anchor tank for your backline – and in this example, you can't really take deep off angles. But rarely should you try to be a mini Rein. As a tank with significant range, you excel on high ground and should look for opportunities to control the objective from high ground as much as possible.
Even though off angles are a powerful way to get value on Sigma, it is important that it is actually an off angle and not the main fight. If you take the off angle too early, then the enemy can focus you before the rest of your team pushes up – making you the main fight for the enemy. As with a lot of things, timing your off angles with pressure from the rest of your team is important. Generally, you want to wait until your main tank has drawn significant attention from the enemy team before taking an aggressive angle. For example, your Rein wasting his shield to poke doesn't draw enough attention, but your Rein trading swings with the enemy does certainly draw a lot of attention.
But my team!
It is all too common to confuse "playing with my team" with "playing stacked with my team". For example, if you were playing Tracer, the last thing you want to be doing is stacking with your frontline. You have to consider each hero's kit and determine whether you get value by being with the bulk of your team, or relieving pressure from your team by taking a different angle from them.
As Sigma, you can't really directly peel for your backline unlike a D.Va, nor can you directly support aggression unlike a Zarya. But as Spilo says, pressure is peeling! You peel for your team as Sigma not by stacking with your team, but by using your self-sufficient kit to draw attention away from your team and to do significant amounts of damage to the enemy squishes. Every pair of eyeballs looking towards you is a pair of eyeballs that isn't looking at your backline nor your main tank – and if you force the enemy to react to YOUR plays, it's much more difficult for them to make plays of their own. In Overwatch, the best defense is a good offense.
As with any rule, you have to know when to break the rules. And there are some situations where you have to be more careful about splitting from your team:
- You are needed to block a key cooldown or ultimate: Examples include: grav, blossom, biotic grenade, shatter. In this case, you might want to wait until those cooldowns or ultimates are used before you split apart from your team. That being said, D.Va is usually better at this (except for shatters, and often the best counter to shatter is just good positioning).
- You absolutely NEED to block spam for your team: Generally, the best way to protect your team from spam damage is to draw attention away from them by taking an off angle. But sometimes, the enemy is playing in such long sightlines that it's impossible for your team to close the distance without you. In this case, you might decide to stack with your team, use your shield and grasp to help them move closer to the enemy, and then look to split from there.
- The enemy is playing dive: Against dive it's risky to play split. If you're against dive, you might only look for slight splits (such as angle #1 in example 2) or you will only split if you have cooldowns or if the enemy has used their mobility cooldowns.
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More about OverwatchPost: "Sigma Players: Take Aggressive Angles" specifically for the game Overwatch. Other useful information about this game:
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