Sombra Guide: How To Be The Best Sombra In The World

Sombra pointing her gun at the screen
“Everything can be hacked... and everyone.”

Sombra has a diverse kit that can be incredibly helpful to a team, but only if you know how to use her. She is wonderful at sneaking behind enemies, hacking them, and then taking them out. And if the enemy team has a Pharah or Bastion you can really shine as Sombra. If your team needs a good all-purpose DPS hero or someone to interrupt the firepower on the enemy team Sombra is for you. She can be a little tricky at first, but don't worry, with this guide you will be a pro in no time.

Strengths:

Opportunist:

Sombra's powerful passive ability allows her to see all enemies who are below 50% health through walls, it also allows her to see the health bars of enemies who are not at full health.

Machine Pistol:

Sombra's weapon is a short-range fully-automatic machine pistol that has a widespread. It has a spread angle of 2.7 degrees, falloff range of 15-25 meters, HP damage of 2.4-8, 20 rounds per second rate of fire, 60 ammo capacity, and reload time of 1.5 seconds.

Hack:

The hack ability is very powerful, being able to prevent enemies from using most of their abilities for 6 seconds, stopping Torbjorn's turrets for 10 seconds, revealing the enemy's health bar and ultimate status to all allies for 20 seconds, and causing health packs to regenerate faster and preventing enemies from using them for 60 seconds. When health packs are hacked it will display Sombra's signature skull above them, purple for allies and red for enemies, and it will display with a meter showing how long the hack has left. Small health packs regenerate in 2.5 seconds and large health packs regenerate in 3.75 seconds when hacked. Hack has a maximum range of 15 meters, casting time of 0.65 seconds, and cooldown of 8 seconds. The secondary fire button must be held down for the entire hack if an enemy goes out of view or you release the button it will cause the hack to cancel, but will not result in a cool down. If you are injured while trying to hack, therefore stopping the hack, it will result in a 2-second cooldown.

Stealth:

Sombra is able to briefly turn herself invisible, which also boosts her speed. Her movement speed is boosted to 10 meters per second, duration lasts up to 5 seconds, it has a casting time of 0.7 seconds, and a cooldown of 6 seconds. The cooldown does not start until the ability is deactivated. Brushing up against an enemy player or target will reveal you, but not break the stealth. Sonic Arrow and Infra-Red Sight will reveal Sombra, making auto-aimed abilities, such as Deadeye, able to target her. Taking damage will disable Stealth.

Translocator:

Giving her the ability to quickly disengage from a deadly situation Translocator is a valuable tool. It is an arching projectile device, that once thrown will stay where it lands, it can't be destroyed, but enemies can see it. Once translocated somewhere Sombra is very briefly invincible. Translocator has up to a 20-second duration and a 4-second cooldown.

EMP:

A powerful ultimate to initiate a team brawl, Sombra releases an electromagnetic pulse that disables shields and hacks all enemies caught in the blast. EMP has a 15-meter radius of effect, 6-second duration, and requires 1250 points to charge. 1% ult charge is added passively every 2.50 seconds. Shields and barriers will not protect enemies from EMP, and it will remove all armor HP from heroes such as Zarya and Zenyatta, making them easy to kill.

Weaknesses:

Team Dependence:

While Sombra is a wonderful addition to a team, that doesn't mean it can always work out. You need a team that is willing to communicate, work together, and listen to your call-outs, and able to follow up on your attacks such as EMP.

Inefficient Long-Range Damage:

Sombra's machine pistol is powerful, it shoots off many bullets in a short period of time, making it deal a lot of damage. However, it has a lot of spread. This means if you aren't close to your target you won't get much damage in. You have to be right up on them to successfully do much.

Lack of Ultimate Damage:

While EMP is a powerful ultimate in the game, it alone won't do any damage. So, if your team can't follow up or you panic ult it will have been wasted.

Difficult to Master:

There are a lot of tricks to playing Sombra that many people don't understand, she isn't as straight-forward as she might seem. It requires a specific mindset, good game sense, studying up, and a lot of practice.

Strategy Overview:

Sombra is one of the hardest ranked damage heroes on Overwatch, and for good reason. While she is incredibly powerful, when you know how to use her, there is also a lot of knowledge that has to go into using her, and she isn't as straightforward as say a Soldier 76. But, she is worth learning how to use well, and when using her there are three things you want to keep in mind, positioning, attacking, and communication.

Positioning:

Many people try to position Sombra like you would a majority of the damage heroes, on your front line. But, she doesn't belong anywhere near the front line, she actually belongs on the enemy's back line. Using her Stealth and Translocator she is perfect for making quick sneak attacks and then disappearing. Now, of course, there are some instances where you may have to fight on your front line, but you can't get nearly as much out of her that way, and it will usually be wasting better opportunities.

Attacking:

When using Sombra it's important to learn to utilize her kit, her fighting style is completely different from any of the other DPS heroes on Overwatch. As already stated you don't want to fight from your team's front line but the enemy's back line. But, more than that you don't want to go in front of an enemy and start battling with them if you can help it. Sombra is about stealth.

When battling sneak behind the enemy, hack a health pack and place your translocator on it, find your target, use stealth, and sneak up behind your target. If you're behind the target it will give you an advantage because they will have to turn around to shoot back, and it may even take them a moment to realize where they are taking damage from.
When attacking there are a few heroes you should target first. As always you want to first target healers, then tanks, and then DPS. But, as with any hero, there are specific heroes Sombra excels at eliminating and she specifically should target. Sometimes you will want to target these heroes before healers and tanks, depending on how they are affecting your team.

  • Pharah is a difficult hero because she stays in the air most of the time and can do quite a bit of damage to your team, but Sombra can hack her which will disable Pharah's jet-pack. Once she falls down to the ground you can pick her off with your gun.
  • Bastion has quite a bit of firepower and can eat through your team's shield, but if you sneak behind him and hack him it will disable his sentry mode and lessen his firepower, making it easier to take him out.
  • Reinhardt and Orisa both have shields that can make it hard for your team to push through, and while you can't hack through a shield or barrier, if you sneak behind them you can hack them. Reinhardt's shield will instantly go down and Orisa will be prevented from placing a new shield. This makes a great opportunity for both you and your team to focus fire on them.
  • Mercy is unable to use Guardian Angle when hacked, so if you hack her before you begin attacking her mobility will be greatly decreased and you can deprive your enemy of their main healer.
  • Doomfist is unable to use most of his abilities (Seismic Slam, Rising Uppercut, Rocket Punch, and Meteor Shower) when hacked, making him an easy target.
  • Mei is prevented from using Cryo-Freeze when hacked, making it a great way to target her without her being able to heal herself, but she can still freeze you, so keep a bit of distance.
  • Tracer is incredibly weak when she can't move fast, so being hacked and unable to use her abilities makes her an easy target.

Communication:

A Sombra who either isn't communicating with their team or who's team isn't communicating with them won't get the most out of her. Her EMP doesn't do any damage in itself, and usually after activating the EMP Sombra will have to either translocate away or die, so it's vital for her team to follow up on her ultimate for it to be of any use.
Her ability Opportunist also will greatly go to waste if you are unable to tell your teammates which enemy team members are low and therefore whom to target.
Make sure you use a microphone when playing her and work with a team who is also communicating with you. Try to call out who and where low health enemies are; before you use your EMP; try to double up on ultimates, such as first using your EMP and then immediately following with Reinhardt's Earthshatter or Reaper's Death Blossom; and while you don't need to be calling out everyone you hack, do let people know if you hack a high-priority target, such as Reinhardt.

Taking Advantage of Sombra's Strengths:

Opportunist:

As previously stated, to take full advantage of Opportunist you really need to communicate with your team. However, you can still get a lot of use out of it on your own.
With Sombra being a flanker keep an eye out while you're sneaking around the map for any enemy team member you can see are critically low, they will make easy prey and it's best to take them out before they can get healed. Even if they aren't a high-priority target, any enemy team member you take out will help your team.

Machine Pistol:

A lot of people will try to use Sombra from a distance, but her pistol has so much spread that it's hard to get any reliable damage out of it this way. Try to get within a couple feet of your target, otherwise, they are less likely to die and they'll have more of an opportunity to kill you instead.
Try practicing your aim in custom games and quick play, if you can get good at headshots you will be able to take out the enemy faster. Practice until you can reliably get 50% or more accuracy.

Hack:

You consistently want to be hacking, if you don't have 15 or more hacks for quick play and 30 or more for competitive on average you aren't using her hacking nearly enough.
While Torbjorn's turrets and Orisa's Supercharger can be hacked, Symmetra's turrets and teleporters can not. Neither can Widowmaker's Venom Mine, Junkrat's mines or traps, Sombra's translocator, or Mei's Blizzard device.
Choose your hacking targets wisely. It has an 8-second cooldown, you don't want to needlessly hack health packs your team is unlikely to use if you can hack and kill enemies. Hack one or two health packs near your team and leave it at that.
Only hack people you know you can. If you miss a hack it gives them an opportunity to fight back.

Stealth:

Don't just use Stealth as a mobility tool. A lot of people will use it to move around quickly when that generally wastes it. Wait and use it after you have a targeted enemy and to get into position behind them.
Just because you're invisible doesn't mean you are safe. Even when using stealth you can take damage, which will disable stealth. Don't run through high-fire areas with it, instead weave around them to reach your target.

Translocator:

One really big mistake is using translocator to get into a fight. If you do this you then won't have it to escape. Use Stealth to get into the fight, and then you can use Translocator to escape to either reload or get some healing.
If you have been hacked by an enemy Sombra you can't throw a new Translocator, but you can still teleport to one that is already placed.
The Translocator is visible to everyone, and sometimes an enemy may camp beside it so that they can kill you when you transport back. To reduce the risk try to place them in areas that aren't visited as often or that are harder to get a visual on.
When you use the Translocator it is not an instant teleport from the moment you press the button, there is a fraction of a second before it takes effect. Keep this in mind and don't wait to take too much damage before you teleport.

EMP:

Sombra's ultimate is a wonderful battle instigator, try to save it until someone on your team has a high-damage ultimate such as Self-Destruct, Tactical Visor, or Dragon Blade.
EMP is able to pierce through shields and barriers and hack nearby health packs that have not previously been hacked by an enemy Sombra.
When using EMP it's important to try to stand in the middle of the enemy team to get as much effect out of it as possible, so make sure you place your Translocator beforehand, otherwise, you'll quickly be killed. Transport yourself, and then run back to help your team finish everyone off.
EMP can really help with a dive comp, if your team is having a hard time making a push Sombra can set off her EMP in the middle of the enemy team and then the dive heroes, Winston and Tracer work well, can quickly and easily dive in and eliminate the enemy team.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Whenever you're targeting heroes who can inhibit movement or get easy 1-2 shot kills, such as Roadhog, McCree, or Hanzo, hack them before attacking.
  • When playing as Sombra you can't play passively. Always be pushing up against the enemy, hacking them and assassinating them from behind.
  • If you have more than 6-7 deaths or 10-11 in longer competitive games, you're not playing Sombra properly. Make sure to use your toolkit well.
  • Within the support heroes, category Sombra can pair really well with Brigitte. While Brigitte is fighting the enemy team with her flail and shield she can keep herself alive, and also act as a distraction while Sombra sneaks behind the enemy.
  • Sombra is weak against Winston, McCree, and Brigitte. Winston's weapon can lock onto her even after he's been hacked, McCree can still get quick kills with a headshot, and Brigitte can prevent herself from being hacked by blocking it with her shield and she can also use her flail to injure Sombra thus stopping a hack.
  • Getting stuck in a Junkrat trap will cause Stealth to deactivate.
  • If you hack someone who has been Nano-Boosted it won't stop the Nano-Boost, but it will stop them from using their abilities.

It will take time to get good at Sombra, but if you give it time and practice she will be an asset to have at your fingertips. If used properly she can turn a match around, and be a thorn in the side of your enemies. She is a lot of fun to play, and well worth it. I hope you enjoyed this guide if so be sure to check out these other articles:

Whether it's pulling out my blaster and getting some headshots in or using my staff to heal, I'm always there to protect my team all while writing, gaming, and watching anime.
Gamer Since: 1999
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Overwatch
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