Hack Or Just Sacked: Is Sombra Bad In Overwatch 2?
Overwatch League's 2022 season has brought us a lot. Scrimbux are being traded at an alarming rate, upsets are rampant, yet creativity is still holding firm. However, there is one hero that is climbing in pick rate which is becoming a problem.
With three weeks of play and a fair sample size to test from, we feel confident saying Sombra is not a good hero in the current meta-landscape of the Kickoff Clash - and we've got the statistics to prove it.
(DISCLAIMER: The statistics tracked in the Google Sheet linked above were tracked by the author. There may be some level of inaccuracy.)
While this humble hand tracked Google Sheet is no Overwatch League Stats Lab, it still does enough to prove a point.
To give some context around why the sample size was capped for examples with greater than three minutes of playtime is simply that we were looking for longer stretches of Sombra play. Three minutes felt like most of a round of Overwatch, so we set the bar there and for transparency's sake this did exclude San Francisco Shock's Midtown attack which only clocked in at around 2:23 and the Paris Eternal's swap to Sombra on Dorado which was about 2:41 of game time.
That said we did find nine examples of maps that did meet our criteria and while this isn't a definitive smoking gun piece of evidence, this should illuminate the trends at play.
As of the end of Week 3 of Overwatch League's Kickoff Clash, Sombra holds a map win rate of 22% (two wins from a total of nine). However, what's more, poignant is that from just picking her teams lose more than half of their team fights. As it stands now, we've calculated that Sombra sits at a fairly low 45.6% team fight win rate
While that isn't necessarily fair, it is funny to think about.
A more realistic constant to compare to comes by way of Dashreset.com. For the 2021 season, the top five heroes maintained an average win rate of around 49%. And this holds true for most heroes in past seasons as well. Floating around 50% is fairly normal for most hero picks - but 22%? For a pick that is unorthodox and outside of the meta and that has a replacement that arguably does her job but better?
Marinate on that for a second and if you're still of the mind that this pick may eventually turn things around and forge an era-defining two-time championship dynasty, the team fight breakdown should put the final nail in the coffin.
To simplify things, we're going to use a fairly straightforward concept coined by one of the coaches of the Boston Uprising and the former head analyst of WinstonsLab.com, Dennis "Barroi" Matz. The PTK (percentage of team's kills) model shows us how much participation a certain player or hero is having in their given team fights.
Currently, Sombra sits with a 14.70% PTK which is hard to quantify without anything to compare it to - and seeing how Overwatch League both doesn't track this stat and the lab isn't available for the 2022 season just yet, we've got to go back in time!
Thankfully WinstonsLab.com still holds its data set pulled from OGN's Overwatch APEX Season 3 and there we can find some rather apt comparisons.
For example, the average Tracer PTK from that season was around 24.4%.
Another solid example is Genji. During APEX Season 3 Genji had an average PTK of about 26.89%.
Just to sure up comparisons and establish a fair base we also pulled some statistics from APEX Season 4 and the DPS metrics still remain roughly the same. Picks like Tracer averaged a PTK of about 25% and Genji sat around 26%.
To make an educated assumption, we're going to guess that picks like Tracer, Genji, Echo, Soldier: 76 and most of the tank cast probably sit somewhere in the mid-to-upper 20's here - roughly mirroring these stats from the past.
So with Sombra sitting at nearly half that it is surprising to see it being picked as often as it has been.
Now mind you this data is from 2017 and from Overwatch 1 so there should be a modicum of grace given when comparing to Overwatch 2. Hopefully, this gives you a baseline to compare Sombra's PTK to and why it's problematic.
However, to further emphasise how little she's doing in team fights, through our nine maps, we've calculated that Sombra has an average final blow count of 2.67.
To paint you a picture: the average Sombra from the Kickoff Clash has just lost her map, has lost more than half of her team fights, and has only scored two final blows.
Why stop there, of the nine games that met our criteria of showcasing more than three minutes of playtime and in ones where both the Sombra and the Lucio player scored final blows, three maps saw both the support and DPS share an equal or lower number of final blows between them.
Either the Reddit Lucio style is coming back from vacation and we've just entered Boop-City or Sombra just isn't impacting the game all that much.
While Sombra's across the league have not been so hot, there has been one brief glimpse of hope.
It is safe to say one thing: Baek "Checkmate" Seung-hun is hard carrying these stats in general. He is easily the best performing Sombra and it is not close. To compare let's split Checkmate from the league for a moment.
Of all the maps that met our criteria, the Overwatch League scored a staggering total of 12 final blows with Sombra across 48 team fights and 7 individual maps.
Checkmate scored 12 final blows across 20 team fights and 2 maps.
That means if we removed Florida's data from the table, Sombra's stats plummet.
Without Checkmate, Sombra has an abysmal team fight win rate of 35.4%, a 12.6% PTK, and a 14.2% map win rate.
Cherry-picking aside, it is clear Sombra either is in a bad place right now or is being played incorrectly, and with how diligent Overwatch League teams are, we're confident it's the former.
And we think we have a good idea as to why that is.
When looking at hero picks in the Overwatch League, especially ones that are more unorthodox, it's important to look at what they bring to the table. In an attempt to make some succinct arguments we've tried to boil some of these attributes down into their essences. While these don't include everything, this should highlight some of the problems Sombra is currently facing.
Mobility And Survivability
We tie both mobility and survivability together for Sombra because part of her kit forces you to play that way. Sombra's Translocator ability operates as one of her primary mobility tools and as her only defensive option. Think of how many times you've seen Sombra player chip away at the enemy backline and then blink away to a safe position to reset. The fact that at least part of her mobility, outside of her stealth, is tied to her survivability means this limits her in what she can do. And when compared to her peers in the Overwatch cast it remains fairly underwhelming.
Tracer's mobility is also tied to her survivability but in a more positive way. It's the consistency of her agility that makes her difficult to deal with. Genji, on the other hand, has a defensive cooldown in Reflect while also having Dash for a horizontal tool and on top of that, he can also be vertically mobile with his wall climb.
When you start to zoom out, Sombra either lacks heavily in this department when compared to the DPS cast or lacks significantly in other areas.
Lethality has never been a strong suit for Sombra but she's in a bad way these days. For example, let's say Tracer does a flat amount of damage, with no increases or decreases based on her kit. Sombra on the other hand does a significantly lower amount of damage, but with Hack's 50% increase in Sombra's damage dealt to the target, this gap closes significantly.
This means Sombra has a clause to her lethality. Be it Tracer or Genji or Echo, that extra step to dealing damage that Sombra has is inherently not a good thing no matter who you compare her to.
To trade a flat rate of high damage for something that, in a way, has to scale means there has to be an upside somewhere else and her Hack should be that but even then it doesn't seem like an equal trade.
Modes are a bit more conceptual but think of them as a way you can play a hero. Can you be aggressive? Can you be reactive? Can you poke? Can you harass? These are all loose examples of different modes a hero can have.
Sombra's best mode is in being reactive. She can stealth around and find a Hack, but it requires a good deal to go right for you and your team. You need to find your target without being broken out of stealth, your team needs to be ready and in position, you need to land the Hack - and then you get a one-second window to assassinate the enemy and win the team fight. She can be proactive in this way, but it is much harder. More often than not, we are seeing Sombra playing within the stack of their team or near it and Hacking key targets like Doomfist or Genji as they engage.
To use Doomfist as an example, this one-second of disruption now throws his entire ability rotation out of sync and puts him defenceless in the middle of the map. This seems strong, but also still requires your team to capitalize on a very small window. And what happens when the Doomfist adjusts and doesn't play as far forward? Now your team is stuck with a Tracer that has pillow hands and gives you a very small amount of pseudo-crowd control.
When it comes to modes, Sombra feels one dimensional as it currently stands. She can't really poke, her harassment is weak due to her damage being baked into her Hack, her ability to play the objective is a stretch due to her mobility and survivability being intertwined and her proactivity is difficult to execute well.
Compare that to her natural counterpart here in Tracer. We've seen how well Overwatch League teams have done with Tracer players being able to punish the Doomfist for either mispositioning or missing their cooldowns. When it comes to modes, Tracer can control flanks on her own, she can create picks by backstabbing or Pulse Bombing the supports or squishy targets, she can play the objective with relative ease, and she can create more dynamic dive opportunities with a much bigger window of opportunity.
Sombra's one small saving grace is her ability to gain information for her team. Be it through seeing people through walls with her Hack or simply stealing around the map, Sombra brings a ton of clarity to her team. Where is the enemy approaching from? Where are they currently defending? Is there a pesky DPS hiding behind us waiting to flank us? Sombra is an answer to those questions.
While her scouting is an upside, Sombra's statistics thus far don't point towards growth or being a worthwhile sacrifice in a game as fast pace as Overwatch 2. If anything with the absence of Doomfist thanks to picks like Tracer and Zarya becoming more and more prevalent, Sombra should be trending downward - at least in North America.
With her damage being suspect, both in terms of reasonable assumptions and proven through three weeks of league play, with her win rate falling dangerously low, and with her win condition consisting of a one-second window, Sombra's place within the current meta is suspect, to say the least.
And we're not the only ones who think so.
GGRecon spoke to the head coach of the London Spitfire, Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham after their 0-3 loss to the Houston Outlaws. When asked about the Spitfire's application of Sombra on Eichenwalde, he didn't seem all that convinced about her either.
"I mean, I think for us Sombra was never something we really practised with," he said. "It is just one of those situations where specifically against Doomfist teams where we feel it's really hard to regain the space as Mei, that we go Sombra a lot."
"The concept is probably quite simple; if your team synergy is good, and it's especially good against Doomfist and Genji, I think. When they're preparing to go in if you can get invisibility and Hack them and everybody focuses on them at the same time."
"We had a lot of scrims where we were able to kill Genji's pre-fight by just being able to synergize the '3-2-1' one-shot with somebody, but the problem is, is that it's such a narrow window that if you miss it, they Dash out and it looks like a troll hero."
"I'm not super sold on the Sombra but it's one of those things like it's the only swap that really makes sense if we really don't want to play Mei against Doomfist comps."
Overwatch League commentator and expert Kevin "AVRL" Walker has also publicly shared his thoughts on Sombra's usefulness in the current Overwatch 2 landscape.
With comments like these, where does this leave Sombra?
We hope it's out of the Overwatch League, but in all seriousness, the future doesn't seem bright for her competitive speaking. With how fast-paced Overwatch 2 has been and the developer's stance on crowd control, Sombra's identity seems hard to manage. What was once a hero that struck fear in the hearts of more ability reliant characters, now is a glorified experimental pick. Sombra needs some help or things have to drastically change with how she is played currently.
Maybe giving her a modified melee could be a start, a la the Zenyatta superkick?
With analysts and experts weighing in, our patchwork stats, and enough botched team fights to make your head roll - it is time to throw in the towel.
Sombra just ain't it.