For those new to the game or veteran players looking to brush up on their Sonya skills, I’ve created a detailed guide to help you get the most out of the hero.
The patch has brought about several distinctive changes that have shaken up the traditional builds. If you find yourself struggling with the new Sonya, hopefully these sections will get you back into the game to flaunt your new Super, Cable, Upvote Sonya skin.
You are a shark in the water, not a rhino in stampede.
Sonya is an opportunist, in every sense of the word. She thrives when fights are at their most chaotic, sensing weakness and capitalizing on the misfortune of her enemies.
Her playstyle is patient and reactionary. Unlike many of her warrior counterparts who can engage and create the conditions to isolate targets, Sonya waits for an opportunity to arise and exploits her opponents’ poor positioning.
Players who pride themselves on intuition and who enjoy reading their opponents will find this hero to be a good fit.
The three reasons you bring Sonya to a fight are for her burst damage, sustain damage, and initiation. These strengths present themselves in different ways depending on her talent choices; however, the underlying goal to all of her builds remains the same: applying aggressive damage.
In terms of raw damage, she is the strongest of the melee fighters. If left unopposed, she will brute force her way into any fight and come out on top.
Sonya is highly susceptible to poke damage. Due to the short range on all of her basic abilities, Sonya struggles against heroes who can apply safe, chip damage from a distance.
Similarly, kiting through the use of crowd control will also be super effective. Slows and stuns can be somewhat mitigated by talents; but, more often than not, the ground lost attempting to recover from CC will be enough to keep her at bay.
Role in Fights:
The Bodyguard – Sonya is particularly good at serving as a line of defense against heroes who attempt to dive into the backline. With the protection of her allies around her, Sonya is free to apply as much damage as possible, either killing her opponents outright or forcing them to retreat. Few, if any, heroes can challenge her damage output when she is in her element.
The Alley-Oop – Leap is a fantastic ability to coordinate with teammates. Allies who can follow up with stuns, displacements, or high burst damage pair well with Sonya. Leaping at just the right time can set up the womboest of combos.
The Fade – Playing Sonya optimally requires the player to fade in and out of fights. Don’t be afraid to pull back if your opponents overwhelm you. Often, you will be able to deceive them into pursuing, allowing you to reengage when the positioning is in your team’s favor. Train your brain to identify if an opponent is within kill percent. Engage in those moments.
The Chase – All of Sonya’s basic abilities activate a speed boost which she gains through her passive. Use the extra movement-speed to propel yourself forward. This will allow you to stick to fleeing targets and set yourself up to land a spear. Remember that whirlwind removes your collision box. Use WW to pass through enemies, blocking them and setting up extra slams.
The Monster – Sonya is truly terrifying when she is free to do what she wants. To help her reach her potential, pair Sonya with abilities that prevent her from getting shut down by crowd control. Uther’s Divine Shield, for example, gives her 3 seconds of uninterrupted fight-time to pick off high priority targets.
The following three builds are likely to yield the greatest results in both Quick Match and Hero League. However, it is important to note that these builds serve as a basic layout for each respective playstyle. They are adaptable and will need to be modified to the specific compositions in each game.
(4) Shattered Ground
(7) Ferocious Healing
(16) Furious Blow
(20) Ignore Pain
Slam-Leap is Sonya’s most recognizable build on the tournament scene. The build prioritizes initiation and provides enough damage to follow up on locked down targets.
However, due to the some of the new talent relocations, Sonya lost a lot of her early game power. One of the defining talents, Furious Blow, was moved from level 4 to 16. The base damage on seismic slam was increased to compensate for the relocation, shifting her power into the late game.
In order to still be relevant early game, defensive talents such as Block and Ferocious Healing are suggested to keep Sonya in the fight. This comes at the cost of fury generation, previously gained through Shot of Fury. The extra defensive talents scale well throughout the game and, in part, make up for the loss of Stoneskin (Nerves of Steel) at level 16.
Alterations: Follow Through can be substituted for Ferocious Healing at level 7. Seismic slam synergizes well with the on-hit nature of the ability, allowing Sonya to output more damage if enough healing is present to forgo the self-sustain.
(7) Ferocious Healing
(10) Wrath of the Berserker
(13) Spell Shield
(16) Nerves of Steel
(20) Ignore Pain
The goal of this build is focused on survival, benefiting from the prolonged regeneration from Whirlwind and Ferocious Healing. The durability gained by taking general talents significantly boosts Sonya’s staying power; and, combined with the added damage from Wrath of the Berserker, she still packs a mean punch.
With the patch, the build lost Boon of Ancients on level 4, which previously reduced the cooldown timer on Ancient Spear. Here, this is replaced by Hurricane, which grants one immediate escape. While inferior to the fury generation and extra damage offered by Boon of Ancients, Hurricane gives an extra bit of survivability to make sure Sonya can stay in the middle of a fight.
Alterations: If the enemy team has more sustained damage than burst, consider dropping Spell Shield and pick up Life Funnel.
(1) War Paint
(4) Focused Attack
(7) Follow Through
(10) Wrath of the Berserker
(13) After Shock
(16) Furious Blow
(20) Nexus Blades
This is Sonya’s hardest hitting build. As such, it requires a great deal of support to keep up. Use with caution: this build demands that your team acknowledges you as one of the primary damage dealers.
Weave auto-attacks in between each slam. This maximizes the amount of damage you can pump out. Note that ancient spear will automatically provide you with an auto-attack once it lands. This gives excellent chip damage if you fade appropriately.
At level 20, with Wrath activated, ancient spear hits for 532 with a 528 auto-attack. This can be immediately followed up with a 756 slam and a 384 auto attack, enhanced by Follow Through. In that one exchange, Sonya will rack up 2200 damage. If she is unopposed, she is free to kill the target; if not, her allies can assist in finishing the enemy off.
Alterations: Include defensive talents if there is a large amount of burst from the opposing team. Nerves of Steal (Stoneskin), Spell Shield, or Ignore Pain (Hardened Shield) may be needed to stay alive.
Builds on the Horizon:
While some utility was added to the new spear talents (Mystical Spear), there currently is not enough incentive to talent into a pure initiation and mobility build. One way to help Sonya perform better in this role would be to modify the level 20 Arreat Crater to reduce its cooldown based on the number of enemy heroes hit.
This would function similar to ETC’s new Stagedive storm power, as well as Johanna’s enhanced heroic.
WW builds as we knew them are dead. What used to be one talent (Life Funnel) is now split into two. The healing generated from minions and structures was also greatly reduced. Whirlwind used to offer a playstyle completely unique to Sonya. In some ways, the alpha version of WW defined her; so, it’s discouraging to see it gone.
However, if additional talents are added in a future patch or the WW talents are consolidated, there may be hope yet for WW to be played.
The safest way to approach the draft is enter Sonya into the melee assassin slot. If the team has a dedicated tank, two supports, and a ranged assassin, this would be an ideal time to play Sonya.
While Sonya can be an excellent addition to many compositions, she is not first pick status. Do not pick her and expect the team to revolve around your decision. You are limiting your team’s ability to secure the necessary healers or damage dealers that make Sonya a viable choice. Insert her into teams that already would benefit from a frontline damage dealer. This should be either the 4th or the 5th pick.
If possible, pair Sonya with heroes who have strong, early game lockdown. Examples of these heroes may be: Kerrigan, Arthas, Thrall, Malfurion, Anub’arak, Diablo, ETC, Muradin, Tyrande, ect. Sonya is well suited to roam alongside one of these heroes. A CCed target almost always results in a kill.
Healers with cleanse and damage mitigation abilities work best with Sonya. Uther in particular is a top priority pick, as the stuns and invulnerably can prove to be invaluable.
It’s important to remember that the meta is always evolving. Once you are familiar with the fundamentals of the hero, feel free to explore unique compositions. As long as you are aware of what your strengths are and what you bring to the team, you will be prepared to formulate a strong draft.
Good luck out there. Make us Sonya mains proud.