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Sheik 101: The Neutral

Sheik 101: The Neutral

Game Versions
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U
What we'll be covering in this guide are the main tools that, as Sheik, you will be taking advantage of to dominate the neutral game (at least in most of the MUs).

There's not much more to say, so let's get straight into analyzing Sheik's tools:
  • Aerials: Sheik's aerial game is far from the best in the game, but she certainly doesn't lack respectable aerial moves which define a great part of her neutral game. We're talking about her N-Air and her F-Air. Each of them is really good for its own reason. F-Air, for example, is by far the best spacing tool you've got at your disposal, and the one you will be spamming throughout the majority of your sets, especially at low percents. The reasons why you should do this are quite simple: it's safe on shield, it's pretty fast and has little to no landing lag (hitbox comes out on frame 5) and it's an excellent combo tool as well, since you can follow it up with either a grab at low percents, or a Bouncing Fish at mid percents. N-Air instead has a much more restricted use, but is still a very powerful tool you can abuse around high percents to close out stocks, taking advantage of its late hitbox, which has a total duration of 23 frames (frame 7 to 30) and is a reliable confirm into Bouncing Fish.
  • Grabs: Grabs are your main way of not only racking up damage, but taking out stocks as well, since Sheik can capitalize on 50/50 situations very easily. However, grabs are not a tool that can be spammed nor used without caution. Notice that Sheik is not a rushdown grappler, so avoid going for overextended dash grabs if you can. Instead, use your grab as a way to punish your opponent's grounded approaches, especially if you manage to pull off a perfect shield. Keep in mind that your F-Air is an excellent low% confirm into a grab, so take advantage of that to single-handedly play rushdown and keep hard pressure on your opponent, as you will be forcing them to either shield or take a hit, which both result in a grab.
  • Needles: Needles are hands down your best zoning and keepaway tool, while having kill confirm potential as well. Their usage depends heavily on the MU you are facing, as you will be using them mostly on characters that have very vulnerable grounded approaches. Charge them in the spare time you have after taking a stock, if you want to stall, or as a way of baiting an approach. Keep in mind that, while in the charging animation, even if you can shield or roll out of it, you are still very open for aerial punishes, so never use them mindlessly.
  • Tilts: Tilts have basically the same use of grabs, since they lead in deadly strings and 50/50s as well. Similarly to the grabs, they shine at punishing approaches, especially aerial ones. Each tilt has its own purpose, and each has its utility when playing the neutral. F-Tilt is the one you are going to be using the most, since its small launch rate is perfect for low% combos, and at higher% it remains a solid oppurtunity for a 50/50. U-Tilt is not even nearly as used as F-Tilt, but is still a great mixup in strings and a reliable confirm into Bouncing Fish. Out of everyone D-Tilt is the one you're going to be using the least, even for the only reason it doesn't really open up any true combo opportunity, but it's still decently usable as a mixup into either an U-Smash or an U-Air.
TL;DR: When playing the neutral keep constant hard pressure on your opponent with the usage of Short Hop F-Airs, and adapt on the way your opponent is dealing with them: if you notice he is just sitting in shield, go straight for a grab, if instead he is being more creative, analyze, find the opportunity and land the confirm. If you want to play it cool and let the opponent be the one approaching (or even go for a timeout), take advantage of needles to stuff his approaches or bait them, depending on the situations. To close stocks either go for raw Bouncing Fish confirms or open up 50/50 opportunities with grabs or tilts.

Thanks a lot for reading my guide, I really hope it's been helpful. If you have any kind of question go ahead and hit me up!

P.S: I'd like to make clear that English is not my first language, so please feel free to correct me if you notice any mistakes.

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True and has helped with my neutral game so far.
It does look like you put a lot of research into this. Nice work!
Solid guide.
Thank you! Really means a lot
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