Sombra has a complicated history when it comes to competitive Overwatch. It wasn’t too long ago that she was the most oppressive pick in the Overwatch League, offering little to no counterplay. On the other hand, for the vast majority of the community, she has an extremely high skill ceiling that just doesn’t offer enough reward. According to Overbuff, Sombra currently has a 45.82% win rate. This is the lowest win-rate out of any hero in Overwatch and it’s not that surprising.
So, why does Sombra have a low win-rate? It’s actually a combination of reasons.
Sombra’s kit relies too much on her team to follow up with her utility. Sombra’s main value comes from hacking important targets and charging up her ultimate, EMP.
In Overwatch League, it’s much easier to find value from Sombra’s utility since teams are usually very coordinated. Professional teams are trained to focus on one target, and almost always guarantee a team fight win when Sombra has her EMP. In this environment, Sombra can be an incredible, almost unbeatable pick.
However, this level of coordination is not present in most ranked Overwatch games.
Sombra has a unique playstyle in terms of positioning. Her ability to stealth into the enemy backline and translocate out of sticky situations make her an extremely mobile hero that naturally takes time to master.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you are an above-average Sombra player. You’re probably hacking the right targets at the right time, and aren’t feeding your brains out because you’ve learned how to be slippery. The issue is that Sombra doesn’t inherently have a lot of damage potential, and relies on her team to follow up for kills.
However, teams don’t always engage on hacked targets when you want them to.
This means that as a Sombra player, you should always be in voice chat to communicate your hacks and ultimate charge. And we all know the reality of getting the whole team to join team chat. If you can’t communicate hacks to your team, you are unlikely to get value with Sombra. At this point, it’s easier to just pick another damage hero.
Low damage potential
As mentioned previously, Somba doesn’t bring the pain by herself. Her firearm deals low damage and is only effective in medium-close distances. The gun has a wide bullet spread and doesn’t kill enemy heroes fast unless she lands every bullet in her clip. As a result, she doesn’t easily win duels against most of the other damage heroes.
How can you fix this from a design stand-point? One way would be to increase her damage, and decrease her utility.
Sombra isn’t necessarily a bad hero, but does look like she needs some reworking. There is a popular opinion in the Overwatch community that Sombra should be redesigned into a support. Although there is an argument for the change, I think that it will require a major overhaul to her kit.
Instead, I believe that Sombra should stay as a damage hero. I expect heroes in the damage role to output damage, so Blizzard should find a way to increase her damage potential while decreasing her utility.
Changing her ultimate could also help stabilize her usefulness. EMP is currently the strongest part of her kit, but offers very little counterplay. The ultimate could use a little reworking to make it more interactive for the Sombra player, and the players who have to play against her.
An interesting idea would be making EMP work as a bubble. Enemies would only be hacked if they were inside the bubble. This would be similar to Mei’s ultimate, which lets players walk outside of the ultimate’s area of effect to regain their abilities.
A more blunt fix for Sombra’s sub-par performance as an Overwatch damage hero could be to make her do more damage. For example, she could deal more damage to her hacked targets. This effect would apply to her team, of course, but it would allow her to take on more duels. It creates an interesting dynamic, because Sombra’s hacked targets would then have to think twice before dueling her.
A flat damage increase doesn’t have to be the only solution, either. Another exciting idea for Sombra could be developing an alternate fire ability, similar to how Soldier: 76 has his Helix Rockets.
In the end, Sombra’s low win-rate in Overwatch is a reflection of how difficult it is to coordinate her utility with her team. In terms of raw damage, heroes like Hanzo and McCree can easily output more consistent damage than her. For utility, Mei could offer very similar results with much less effort and coordination.
If Blizzard wants to increase Sombra’s competitive win-rate, they’ll need to start tinkering with her kit more actively. Hopefully there’s something planned for her in future updates.