Worshipper of Bul-Kathos, The Immortal King, and one of the Barbarians that took care to guard the Worldstone. Basing their entire lives around securing the Northern Steppes, her people adopted a nomadic lifestyle to be everywhere and nowhere. Being brought into the Nexus Sonya found a very similar life, a constant war against terrifying foes, moving from land to land, always trying to be everywhere… can you feel the rage?
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Sonya is an excellent bruiser, solo mercer, and solo laner. She has a strong advantage in not using mana and having built-in self-healing, which means she can be constantly active on the map. Sonya has the distinction of being the first warrior, and still only one of two, who lacks any of the tools a tank needs. So not even in the strangest of drafts can Sonya tank.
- Q; Ancient Spear: A high damage skill shot. When it connects with an enemy it pulls you to them – making it Sonya’s primary gap closer – stuns them for 0.25 seconds, and generates 40 Fury for you. Because of the added move speed on her trait, it is relatively difficult to get away from Sonya once she has hit her spear, so when collapsing on a target the difference between them living and dying is whether you hit your Q. The first rule of Sonya club is never miss your Q. This can be used on minions just to generate Fury if you’re confident you won’t need it, and the pull bypasses terrain, which means you can use it to more efficiently move on the map if, for instance, you hit mercenaries over walls with it.
- W; Seismic Slam: A high damage single target ability with low splash damage in a 220 degree arc around the initial impact. This is Sonya’s burst, some of her wave and camp clear, and a significant portion of her overall damage. If you can spam it on CD it will do roughly 1.5x more damage then your auto attacks. Q into W will chunk almost any ranged hero and with the right talents can kill many on the lower end of the health spectrum.
- E; Whirlwind: A high damage over time ability that also heals you for 25% of the damage done to normal targets and 75% of the damage done to heroes. This is Sonya’s sustain mechanic and the better part of her wave clear. In many ways this is what makes Sonya top tier. The fewer interrupt mechanics the enemy team has for Whirlwind the better Sonya becomes.
- Trait; Fury: Sonya uses Fury instead of Mana and each time she uses an ability she moves 10% faster for 4 seconds. Using abilities consecutively refreshes the duration of the movement speed buff. Fury is very interesting. You gain six Fury per auto attack and two Fury per instance of damage. The amount of damage does not matter, only the number of instances. The makes Sonya dramatically better against certain heroes, like Arthas, whose damage is low and over time, and much worse against heroes like Jaina, whose damage occurs in large chunks per instance.
Blackheart’s Bay is a very good map for solo mercer Sonya. She is one of the top three heroes for soloing camps and arguably has the least comp dependent team fight. Her early game pressure and sustain as a solo laner make her strong on Braxis, Dragon Shire, and Haunted Mines. Her race is fairly poor on Battlefield and she doesn’t offer much on the defense; limited mobility makes her rough on Garden of Terror and Towers of Doom. A stand out map for her is Infernal Shrines if your comp is designed to win the objective. Slotting Sonya into a comp that is looking to play around the objective or zone the enemy team out of it as opposed to fighting directly on top of it will not do as well.
In the laning phase, Sonya will almost always be the solo laner. She can almost always, at minimum, tie the lane by waiting for the wave and using E to stay topped off. Against melee heroes she can simply trade into them, but ranged heroes she either has to hit her Q or have a wave to heal off of. The major thing Sonya lacks as a solo lane is an escape, so on close rotation maps like Tomb, or against stealthy or global characters, you have to play much more carefully.
As a bruiser, Sonya can out trade most other frontliners because of her self-heal and the level of her damage, especially with Wrath of the Berserker, but she isn’t immortal. Stuns to deny her self-healing from E in particular hamper her ability to be aggressive quite a bit, so it is still better to let your tank initiate and set up to peel for you in case you get focused. Diving the back line without immediately securing a kill is very dangerous, so you need to be aware of Sonya’s exact limits, which vary quite a bit with talents. Sonya excels as an anti-flanker if someone dives into your own backline, so long as you hit your Q.
Sonya is very strong with dive oriented tanks who can keep up with her who also have a lot of peel, such as Anub’Arak and Tyrael. Massive slows are a big boon to Sonya as it allows her to stay on top of heroes with her E. Jaina, Arthas, and even Murky pair well with her as a result. For similar reasons Lúcio, with his speed boost, helps her a lot. Any hero with shields also offers a very nice buffer, so Zarya and Tassadar both heavily enable Sonya.
Sonya needs some babysitting in team fights from the support, so other relatively fragile bruisers pair very poorly with her. Kerrigan, Alarak, Illidan, and even Ragnaros or Thrall should rarely, if ever, be drafted with a Sonya.
Frontline or near frontline heroes who lack an E interrupt have a very hard time trading into Sonya, such as Zarya, Kharazim, Greymane, Ragnaros, and Arthas. Her ability to just kill a squishy target who steps too far forward is not to be underestimated; Sonya can just erase someone like Valla if Q hits. As mentioned in her Fury section, heroes who do many instances of small amounts of damage struggle against Sonya because of how much Fury they generate for her, so fast attack speeds with low damage attacks or iterative, low damage abilities almost benefit her more than they hurt her.
With Sonya’s gap closer being on a long cooldown, and a skill shot, means she fairs very poorly against knockbacks of any kind. Sgt. Hammer, Raynor, Lúcio, Lt. Morales with good grenades, and E.T.C. can completely reset the fight against her after she uses Q, leaving her without a gap closer and able to be kited or chunked down for free. Interrupts for her E are essentially a death sentence, Muradin with Skullcracker being the worst thing to play against by far as Sonya but any reliable stun or silence hurts her.
The Default: This talent is usually the default pick just because of how strong it is and at best other talents at this tier are only situationally better.
Niche/Situational: One of the most common questions I get asked is when do you take certain less picked talents. They often have uses but the uses are specific to either comps or maps. These are those talents.
Must be Paired with Other talents: Often there are certain talents that, by themselves, are not very impressive but synergize so well with other talents that if you plan on taking the other talent, you should take the talents that pair well with it.
Trap: Trap Talents are either actively bad or, more usually, simply so much worse than competing talents at the same tier it doesn’t make sense to ever take them.
Fun: This can be a little bit of a personal thing, but I’m going to label the talents I personally consider fun even if they are not actually worth taking in real games.
- Wrath of the Berserker: The increased damage from all sources is obviously valuable, especially as it feeds back into your healing on E, but the real sell her is the built-in CC reduction. As a hero who is relatively easy for many heroes to kite, and whose survivability depends on being mobile, on top of the enemy, and spinning, negating a huge portion of the value from slows, roots, and stuns is huge. It also enhances the aspect of Sonya that is already strong, out trading other frontliners. It gives yet another reason not to miss Q, as the enhanced duration per Fury gained often makes you want to R > Q and immediately commit hard to a fight.
- Leap: Correctly talented, Sonya can kill a decent number of the squishier backliners with Leap. This also gives her a second gap closer, which is obviously invaluable against heroes who can otherwise create space and then kite her. The risk here is that Leap is very easy to overextend with and if you don’t secure the kill or the rest of your team does not immediately commit, you’re in a lot of trouble. It cannot be overstated enough that Leap is only better than Wrath in circumstances where it will secure a kill every time you use it. In dire situations it can also be used an escape to prevent dying.
- War Paint: Sustain in lane, sustain in fights, sustain on camps. Considering health is really your only limited resource, adding a self-heal to your attacks baseline makes it possible for you to be active on the map even more consistently.
- Block: Gives you favorable laning against many auto attack heroes, especially ranged ones that are going to try to poke you and you can’t hit them back. Since your healing is going to come from using E on the wave more than anything in those matchups, negating damage is more favorable than War Paint. It also provides anti-burst when spinning, so in many cases it is favorable to take this for team fights if you don’t need War Paint to win a lane.
- Shot of Fury: Having on demand Fury for E, being able to come into fights at a higher total amount of Fury, and having a button to automatically extend the length of Wrath of the Berserker (10) all make this a very strong talent. The problem is it does very little while laning and slightly affects your ability to do camps efficiently, so you lose a fair portion of the early game advantage Sonya provides for potentially better fighting in the late game. Making that call is very comp and map dependent, knowing in advance that the early game isn’t going to matter and it’ll all come down to late game.
- Focused Attack: The most generic talent at this tier gives more auto attack damage. Considering the strength of E after the buff it is fairly hard to justify this talent, as not dying will almost always result in you doing more damage over the course of a fight. That said, it does help with erasing fragile targets, as in the case of Leap (10) builds, and it does synergize with War Paint (1) as well.
- Shattered Ground: Particularly with the buff to Sonya’s E, the extra wave clear from this talent is rarely, if ever, as good as Hurricane’s cooldown reduction. In pro play it was only ever taken on Infernal Shrines to steal last hits and solo shrine more efficiently. It is still OK on Infernal Shrines for that purpose, but not usually better than Hurricane.
- Hurricane: The cooldown duration alone is enough to make this a very strong talent overall. Removing slows and roots is more of a bonus, though note you have to already be slowed or rooted to remove the effect. You want to use E a lot as Sonya, having it up more often means being able use E more.
- Mercenary Lord: If you’re constantly doing camps, as on Blackheart’s, you’ll rarely get value out of the second part of this talent. The exception is Haunted Mines, because enhanced Sappers are obscene. The second part does two things: taking less damage from camps means you cannot be counter jungled, as it is relatively common for a stealth or highly mobile hero to keep checking on camps you may doing, find you, wait until you’re about to finish, dive in, kill you, and take the camp. The second part is it allows you effectively solo bosses, which is gimmicky but at the same time does surprise a lot of players.
- Poisoned Spear: A talent that may well have been overbuffed, the damage it does is now extremely high and is yet another reason you never want to miss your Q. It does 569 damage at 20 over six seconds, which is enhanced by Wrath of the Berserker (10). If you can consistently get on top of a squishy hero with your Q, as in the case of Leap builds, this will allow you to put a lot of damage on them. This is particularly strong in the case of a ranged solo laning matching up that will extend past 7, which happens on Braxis and Dragon Shire fairly regularly,
- Composite Spear: This works more as a surprise than anything. Low mobility backline squishy heroes who are otherwise safe from Sonya suddenly… are not. But the only time this is really good is when those players are bad and continually position in a way that allows you to keep doing those long range Qs.
- Follow Through: Enhances your damage quite a bit with W spam and does enhance War Paint healing. In a lot of ways this is a compromise talent at this tier, as it provides some damage, some healing, some map utility (all assuming you took War Paint), whereas other talents at this tier provide just damage or just healing. Slightly stronger with Tassadar because of lifeleech from his shields.
- Ferocious Healing: Again, your only limited resource is health. Being able to generate Fury and turn it into free health is very, very nice. Has some good synergy with Shot of Fury (1). Just the fact that it makes you active on the map more consistently can be very beneficial.
- Life Funnel: 35% of damage done from E is healing, 105% of damage done against heroes. That is just an insane amount of healing.
- Aftershock: The Aftershock+Furious Blow build is honestly pretty fun, you get to see these huge numbers from your Ws, but honestly it isn’t justifiable in a competitive environment in comparison to what you’re giving up. Neither talent is good enough on its own after the buff to her E changing the relative value of other talents at these tiers.
- Mystical Spear: Gives Sonya an escape, which is the primary reason to take this talent. The cooldown reduction is more of a nice bonus, but in either case it doesn’t stand up well by comparison to the huge increase in E healing from Life Funnel.
- Spell Shield: Having a guaranteed anti-burst talent is pretty niche for Sonya, as she can usually heal back up, especially with Life Funnel, if she just positions well. But with Leap (10) the concern is getting turned and focused down. Against three burst heroes, which is unusual but does happen, it also can be slightly better.
- Furious Blow: The Aftershock+Furious Blow build is honestly pretty fun, you get to see these huge numbers from your Ws, but honestly it isn’t justifiable in a competitive environment in comparison to what you’re giving up. Neither talent is good enough on its own after the buff to her E changing the relative value of other talents at these tiers.
- No Escape: Removing slows with Hurricane (4) and then being able to just stay on top people and spin with E makes you largely unkillable against the right composition. Your chase potential with this talent is enormous.
- Imposing Presence: Giving Sonya a slow potentially gives her huge play making potential and slowing down auto attacks against her is obviously strong as it gives her E more time to get her health back up, but the shield from Nerves of Steel or the movement speed from No Escape will more consistently achieve similar things. Note that speed bonuses do not stack, so if you have a Tyrael or a Lúcio enhancing your speed already this will see less value.
- Nerves of Steel: Shields synergize so well with healing. You go in, get focused, get stunned, get low, catch a heal from your support, pop Nerves and use E to heal to full while the shield gets depleted. This such a common Sonya scenario that it is hard to recommend anything else at this tier except under very specific circumstances.
- Arreat Crater: The centerpiece of many goofy combos and an incredibly fun talent, but in a competitive environment it will never stack up to the likes of Ignore Pain.
- Anger Management: Essentially makes Wrath of the Berserker permanent if you can correctly manage Sonya’s Fury. In relatively low damage but high CC scenarios, for example against triple warrior, that will have some value.
- Nexus Blades: If you’re just completely snowballing a game, take this to chase down kills or have extra damage on core to end the game. It does synergize with War Paint (1) in the rare cases where you don’t need to worry about burst and the game is all about sustain.
- Ignore Pain: Having a shield with healing is massively valuable. Being able to heal while taking 75% less damage makes this easily the best talent at this tier for Sonya’s kit, regardless of build.