Sombra, Overwatch’s manipulative hacker, has been stuck in an underwhelming state for an extensive period of time. In the current 2 offense/defense – 2 tanks – 2 supports meta, Sombra has difficulty fitting in. She cannot match the DPS of other offense heroes and serves more of a supportive role with her abilities, which are only better than traditional supports in niche situations. According to Overbuff, an Overwatch statistics site, Sombra currently has both the lowest pick and win-rate in competitive play. With the changes to the game in the Public Test Region (PTR), there’s a possibility that Sombra will become a viable pick.
Judging from the PTR, Overwatch will most likely enter a meta focused on barriers. There are two reasons for this: a buff to Winston’s Barrier Projection and the new upcoming hero, Orisa. On the live servers, Winston’s Barrier Projection’s cooldown doesn’t begin until the barrier dissipates. This means that Winston players are heavily punished for mispositioning their barriers because knowledgeable opponents would ignore them to delay their cooldowns. On the PTR, the cooldown on Barrier Projection begins immediately when Winston uses the ability. This is a major buff that allows Winston players to be both more aggressive and defensive with their barriers. In addition, Orisa has an ability called Protective Barrier, which allows her to project a barrier at a distance. Combine these factors with the popularity of Reinhardt, the most picked hero in competitive, and players will be struggling to break through all those barriers.
In order to combat barriers, Blizzard buffed Zenyatta’s Orb of Discord so that it could be applied to enemies through barriers; however, shortly after the buff, Blizzard reverted it. It’s uncertain what the reasons behind Blizzard’s decision to discard the change to Orb of Discord were, but thankfully, there is a direct counter to barriers: Sombra. Sombra’s ultimate ability, EMP, is a massive AoE skill that, among its various other benefits, removes all barriers caught in its radius. EMP has an incredibly fast charge time, and will be highly effective for disabling enemy defenses.
In addition to being a counter to a potential meta shift, Sombra has also received direct buffs in PTR. First, her stealth ability, Thermooptic Camo, now has a 15 meter limit on its sound effects and VO distance when entering and exiting stealth. This means that enemies won’t be alerted of Sombra’s presence if she uses the ability more than 15 meters away from them. This buff might not seem very impactful to players that aren’t familiar with Sombra, but currently, when she enters and exits stealth, she essentially announces her presence to the entire enemy team, which is far from ideal for a flanking character. Second, Translocator’s cooldown has been reduced from 6 to 4 seconds. This offers Sombra increased freedom to play aggressively because she can either use Translocator to engage or fall back more often.
Keep in mind that the Overwatch PTR is an environment meant to test and balance changes before they are released on the live server. Many, if not all, of the changes discussed in this article will likely be altered in some capacity before arriving on the live servers. That being said, do you think these current changes would help Sombra sneak into the meta? Let us know in the comments below!