Hello, my name is Spilo, and I'm a retired Contenders Head Coach turned Educational Content Creator.
Sombra is not a popular hero, and it's not difficult to understand why.
Hack is not fun to play against, but a friendly Sombra can be even worse: how often have you felt like you were 5 vs. 6 when playing with a Sombra? How often have you lost a fight, only for your Sombra to decide it was the perfect time to EMP?
Is Sombra is a hero destined for failure outside of organized team play?
Well, no. You see, this won't come as a surprise to most of you, but Sombra's struggles often come from poor understanding and bad execution. Sombra (along with DVA and Brig) may be one of the most commonly misused heroes in the game. The rampant ignorance of her basics is understanding: she is a relatively complex hero to understand!
My job here is to streamline the process for you, and to enable Sombra players of all ranks to better execute the fundamentals that allow Sombra to provide consistent value to her team.
Today we're going to go over the basics of a proper Sombra engage, touching on each point in some detail along with some visual examples at the end.
A proper Sombra engage relies on:
Hack or Damage
A common idea is that it is up to Sombra to scout and call pressure. While that is true, it's not because it's Sombra's job to lead/start the engage by decloaking. Sombra can scout and provide information to spark pressure (from a dive, Rein aggression, etc.), but Sombra should almost always follow enemy or friendly aggression. This prevents her from getting her translocator forced too early, and allows her to stay in fights longer.
Therefore, it is not your team's job to follow your timing, but your job to follow your team's timing. When your tanks (or the enemy's) begin to pressure/take space, that is your cue to look for hacks/pressure/EMP. No excuses for lack of follow up. Use your eyes!
Angles are a common theme of every guide I write, and for good reason. Angles force enemies to split their attention, allow for pressure on enemies behind cover/shields, and allow you as Sombra to hold high grounds and positions that maximize your damage/hack opportunities. But what's a good Sombra angle?
A good Sombra angle has cover (allowing you to avoid damage/CDs to stay in longer). A good angle is also dependent on the friendly/enemy composition in regards to how deep and how long the angle is.
When playing Sombra vs. a short-ranged brawl/dive comp, Sombra can abuse her long range, looking for high grounds to play on to play as "Sombra 76." She will often accomplish more instead of positioning deep behind the enemy backline, and up close to Moira/Lucio/Brig who will quickly force her out of the fight. In addition, positioning on shallower angles allow Sombra's team to support her, allowing her to stay longer (and put more pressure out).
When playing vs. long ranged spam/poke compositions, it's expected that Sombra will often be deeper and closer to squishy enemy threats. Playing Sombra 76 at range vs. a Widowmaker, Ashe, or Zenyatta isn't usually a great idea, so vs. these compositions it's more expected for Sombra to play behind these enemies, looking for quick short range assassinations (or at the very least, threatening kills).
Hack or Damage
This is a complex topic, but we'll touch on the basics. The most important question to answer is "will a hack be valuable vs. this target?" Is their an ultimate to deny? A crucial CD? Hack is often a strong threat vs. Tanks who heavily rely on their CDs for defense, but against a Zenyatta, an Ashe, or a Widowmaker, hack doesn't hurt much- do you notice those enemies are also squishier and higher damage? Even less reason to hack- go for the kill instead!
In general, Sombra must use her judgement on whether she has time to look for a hack, and she should prioritize heroes who struggle without CDs (especially when she knows her hack will not be interrupted). Otherwise, raw damage output is a great way to put out pressure on the enemies (and builds crucial EMP charge).
Finally, let's go over some visual examples:
Red: Enemy short-ranged/brawl composition
Yellow: Enemy longer range/poke heroes
Example 1: https://i.imgur.com/IZrUqlT.png
Against comps without long ranged threats, Sombra can take multiple long angles without searching directly for backline assassination. Look to utilize cover to increase the time you can stay on the angle and make sure your team is in a position to apply pressure on main (to capitalize off of any attention you bait). Good angles for hacks or raw damage!
Against ranged comps/heroes, setting up shorter sightlines or assassination is more desirable. Even if you don't kill the target, threatening the backline, playing cover, and wasting as much of their time as possible is the best way to take heat off of your team on choke.
Example 2: https://i.imgur.com/iECxl3f.png
Most teams setup on point here, and you can utilize the high ground angles to put out consistent pressure on enemies on point. Peeking the high ground may allow your ranged supports to heal you to lengthen your pressure windows! Good angle for hacks onto tanks or raw damage.
If you are being poked out by spam heroes, it may be necessary to take a more direct approach to threaten them/create space for your team. Play cover!
Example 3: https://i.imgur.com/DuLq4wm.png
Again, long angles (on high ground) for sustained pressure on short range heroes. Opportunities for your Zen/Brig/Ana to support you as well, and always utilizing cover! Good angles for hacks or raw damage.
If squishy/spam heroes are a problem, direct solutions are on boardwalk (but be careful, the lack of cover/angles to threaten backline on high ground is problematic).
Remember, take an angle on the enemy team, when your team (or the enemy) is attacking NOT before, and practice using your judgement on the hack vs. damage decision!
FULL REVIEW (going over many of these concepts in detail):
My stream (where I do roast reviews/Pro analysis): https://www.twitch.tv/spilo
My Discord (where you can ask questions and get coaching): https://discord.gg/tqvgygx
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