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How will Sigma change the way the pros play Overwatch?

Sigma’s on his way to the live roster

Overwatch - Sigma, the newest Overwatch hero, poses with his signature weapon. Blizzard Entertainment

A new hero is on the way to Overwatch live servers. Sigma, a gravity-controlling astrophysicist, is the first tank to emerge in the post 2-2-2 role lock. What does a team that needs to have two tanks, two supports, and two damage heroes look like with Sigma on the roster? This hero is set to affect high level play in a big way, and he might just be the figurehead for an upcoming golden age of Overwatch balance.

Tools of the trade

Sigma’s kit allows him to be useful on many maps, but ones that don’t have an emphasis on high ground are going to suit him the best. Outside of his ultimate, Sigma doesn’t have any movement abilities to help him traverse the battlefield. His Experimental Barrier means he’s always useful to some degree in protecting teams from far away siege damage, but smart players will be able to exploit his lack of mobility.

The fact that his Hyperspheres can bounce and have a large explosion radius suggests that, in the right hands, his damage could be surprisingly high for a tank. A skilled player can even use the spheres to damage two targets at once. Using his Hyperspheres at their max range to damage enemies around corners and barriers is going to be a staple of great Sigma players, and a way to ensure he stays relevant on different maps.

Sigma’s Kinetic Grasp ability combines the power of D.Va’s Defense Matrix with Genji’s Deflect. In one ability he can eat a Graviton Surge from Zarya, gain shields from absorbing said ability, and laugh off an enemy Roadhog’s hook.

Sigma’s ultimate, Gravitic Flux, also counters bunched team compositions. He does not only 50 percent of maximum health damage, but crowd controls heroes in the air for an extended period of time with his Gravitic Flux, letting his allies put the hurt on as well. Sigma is going to wreak havoc on team compositions that want to stay as close together as possible. It’s also important to note that once a hero is affected by Sigma’s ultimate, very little can interrupt its effects.

Overwatch - Sigma’s in-game model. Blizzard Entertainment

Sigma’s combos and counters

Sigma could be a great flex tank along with Orisa in certain defensive compositions. With the utility of an incredibly flexible shield, a knock-back with a chance to stun, and an ability to absorb damage and ultimates, Sigma complements defensive and slow team compositions well.

He’s also skilled at breaking down other barrier-wielding tanks — Reinhardt and Orisa-based compositions are going to be easy prey for Sigma. Being able to cause damage around barriers by bouncing his Hyperspheres off certain angles and having the ability to force a team-wide spread once he has ultimate is online is an impressive way to counter teams that are bunkered down in a chokepoint.

Sigma, in theory, could even deal with highly mobile compositions, like the Dive composition built around characters who can leap into a fight. Sigma’s ability to zone and control areas of the map means he’ll be difficult to flank. That being said, he doesn’t have the ability to stop a headlong charge from a Winston and Tracer working together.

Sigma’s Kinetic Grasp also adds a subtle defensive tool to his already impressive hit; the chance to body block for his allies. Once his Experimental Barrier is sent out to protect one portion of his team, Sigma can easily reposition to help a support in need to both block and absorb some key abilities and damage.

Former professional player and Overwatch League coach Vytis “Mineral” Lasaitis adds a different way of looking at Sigma’s possibilities. “Personally, I think he might excel in double shield, bunker compositions with Orisa,” Lasaitis said. “Mostly on defense on maps where you’re holding choke points. He could perhaps work in all-in dive compositions with Moira and Lucio as well, working as a hero who can follow up with some crowd control, absorb cooldowns and do quite a bit of damage in close to mid-range.”

Overwatch - Sigma’s black hole experiment from his origins animation Blizzard Entertainment

Good pairings?

Sigma is slow. He makes turtles and molasses look quick. Automatically, Lucio and our long-toed astrophysicist friend seem like a lovely match. If you need to move, Lucio will be a good compliment. If you choose to bunker down, positioning him on high ground with a Baptiste, an Ana, or even a Zenyatta is a good way to protect your defensive nest.

In terms of other tank pairings, I could see a world where D.Va is played along with Sigma. The power of denying abilities in Overwatch is incredibly strong. Having two ultimate-eating heroes could make for a powerful duo. We also previously mentioned Orisa, who will be able to reinforce Sigma’s shield and add firepower with her ultimate.

Sigma is strong against flankers like Sombra, Tracer, and Genji, as well as heroes like Wrecking Ball and Winston due to Accretion, his knockdown ability. He’s more flexible than you might expect, thanks to his Experimental Barrier. It’s also important to remember that barriers block a considerable amount of healing when placed behind a target. This means that if Sigma is attacked by a Wrecking Ball, and he puts his Experimental Barrier behind Hammond, he can both mitigate other sources of damage and make it difficult for the enemy to heal their furry friend. Bonus!

Overwatch - Sigma hovers menacingly, surrounded by the members of Talon in his origins animation Blizzard Entertainment

Where is he weak?

Lasaitis explains that Sigma’s place in the game isn’t as well defined as his other main tank peers, but could potentially see some playtime as a flex tank like D.Va or Zarya.

“His ultimate does seem pretty strong,” he said. “Overall I think he just has so many limitations. Being a mid-range hero with zero mobility and not even being able to quickly take high ground really limits him.”

Sigma was pitched as a main barrier tank, but seems to miss the mark compared to his peers due to his lack of mobility. In a metagame where so many heroes can claim the high ground, Sigma might be left behind in competitive games. His strength comes in working as a flex tank, using his high damage and anti-flanking skills to help teams hold down key areas of the map and shut down siege damage. His unique style of play is sure to bring some new tank combos to competitive play — and that’s never a bad thing.