A Beginner's Guide to Sombra

by Josh Bury Feb 6 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Everything can be hacked ... and everyone. That means that the battlefield is also a playground for whimsical hacker Sombra, who can use her knowledge of network intrusion to disable her enemies' abilities.


Sombra's Machine Pistol is an automatic submachine gun that offers a high rate of fire and good ammunition capacity, but the damage drops off substantially at longer ranges.

Her secondary fire allows her to Hack enemies, which stops them from using their abilities and stops channeled effects, though it does not affect a hero's passive ability. Enemies affected will also have their health bar and ultimate charge status revealed for a longer duration. Sombra can also hack health packs, which lock them out from the enemy team and cause them to respawn much faster.

When she needs to slip into the shadows, Sombra uses her Thermoptic Camo. She becomes completely invisible and gains movement speed for the duration of the ability. However, she can still be damaged by enemy fire, which will drop her camo immediately.

Sombra's Translocator is a thrown beacon that allows her to teleport to its location at any time during the duration. She can even do this as the beacon is airborne, allowing her to "jump" great heights or reach otherwise inaccessible areas.

When you positively, absolutely have to hack every enemy hero in the room, Sombra's EMP Ultimate ability can get the job done. Not only does it hack every hero in its radius, it also destroys the shields and barriers of all heroes in the area. Using her Thermoptic Camo to get close, Sombra can optimize her positioning of the ability and the immediately return to her Translocator if required.

Sombra's passive is Opportunist, which allows her to see low-health enemies through walls. If a hero is missing more than half of their health, she is able to see them wherever they are. Unlike Widowmaker's Ultimate, however, this vision does not extend to her teammates.

When is Sombra a good choice?

Knowing when and where to use Sombra can be difficult, as she requires very strong knowledge of the map to use to her fullest potential.

Though she fills a flanking role not unlike Genji or Tracer, she is substantially easier to kill when exposed. While Tracer can blink about and Genji can dash and deflect damage, Sombra must typically translocate her way out of lopsided conflicts once it becomes clear that she has done as much damage as is reasonably possible under the circumstances.

Sombra is a good choice when:

  • Her team could use the pressure of a flanker, and the player is aware of the location of medkits on the map that she can use to her advantage
  • Enemy supports and snipers are not being well-protected by their team
  • Her team has strong, channeled ultimates which would typically be interrupted by abilities, but that her EMP can better enable

Sombra can be difficult to play when:

  • Her team already has a flanker-style hero and there is a lack of coordination between her and the other flanker
  • The player is not familiar with the map's flanking routes and med-kit placement
  • Her team cannot or will not follow up on strong EMP Ultimates

Sombra excels in areas where:

  • The enemy team is forced to group up in small areas where her EMP can get incredible value, like the first and last sections of King's Row
  • A nearby large med-kit allows her to flank aggressively and there are plenty of flanking routes, like the second section of Hollywood

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a news editor for theScore esports. You can find him on Twitter.