In Fandom, Sombra Is Overwatch's New Gay Explosion

Illustration for article titled In Fandom, Sombra Is iOverwatch/is New Gay Explosionem/em

After a long, tedious ARG, Sombra is finally in the wild. For some, the biggest question about Sombra is how she’ll change up Overwatch’s competitive play. For others, it’s “who is she gonna kiss?”


After Sombra was officially announced at Blizzcon, many shippers eagerly hooked her up with, the 19 year-old professional gamer. The ship, known as Somva, makes sense. Sombra and have a lot in common. Both are steeped in nerdy tropes—Sombra’s gun has wifi—but there soon emerged a big problem. Sombra’s 30.


While there are still diehard Somva shippers out there and the ship still dominates on fanfiction website Archive of our Own, a portion of the fandom was turned off by the eleven year age gap. Not to be discouraged, two other ships soon emerged: Symbra and Sombarya.

Symbra, the pairing of Symmetra and Sombra, has a lot going for it (it’s my personal fave). It’s fun to watch the more serious Symmetra play off the goofy Sombra. These are tried and true romance tropes, the kind of contrast you see in older ships like Mulder and Scully or even Kirk and Spock. It’s a dynamic already familiar in Overwatch shipping in the McHanzo pairing of McCree and Hanzo.

But Symbra also has a special significance for people steeped in Overwatch’s sparse narrative. Symmetra has long been portrayed as being manipulated by her own company, Vishkar, and Sombra’s mission is to take out Lumerico, a Vishkar partner. As Symmetra wrenches free from Vishkar’s control, who knows what kind of sassy, nose-booping hacker she’ll fall for? Besides, the idea of two women of color conspiring together to take down huge corporations is fanfic gold.


Sombarya, the pairing of Sombra and Zarya, also has roots in shadowy corporate dealings. In Sombra’s announcement cinematic, Sombra blackmails the Volskaya company, which just so happens to be Zarya’s employer.

It’s hard to resist the idea of a Zarya that’s tasked to hunt down Sombra falling for their target, and the ship also has the appeal of two women taking down The Man, given that Volskaya is portrayed as corrupt in the short. But it also speaks to a very basic fanfiction trope: their physicality. For some shippers, it’s enough that one of them is large and butch, while the other is spritely and small.


It’s early days for Sombra yet; her place in the world of Overwatch shipping hasn’t yet settled into a widely accepted ship, like McHanzo, Widowtracer or Pharmercy. This is the funnest part of new ships—when things are still growing and developing. Things may change as time goes on, but for now Sombra is, in the words of one fan, Overwatch’s new “gay disaster.”


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Im a bigger fan personally of how the fans have made her D.Va’s rival and Widow Maker, Reaper, and Sombra are now the evil family version of Mercy, 76, and D.Va.