Sombra is operating as a support and a DPS in Overwatch’s most diverse meta

Most often used on defense, Sombra is seeing more time in competitive Overwatch matches.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

And the lights went out.

Team EnVyUs only needed to capture 90 percent of the Hollywood point to take the map from BK Stars. After full-holding BK Stars during the initial group stage of their OGN Overwatch Apex match last week, EnVyUs simply had to rack up more time on point than their South Korean opponents. That’s where Sombra and Reaper came in. Both heroes are considered unconventional picks in Overwatch’s current meta—neither has close to the same pick rates as Winston, Tracer, or even D.Va.

The plan was set from the beginning. Jonathan “HarryHook” Tejedor Rua would play EnVyUs’ only official healer, while Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund switched to Sombra. DPS player Timo “Taimou” Kettunen locked in as Reaper.

BK Stars ran a fairly standard dive composition—Lúcio, Zenyatta, D.Va, Winston, Tracer, and Ana. The D.Va, in particular, would normally shut down EnVyUs’ Reaper’s ultimate, Death Blossom, with her Defense Matrix ability, rendering Reaper useless. But with Sombra, D.Va’s Defense Matrix is null.

Chipshajen popped his EMP right in the middle of the Hollywood capture point, creating the opening EnVyUs was waiting for. Taimou, on Reaper, unleashed his Death Blossom in the middle of a pack of BK Stars players with no way to protect themselves.

Hack the planet

Sombra operates within a unique space in Overwatch’s competitive universe. She’s not wholly a DPS character, despite being categorized as one. She’s not fully a healer, or a flanker, either. Though she’s often used on defense—but is beginning to make a showing on offense, as displayed by EnVyUs last week—she’s not a defense hero. Sombra does not fit neatly in one role, and that’s what makes her special. But because of it, she causes confusion among professional Overwatch players.

Professionals have begun untangling Sombra’s strings, however, especially on capture point matches. Sombra’s viability heavily depends on health pack placement. Over last weekend’s two tournaments, Overwatch TaKeOver 2 and Overwatch Contenders, Sombra showed herself as a “near essential” pick on Temple of Anubis, where she was played 88 percent of the time played on defense, according to Overwatch stats site Overbuff. Nothing about Sombra is conventional, but defensive Sombra on Temple of Anubis’ second point is the closest in that regard.

Most teams tried some variation of Sombra on defense. During Overwatch TaKeOver 2, Misfits put support player Sebastian “Zebbosai” Olsson on Sombra, with Vytis “Mineral” Lasaitis on Lúcio. A single support may seem unwise, but Temple of Anubis’ second point allows for it. A large health pack tucked under the bridge before the point acts as the crux of the strategy. Hacking that health pack allows it to regenerate quicker, and if Sombra’s allies know it’s there, it acts as a stationary healer. Going further, enemies are prevented from taking health from the hacked health pack, essentially shutting down flankers.

When the whole team is prioritizing that hacked health pack, Sombra’s EMP ultimate gets charged quicker than any other in Overwatch. And when Sombra has her EMP, she has the potential to shut down major looming attacks.

In their match against Misfits during Overwatch TaKeOver 2, Cloud9 approached the second capture point with three ultimates available: Earthshatter, Nanoboost, and Rocket Barrage. The close quarters of Temple of Anubis’ side room make these three ultimates especially deadly. Lay down the Earthshatter to disable the enemies, then hit them with the Rocket Barrage. But with Sombra on the enemy team, that strategy is easily shut down.

When Zebbosai sneaks in to launch Sombra’s EMP, Misfits is behind him to followup. With Cloud9’s abilities disabled, Cloud9 tank player Ryu “Kaiser” Sang Hoon can’t even use his shield, let alone slam down his hammer. Cloud9 is doomed.

Cloud9 ended up taking the second point on Temple of Anubis, but it was not without struggle. Ultimate usage—prioritizing when and where to use them—is key in winning an Overwatch match. Because Sombra’s ultimate charges so quickly, she has the potential to muck up the standard ultimate economy–driven playstyle.

Looking for me?

Sombra has yet to find her place beyond situational use, but that’s changing. Teams have begun to use her outside of Assault maps with success, according to Overbuff. But regardless of what map she’s played on, there must be one thing in common: Good large health pack placement. More than any other Overwatch hero, Sombra relies on map choice to determine usage—but that’ll change as players continue to innovate.

If there’s any meta to try out new things, it’s this one.