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The Fallen Queen of Smash 4: A Sheik Guide (WIP)

The Fallen Queen of Smash 4: A Sheik Guide (WIP)

Game Versions
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U
NOTE 12/6/17: It's been a year since I've worked on this guide and I'm probably never going to complete it. Feel free to take writing the rest into your own hands if you want; I hereby renounce any copyright stuff that might interfere with somebody doing so. You can even claim it as your own. I don't care what happens to this piece of crap anymore and honestly don't even really want to be associated with it for any reason other than demonstrating how obsessed I used to be with this mediocre game. The writing sucks and the ideas are incredibly basic; I honestly would never recommend anybody reading this ever. Apparently everybody who has reviewed it loves it, though, so what do I know?


The very first version of this guide was created by me on September 29th, 2015. It was featured and got 18 reviews, all of which were 5-star. It was deleted on March 18th of 2016under the excuse of “needing to update it for 1.1.5”, but in reality I was just salty over an Anther’s Ladder game. I reposted it after changing a few things on April 24th 2016. I stoped working on it until about September, where I then began writing about a page per day every day that I don't have too much homework or suffer from a YouTube addiction. Now we are here and I am trying to keep up that scheduled.

This is a guide to playing as Sheik in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and subsequently improving as her in both mental and technical proficiency. It is geared towards 1 on 1 play and is current as of Version 1.1.6 of the game. The guide assumes you have played the game enough to understand it well compared to beginners, and that you know at least a small bit about competitive Super Smash Brothers as a whole. If you need to learn these aspects, check out Izaw's Art of Smash video series, as it is the best of the complete tutorials on Smash as a while that I've seen. There are others on this site, so if you don't like that one just look around in the guide section. This guide also assumes you know the bare-bones basics of Sheik's moveset and basic Smash terminology. Before reading this guide, visit The Smash Dictionary for Smash terms and Sheik's Kurogane Hammer page for Sheik damage, extensive frame data, and so on if you need to learn about these topics. Ever since a tech called Bidou became popular, the optimal controls for Sheik, and really any character in Smash 4, are as follows: (Using a Pro/Classic Controller or GamePad) L to Shield, ZL and the left stick to Special, R set to jump and ZR set to Attack. These are the controls this guide will use in all of its examples. However, it is almost equaly viable to simply disable tap jump, set the right stick to attack and setting any trigger button to Special. If you don't care to learn Bidou, I recommend this method. On an unrelated note, I highly recommend reading Showdow’s excellent Sheik guide, “The Ninja with an Actual Scarf (In fact, you should just read Showdow's guides in general. They are great.) It is the only decent Sheik guide on Smashboards that is done at the moment, and in particular goes into tremendous detail about Sheik's attacks, although it is a bit outdated. Lastly, I will be translating this guide into video format on my YouTube Chanel, so if you want to be notified when that comes out subscribe there.

Before we get started, is Sheik right for you? Sheik is a highly versatile areal character with multiple strong tools for just about any situation. Her offensive game rides off of her incredible short hop and aerials, and her bait-and-punish game is powered by the awesomeness that is Needles. She can recover from just about anywhere and combo off of almost anything. She really lacks in truly bad MUs, with just a few where she is given a significant amount of trouble. When playing her you need to concentrate on abusing your movement to be in constant motion to apply pressure to your opponent. She lacks in KO power, however, and is rather easy herself for most characters to kill, especial if you don’t know how to properly escape combos and space attacks safely. If you like these attributes (and winning; She's top-tier) and don't mind the setbacks, than congratulations, you will enjoy Sheik! Read on, fellow Sheikah!

Pros and Cons:
+Great combo game
+Great Edgeguarding tools
+Strong Zoning and Spacing ability
+Spectacular recovery
+Pelotheras of useful tech
+Ridiculous movement speed/options
+Down-B almost = Air dash (See this for why this is so valuable).
+Next to no lag on best moves
+Needles aid range issues
+Safety on lots of her best moves
+Sharking/Jab-resetting capabilities
+9001 style points
+Better Shorthop than Melee Fox
-Light but not floaty
-Dair is almost entirely trash
-Short-lasting hitboxes
-No kill setups off of throws, meaning she can be camped with Shield at high percents.
-Few character-specific benefits from Bidou
-Difficulty Edgeguarding high without platforms
-Is slowly becoming more popular, making for more experienced opponents
-Is hard to dual-main someone else or have as a secondary due to complexity
-Less kill moves than Melee Pichu

1: MOVESET OVERVIEW (Pending Revisions): Just what it sounds like. This section is all about her moveset and teaching how best to use each move within it.
2: BREAD AND BUTTER ATs (needs total rework): This section will cover her basic ATs. After 1.1 is reached (the update I plan to expand upon her Mov 1Q23eset) this section will be improved to discuss almost all ATs.
3: GENERAL STRATEGY (Several untouched sections): No hidden meanings here either, this is where the basics of play will be covered. Version 1.0 of the guide will see vast expansion.
4: MUs (under construction): Sheik’s performance against other characters in the game will be reviewed here.
5: MICRO SITUATIONS (needs total rework): This section will eventually document all of the small sections one might find themselves in that are less easy to handle that usual.
6: STAGES (needs total rework): Sheik’s performance on each legal stage will be reviewed here. Not much room for expansion in the future.
My recommended method of practicing all of what this guide teaches. (NOT HERE YET DON'T ASK WHEN)

Moveset (The Basics)
Before we get into Sheik’s actual moveset, it will be best if you get into the proper mindset for thinking about attacks as a whole. Attacks are not methods of dealing damage. They are tools. Tools that help you win the match. Tools are meant to be used for specific purposes, and using them for reasons outside of their intended purposes will result at best in the job it was doing not being done optimally and at worst the user of the tool getting seriously injured. You wouldn’t use a jack hammer to remove the hinges of a door, and you wouldn’t use Down Smash to set up combos. This mindset is very important in developing an optimal play style as if you look at things this way then you should not be misusing attacks. I will be going into detail about all of the uses of the attacks that Sheik has at her disposal below. Learn these and remember them; It is absolutely required that you know them and their uses like the back of your hand to be a successful player.

Forward Aerial: Sheik Swipe
All of the Hitbox GIFs are by Furil and can be found here: http://smashboards.com/threads/sheik-hitbox-visualization.432705/
This move is what Sheik is infamous for. It's damage-racking and combo ability, safety in almost all situations, gimp potential... It's an incredible tool by design, and an excellent attack to have in your at your disposal. It is a key to understand how to use it in order to play Sheik well.

Now, there are two viable ways of getting this attack out quickly and effectively from the ground: Shorthoping and immediately using the move and then Fastfalling (AKA instant Fair. Slide thumb from X to A) or Shorthoping, waiting until you are at the apex of the jump and then fastfalling (Tap X and A separately). The first of these is what you should be using in combos and light punishes and the second should be used everywhere else.

This attack is great for getting a feel for how the opponent will react to aggression, as it is absurdly safe when spaced correctly and comes out in 5 frames. Once or twice per match you can approach a grounded opponent with Fair at pretty much any time without the opponent catching on and punishing, so you can use it to see what they do out of shield when you apply pressure if they block it and how they try to get out of strings of attacks if you land it. This information can be used later to catch their actions out of shield and potentially read airdodges or antiairs when you are trying to kill the opponent latter in the game.

As a spacing tool, this move, due to its incredibly low landing lag, is often used in neutral to put out a temporary threat that keeps other from approaching, or as a way to force your opponent to back away, giving you more stage control. The incredible frame data of the move powers the first of these two effects, which can make it a good move to use while retreating a short distance. On the offensive side of things, this move was practically designed to back opponents away from your position when you autocancle it, as it has almost no risk whatsoever when used this way. It is a method of making others either block, roll or risk taking a combo to the face. When using it this way, it's important to stay out of their grab range and not hit shield too close; this will almost always result in a shield grab from them, which is just free damage for your opponent. It's also important not to confuse offensive spacing with a direct approach, as mindlessly approaching with Shorthop Fair is never a good idea, unless it's for conditioning purposes. Even then, however, it’s still a very risky move. In fact, the number of times that you will land this in neutral is actually fairly low; it’s easy to avoid, but it’s speed makes it a good tool for forcing your opponent to evade it at the cost of stage control. While still on the topic of spacing, this attack will be your main tool for beating out aerial approaches that use attacks that don’t have disjointed hitboxes, like Mario’s Dair. Due to this, learning the max range of Fair is invaluable as you will need it in order to avoid trades as much as possible. Overall, Fair will be one of the driving forces of your Neutral Game, so you should learn to use it as such.

As mentioned above, another use of Fair is conditioning. It's fast enough that if you are able to land it multiple times throughout the match (through any means, not just in neutral) your opponent may come to block the moment you do decide to Shorthop at them as an approach. You, knowing that you have caused them to do this, can use this opening to land without using an aerial and either grab, roll behind them, charge a Smash (they can drop their shields and go for a grab or tilt since you didn't land the Fair), or go for a jab-cancel combo of your choice. These are the types of things you can do with the powerful tool of intentionally-inflicted habits and is one of the many things you should try and be aware of doing when you are playing Sheik.

This attack also has usage in for the sake of intercepting movement towards you. An opponent carelessly rushing at you should find themselves being hit by an approaching Fair (especially of they are in the air as they can’t shield it), as well as those who role towards you while you are in the air. It can beat out moves like Fox and Falco’s Illusions, Falcon’s Raptor Boost and many others of the sort with very little risk. Just know that this attack can’t be used to beat out approaches using disjointed hitboxes, such as Marth’s sword or Mewtwo’s tail. Trying to do this will just result in you getting hit and losing the neutral game.

When using this attack to rack up damage, you need to remember that on its own it won't deal too much percent and that linking it with other moves is the reason it is worth using as such in the first place. For example, at lower percents you can chain it into multiple F-tilts, which can lead to grabs which leads to destruction. Also at low percents, you may be able to follow up with Jump Cancle Up-smash, Nair, more Fairs, or even bouncing fish depending on the opponent's weight class and fall speed. As you are approaching medium percentage, you may combo into Bair, Nair and (more reliably than before) Bouncing Fish. Upper percent combos include Aerial Needles, Up Air, hard read Up-B and possibly another Fair. The main gimmick at the higher percents with this move is to set up edgeguards, so combos at this percent are not really worth it unless they set up for kill combos. These are things like: Fair>Full-hop Needles>Bouncing Fish or Fair>U-tilt reset through a platform. A big no-no when using the move to combo into itself is using double-jumps to link them as opposed to fastfalling, landing and then shorthoping after each one. If you do the former, you will be slower in landing each one, to the point where it may not even true combo, not to mention the fact that using this method will result in you being able to land a maximum of 3 Fairs before landing.

For those who are not aware, you are able to jump, roll and grab out of Shield (OoS) without waiting for your character to drop their shield first just by pressing the corresponding button. So, as a result, you can use Aerials almost directly OoS. Fair is incredible out of Shield, and is one of your many options when in a situation where you are in it. You should use this move this way mainly when a tall opponent uses an attack with more range than Grab on your shield; this attack yields almost as much reward as grab. You can also use it if the opponent misspaces an attempt at a laggy aerial like Cloud’s Fair on your shield at a distance, but if they are competent at their character and spacing in general this should rarely happen. Lastly, you might want to Fair OoS at very high percents when someone attacks your shield as the positional advantage you gain from Fair is greater than what you gain from grabs once they stop comboing into other attacks. As a closing note, he input to use Fair OoS is a little bit awkward, so get used to it in training mode before attempting to use it in a match.

Fair is also commonly used for Edgeguarding, and for very good reason. Due to the amount of knockback it has, while it won't kill off-stage until 170-ish%, it is great for stopping recoveries in their tracks and sending the characters into an awkward position where they can't get back on stage easily. When edgeguarding high, this move is one of the only ones you want to use, besides Bouncing Fish is there is a clear opening. If they are just above the ledge, you can shorthop at the ledge while on-stage and Fair to force them to either airdodge and miss the ledge or get sent back off with less recovery tools than before. If they are recovering from very low and at a decent horizontal distance from the stage, you can just run-off Fair and they will most likely be unable to recover, due to the trajectory it sends them at requiring them to then recover both horizontally and vertically, a situation that leads to an awfully predictable recovery. Note that if the opponent is not in a situation where they have no choice but to get back to the ledge as soon as possible, they can and probably will airdodge/counterattack your attempts at doing this, so be aware of weather or not your opponent has the option to avoid you.

Despite all of the great uses for the move, however, there are some situations that this move will get you destroyed for using it in. For example, this move should not be used for punishes unless you are not already in the air. Grab is a far better tool for doing that thanks to the ability to lead to more damage, and has more range when Boost Grab is employed to boot. The only exception to this is if the opponent rolls right or spotdodges in front of you, a situation where it can be hard to space Grab. Then, go for it as you have no other option besides letting it go free. Also, it is never a good idea to approach with it when you are not punishing an aerial mistake; it has range short enough that almost all grabs will be able to hit it from shield unless you space it pixel-perfectly, which is something that you probably won’t be able to rely on most of the time. These aspects make it a poor tool for being Roy-levels of aggressive.

Neutral Aerial: Long Kick
Frames active: 3-6 (Strong) 7-30 (Late)
IASA: Frame 50
Damage: 7, 8 if Sweetspot (Strong) 4, 5 if Sweetspot (Late)
Landing Lag: 10 Frames
Despite being a move of both great range and damage (by Sheik's standards, anyway), this move will probably see a lot less action then Fair when playing aggressivly. It is still a great move, however, it's just a good amount more situational. Typically you are going to want to use it in conjunction with Shorthop, but unlike with Fair, Fullhoping it is not out of the question thanks to it's very long-lasting hitbox. It can end combos, break combos, start combos and gimp, among other things. It is pretty punishable if you use it high in the air don't land it, however, as there are a whopping 20 frames of ending lag at the end of the attack animation.

This move can, thanks to the fact that it comes out faster and lasts longer than Fair while having similar properties in it’s knockback and angle that it send the opponent at, be used with combos in just about any way you can think of. For combo starters/extenders, you can use the late hit's low knockback and easy autocancle off said week hit (the auto cancel starts frames 31 and onward; basically as soon as the hitbox is done you will land laglessly) to your advantage by following it up with F-tilts, grabs or Up-smash if they DI incorrectly. This is mostly important if you are in a position where Fair would not lead to anything besides itself, as some of the stuff you can do with those free F-tilts is absolutely insane. For example, if your opponent is at around 20-ish percent (varies by weight class), you can soft Nair>Double F-tilt>Fullhop Double Fair>Bouncing Fish for 31%. This is just the beginning, however. There are things like Full-hop Needles and more off just this free F-tilt, so see what you can do! Nair is also a great combo finisher, as it can send opponents off-stage while doing about two Fairs worth of damage. This should be your primary move if you are about to end a Fair string or are too near the ledge to land F-throw>Bouncing Fish off of Fair. On an experimental note, it is possible that this move could be used for combos into itself on heavy characters which would then lead to the staple combos mentioned above, but that is not something that has been experimented with in-game very much yet and isn’t really worth trying to use due to a lower damage output then other options. To land the move and start these combos to begin with, you are going to want to try full-hopping/double jumping as they approach you and come back down with a Nair, or use it OoS if they approach you while you are blocking.

The long-lasting hitbox of this move makes it a decent gimping tool because even the soft hit is very good at this job. If you hit them from above it will let launch the opponent at an odd angel that is below and to the right of where you hit them. This allows for some pretty unique edgeguarding options that characters that don't have Nairs that have similar hitboxes to this one's don't. For example, you can Fair them off the stage, dash off if they fell below the ledge (which happens on Fastfallers and people who DI randomly) and catch their double jump with late Nair for an OK edgeguard setup. This is especially helpful against characters like Ike and Could due to the fact that their Up Bs can bring them back down, so when they don't have jumps they are forced to choose between horizontal or vertical recovery, never both. This is highly ineffective on Dedede, Metaknight, Kirby, Jiggs and anyone with multiple jumps, due to the fact that they, well, have multiple jumps and getting rid of one does not really do much for you. Strong Nair also has some edgeguard potential in that you can use it go hit attacks like Fox and Falco’s Side B, or Pit and Rosalina’s Up B if they attempt to land on the stage or are recovering against the edge of the stage. While it is theoretically possible to KO with this move VERY near blastzones, the likelihood you will be in a position to do so is very low and Fair and BF are both much better at that job, as they have less lag and knockback better suited for the angel the Blastzone is at relative to them.

On mid-weight opponents, based on your purpose for using the move, you can deliberately hit an opponent with either the strong or weak hitbox of the move. Doing this gives you a lot more control of where you want your opponent to be as you can chose to either knock them away for an edgeguard or combo-breaker or keep them close for combos. If the opponent is heavy, however, the Nair won't knock them far enough away or into the air to be of much use until higher percents, when the move would no longer be useful anyway. On the flip-side of this, however, that means that the weak hit will continue to combo much longer than on other characters! Of course, that leaves light-weights. Jigglypuff and others will almost never be at low enough percent for you to get these combos on them, so try and land the strong hit as much as you can. Keep all of that in mind when an opening for the move presents itself. As with any Nair that functions like this, you will want to use it close to the ground rather than at the apex of a Shorthop to minimize the time your opponent has to punish in case you miss. Beware that the both hits can be Crouch Canceled at 0-8-ish% percent, and characters with fast and long D-tilts like Mac can punish.

Autocancled weak-hit Nair can also be used to kill confirm at around 90~140% (give or take based on weight, specifics can be found here) into Bouncing Fish, and combo into grab on some characters (which can lead to an Edgeguard) around that same percent range. This is a critical part of a theoretical perfect Sheik's gameplay, since there are a large number of situations where you could land this move. Most of these opportunities are disguised as chances to get Fair combos going, and they are things like: If you were hit in shield, if they throw out a laggy Smash attack (or Finishing Touch or Mega Buster or Falcon/Warlock Punch; Shoutout to For Glory!) and if they use a counter. Look for these and you will see that they occur more often than you would think. Some other ways of landing Nair at high percent would be to Full-hop as they approach you with the intent of garbing or dash-attacking and coming back down with a Nair. There are a lot of things you can mess around with here.

This move shares a lot of Fair's OoS uses, but also has the added benefit of range and the fact that you can use it without moving horizontally from your position in shield. The first of these gives you the ability to punish moves even from behind, and the second lets you punish attacks like Cloud’s Nair on Block much more easily, and the second of which lets you use it to punish people hitting your shield from above more easily. In addition, Sheik can also use Fulllhop Nair OoS as a way to retreat after blocking an attack with minimal risk, as it’s long-lasing hitbox can protect against some possible follow-up attacks. This isn’t an amazing move for this purpose, but it’s the best that Sheik has.

Full-hop Nair is an interesting option, as it can be used to catch other full-hops, or be a way to retreat relatively safely on Battlefield, Smashvile or Dreamland platforms thanks to its convenient auto-cancel widow being right where you should be when you land on the platforms on those stages. However, it is dangerous due to how easy it is to hit Sheik from below while this move is in progress. If you use Nair in this manner, it would be a good idea to practice pressing the C-stick diagonally down and to the direction you are facing to execute it so that you can keep moving through the air well doing so.

This attack, much like Fair, is a really bad move for mindlessly approaching the opponent as Sheik, while fast, is not fast enough for the supprise factor of this attack to catch opponents unprepared. It doesn't share the same conditioning benefits that Fair has either, as it will not be landed as often as Fair in general and thus in order to condition the opponent with it you would almost exclusively need to approach with it. On top of this, since Nair lasts so long, there are essentially no variations on the timing in which you can Shorthop Nair and still autocancle the move, and without autocanceling, the move is very unsafe on block. The lack of timings makes it easy for the opponent to know exactly when you will use the attack, and thus potentially power shield it and get a free opening for tons of damage as a result.

As closing notes, since the attack's weak hit deals four frames of Shield Stun and it is very easy to autocancle, you should be free to use this on block and not get punished for grabbing right away as aside from Roll there is no option that comes out on Frame One OoS. This assumes you do manage to land the move on block to begin with (which, as we just established, is very unlikely considering how bad it is for approaching), so this probably won't be too useful, but it's good to know regardless. This move has the ability to properly cover every option from the ledge besides fall off>double jump>aerial, as it has range long enough that can hit both Roll and Standard/Jump, and if you Autocancle it you can block before they get up attack. Since this move's weak hit leads into Bouncing Fish at higher percents, this is definitely something to keep in mind.

Up Aerial: Upward Drill Kick
Frames Active: 4-15 (first 3 hits) 23-24 (final hit)
IASA: Frame 44
Total Damage: 7
Landing Lag: 21 Frames

This attack used to be our main source of kills, but sadly the best setup into it was killed in patch 1.1.5. However, that does not make it useless by any means. This attack itself remains untouched, so the other, more difficult setups into it are still viable. For example, Up Air can 50/50 (between deciding to Double Jump Up Air right away to cover a jump from them or waiting for them to airdodge and then going for a Double Jump Up Air) most of the cast at percents ranging on average from 120 to 150. You can land it after tipper D-tilt at high percent at well, thanks to the semi-set knockback that it has. Lastly, it can be used to catch whatever Getup option they use if they miss a tech (Tech Chasing) through platforms, if such a situation ever comes up (It almost never will, but it’s a possibility). These setups are vital to killing with Sheik, and should be mastered as soon as possible. Openings for these attacks will need to be forced by your own hand; opponents will not leave themselves open by mistakes easily at high percent. So, just keep movement pressure up and try specific strategies mentioned in each of the respective attack sections of the moves that lead into it.

This attack can lead into a grab, so long as you only land the first three hits, and are at most a Shorthop from the ground and you are fastalling while doing so. Since in a case like this Smash 4 tells both characters to land with equal lag, you can beat out a lot of your opponents options in a situation like this just by acting before them, thus giving you a free grab many times. If your opponent has an attack like a Frame One jab that could beat this move, try and predict such as attack and take the appropriate countermeasures. This setup can be achieved off of a down throw at lower percents, F-tilt at mid percentage and off a fullhop Airdodge read at any percent. This can be difficult to pull off, as you need to Up Air and Fastfall a certain distance from the ground, so you should practice this in Training Mode if you intend on using it. As closing advice, it is easier if you either use different fingers to perform the Jump and Up Air, or use the C-stick while set to attack to do the Up Air.

Back Aerial: Reverse Long Kick
Frames Active: 4-6 (Strong) 7-14 (Late)
IASA: Frame 38
Damage: 7/8 (Strong) 5 (Late)
Landing Lag: 12 Frames

The main appeal of Bair is the fact that it has the longest range of any of Sheik's aerials. The hitbox goes diagonally up in the direction you are facing, which both gives it the advantage of hitting high and the disadvantage of not being interchangeable with Fair. It is just a few frames slower than Fair in every area, making it a very fast move.

Due to how similar the frame data is to Fair, Bair can combo into itself if you are high in the air on characters with a decent amount of weight. It will be your best friend when you use it to start strings on characters just outside of Shorthop Fair's range. Unfortunately, the move doesn’t have too much combo utility outside of itself. Thankfully, it can also be used as a fast way to catch shorthops and full-hops so long as you are facing the right direction to do so.

The move’s weak hit can also jab lock, meaning that you can use it to set up for pretty much anything with proper timing. However, the odds of Sheik getting the opponent to miss a tech are slim, meaning that this won’t be used often. Sheik can, however, set this up through an untechable Footstool canceled by a moving platform to make it so you have enough time to land the Bair before they get up. To do this you simply need to footstool an aerial opponent just as a moving platform (such as that of Smashvile or Town and City) is coming by, run off it or fall through it and Bair.

This move does have a pretty decent amount of knockback growth compared to Fair and Nair, so at higher percents it is a good thing to know how to set up into it. The first way you can do this is very easy. Anytime you get a ledgetrump you can fall backwards off the ledge, jump and Bair. This works on about half of the cast, as some get knocked too low off the ledge to hit them with this. The other setup into Bair is a mid-percent D-throw near the ledge. You can quickly Double Jump up there and knock them off stage.

A common bad habit among both new and top Sheik players alike is trying to hit an opponent behind you and actively perusing you with Bair as you are landing. This is most likely done out of the desire to get the opponent off of you, but since the option is so easy to read it almost always just leads to the opponent blocking it and getting an out-of-shield punish. It’s almost always a better option to Double Jump if you can and if not simply land and run away. If you are feeling really bold you can go for a B-reverese Shortened Bouncing Fish instead of Bair because of how much safer this move is on block, but it’s also a bit easier to react to meaning the opponent will probably just block it anyway. It does get you out of the situation thanks to the recoil, though, so that’s a plus.

There is an issue with older or abused controllers where you will occasionally Reverse Aerial Rush (RAR) Bair when trying to Fair, but it doesn't come up very often if you take care of the controller and don’t be 2014 Leffen and it shouldn't be an issue for most people.

Down Aerial: Literal Garbage
Frames Active: 15-18 (Spike) 19-33 (Late) 1-2 (Landing)
IASA: 50
Damage: 8 (Air) 2 (Landing
Landing Lag: 30

This attack has very few practical uses. It is an extremely powerful spike, but due to its stall-then-fall nature it is very easy to react to and is very hard to land off a read. However, there are a surprising number reliable (albe them impractical) setups into Footstool and subsequently Dair at the ledge that may work depending on percent. These include Burst Grenade to Footstool, Offstage Aerial Needles to Footstool, Ledge Cancel Rapid Jab to Footstool, Reverse F-tilt to Footstool (Opponent can easily DI here), Tipper D-tilt while the opponent is grabbing the ledge to Footstool and Aerial Grenade Shell to Footstool. These setups will work on Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Yoshi, Rosalina, Zelda, Marth, Kirby, Lucario, Duck Hunt, Olimar, Doctor Mario, Lucina, Mewtwo, Ness, Lucas and Corrin, due to the angle that people are sent by the Footstool. For some reason, the landing hitbox of this move can still spike opponents during their snapback window and will thus be spiked if you use it during that window at the ledge. That's it for uses, really. This atttack sucks.

Forward Tilt: Rising Kick
Frames Active: 5-8
IASA: Frame 25
Damage: 4
Frame Advantage on Block: -15


Many of Sheik's primary combos involve this move in some way. It links into itself, Jab, Nair, Fair, F-smash, grab, D-tilt, U-tilt, Uair, Up Smash and more based on percent, fall speed and DI. It can be utilized alongside a number of ATs to increase its apparently-limited range and situations of usability.

On its own, this move may initially seem to be useful just off of moves like Nair or Jab, never as a standalone move. Even without ATs, however, this is still false. It is your best tool for punishing rolls at you thanks to its decent amount of range, a good way to stop people from landing from above and a fast option if you hard read any singular ledge getup option. You can land it off of Tomahawks much in the same way you would with jabs and even use it to punish if the opponent B-reverses a laggy move by mistake right in front of you or something like that. But when you take Advanced Techniques into account a whole new world opens up.

Using this move in conjunction with Perfect Pivots is one of the best uses for Smash 4's wavedash that people have discovered with any character thus far. When using this move to combo into itself, you may notice that your opponent often DIs out of it without any issues. The perfect pivot solves that issue entirely. You can vastly extend the range of any string with this move just by perfect pivoting between hits (it takes two frames) and just F-tilting again. Beyond F-tilt, this allows you to follow up with U-tilt or a standing grab. If you want footage of this being performed, just take a look at pretty much any of Void (the most technical Sheik and my favorite to watch)' s matches; he truly understands the value of doing this and thus does so whenever he gets the chance.

C-bounce F-tilt is beautiful. For Yu-gi-oh players, it's basically the equivalent of Nobel Knight Borz; in certain situations when an opponent is about to get a large advantage you can use it to stock up on a resource and bait an opponent into leaving themselves open to be devastated with your greatest quick-access tool (Nobel Knight Medruat to Rank 5 King, Fair to Bouncing Fish String). You have the power to get close to your opponent, float right back while charging Needles and cancels said Needles as soon as you are able to and punish whatever you baited out. Although this tech is difficult to learn it is more than worth the practice time thanks to what it lets you do.

Just Needle-fidgeting into F-tilt on its own can be a fun option to mess around with. One of the main applications of Needle Fidgeting in the first place is the ability to buffer attacks out of it, and since you can Needle out of a run you can use it as an approach option in this manner, almost like a better dash attack. It is a rarely-expected technique that is definitely underused, so it can be a good way to get in once or twice in a set. Combining this with B-reverses, you get a decent option to bait short-range moves such as Little Mac’s F-Smash and punish with your F-tilt.

The most famous implication of ATs with this move is by far the Pivot F-tilt. This Melee-tech turned official ability is a great mindgame tool that lets you get behind your opponent to bait opponents into dropping Shield, wait out spotdodge and more. The drawback to doing this is that it will often be more difficult to space how you want to. This is a punishable option against characters with fast Up-Bs or Up-Smashes that hit on both sides, so try not to use it on block VS these fighters.

The spacing on this move is essential to what you can do off of it. The closer your opponent is to the edge of the hitbox, the farther they will be knocked horizontally from your range. This can let you follow up with what you want at low percents via perfect pivots, but at high percents you will want to stay at close range so that they do not get knocked out of follow-up range. In most match ups, Perfect Pivot will fix the problem as you are able to get into most range this move will connect in after the first one. However, on lighter characters (about Luigi or Yoshi and lighter) you are forced much more to focus on landing near the origin point of the hitbox so they are not knocked vertically too high to Perfect Pivot in. Thankfully, it is at times like this that Uair will be setup to reset for a grab, where you can go bananas.

Landing this attack at high percents is now an essential part of killing with Sheik, as ever since 1.1.5, her D-throw to 50/50 only works at a VERY tiny range of percents on most of the cast and F-tilt is one of the few good ways to land an Up Air at high percents as a result. Be sure to be on the lookout for moves you can punish with this at high percents at all times if you want to ever be able to kill (Spoiler: You do.)

Down Tilt: Sweep Kick
Hitbox Active: 5-6
IASA: Frame 30
Damage: 5
Frame advantage on Block: -24

This is by far Sheik's most underrated move, besides maybe Burst Grenade. It has very similar come-out time to F-tilt, doesn't cancel any sliding animation unlike the rest of her tilts (which gives it many more quick movement options with it), hits the below ledge and can thus get a 2-frame punish, can be used to punish moves you dodged by crawling, and can even set up kills in certain situations. The major drawback is its large amount of end lag which can often leave you open for any move that comes out within 24 frames. Additional, it lacks much vertical range, so it cannot be used to intercept aerial opponents the same way F-tilt can.

This move can be used out of F-tilt and... Well, that's about it. Unfortunately, we lacks many options that combo into this move, although it can combo into a few to make up for that.. It both does less damage and sends opponents at an angle that is more difficult to follow-up on than its counterpart in damage and frame data. The only time that you will be using this to combo is if you are using it to lead into Uair, which it can do at high percent thanks to the fact that the very tip of Sheik's leg during this move has drastically less KBG and a much better combo angle than the remainder of the limb. At ranges where your opponent is just out of range of a grab, you can use this to kill combo by just D-tilting after you drop your shield.

The fact that this attack will not stop a slide (unlike the rest of Sheik's moves) gives it much more utility. For example, you can use the Crouch Slide in order to retreat well putting out a hitbox, apply safe shield pressure, or avoid a grab from ZSS out of shield while covering the roll-in option. This property can be used to approach by dashing, turning around mid-dash and D-tilting just at the end of the turnaround animation. This will trigger a slide and the attack, letting you catch opponents giving chase off-guard. Unfortunately, D-tilt receives little to no aid from Perfect Pivot, as Perfect Pivot is too fast to be helped by not being interrupted, and F-tilt has better range.

Using this move's ledge-hitting property is a delicate art: Not only do you need to be able to reliably land it but also know when it is best to go for it at all. Since you have just 2 frames to land the move, you must spend a large amount of practice doing this in the lab, which is time you could use on other, easier, equally helpful tech. As for knowing when to use it, there are times when it would be better to go for a Ledge Trump, which could let you edgeguard more effectively based on whether you are dealing with a horizontal or vertical recovery.

This attack has a slightly lower risk in neutral than F-tilt, thanks to it making your hurtbox so much smaller than it typically is. This is a good thing to keep in mind, as there are many moves that Sheik can duck under with this.

Up Tilt: Multi-kick
Hitbox Active: 5-8, 19-23
IASA: Frame 36
Damage: 5, 6
Frame Advantage on Block: -12 (second hit hit)

Well this move may initially appear similar to F-tilt (the first hit's frame data is exactly the same), it will almost never be used the same way. It has lower horizontal range and more lag, but also has better damage output and knockback angel that perfectly sets up for Fair, Nair or Bouncing Fish. It even reaches through platforms on Battlefield and Smashvile!

This move will hardly be used in Neutral, ever. It lacks range and is slow on the recovery time. It is much better in the combo department, as it leads into 25~% combos and can be used as a follow-up on some cases. It can be used out of Fullhop Needles and any percent, Fair at lower percents, D-throw Perfect Pivot on characters with both high fall speed and weight at very low percent, and Pefcet Pivot F-tilts. It will lead into Bouncing Fish at just about any reasonable percent (up to about 90 on very light ones), and Fair at around that same percent range. You will almost always want to go for the former due to the higher damage output and amount of knockback at higher percents it will do. However, in a few situations it would still be the best option to go for a Fair string, such as if you are confident in your ability to get three or more Fairs before you run out of stage to work with and they are at too low percent to be killed by an edgeguard.

This move does not gain too much versatility from ATs, unfortunately. Spacing it so that you will land it after a perfect pivot is very difficult, it's lack of range makes it hard to be sneaky when approaching and using it after Needle Fidget and it is not usable OoS. The only time this will be used in conjunction with an AT is when you C-bounce. This is because when you do so, a slower opponent may get hit by the second hitbox, due to how late it comes out and how much more range it has, which is good because it is what sets up for combos in the first place.

The top hitbox of the first hit of U-tilt jab resets. You read that right. If you land U-tilt through the platform while they are on said platform after missing a tech, you can get a free 30% (Three U-tilts is the max; U-smash is the optimal follow-up, although it can also lead to a Full-hop Fair, Nair, U-air and maybe grab.) In order to land this, you're most likely going to need to use Needle Fidgeting out of a dash to get under a platform after you knock an opponent onto said platform, preferably with F-throw or Fair. This setup will kill very early, so despite it being a relative rarity as far as how often it will come up, it is still something to practice. It's fairly easy, thankfully, so there will not be much time you need to devote to it. Just try and practice using U-tilt out of Needle Fidget at different spots beneath platforms.

This move is very punishable; it has no hitbox from behind on the second hit, lots of lag and is not something you should ever be throwing out in neutral. The move does not even do enough shieldstun to land the second hit before most opponents can get a grab out. Because of how punishable it is, the combos that lead into this move are most likely the ones you should be practicing preforming quickly the most once you get the essentials down, as screwing those up in either positioning or being too slow to get the move out is the worst mistake you can make when preforming a combo, besides pressing the wrong button all together.

Neutral Special: Needle Storm
Additional Needle on charge frames: 1, 26, 44, 62, 80, 98
Frames active (1-5 Needles charged): 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26
Frames active: (6 charged): 5, 7, 9, 11, 13
IASA (1-5): 48 (6) 53

Hands down one of the most powerful non-item projectiles in the game (Right up there with Dragon Fang Shot and Luigi's Fireball [And another 1-2 to Shoryuken!]), this tool alone gives Sheik a camping game that has almost no way (that has a good success rate, anyway) of being beaten without taking at least a little bit of damage. Its usability increases dramatically beyond even this when used with ATs, where it can be used to approach, bait, extend the rage of other attacks and more. Many of these techs will become absolute staples in an optimal, by-the-internet-guide Sheik.

This tool powers a camping game that provides Sheik players a good amount of free damage. The range (Approximate maximum range: Just less than half of Final Destination) and speed of this projectile (once thrown, of course; it takes 11 frames to come out) make it like a combination of PK Fire and Clay Pidgins. So, you should be trying to use the range of this move to make opponents approach you so that the match can proceed. Camping with this attack is not easy; the range is low enough that opponents can easily begin to approach if they want, but that is the point here. Even if they are not getting close but rather blocking and avoiding damage, you should still continue as you can condition them to press block the moment they hear the Needle start-up sound. This allows you to Needle Fidget and then rush in once they shield and get a free grab. At mid-to-long range, this move can stop direct grounded approaches in their tracks, which can really throw off some players due to how much the hitstun (and thus how long they have to wait before dashing again) varies greatly based on number of Needles and percentage. An opponent who carelessly dashes at you is just asking to take 1-11%. You should be slightly charging the move whenever you have the chance (when you are far from your opponent, when you are moving about at mid-range, and so on).

In the air, Needles take on an entirely different use. You can use them or a number of purposes, almost all of which involve comboing. For example, you have the ability to combo a fullhop Needle into U-tilt upon landing so long as you have a full charge of Needles. Also with full charge, you can preform a key kill setup: The Needles to Bouncing Fish, possibly Sheik's strongest and most important kill confirm post-patch. It works best off-stage. Setting this up is not too hard; you can get it off of Fair at higher percents, or virtual any time your opponent is off-stage and recovering low. To optimize your chances of landing it, familiarize yourself with the angel that Aerial Needles get sent at. In case your Needles are not full, you will want to refrain from using them in most aerial situations, with the only one that I can think of that it would be used being as a get-off-me move if your opponent gets at that perfect angel in the air so that you can snipe them.

One of Sheik's most essential advanced techniques is Needle Fidgeting, which is performed by pressing Block very lightly during the Needle charging animation. You will cancel the charge while keeping your needle stock and return to neutral, meaning that you can perform any action out of it. In in optimized metagame, this will have many different uses. In fact, this may just be the most essential technique you will learn along with Sheik. You can use this to approach by dashing up, pressing Neutral B and Needle Fidgeting, followed up by an attack of your choice, such as F-tilt, D-tilt or Jab. It should be noted that this is just as risky as Dash Attack, if not more, so it should be used with caution. This tech should also be used whenever you need to move when charging, as it is faster and more helpful than firing the Needles. The move can be canceled via fidgeting even faster than normal if you do so within the first two frames the move is active, which speeds up the approach option and thus makes it less punishable. Lastly, this tech can be used in the air to some extent, as the same input will allow you to cancel the first 10 or so frames of the Air Dodge into any special in the air. This has its own set of uses. For example, you can charge Needles and cancel it into a Bouncing Fish in order to gain some of your precious projectile during the recovery process or into a B-reversal in order to confuse your opponents via a fast momentum change. The aerial applications of Needle Fidget are very underused; try and find new ways to incorporate it into your game play.

B-reverse Needle is a fun one to mess around with and is half of the backbone of your retreat game (the other half being turn-around F-tilt). In order to B-reverse, you just need to be facing one direction, press any special and then immediately press the direction you are not currently facing. As a result, you will perform the special facing the direction you pressed a second ago. When dashing off a platform, you can do this and land halfway underneath the platform you were just on, an occasional useful movement option. If you dash at an opponent and than do this you will slide out of their range and thus be able to punish whatever you just baited out. When using this tech when retreating, you can B-reverse and Needle, and they will be stopped in their tracks if they were chasing you, or even hit opponents that are not on your tale because it is not something that most players will expect to come out of almost nowhere.

Before we get into what makes this last point, it’s probably not a bad idea if I give an overview of projectiles and what they do in Smash as a whole. Projectiles are a means of putting out hitboxes where you aren’t, effectively giving you safe control of the stage while the hitbox is active. This means pretty much the same thing that stage control does otherwise: It gets the opponent hit if they step into it. So, this means that the opponent will almost always try to avoid the area the projectile controls while it is active. At the same time, the opponent very well can’t just stand there and let you throw projectiles at them; doing that would cause the match to go nowhere, so the opponent has to approach you. Thus the thrower of the projectile has effectively forced the opponent to chose from a few options that allow them to both approach and avoid the projectile at the same time. This limits the options that the opponent has, and thus allows the person throwing the projectile to take advantage of the opponent being in a state with less options.

So, what does this mean for Needles? Well, it shows that you can use them to approach either by jumping over the Needles/using platforms to get over them or by running up and blocking them. Either way, Sheik can still punish simply by canceling her Needles and attacking the opponent in a way that will be able to hit the opponent. In addition to the damage you deal with the Needles through doing this, you also gain another advantage: Knowing their preferred defensive options. Players who block the Needles are most likely going to be using shield a lot throughout the match, so you can use that information to read and grab them. If they jump over them, they might also use jump cross you up or to escape combos frequently. Information like this is valuable, and being able to keep and use as much of it as you can will give you a great advantage in the game.

Other uses for Needles include edgeguarding and disruption at high percents. You can use Needles to safely and easily gimp characters with liner recovery when they are recovering parallel to the stage, which is sometimes more reliable than using Aerials or Bouncing Fish due to the range of the attack. This is done simply by throwing the projectile at the opponent when they are recovering, hopefully just as they initiate their double jump so you can get rid of it. You can also use aerial Needles to intercept moves like Bayoneta’s recovery moves or Pit’s Up B several times in a row. This usually won’t lead to a kill but will grant damage and make the opponent grow impatient. Also, at high percent, since Needles will start putting the opponent into tumble, you can disrupt essentially any grounded approach very easily. Again, this probably won’t kill but adds damage and can make the opponent impatient and frustrated.

Side Special: Burst Grenade
Frames active: 15 through button release (thrown) 28-48 after button release (vacuum) 49 (explosion)
IASA: 81 (earliest button release)
Damage: 0 (thrown) Unknown (vacuum) 12 (explosion)
Frame Advantage on Block: -24?

Burst Grenade is an interesting move. It really does seem to lack purpose at first, with it's clear intended purpose being for catching really slow-to-react opponents for a good amount of damage, which is something that is essentially useless in competitive play. However, the move goes much deeper than this. It can catch rolls, opponents that pummel a lot during grabs, edgeguard, and, if you can land it raw, add a free 12% to Bouncing Fish. It can also suck opponents past the explosion radius, and "force" less experienced players to block, giving you a free grab or even Shield Break via Up Smash if the character you are using it on is tall enough for both hits of Up Smash to connect on block.

If you read a roll behind at any point against a character with a long roll (Samus!) you are able to catch this with a Burst Grenade, which leads to a Bouncing Fish or grab. This is very easy to punish, however, and should really only be used if you are trying to make a combo video or if you have a stock to throw away. The same option applies to when you predict a dash grab and a few pummels, but you won't get the follow-ups your ordinarily would. This is primarily helpful against newer players, as experienced ones will be able to react in time and throw you before the explosion.

Using this move for edgeguarding low is very hard, but also extremely rewarding. In order to do this, you need to be at the edge of the stage or close to it and Side B, holding the button until the grenade is where you want it to be. The hitbox of the explosion is only active for a single frame, so you must be extremely precise in the timing as well as spacing it. However, it has enough knockback to kill is you land it past about 90%, making it a very rewarding option. Also, the grenade itself can strip players of their jump very easily, as the hitbox is active until you release the B button. Even if you do not land the bomb, it still has its uses. For example, this can condition your opponent to fear the explosion and stay out of the area you would throw it, just in case you end up landing it.. This will make them much more predictable in their recovery path, allowing you to get an easy gimp. This is by far the best use of the tool. For those of you who want to try and use this move to edgeguard on opponents above the ledge in altitude, don't. Its borderline impossible to make the grenade detonate in a position where it is high enough for this to work, save the small amount of time on Smashvile where the platform is on the edge of the stage.

This attack is also semi-useful when you’re back is against the ledge and you are trying to get back to the stage. The attack, in this situation, is very difficult to punish without getting hit the Burst Grenade. If the opponent goes in for a grab, they will be hit by the bomb. If they try to go over you, you can get back to stage. If they back up they give you stage control. If they use a grounded attack, while you will be hit, the grenade will hit them as well. Basically this covers every good option from the opponent except kill moves, meaning that at high percents you can be killed for doing this. That aside, this is a surprisingly good way to at least reset the ledge situation, if not outright win it.

The last main use of the move is a result of a property of the grenade itself before the explosion: When it makes contact with any projectile (or other hitbox, but those are much harder to hit), it will bounce in the direction it was traveling and explode (and do like 18 damage for some reason) without the vacuum animation occurring at all. This is a great tech to use on projectiles like Arc Fire, Flame Breath (Charazard or Bowser), Aura Spear/Shadow Ball, Mega Buster, Water Shuriken and more. It is also not too hard to space compared to usual uses of Side B either. The only downside is that in some cases it will not be a guaranteed, as the opponent may no longer be in lag from the move. However, this is not too bad as the projectile you use it on will disappear the same as it would if it hit you instead. Sometimes you will not want to do this at all, because moves like Bayonenta's F-smash are punishable for MUCH more damage on block. As a closing note, this can do about 20% to Luma's Star Bits and even kill it starting at around 5% if it is close enough to the ledge.

Down Special: Bouncing Fish
Frames active: 17-24 (earliest) 26-33 (latest)
IASA: Based on far too many variables (position, air or ground, extended or shortened, etc.)
Damage: 12%
Shieldstun: 8 frames
Intangible frames 3-4

Holy carp (Get it? Carp, fish, Bouncing Fish? Sorry) do we have a move to talk about here. This move as so many different applications in so many situations. In fact, this was the only multi-paragraph move that was included when this guide was still in its beta (and written entirely on mobile. Those times without a computer were a dark few months...). Before we begin, it should be noted that after successful landing a Bouncing Fish, you should always initiate the second kick by pressing A or B to minimize how much or little time you have to be stuck in lag. For those who don't know, you can control the distance of the kick and retreat post a successful attack by pressing the direction you want your amount of movement to be swayed in.

This move is a follow-up off a number of attacks. Sometimes you will use it to kill, and sometimes you will use it to rack damage, but regardless of the situation it is almost always the optimal follow-up if it is mentioned here. After a Forward Throw, this should always be your go-to follow up until around 55% on midweights, as it does more damage than 3 Fairs, is faster and essential resets neutral due to the fact that after landing it you are propelled back, at which point you can start up the Force-them-to-approach engine via Needle camping. In addition, if you catch them with an Up Tilt, you will want to follow up with this for a free 20%. This move can also kill off Aerial Needles and as a super-hard mixup off D-throw between 120% and 140%.

BF is also a great finisher when used for edgeguarding, as it has great speed and incredible range for the knockback it has. It is easiest to use when characters are recovering parallel to the stage, using moves like Quick Draw or Fox/Falco Illusion. You can also land it above and below the stage, but that makes it harder to both time and space correctly. You can also use this move while on the ledge for a similar purpose, but the opponent can be a little higher. This works because at the ledge, this move will bounce off the side of the stage, setting you up for the second hit. (this property can also be used for stalling at the ledge. This is largely ineffective, however, as you do not regain invincibility when grabbing the ledge this way.) Using this move in this way before kill percent is just a wasted effort, as at that point it's just as easy and rewarding to go for a Fair, plus it remains slightly more fresh as a result.

This attack can be used as a way to finish off opponents on-stage as well, although it is typically much easier for your opponent to react to your attempt at doing so, so you will most likely need to preform a read or mixup. At high percents, you may be able to kill by faking a retreat and then preforming a B-reverse BF out of a dash (Half-circle for max distance, Full-circle for minimal distance). If you predict a roll at a distance, which you can bait by charging Needles, you can punish the end of the roll if your timing is on-point. Lastly, you can just throw it out at high percents, but this is a rather unreliable mixup and should only be used as a last resort.

Using this move as a recovery tool is vital to your off-stage survival as Sheik. More often than not, this move will be the first move you want to use when making your return to the stage; it covers about the same distance as a Falco Phantasm did in Melee when you extend it, but does not make you helpless, effectively allowing you to safely use it at any distance and still have your jumps and Vanish to make it back. This is great, because this would easily be your most easily spike- or cape-able option otherwise. Heck, even it you are somehow forced to use it close to the stage, the range and time-of-attack mixups are all good enough tools that you should be able to avoid being punished for using this move. This move will cancel all other momentum to make it's own, so if you are launched into the top corner of the screen, mashing Down B so it comes out as soon as hitstun ends might be even more important that DI in your survival as a result of this.

Closing notes: This move also has the ability to make it's way over small projectiles and punish the user of said projectile. The apex of the jump is high enough to clear a good number of them, so if you are dashing at an opponent and they throw one out you should be able to do this. BF can be accidentally B-reversed if you are too quick to try and shorten the distance of it, so try not to do so. This attack does not have any true practical application with ATs or in Neutral whatsoever.

Up Special: Vanish
The hitbox that is clearly way too big is the windbox, or the section of the attack that pushes opponents away.
Frames active: 36-38 (Vanish) 55-57 (Reappear)
Damage: 12%
Shieldstun: 8 Frames
Intangible: Frames 19-53

Vanish will be your secondary recovery tool at essentially all times. Unless you are VERY far off of the stage, in which case you should use your double jump, this will usually be your next move after Bouncing Fish. This is a great move for it's purpose for multiple reasons. For example, the invincibility frames at the start and when you are invisible in combination with how strong the hitbox is make it an attack that is risky to punish. The ability to travel at any angel is HUGE, because that gives you the option to use it high, parallel to the stage or low, and thus you have more recovery options at your disposal. If you are forced to use this move above the ledge, it is helpful to know that you can grab the ledge below you just by tapping down on the control stick during the animation. You cannot grab the ledge while holding Down, but letting go of it after you set it so the vanish will go that way lets you sweetspot the ledge with ease. Lastly, the amount of sheer height you get off this move in the air (when the little jump at the start is included) makes this a Melee Sheik's dream come true.

Killing with this move is another of its main applications. The startup is almost exactly equal to the amount of time it takes to complete an airdodge, so it can be used to punish one at high percentage to kill. This is a great ability to have, as it gives you a 50/50 chance of killing off of F-tilt and D-throw at high percents, covering the Airdodge (Not airdodgeing is covered by U-air; you need to read the correct option of the two). However, as of 1.1.5 the window that you are able to do this from D-throw is much smaller, and you will usual need to be on a platform to be high enough on the stage for it to kill during these percent ranges. Some other, riskier methods of landing this attack mainly involve mindgames. If you just run up to an opponent and Up-B once you are in range, you may have tricked the opponent with the sheer stupidity of what you just did and leave them unable to react before your intangibility kicks in, giving you at least free Shield damage and at most the entire stock.

Up-b has a little bit of tech that can be used with it in order to boost it's number of applications. Vanish Gliding, for example, is a tech that lets you use Vanish perfectly parallel to whatever platform you chose, including the main floor of the stage. To do this, all you need to do is press Up B just before you run off of the edge of the stage, and this will occur. This can be used for movement on platforms and edgeguarding parallel to the stage. Another tech that this move is commonly used with is the Lagless Vanish. Whenever you land from Vanish after falling around the same height you get to when using Vanish up and to the left or right on the ground, you will suffer no landing lag whatsoever. This is great to learn as it makes your recovery on to the stage itself much less punishable once mastered.

Jab/Rapid Jab
Frames Active: 2-3 (jab one) 2-4 (jab 2) once per 4 frames (rapid jab) 5-6 (Rapid finisher)
IASA: Frame 18 (1 and 2) 53 (Rapid Jab Finisher)
Damage: 2 (Jab one) 3 (Jab 2) 3 (Rapid Jab Finisher)
Frame Advantage on Block: -13, -15

This move was created with the purpose to intercept approaches and/or get a fast punish on a completely whiffed close-up combo. If this move was used this way, it could not be more useless. To do these jobs, we already have much better tools, like Needles and F-tilt respectively. However, it does have another, far better use: the mix-up power of the Jab Cancel. This technique is very simple, as it is just using the first one or two hits of jab and then using a different fast move besides Rapid Jab as soon as possible afterwards, leading to potentially long combos.

The number of things you can do with this is incredible. You can jab-jab>D-tilt>F-tilt X2> Double Fair, just to get things started. Another combo is jab-jab>F-tilt>Grab>Insanity. A simple one is jab-jab>grab. Honestly, the possibilities for follow-ups here are endless, and that is what makes this move much better than meets the eye. "But wait", says SkepticalSheikMain492, "How can that be? The jab can't possible have so much hitstun that it's guaranteed!!" Well you technically would be correct in saying that. However, let's take a look at the formula for hitstun anyway, shall we? Hitstun is (in frames) knockback times 0.4, which is simple enough. But what knockback actually is is a whole 'nother beast. Knockback is (((((Percent over 10 + Percent times Damage over 20) plus 200 over victims weight plus 100 times 1.4) + 18) times Knockback Growth) + Base Knockback) times Rage Effect. That's a complicated formula, so I'll just have Microsoft Excel do it for us. If your opponent is another Sheik (or other opponent with a weight of 84) and is at zero percent, the second jab should do 12 frames of hitstun. That's not too much and Jab 2 ends on frame 18. Your fastest option from there is f-tilt/d-tilt, which is another five frames. This gives your opponent 11 frames to get out before you can do anything. Although this does increase with damage and how light your foe is, you will be well over 150% by the time that it will be a true combo. However, this is not the point. As I said before, this a mix-up tactic. Since you can do anything out of this, you have the power to block anything but a frame-perfect fame one jab and punish from there, you can get a grab. You can use D-tilt to avoid high moves and get a combo going. Really, there is so much potential that this tech possess. As a side note, humans genetically have about 8/60ths of a second of delay before they can react to something at best, so an opponent escaping this will almost always require a read as opposed to a reaction.

Landing the jab is often the most difficult part of using it effectively. There are very few reliable setups to landing one, but here they are anyway. 1: Tomahawking: A Tomahawk is usually an empty approaching shorthop that tricks your opponent into shielding and then allows the user to follow up with a grab to punish said shield. Here, if your opponent has decent reactions and drops their shield when this happens in an attempt to grab, you can punish with jab instead of grab and start off your Jab Cancel shenanigans. 2: omg tech skill: This method involves running past your victim, B-reverse Needling, Instant Needle Fidgeting and jabbing. This is mainly effective when you react to a spotdodge and is faster and more powerful than turn-around garbing or F-tilting, but requires incredible tech skill to pull off.

The major letdown with jab is its relative unsafeness and inability to poke well, thanks to how slow the end of both Jab 1 and 2 are: What I mean by that is that it cannot be used safely to hit people as they are sitting in front of you, or as a way to stop potential close-range approaches. Take a look at Palutana, Link/Falcon and Fox. The first of the three has an incredible jab for poking at approaches and shields because it has incredible range and low lag. Link and Falcon's are great because they have such little time between hits and a very long range, with long lasting hitboxes. Fox's jab is superb because it comes out so fast you have next to no time to react to it. In short, since our Jab lacks these properties, you should almost never use this move in neutral as a standalone attack.

Smash Attacks
Since there is so little to these attacks and how they are used individually, there is no real reason to give each on its own section. Thus, this neat little partition!

F-smash: This move will really only be used as a way to punish clear huge mistakes, such as a Lucario or Pikachu landing right in front of you with their Up B, in which case they are open to have this attack come in and finish the stock. This move is incredibly laggy, and the hitboxes are only out for a total of three frames, so this type of situation aside, there is not too much application for this move. It has no combo potential whatsoever. (Turn-around F-smash sucks; it is too slow to do the jobs of other turn-around attacks and suffers from the aforementioned lag.)

D-smash: This attack is even worse than F-smash. It has less knockback and range, with its only real redeeming factors being that it, like D-tilt, it does not cancel a sliding animation and can thus be used with techs that cause one and that it hits on both sides. The latter property can make it a good tool to catch rolls, but in case you are inaccurate in your prediction you can be punished just as hard as you would be for F-smash, if not more so as you do not move at all when using this attack.

U-smash is by far your best Smash attack, as it allows you to kill by hitting through platforms from below (Sharking), has less lag compared to your other Smashes, hits more than once on tall and heavy characters and can be used out of a dash. Sharking is something used often with this move, thanks in whole due to its tremendous Knockback on the sweetspot. This is relatively easy to get if you can force situations where they are using moves like Yoshi's Egg on the lower platforms of Battlefield. The fact that the hitbox comes out both high for the first hit and low for the second makes is a way to cover both Jump and Normal Getup from the ledge, so long as you are at the very edge of the stage. This attack has lower lag than the other two, so that's a plus as well.

Frames active: 6-7 (standing Grab) 8-9 (Dash Grab) 9-10 (Turn-around grab)
IASA: 28 (standing) 35 (dash) 33 (turn-around)
Damage: 3 (pummel)

Ah, the grab. This move is such a key part of Sheik's entire kit that it is hardly even funny. If you can't find the openings you are given to land this move, you are likely not going to succeed as Sheik. So, that's what I'm about to teach you!

Times that you are able to go in for grabs usually appear in a few different forms. The first of these is shown when your opponent is moving around on their side of the stage and rarely attempting to throw projectiles at you. In times like this, approach slowly (compared to total rush-down; that's a dead give-away), and once you are in range for a Dash and/or Boost Grab, use it to punish their next move that lets you do so. This is effective mainly because if they are not actively trying to keep you off of them, you will likely be too close to be stopped with projectiles, and almost no one has a good way to beat Sheik in close combat, aside from moves such as Frame One jabs like ZSS has.

The next type of opening your opponents are likely to exhibit is making the mistake of doing is SHFF (Short Hop Fast Fall) aerial while you are close by but not hit with it. Moves with at least 7 frames of landing lag are punishable this way, so you should practice doing so in the lab, especially with moves like Cloud's Nair and Rosalina's Uair/Dair. Beware of moves that auto-cancel, however, as moves like that will be near-impossible to grab before they can get a move out (Pikachu, I'm looking at you). This same concept applies to laggy grounded attacks as well, but in higher levels of play those will almost never occur.

The last common type of grab opening that presents itself to you is when they approach you with attacks like Corin's Side B and Bowser's Up B. The main reason that an optimal Sheik will camp with Needles is mainly so that you can force them to approach, which is what gives you a lot of free damage off of grabs thanks to them hitting your shield with moves like this. Character's without good grabs are especially vulnerable to this because that is the only thing that beats block and if they are getting too close it is obvious what they are doing, allowing you to get out of the way before they are able to land the grab. When trying to get grabs via Shielding, just be aware of Command Grabs like Wario's bite and Ganon's Flame Choke. These are often fast, good-ranged and beat shield the same way normal grabs do.

When you are the one trying to force a grab, things get a little more complicated, and you may need to get creative with baits and such. One of the main concrete ways of doing this is Empty Hoping at them and grabbing as soon as you land. This will be likely to cause them to shield, as typically a shorthop at someone will mean they are trying to approach with an aerial in Smash 4. You can also try dashing right up to them and blocking once you are in grab range. This is a way to bait an attack that the opponent had intended to stop your approach and punish with a grab. The main danger of doing this is that they have the possibility to go for a grab of their own, so be careful.

This move is key to catching ledge get-up options, as it’s range in combination with Sheik’ dash speed allow it to be used to punish Roll, Get Up Attack and normal get-up. In order for Sheik to be able to do this optimally, you should be standing right at the edge of the stage, preferably shielding in order to keep yourself from being hit by the get-up attack. When you are in this position, you just need to react to whichever they chose and grab. If they jump from the ledge, you should just Nair OoS.

Deciding whether or not to pummel once you have someone grabbed is very important, as it can get you extra damage for free if they don't mash out, but if they do, well, you just have up a free throw. Personally, my rules of thumb are as follows: >50%: No Pummel. 50-80%: One Pummel. 80-110: Two Pummels. 110-130: One Pummel (so you don't go over the 50-50's percent limit). <130: 3 and up. However, if you know that your opponent is very slow at mashing, you can add more on to this as you see fit: Just don't go over limit of how many you can do before they automatically break out

The different variations of grab include: Standing Grab (Grab while standing still), Shield Grab (Press A while blocking, mainly used after Perfect Pivots but also used after Tomahawks), Dash Grab (Grab while running, almost never used if you can Boost Grab, otherwise your main method of doing so), Boost Grab (Press A one frame before Grab while running, better Dash Grab with extended range) and Roll Cancel Grab (Roll one frame before pressing Grab, used mainly for style).

Sheik’s throws are very important, especially at low percent. F-throw to BF is key, as it gets 19% and resets Neutral at the same time. Be aware of DI, and shorten (or jump before) the BF as needed so that you will still land it. F-throw Fair is good if you intend on landing 3 or more, as it will do more than 19%. Your ability to land these two bread-and-butter combos will be a huge part of what defines how well you do in your punish game, and are why grab is so important to be able to land. At higher percents, there is a very brief window where you can D-throw to U-air as a 50-50 kill confirm while on platforms above the main stage. However, this is very hard to do in 1.1.5 and onward due to increased KBG on D-throw. Try and condition opponents to airdodge so that punish with a Vanish after the throw at around 120%, so that you don’t need to struggle with awkward Up Air heights.

Sheik gets next nothing off of Grab Releases, but since they exist it is worth mentioning regardless. If you deliberately let your opponent go off of a grab, you have the option to follow up with an Up Air or Bouncing Fish if they are too slow to react, but to escape these all they need to do is mash jump. This is almost always a bad option, save for when you grab by mistake and for whatever reason do not want to damage the opponent too much. (i.e. never)
Advanced Techniques
This section will focus on teaching you the inputs and uses for Sheik's vast array of essential ATs to help your gameplay get that much more efficient. (For a full list of her ATs, including the not-so-useful or basic ones, see http://smashboards.com/threads/the-sheik-compendium-of-advanced-techniques-combos-and-tricks-wii-u.371988/)
Needle Fidgeting

Needle Fidgeting is an essential technique to any Sheik player. It makes Needles much more safe to charge, allows the player to use their time waiting for the perfect Bouncing Fish angle on something useful, allows for tilts out of running and functions as a good bait when used on it’s own. It’s all-around a great tool for Sheik to have at her disposal.

Performing this technique is simple. All that is required is quickly and lightly pressing the shield button while charging Needles. This will result in the Needle charging animation being canceled, from which point you can do anything. This, to a degree, works in the air as well. In the air, regardless of how quickly you press Sheild, Airdodge will always come out after the cancel. However, the animation immediately after the cancel and just before the airdodge can be canceled into any aerial special. The grounded version of this move has two variants: An instant version that takes place when the move is canceled withing the first two frames if Needles and a slower version that takes place during any other time during the charge.

The first and most important application of this tech is being able to stop charging Needles when you see the opponent approaching and don’t want to throw your Needles to stop them. This could be the case if you are on the Smashvile platform, if you have conditioned the opponent to shield, or if you were charging them for the sake of using them latter for something like Edgeguarding. This should be done at a distance where the opponent will not be in range to attack you for at least a few more frames, as if you are recognizing their approach you will not be able to Instant Needle Cancel and thus need a few extra frames to be able to avoid them.

A secondary application of this tech comes from combining this tech with B-reversing. When using Needles out of a run, you will slide just a little bit during the beginning of the Needle Charge Animation. When B-reversing the move, this slide momentum will still be retained, but in the opposite direction. As a result of this, when canceled, Sheik can appear to almost instantly drift back and stand in place, not unlike a Perfect Pivot. This can be very useful in Footsies when mastered, as being able to quikcly weave in and out of the opponent’s range is a key to properly playing Sheik in most Matchups. This kind of movement usually draws out attack meant to cathc approaches, such as Diddy’s D-tilt or Link’s Jab, which can usually be punished with Dash Attack or F-tilt depending on the spacing. Make sure you get the Instant version of the Needle Cancel, as failing to do so will often result in you being too slow to properly punish anything.

The aerial usage of this technique is comparatively limited, it still exists. The most important method of using this is charging Needles while linning up your Bouncing Fish in your recovery. This is a fast way to charge Needles with almost no risk of being punished except by another Sheik’s Needles or Bouncing Fish and without wasting any time. This is performed by charging while waiting to use Bouncing Fish off-stage and canceling into BF as soon as you are ready. A similar concept can be applied to Vanish as well, but using this with Vanish is very punishable if the opponent sees it coming beforehand. Note that charging Needles in the air stops horizontal momentum, so take this into account when using this technique in this way.

Another method of using this in the air is to quickly adjust your position and aerial momentum to either avoid an opponent or positional disadvantage. Since B-reversing keeps the momentum of the user and shifts it into a different direction, you can quickly turn around in the air and cancel all landing lag just by fidgeting just before you land on the ground. This is a surprisingly helpful asset when you realize that it was a mistake to approach the opponent in the air when you did and need to get back as fast as possible.
Additional video:

Foxtrotting and Extended Dash Dancing:

C-bounce: This tech allows you to slide back while charging needles, and functions much like a wavedash bait. Combined with the grounded fidget, this can result in your opponent falling into lots of needle damage, a F-tilt lock or a free grab.
How to Execute: While dashing, press or (whichever is the opposite of the way your dashing) and or whatever you have set to Special on the same frame. I don't know if it only works if you have C set to tilts, but it works better for me personally.
Useful when: This is an awesome tech for baits and retreats. As it can be used in the air, in 21XX people will be C-bounce-Fidget-C-bouncing for ridiculous recovery.
Additional video:

Wave Needles: This tech turns Sheik around while performing a short slide and charging needles. This can be used to position yourself near the opponent while baiting a move or land fully charged needles on unsuspecting foes chasing you from behind.
Useful when: being pressured and you want to needle them, or as a bait when you approach on the ground.
How to perform: While dashing, do a neutral special and b-reverse it. Fidget to cancel, of course.

Fish Blimp: This move allows you to hit unsuspecting foes with bouncing Fish at odd times by hitting the balloons on Animal Crossing stages or any others with hit-able objects and then nailing them with the second hit. This is an effective mixup, and is versatile as you can choose when to do the second hit and how far you recoil after hitting the balloon.
Useful when: At any point you want to mix up your BF timing and land some cheesy style points.
How to Perform: As I said, just Bouncing Fish a hittable object besides your opponent.

Vanish Gliding: This tech allows you to chase off-stage with an up-B from the ledge and return safely. Sheik will slide off the edge, stay parallel to the stage and up-b. This can help net early kills if your opponent gets in that area.
Useful when: Edgeguarding when they are nearly perfectly parallel to the stage.
How to Perform: Dash to the ledge and just before you fall off, Up-B. You should do what I described above.

Lagless Up-B: From the ground, you can Up-B diagonally up and land with no lag. This is excellent bait and is good at teaching you exactly where Sheik's auto-cancel window on her Up-B is.
Useful when: you want to bait an attempted Smash and get an f-tilt string as a reward.
How to Perform: Up-B diagonally up in either direction, easy as that.
Crouch Sliding: This tech makes Sheik slide either forward or back after a Short Hop, potentially very far. This can be used to space, approach, retreat and more. The slide is extended on slopes.
How to Preform: Press down and to the left as soon as you land from a shorthop.
Additional Video:

Boost Grab: Use this tech to extend your grab range significantly.
Useful when: Always do this. Always. There is absolutely no reason not to boost grab when going for any type of grab.
How to perform: While dashing, press any button that will result in a dash attack (usually A or ZR/C-down) and then immediately grab with Y/Z. The best way to practice this is actually in Melee. With Mario, if your dash attack sound and grab animation happen at the same time, you did it right. If you don’t have Melee, just try and practice it in training mode. It should not take too long.

Double-sticking: While not technically an AT, this trick will let you preform aerials the frame you leave the ground.
How to Perform: If you have Tap Jump on, you can press up on the joystick and the direction of the move on the C-stick at the same time and the move will come out the first frame you’re in the air. Alternatively, if you don't use tap jump like me, you can make a claw shape with your right- hand thumb and index finger and use one to press X and the other for the C-stick and get the same result. Note that to do this with up-air you need to have C set to tilts. (For Bidou controls, read C ZR and the directional stick)

The Bidou: This is a tech that, via turning your second control stick into another move stick (that registers for a single frame), makes tons and tons of tech that would otherwise be unthinkably difficult to perform consistently into child’s play (By sacrificing your control scheme soul to the tech-skill devil, unfortunately). For example, you can perfect pivot with ease, not to mention without flicking the joystick. As a result, you can do lots of thing that would be undoable before, such as D-tilt, Spot Dodge or be able to do both Smashes and Tilts out of Perfect Pivot. This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, and I highly recommend that you watch My Smash Corner’s videos on it for more details.
Possibly the greatest asset that this gives Sheik is the ability to constantly land Perfect Pivot F-tilts very easily, in addition to the clear beinifits of Perfect Pivot D-tilt.
Great. Now you know all of the ins and outs of Sheik’s moves and best techs. Now what? Well, we think about how to put it all together, of course! Knowing how to use Sheik's moves is the key to understanding how to play as her, but having the key does not mean anything if you can't successfully escape with the treasure. So, this will teach you how to actually play as Sheik when using her to maximum efficacy.
i: Neutral

The neutral game, despite being fairly short in most matchups, is a complicated process, and one of the driving forces behind Smash 4’s metagame due to the fact that it is so difficult to regain advantage after you lose it. Considering how important it is to playing the game, I should probably give a short intro to the neutral in general before getting started with Sheik’s in particular. Without further ado, WELCOME TO DAYMASTER’S MAGNIFICENT FANTASTIC INCREDIBLE SUPER HYPER MEGA AWESOME NEO PREFIX GUIDE TO FOOTSIES! In neutral, you should constantly be trying to space yourself to give yourself as much stage control as possible, while keeping that same thing away from your opponent. For those who don’t know, stage control is basically how much of the stage you have to work with, either behind or in front of you. This is key, as it allows you room to run away if a situation call for it, allows you to have more area to maneuver back and forth during neutral and keeps your opponent from having those options. In Smash 4, most of the time you will be trying to get closer to the opponent while maintaining advantage, as opposed to Melee, where you’re main objective is to wait for a mistake, move across the stage and then punish. With characters such as Sheik and Falcon, you will be using your speed to take care of this quickly. If you are a character like Link or Mega Man, you will do it a lot more slowly and use projectiles to cover yourself as you do so.

This aspect of play goes far beyond just spacing, however. It’s efficient use of projectiles, aerials, grounded threats, baits and more. Let’s talk about that first one: Projectiles. If you are Link and you are trying to keep your opponent from using jumps to approach you, you are going to want to try and use your boomerang to shut them down, as opposed to bombs and arrows. This is because of the fact that it has very long range, is tall, comes back, and can be angled just for the purpose of hitting jumping opponents. If you are Mega Man and you want to force an opening and are in range, you want to use your side-b to force them to approach to get it off or shield to block the explosion. The possibilities are endless. For the second thing that I mentioned, aerial and grounded threats can be anything from being in a state where you can dash-grab them with Falcon if they get too close, or do the same with a powerful aerial like Palutanea’s Fair. Lastly, baits in neutral can consist of any action to make yourself appear vulnerable for the time being and counter-attack if they try and take advantage of said “opening”. This leads us right back to Sheik, who can do this using Needle Fidgets at any point during a needle charge and intercept an approach. At last, we can get started with how Sheik plays in this all-important phase! (If you want a more thorough guide to neutral in general, a very valuable and widely-referenced guide can be found here. Just because it's geared towards Street Fighter doesn't mean Smashers can't learn from it; it's an essential read for any competitive fighting game player)

Sheik has an incredibly adaptable Neutral. She has the ability to play effectively while on the defensive thanks to her amazing movement and Needles, the ability to safely apply pressure with attacks at mid-range, the ability to bait out and punish aggressive action at pretty much any point and a multitude different ways to maximize damage output when she succeeds at her goals. The extent to which each of these properties is used varies greatly depending on the matchup you are playing, so learning how to make use of all of them is important. However, across all of the different ways Sheik can play Neutral, and those are her objectives. “Objectives?” Asks the non-Izaw watcher. “What are those?” Well, I’m glad that you asked. In Smash, a character’s objectives are the goal they are ultimately trying to accomplish. At their most basic level, these all amount to killing the opponent. In order to accomplish this, a character needs to damage the opponent. In order to do this at maximum efficancy, the character must find opening for their best combos most damaging moves. However, going for the objective or best setup all the time can lead to the player becoming extremely predictable. For example, a Mario will always want to land a grab at the start of a match as it leads to his infamous Up Tilt combo that leads to at least 30% on most characters. However, if the Mario just goes for grab all of the time the other player can always do any number of things to counterattack them and eventually kill them. This is why what is known as playing around the objective is important. In playing around the objective, you are effectively waiting for or trying to create an opportunity to get in and accomplish your goals. This is done by moving around, using other attacks to either create walls or get light punishes, trying to bait the opponent and attempting to avoid and outplay the opponent, who should be trying to do these same things. Now, in order to acomplish your goals, you need to have a great understanding of the fundamentals of the game, which I will explain below.

Fundamentals are the skills you need in order to play the game well as a whole, and transfer very easily from character to charcter and even game to game. You can look at them like stats in an RPG that you improve over time through extended use, as pictured below:
Learning these is key to playing the game, and Sheik is no exception to this rule. Let's go over the fundamentals of Super Smash Brothers.

The first and most important fundamental is spacing. Sheik’s attacks, for all their incredible damage-racking capabilities and great frame data, are worthless if you don’t space yourself properly relative the opponent. As you should know from reading my other guide, you not only need to properly use movement to ensure that your attacks are as difficult to punish as possible on block or whiff, but also ensure that you are avoiding the opponent’s attacks at maximum efficacy as well. This means that you need to have an understanding of both Sheik and your opponent’s effective ranges, or area that each of you currently can hit from your current position as well as the individual ranges of each of your moves. Sheik has the ability to use this knowledge to weave in and out of the opponent’s range with techniques like C-bouncing to Instant Needle Cancels, the ability to avoid the opponent’s attacks all together until they make a mistake thanks to her great movement and the ability to remain very safe while on the offensive because of her fantastic frame data. Without being aware of you and your opponent’s ranges of attack, you can’t do any of this without taking massive punishment.

A perfect visualization of what Sheik's threat zone you should be visualizing looks like:

Grounded moves are yellow, grabs are purple, potential aerials are blue and Needles are green.

A more realistic, worse visualization:

Now, let’s go in to more detail about each of the things Sheik can do with this. First of all, baiting and punishing using this is very important in some matchups, particularly against characters that revolve around aggression and zoning-oriented playstyles. These characters are most likely going to be ready to attack the moment you get into their ranges, so you can purposefully dash into their ranges for a split second to get them to use an attack and then use Extended Dash Dancing, Perfect Pivots, C-bouncing, B-reverse Needles or B-reverse Bouncing Fish back out and then punish their attack. Once you have them doing this, they will probably come to expect this and then go in for attacking where you are going to be after you try to bait them, which you can exploit by faking them out by not faking them out and actually attacking them like you made it look like you were trying to do when you were baiting.

Next up is using this knowledge to stay safe from your opponent. If you keep track of your opponent’s movement patterns (which we will get to how to do properly later) and effective range, you can stay away from them for extended periods of time and occasionally throw Needles at them for what is essentially chip damage until they either get a read on your movement (which is why you shouldn’t be doing this the entire match, they can read you if you do it too much) or they whiff an attack, allowing you to get a punish. This is most effective on Grapplers (due to their slow speed) and Aggressive characters (due to their general lack of projectiles to stop you).

Lastly is your ability to be in the opponent’s face and dealing damage safely. Being aware of the maximum range you can hit someone from with attacks is vital when trying to exploit or create an opening in the opponent’s defense, because often times if you are not at maximum range you can be punished in any number of ways in case you miss a grab or the opponent outspaces or blocks any other attack. You also need to make sure that when you are not attacking you are mixing up various movement tactics (dashes, rolls, fullhops and shorthops, crawling, etc) to stay out of the opponent’s range when trying to get you out of their faces. This type of situation comes up very frequently against every type of character, meaning this is also very important.

Now, going about mastering this is a goal best tackled with a game plan. Personally, I try my best to visualize the potential hitboxes a character could reasonably throw out at any given time and do my best to mentally place those hitboxes over the characters as they move around. This takes a lot of time to be able to do constantly and even more work to master for every character, so you might want to come up with another way of doing things. However, regardless of how you learn how to do it properly, spacing is a massive part of the game and is among the first fundamentals that you should master.

Next, there is the all-important art of being able to read your opponent. This is a very powerful way to punish your opponent severely without having to wait for a mistake, and is usually what I am referring to when I say find an opening. Once you know you opponent well enough, you can use that knowledge to figure out what you can bait out specifically, when they will leave chinks in their defense and allow you to approach and much more. This is the second most important fundamental, and one that you can always keep improving on.

The first and easiest thing to do in a match is determine your opponent’s playstyle. While it is common knowledge that a character has a playstyle that they as a character are optimized for using, each individual player plays their character slightly differently. Based on how an opponent opens a game, you can tell a surprising amount about the specfics of their play and thus how to counter them before the match even begins, as well as gain some information for the next game so you can potentially prepare for and punish their opening move.

Players, upon beginning a match, will do one of 4 things. They can grab an item, charge something like Cloud’s Limit Break, dash forward at you or throw a projectile. If they dash at you, they then have a set of about three more options, those being Dash Grab, fade out of range with an aerial, roll or tech like a C-bounce or directly attacking you. While it is possible that you can punish your opponent for taking the same option in the next game in the set, it’s much more important that you get an idea of your opponent’s play style from this. If they grab an item like Metal Blade or a Turnip, then they are most likely going to be using that item to play aggressively until they no longer have that item in hand. If they charge at attack like limit break you can’t really glean much information, if they dash forward you can tell that they are either playing aggressively or bait-and-punishy (depending on how the next chose to attack you) and if they throw a projectile you can bet they are probably going to be zoning. As for their options when they rush you, if they retreat they are probably going for bait and punishes, if they approach with a grab they will probably be going to be playing like a half-grappler and if they attack with an aerial or dash attack they will most likely going to be going for pressure/rushdown. Knowing what style of play they are going for will help you know what options to cover and even what they absolutely will do at times, allowing you to punish in a way you wouldn’t be able to do on reaction.

Another way you can collect data on you opponents during a game to punish them latter is by keeping track of their habits. Habits are recurring actions that your opponent takes in a given situation. For example, if your opponent is always rolling back towards the stage when they get back from being knocked off the stage, you can prepare for this and land a grab just as they finish their roll by placing it right where they will be. Situations that your opponent usually will have a habitual reaction to are usually caused by you being aggressive towards them due to the situations they will be finding themselves in to be matchup-specific and include panicky defensive reactions or unsafe moves that they use due to not knowing how to best counter your aggression, but lesser players will also have habits regarding the ways the get up from the ledge, what ways they approach you and so on. Once again, being vigilant is key to success here and watching just how they chose to handle situations.

When playing, keep track of the exact situations in which players use moves or types of actions in. This will allow you to foresee these actions and punish them in ways you wouldn’t be able to if you didn’t see them coming. For example, you may be playing a Marth who will always go for a bait when you are running at eachother, be it Perfect Pivot back D-tiit, retreating Full Hop Dair or C-bounce Dolphin Slash. Regardless of the specifics of the action, you know he is going to retreat and attack, so you can just throw Needles and hit him out of his actions. You might be playing a Cloud who will always cancel Limit Charge into an aerial if they see you coming at them, so you can just run-to-shield and avoid all damage and get a punish when you approach. There are tons of specific situations like this (rolling/airdodging habits, recovery patterns, timing of projectiles and so on), far too many to cover in this guide, so just be vigilant and make sure that you are paying attention to your opponent’s actions and punish them when you can.

Putting both your knowledge of the opponent’s playstyle and habits together allows you to further destroy the opponent’s chances of winning via option limitation. Option limitation is the art of figuring out what the best or most likely options for your opponent to take in a situation where they have several, acting in a way that prevents them from taking as many of those options as possible and punishing them for taking the bad, remaining options. Let’s say you are fighting Diddy Kong, and you have control of most of the stage, and that you have established your opponent as a passive-aggressive zoning based opponent. The Diddy here needs to get back to center stage desperately, as he can’t accomplish his main objective (get a banana to set up for grab combos) from this position. So, the Diddy can try a number of things: He could try to Moneky Flip his way back to center stage and risk being intercepted with Aerials or Needles, he could use what little stage control he has to try and wall you out with Fairs and Bairs, he could go for a rouge dash grab or roll at you, or he could wait on his side of the stage for you to come to him. The last of these will get him Needle camped, so that one’s out. This leaves him with three viable options, and we can cover all of them. First and foremost, you need to make sure that his Monkey Flip won’t connect, so you should probably position yourself in a way where you can hit him out of it if he tries to attack you (I.E. Stay in the air). This will give him the option to attack you during your shorthop if you get too close, so be careful. Now, being in the air will let you easiliy punish a roll towards you or random approach using Nair, Fair or Bair depending on your positioning if he decides to do that so that’s covered. He probably won’t do this, though, because he has been playing in a zoning-based style all game. This only leaves him to wall you out with Fairs and Bairs, unless he goes and runs off stage to get a Banana for some reason, which you can kill him for. So wait until he inevitably starts doing this and punish his landing with a Boost Grab. Congratulations, you won Neutral. Situations like this can be forced at practically any time, so try to keep your eyes open and know what your opponent’s options are in any given situation.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to being able to read your opponent based off their habits, skill level and playstyle, you can make character-specific reads based on whatever character you are playing against and their objectives. You are playing against Falcon, and you know Falcon wants a grab to get his combo game going. So, you can make sure that most of the actions you take will cover him going for a dash grab. This can include making more use of Needles, being prepared to use OoS aerials if he approaches you when you are holding Shield, and so on and so forth. However, you also need to be aware of what they can do to play around their main objective and be prepared to cover those options as well.

As stated before, this should be the second fundamental you dedicate yourself completely to learning. Doing this mainly just comes with experience and actively thinking about it during most of the match. However, unlike with spacing, this is one of those things that is impossible to master and thus you need to know when to move on to learning other fundamentals. This will change from person to person, but as a rule of thumb it’s probably time to move on once you are able to consistently play against new people and get into option-coverage situations twice per game or more.

Now onto another fundamental: Positional advantage. A completely under-appreciated aspect of the game, the positioning of yourself relative to your opponent can at times be even more important when determining who has the advantage at a point in time then percentage. There are a few general positions that you can be in relative to your opponent that can put you at either an advantage or disadvantage, and I’m going to detail them all below.

Before we get into the specifics of each situation where Sheik has a positional advantage or disadvantage, here’s a crash course in positions and what they mean for each player. Smash is a game about options. Whoever has more options in a situation is at an advantage as the other player has to work harder to cover as many options as possible and has a higher chance of failure of be able to take advantage of the opponent. So, it stands to reason that the stance where you have the most options would be the best and where you have the least options would be the worst. So, this means that standing still or walking on the ground is the optimal situation for any character. The next best situation to be in is Dashing due to your ability to Perfect Pivot Tilt out of it, followed by Running where you can’t use tilts at all, followed by being in the air against your will, followed by being off-stage, followed by being dead. This doesn't take into account stage control or altitude, but just know that having more stage behind you is good and having more altitude, unless recovering from off stage, is is bad. It’s a natural human instinct to want to be in a better position, so you can take advantage of this and use it to predict your opponent’s supposed actions based on what would allow them to return to the stage. Be careful, however, as your opponent has the same potential ability to predict you on for the same reasons, so try not to base your play solely around being in the best position all the time.

The simplest of the situations that you can take advantage of is when your opponent has been knocked to the floor by an attack. This state is incredibly advantagous for you, as it literally does the job of limiting their options for you. If you opponent is knocked down, they can tech in place, left or right and if not they can do a laggy roll left or right or a get-up attack. All five of these actions are sub-optimal because they take away all forms of movement and almost all offensive options. Thus, the player who knocked the opponent down can take advantage of the situation by learning how the opponent is likely to react in this situation (see reading) or simply react and get free damage by going to where the opponent will be when they finish and punish them for it, as all of these options have lag. As a word of caution, however, Getup Attacks can be tricky at times, so don’t be too reckless in your pursuit of opponent’s in this state and try to hit them with aerials as opposed to grabs to avoid the getup attack if you notice them doing too often.

Sheik, unfortunately, has only a few ways to get the opponent into one of these situations: Soft Nair/Bair to push an opponent off a platform or footstool platform cancels, which are really hard to do in practice. Outside of these, the opponent will almost always be able to act out of hitstun before they hit the ground and thus never enter this disadvantageous state. Still, when it does happen Sheik definitely has the tools to deal a lot of damage with it.

Before we precede from here it is vital to have a proper understanding of stage control and what it does for each player and character. Stage control essentially refers to the amount of stage that is in a player’s possession, usually defined as the area behind and above you and whatever area you have an active hitbox in at the moment. This is area that the opponent should not be able to invade without you hitting them as well as the area that you have to retreat to when necessary. This concept is vital because some positions are so good or bad to be in that they become even more important in deciding who has the lead in the match as a whole than the percent and stock count.

That being said, an extremely advantageous position for Sheik is to have control of center stage. Being in the center of the stage gives you the ability to use your movement and threat zones to manipulate your opponent’s position and actions. Depending on the type of player the opponent is, they will react differently to having less stage control than you. Some will attempt to approach you and either go for a fast option to try and catch you off-guard or engage in footsies, where others will continue retreating, waiting for you to make a mistake. Still others will attempt to escape you completely using attacks like Monkey Flip and Bouncing Fish. You should pay attention to what the opponent tries to do here so you can take the appropriate counter-measures. Now I know what you are thinking: Isn’t this just how neutral always is? Well, yes and no. When both players are at an even standing in terms of positioning, the opponent has control over when to make a move. However, once they are at a disadvantage they are forced to either make a decision or give you a free advantage, meaning you can predict exactly when they will take their action, meaning you can prepare to counterattack.

Sheik isn’t that bad in most Matchups when put into this situation herself. She has the tools to do any of the common options taken in this situation well, such as burst punishes, bait and punishing, engaging in footsies and escaping with Bouncing Fish. Mixing these up is key. Beyond this there is not really much to say beyond just being good at doing these things.

A very commonly overlooked state that puts a player at a disadvantage is jumping. When in the air, you are basically giving up control of the stage below you, limiting your options to aerials and specials and removing you’re ability to shield, which is key to playing footsies in most matchups. This means that jumping, despite not being an attack, is a comital and thus puts you at a disadvantage. However, being in the air does give you a postionional advantage over a grounded opponent, meaning that if you recognize that the opponent is tending to say rooted to the ground and attempting to cover your grounded options you can jump to avoid and punish the attack. If you do this too often, however, the opponent will begin reacting with Shield or an antiair instead of a grounded attack when you jump at them. While you can’t really do much about antiairs besides just try to avoid them, you can get around the opponent blocking. More often than not, an opponent will try to shield grab as soon as you hit their shield. Thus you can take advantage of this by not using an aerial at all and but rather landing and grabing or even using Fullhop Needles to Dair to break their shield if it’s low. They can adapt to this, however, and the cycle begins anew.

Next up is the advantage you gain when the opponent is off-stage and you are on stage and near the ledge. This is among Sheik’s best areas of play, as she has a great number of tools that can be used to keep the opponent from returning to the stage. This area of the game is not as important as it was in Melee and Brawl because almost everyone has a good recovery and ledge-hogging was removed from the game, but it is still a great way for Sheik in particular to get kills, possibly at low percent. This is edgeguarding, and is yet another fundamental aspect of play.

Now, within the overall position of being off-stage, there are three main sub-positions: Above the ledge, parallel to the stage and below the stage. All of these should be handled differently, so I’m going to discuss them each separately. The least advantageous of these three positions for the Sheik player is above the ledge. In general, it takes the most time for the edgeugarder to reach the an area where they can hit the opponent when they are above than anywhere else, which gives the other player time to return to the stage. Also, when the opponent is above the stage they are not forced to use any resources (double jump, Up B, moves like Bouncing Fish) to get back because they already have all of the altitude that they need to return to the stage and can thus sue them to avoid you attacking them with those resources instead. This isn’t to say edgeguarding opponents recovering high is impossible, but rather just saying that it is more difficult than it is from anywhere else. In general, the most you can reliably do is try to catch them as they come back down toward the stage with an Up Air to start juggling them in the air, or possibly get a read on an airdodge and hit them with a Vanish.

When the opponent is recovering parallel to the stage you have many more options at your disposal. Since landing directly on-stage using attacks like Ike’s Quick Draw will most likely get them punished, they are probably going to try to go for the ledge. Knowing this, you can do a number of things. However, first and foremost you need to make sure you are covering the options to land directly on-stage as if you are not then you will simply let the opponent back for free. A very risk-free way of doing this is to line up a Needle shot to hit them just as they are about to fall to a position where they can grab the ledge, forcing them to either air dodge or get hit by the Needles. This will hit them out of attacks (with the exception of Yoshi’s double jump) as well, so you are completely safe while doing this. Another thing you can do is run off the stage just as they are about to grab the ledge and either simply Fair/Nair or Double Jump Fair/Nair to hit them back as needed. Here, the opponent can potentially counterattack if you get too predictable with this, so you should do this sparingly. A smart opponent might save their Double Jump so that they can jump over your attempts to hit them. While it is unfortunate that there is no way to cover this and other options at the same time, it’s safe to say that if you see them do it once they will probably try to do it again, so you can punish it the second time. As with the Dropzone Fair/Nair, you can still be hit by a well-spaced aerial, so be careful and space yourself well when doing this. A fourth option that covers attacks like Fox/Falco or Ike’s Side B’s to the ledge is Run-off Vanish. Dashing at the ledge and pressing Up B just before you leave the stage will allow you to hit through these attacks safely, but requires a good bit of timing to execute properly. Be careful with this one, as it essentially covers nothing else. The same can be said for Aerial Needles, but to a lesser extent as the opponent will only ever be hit by these if they are trapped in a Side B of the previously-mentioned variate (otherwise they can just airdodge, jump or otherwise move out of the way) but also the attack will not lead to any kills unless the opponent is the percent range for Needles to Bouncing Fish.

Lastly, there is the situation of the opponent recovering from below the stage. This is a nightmare for the opponent to handle unless they are playing Ryu or Luigi because if they do anything to try and hit you out of your edgeguard they will almost certainly not have the altitude to recover back onto the stage. As a result of this, you can bet kills basically for free if you treat your opponent’s recovery correctly. If you have a full stack of Needles, you will almost always be able to land them from this position, so long as you use the correct one of four options for covering the opponent’s options. If they are a decent distance from the stage horizontally and about to use Up B early to gain height and grab the ledge, Full Hop Needle from on-stage. If they are of lower altitude but in the same spot on the X axis, run off and use Needles. If they are recovering from below or along the bottom of the stage, you can use Full Hop, travel slightly off-stage and throw B-reverese Needles to hit them out of high recoveries and just run-off B-reveres Needles to catch them while they are lower. All of these can be covered with other options like Run Off Bair or Dropzone Fair, but the options I have mentioned are the safest. Now, remember that all of this advice is general and the exact details of edgeguarding each character are very different, but these are the basics and can most likely apply to whatever character you are fighting to some extent. The details on how to edgeguard each character will be in that character’s Match Up section, so look there for more details.

There are some aspects of edgeguarding that are truly universal, such as the concept of keeping track of what resources the opponent has to get back to the stage and which of those they have used and currently have available to them. This is so that you don’t limit yourself by covering options that they don’t have and are able, in some cases, to get essentially free and risk-free kills. An example: You have successfully gotten rid of Fox’s double jump by sniping him with a Needle when he is trying to recover from a great horizontal distance and from just above the stage vertically. Knowing that from here the Fox will barely make it to the ledge with Illusion or fall just a little bit more and use a Firefox angled upwards and towards the stage, you can act without having to worry about his Double Jump. However, the Fox will probably know that he won’t be able to make it back to the stage if he gets hit out of Firefox and use Side B as a result. Knowing this, you can be confident that he will Side B and do a Fair or Ledgetrump Bair to intercept his recovery.

Another universal aspect of edgeguarding is the consideration of the opponent’s countermeasures to your attacks that don’t involve spending resources. These include airdodging, counter attacks like Roy or Corrin’s Down B and using attacks like Donkey Kong’s Dair to avoid or intercept your attacks. These options are the reason that you need to wait for the right moment to edgeguard; If your opponent is not in a state where they have no choice but to try to get back onto the stage, they can predict, avoid or counterattack your edgeguard, resulting at best in them recovering back onto the stage and at worst you losing a stock.

Moving on, being able to make use of when the opponent is at the ledge is another important skill. The ledge is a very unique property of Smash, and it’s exact implications vary significantly from game to game based on what can be done on and around it. Universally, however, being against the ledge is a highly disadvantageous position for the one who’s back is facing it due to a total lack of stage control and thus options in addition to being closer to the blast zones and a very exploitable one who’s back is facing away from it because they can abuse the problems facing the defender.. As a result, it is always in the defender’s best interest to get back to the center of the stage. This can be done in a few ways. First of all, the opponent can roll towards the stage. This is, at first glance, an extremely safe option. You have a great amount of invincibility during a roll, meaning that in theory it should be difficult to punish you. You also have very little lag, making it even harder to punish. It gets you away from the ledge quickly and safely. It also makes sense to do from an option-oriented perspective as well, as when at the ledge you can’t move backwards and are being actively pressured by the opponent, meaning you will all but have to use a safe option to move forward and reach the center of the stage. However, a competent player will recognize and capitalize on this if they recognize it as a habit. Sheik can do pretty much anything to the opponent when she reads this role, so if you catch the opponent doing this often then abuse it as hard as you can.

The problem with the previous scenario is that the opponent can very easily adapt to you catching their roles and stop doing them so often. So, this makes this part of the game a great big match of rock-paper-scissors. The opponent can then try to jump over you, go for a role anyway because if they use other options the expected option becomes an unexpected one or use any of their attacks to hit you. For example, you can cover jump with Nair or Fair, but they can punish this with an attack that hits above them if they see it coming. You have to keep in mind all of the opponent’s options and which ones they are most likely to take, while also making sure that you don’t get predictable with your coverage lest you wish for them to catch on and punish YOUR habits in return. All of this essentially applies to when you are against the ledge as well, but in reverse.

So, to conclude, Sheik has all the tools needed to capitalize on positional advantage, it’s simply a matter of knowing when and how to take advantage of that fact. This should be learned either after or in conjunction with learning to read your opponent, as a lot of overlap between these two is present. Practicing these all at once is difficult, so learn each one individually. Slowly but surely you will see improvement in all stages of the game.

The last of the fundamentals that has to do with your gameplay itself is your ability to balance offense and defense based on the situation and switch between them flawlessly based on the matchup and situation at hand. This fundamental applies much more to most characters that alternate between completely different playstyles throughout a set rather then the entirety of the cast, but since Sheik fits into that category I feel that I am justified to talk about it in-depth here.

Before we get into how a Sheik should balance aggressive and defensive play, we need to clear up a common misconception about the nature of aggressive and defensiveness in Smash as a whole. To quote the good Melee Marth guide, putting things in such simple, black-and-white terms is “an offensive oversimplification of the game.” This entire game is made up of intermediate situations that can’t be calssified easily, which is part of the beauty and depth of the game. I and many others who have taken the time to think about this think that better terms for this type of situation would be proactive and reactive. These terms on their own don’t describe purely aggressive or defensive play, but rather imply intermediates and compromises. I also think that they do the depth of the game more justice, but that’s subjective. Proactive refers to a player activley trying to gain an advantage of the opponent, usually either using attacks that poke at them or using movement to try to gain a positional advantage. Reactive refers to looking for what the opponent is doing and taking coutermeasures to keep them from gaining the advantage that they are looking for. Anyway, those are the terms I will be using to describe characters from this point forward.

Once again, Sharpening your Sword put it best: “Get the point? Even though Marth’s kit is defensive, in the sense that he doesn’t engage extremely well and that his kit is more suited for countering the opponent’s aggressive options, he needs to apply it proactively/aggressively. If Marth plays too passively, he essentially gives the opponent the opportunity to walk all over him, pick THEIR favorite spots, and play on THEIR OWN TERMS, reducing him to a bad character with an amazing punish game. Being proactive/aggressive with Marth means that you have to be aggressive with your positioning and proactive with regards to forcing good positions.” This same way of thinking is just as applicable to Sheik in that she needs to try to be the one in control of pace of the match because Sheik is unable to take advantage of their opponent when she is as a positional disadvantage. She definitely has the tools to do so. Her mobility lets her be where she needs to be when she needs to be there. Her Needles let her force aggressive responses from anyone but For Glory Link spammers. Her great grab, tilts and aerials give her the power to win footsies so long as she is not at a large positional disadvantage when it begins. All of these are great options, but all of these require you being in a favorable position which requires you being proactive.

Sheik, as we have hopefully established by now, is a character that doesn't really work well when simply rushing in to attack all of the. Doing this requires near-perfect spacing to stay even remotely safe if you whif your attack, so being patient is important when playing proactivly. And of course, by nature Needle camping and running away demands patience. So, the player needs to be very patient regardless of the stage of the game in order to play the game well. So, playing Sheik well as a whole requires a lot of patience. Patience, in this case, means waiting for the opponent to give you something to work with and not commuting to an action (limiting your own options) until the opponent gives you a reason to do so. Being patient gives you time to think about and analyze your opponent’s patterns and options so you can try to exploit them.

So, what does one actually do when being patient? You need to keep your options about you but at the same time not make yourself an easy target for the enemy, so you need to be moving around. However, at the same time you need to be conscious and not put yourself at a positional disadvantage in the process. So, it only makes sense that you would try to be moving in a way that doesn’t sacrifice your control of the stage while both applying pressure and staying safe. Sheik can do this in two different ways, and the optimal one depends on the character you are playing against. So, I’m going to talk about both below.

The first and main way of playing Sheik patiently in Neutral is by staying anywhere from just barely inside of the opponent’s range to a few character lengths outside of it. While doing this, you are going to want to be SHFFing when you start to get closer to the opponent so that you can catch aggressive options and staying routed to the ground to be able to handle projectiles from a distance. This is where Sheik does all of her bait-and-punishing, as this type of play relies on you getting your opponent to make a mistake and punish them for it. This is what weaving in and out of the enemy’s range is for. In addition to baits, Sheik can be throwing single Needles to get the opponent to approach from time to time or randomly going in for as safe on an aggressive action as possible, depending on the personal preferences of the player. Either way or even both can work, as shown by Mr. R and VoiD. Just make sure that you are always ready to punish when you do at last get the opponent to make that mistake and never stop being patient.

The secondary style that Sheik can be played in is a hit-and-run/campy character. Against characters that lack speed and/or tools to deal with projectiles, you should be running away from the opponent and throwing Needles at them whenever possible to tack on extra damage. The goal of this playstyle is to frustrate the opponent into making massive mistakes and punishing them for taking huge risks for maximum damage. This works best against characters like Ganondorf, Bowser, Luigi and other characters that are not very fast but rely on slow, very close-ranged attacks to get any damage at all and won’t work at all of the opponent has good projectiles, range or movement speed. Play lame, win game.

Being able to play both of these styles well is important when playing Sheik, but overall these are probably the least important of the fundamental concepts for Sheik in particular due to the fact that she is very difficult to play poorly if you know the other fundamentals and apply them to create a playstyle similar to this.

I mentioned before that this was the last of the fundamentals that directly had to do with your mental capacity when playing the game. The other two fundamentals of the game, mindset and punish game, are not things that can be tought but rather things that need to be practiced. You need to practice keeping yourself thinking that you can get better, that you can win and that you are good at the game. You need to practice getting kill confirms off stray Fairs near the ledge when you have a full stack of Needles. These things just come with practice and experience, and no matter what I say I can’t teach them to anyone.

As closing notes on the fundamentals as a whole, I would just like to say that there is no master of the fundamentals, as well as that these things take a lot of time to learn and you shouldn’t get frustrated if you don’t get good for a long time. No one is perfect at Smash, or anything for that matter. The gods of the game themselves have all taken years of playing Smash to get to where they are now. These things always have room for improvement. As soon as you get these four core concepts embedded into your though process while playing, you can always make yourself better at them. Just be aware that the more you improve one fundamental the less difference you will see in your play because the more people you surpass in that fundamental the less people there will be to surpass. Once this starts becoming noticeable in one fundamental that you are focusing on, move on to another until it starts happening there. Repeat the cycle until you have gotten good with them all, at which point you should begin to focus on putting them all together to form a single, unified set of fundamentals.

So, here we are, eleven pages and 6,936 words latter, and we can FINALLY get back to Sheik’s objectives in a match. You forgot we were even doing that, didn’t you?

Anyway, so Sheik’s objective early in the match is to get control over the opponent’s position as soon as possible so she can start a combo. Her combo starters include F-tilt, Up Tilt, Grab and Fair at low percents. The same options plus Nair, Bair and possibly D-tilt will work at mid percents. So, these are the moves you should ultimately be trying to land. Grab is your best tool for simply rushing at the opponent to try and catch them off-guard, but it should not be what you rely on most of the time due to how easy it is to react to a Sheik’s grounded approach from a significant distance. Fair and Nair can be used as semi-aggressive out of shield options when your opponent is about to pressure your shield or as punishes for whiffed attacks. Tilts can be used to catch opponents chasing after you or after baits like C-bounces or retreating Perfect Pivots. All of these options are viable if you know get a read on your opponent’s habits that would normally be safe as they are nonpunishable on reaction.

Up until this point, I have seemingly neglected Sheik’s ability to be aggressive. This is a very important part of Sheik’s Neutral, but it simply didn’t fit anywhere in the fundamental section. So, here is Sheik’s aggressive neutral. Sheik has the power to play footsies very well. Sheik’s movement lets her chose to be just outside or just inside the opponent’s range, especially with Extended Dash Dancing and Instant Needle Canceling. This is a great asset as the biggest part of aggressive play is staying as safe as can be when not attacking, but also not losing your position that lets you be aggressive to begin with.

Simply being inside the opponent’s range won’t do anything, obviously, so you need to be actively attacking the opponent when you think they are about to leave themselves open or when you think that the attack will catch the off-guard. You can land grabs to punish zoning aerials like Mario’s Bair, Grab to catch them shielding or doing anything else that doesn’t generate a hitbox, F-tilt or Pivot F-tilt to catch rolls, Nair to punish out of shield from a distance and Perfect Pivot Up Tilt to get under opponents going for aerials.

By nature, this is the riskiest stage of the game. You and the opponent are doing all they can to gain positional advantage and hit the other. So, you need to make sure that you are better than the opponent at this. Often times an airborne opponent will be scared of you if they happened to attempt a zoning aerial but realized it would miss and you are in a position to attack. You can either use this as an opportunity to go for a combo starter (which may be risky if what they are doing ends up being an elaborate bait) or simply use their fear to cause them to back away and lose stage control, putting you in a more favorable position without any risk. You can make this decision based on the skill level of the player you are up against as well as their character. For example, less experienced players are less likely to know that they can Double Jump Dair with Marth to catch attacks aimed at catching Marth’s landing. Also, characters with attacks that function as combo breakers are much more likely to attempt to challenge your punish.

Rogue grabs are a surprisingly large part of playing Sheik according to high-level matches. VoiD in particular is extremely good at finding what situations where an opponent shields or where they simply don’t expect an approach and thus can’t do anything about it. This is another aspect that is difficult to teach, and requires a strong ability to read the opponent and an understanding of the way that the opponent analyzes habits and playing around that. Watching and dissecting matches featuring VoiD is probably the easiest way to figure out how exactly he does what he does. Learn this and you will be able to accomplish you goals much sooner.

Be aware that when playing this way, you are probably going to get hit. That doesn't really matter so long as it doesn't interfere with your goal of winning the neutral and getting a combo. Getting hit by the opponent while playing around the objective isn’t nearly as bad as getting hit by one of their objective attacks, so understanding the difference is important to judgeing where you are safe and unsafe to be when fighting. For example, you are almost always in range of Toon Link’s Boomerang. However, his objective in the match is to hit a bomb rather than a boomerang, so you can afford to be hit by the boomerang if you don’t lose a combo for it. Try to avoid being hit as a whole, but just know that some attacks are much less threatening than others and you don’t need to stay completely out of their range.

The last important bit for the Neutral that I didn’t really talk about in the fundamentals is being able to properly punish approaches. Like I said before, you can force approaches using Needles, but actually being able to take advantage of that is more complicated. You need to be able to understand, cover and read your opponent’s options when rushing you in order to take as much of an advantage as you can. You can cover aerial approaches with aerials of your own, beat grounded approaches by getting behind the opponent while they are rushing forwards by rolling and punishing from there. You can handle baits by throwing Needles or reading what they will do in preperation to beat what they expect you to do and punishing that with whatever best suits the situation. Just remember, don’t shield in place unless the opponent has a really bad grab game; doing so is asking to be grabbed.

So, this should all come together to form a relatively clear game plan in neutral. Begin matches by assessing the opponent’s skill level, play style and preferred defensive options with Needles. Depending on the character and what you personally do best as a player, engage in either hit-and-run, bait and punish or pressure-based aggression on the opppnent. Follow each of these style’s rules and guidelines while attempting to land any of your combo starters at low percents. Remember the fundamentals to help you stay safe and land your attacks of choice. Follow these steps and you have the basis for a universal gameplan.

If the tables end up being turned on you and you are hit back into your side of the stage, you can do a few things. If you are very cowardly, you can dash back, grab the ledge with Bidou and do a ledge-switch. However, when you return, you will still have a good chance of having to deal with the same problem based on how you get up from the ledge in relation to where they are, but with even less options as you are in lag from your getup. The better thing to do is to attempt to challenge however they approach to follow up the move that sent you here in the first place. More often than not, you can fit in a Nair between hits in a combo like this, as auto-combos don’t usually start by knocking a character far away from you. However, you may be about to hit the ground by the time they come at you. In that case, you should charge Needles, throw them, and jump away if they block (thanks, increased shieldstun!). This will fail, however, if they can reach you before you hit the ground. Since you are not in hitstun the entire time in a situation like this, you can jump and Nair before you hit the ground, effectively escaping (BAN FD) to a platform. This is the most consistent way to reset neutral in this type of situation. However, if you are feeling bold and you want to try and challenge them with a read, you can do so with a number of moves, including F-tilt (if you land standing and predict a dash attack) or Get-up attack (if you fall and intentionally miss the tech, predicting a dash grab). This can quickly shift a lot of momentum and stage control into your favor, but it’s also risky in case they choose an option like a tether grab that has a longer range than most of what you would use to counter direct approaches.

Assuming that they didn't knock you there, but rather they got tricky and managed to approach you, and you couldn't stop them with anything else sooner, you need to get back to your standing position as fast as possible, because you are going to need to react when they get closer to you and try and punish your lack of stage control. This segment is going to involve lots of rolls, spotdodges and dashes in an attempt to get a grab before they grab you. You need to constantly be mixing all of your escape tactics and possibly shorthop aerials in in order to dodge their attempt to hit you and then punish within a timely manner, otherwise you will be hit and comboed accordingly. Remember, Rolls are very difficult to punish (but not undoable, especially online), so punishing whiffed grabs and Dash Attacks should be your priority.

Of course, the best thing to try and do is prevent an opponent from getting a good opening on you in the first place. In addition to what you would do in Neutral in order to get an advantage over your opponent, you also need to focus on the concept of safety. Sheik has a very safe moveset overall, meaning that it is hard to punish her attacks when she does not successfully land them. However, there are quite a few moves that break the lagless mold that surrounds Sheik, with those being Up Air upon landing and all of her Smash attacks. These types of attacks should never be thrown out in Neutral do to how easy it is punish them, not to mention that these moves in particular are not ones that are typically generate follow ups. On top of this, even moves like Fair are not safe on block or if they whiff at extremely close range, so try and make sure that you are not just throwing attacks mindlessly at their faces.

This is an outline of what Sheiks should incorporate into their play in neutral. However, that does not mean you need to become just one in a crowd; developing your own preferences as far as positioning and aggressive-defensive balance is up to you. Let’s take a look at some top Sheik players, shall we? First and foremost, we have ZeRo. He likes to camp with Needles, retreat with attacks that have a good chance of hitting while remaining safe and such at lower percents and then forces a grab opening at high percents to close stocks. This is in direct contrast to VoiD, a huge advocate of being near the opponent at all times, as well as being in the air as much as possible when Neutral is at a 50-50 stance for both players so that his opponent will crack under the pressure and make a mistake. Still differently, Mr. R loves his retreat options, and constantly baits and punishes using B-reverse Needles and generally tries to remain as safe as possible without actually Needle camping.

If you chose to devote enough time to learn to do foxtrot all the time as opposed to run normally, you will gain access to one of Smash 4’s greatest and most underused techs: Extended Dash Dancing. This tech is just a combination of Dash Dancing and Foxtroting to replicate the 3rd most famous technique in Melee, and is performed by interrupting a foxtrot with a single Dash Dance to turn yourself around. You then rinse and repeat. This allows you to bait out attacks, dash back and then punish with any attack you can do out of a run. This also allows you to directly perform tilts from an initial dash by perfect pivoting in place of another dash and inputting the tilt. It’s even faster than Instant Needle Canceling.

Overall, Sheik has an outstanding Neutral. She has the adaptability to play effectively against any character and any style, while maintaining her trademark speed and safeness that makes her one of the top characters in the game. Her Needles can force just about anyone to approach when used correctly, and her tilts up close give her an advantage over just about anyone in up close combat. Her only real weakness is her lack of an effective Dash Attack or Jab, which are tools that are very helpful up close do to expanding range and allowing for fast pokes to characters that have them respectively. Some common mistakes Sheik players make in this area include: Overuse of Aerials and under-use of Empty Hops, excessive rate of retreats after using a move, coming in with a Fair without an opening to grant you reason to do so, giving up stage control for no reason, and lack of using platforms for movement. These are all easy to notice and fix, but you need to be looking for them in the first place. DON’T. AUTOPIOLET. This will get you killed to combos that are easily DI-able. If the ninja does not maintain focus, they will never accomplish anything.

Above is a match that demonstrates all three major ways of playing neutral throughout the different games in the set, to varying degrees of success from each player. As soon as Game One starts, an example of standard close-combat is shown, where neither player is being too aggressive and looking for mistakes from the other. Vinnie is approaching and getting in range to attack Vinnie from a good distance, and S2H is doing the same. Vinnie, however, makes the mistake of trying to go for multiple SHFF Fairs in a row and as a result is punished for it with a D-throw>Uair>Up B. He comes back down and Fair S2H away, thus reseting leading to a grab. Metaknight then comes back in recklessly with a Fair, and is met then with Sheik's grab once again, solidly marking the fact that Vinnie won the neutral.

Now take a look at what happens at 3:12. S2H recognizes that Vinnie has taken his space away, and if he lingers, that whiffed grab may be followed by a successful one, something that is very dangerous at low percents, because it give Sheik a free 20+ percent. He smartly retreats to the other side of the stage before Sheik can throw Needles to stop him, and we see what I described earlier, where Vinnie, who is on the other side of the stage and has no reason to rush in at all, sits back and camps needles for a good three seconds, getting him a little bit of much stage control as well (Note that as of 1.1.5, Sheik cannot do this to the extent that we see here due to the nerf in the range of Needles, but it is still an good example of what to do). SHM recognizes he will get hit at some point, and decides to make the first move and come dashing back into forcing Vinnie to stop charging and throwing Needles. It becomes a game of who can maneuver the best at this point, and they take turns trying to punish whiffed grabs and dash attacks. Ultimately, SHM outmaneuvers Vinnie and starts landing footstools to limit his options and eventually taking the stage, but it still serves as a good example. Try analyzing the other stages of the match; this one is a great demonstration of how you should play Sheik as a whole.

ii: Edgeguarding

iii: Conditioning

iv: movement

v: Damage Racking (to be re-purposed into a combo section)
When you are playing Smash, you need to know how to build up the damage you need to get the KO. The process of doing this is known as damage racking, and that it what I will discuss here.

For those of you who are new to competitive Smash, here is a basic rundown of the concept of racking damage. Each character has their own style of doing damage to the opponent in order to prepare them to be killed. This is not something that can be broken down into categories of how it's done, as even characters that have similar play styles do this very differently. For example, Link makes most of his damage off of his projectiles at long range while forcing the opponent to approach and then tacking on some more with is get-of-me moves like Jab and Bair. Mega Man, while still being a defensive projectile-base character, plays very differently because his long-range projectiles are much slower and/or active for shorter periods of time. He will try and keep opponents just at the edge of the range of his F-tilt/Jab/Nair so that he can deal damage by constantly interrupting their attempts at damaging him, and then using his Metal Blade and other, slower, projectiles in order to set them up to be finished by U-airs, Up Tilts and Smashes. As a result of this, someone who plays Falcon will not be able to pick up Diddy Kong just like that because, despite having relatively similar styles to each other they operate entirely differently in this stage of the game.

So, how does Sheik play this part of the game? Well, take a look at what she has for tools. She can be played aggressively, defensively or both, which gives her a lot more versatility in how she goes about this. She also has lots of low-damage attacks that almost always have the ability to combo into something else, and one of the best projectiles in the game. If you take all of this into account, you will most likely be playing in a way that would complement your combo game, meaning that you would be using moves that link into each other very well. The fact that you have a superb projectile will allow you to deal damage from a distance until they come close, meaning you can use your insane combo game. Now, with all the groundwork laid, let's begin!

In neutral, the percent range that your opponent is in will determine what combo starters you will want to go for, and how you want to be positioned going into neutral if you were charging Needles beforehand. This can be matchup-dependent, but I will try to generalize as much as I can while still being accurate. At low percents on lightweights, you really only have two viable options: Grab and Fair. F-tilt does not lead into anything, and D-tilt is too impractical to be able to land consistently. Fair will lead into itself and BF. F-throw leads into Fair, Bouncing Fish, Up Air, and maybe Nair. On midweights around the same percent range, you will have access to all of the options in neutral that I mentioned above besides D-tilt, as that is still impractical. F-tilt will combo into itself for ages so long as you have Perfect Pivots to extend its’ range. Fair will lead to itself at almost all percents, and at mid percents it will lead to BF, which is almost always the optimal follow-up. Fortunately, U-tilt is relatively easy to land if you are smart OoS and are able to effectively use Needle Fidgets. It can be followed up with Fair or BF at this percent. Heavyweights, due to how punishable that they are, are almost to the point where if you catch them off-guard, you should be able to go for it. F-throw has even more follow-ups here, including Up Smash and a much more reliable U-air.

At mid percents, you have even less options against Lightweights. You will still be going for, with the addition of Nair. Unfortunately, there is not one reliable follow-up off of any throws. Fair, too has even less options for follow ups than before. Fair can’t lead to more Fairs for very long, it will almost never lead into BF. Fortunately, you will mainly be using at this percent as a get-off-me move that can be used to set of Needle camping situations. F-throw may still lead to BF on mid-weights at this percent, and Nair will have its incredible follow-up game opened up (Grab, F-tilt and more). On heavy weights, just treat them like a Mid Weight at low percent, with the only major difference being that, due to how the hitstun formula works, they will take more hitstun meaning attacks have a better chance of connecting.

Once you reach high percent, you will be doing your best to just tack on extra damage until they are in rage for a kill set-up, so at this point there are no real combos to go for and you should just try and land stray hits until you get an opportunity to land Needles to BF or any of Sheik's other kill setups.

For a compilation of advanced strings, watch these videos:

vi: Killing (On hold. Sections like these are boring to write)
As of 1.1.5, Sheik really struggles in this area. She lost the 50-50 Down Throw, further worsening her already-limited options. In fact, one might go as far as to say that she has some of the worst kill options in the game. Fear not, however, for as long as you are able to force your opponent into a situation where you can land your limited kill setups, you should at least be able to kill on some level.

Before we get into how to set up you kills, it's probably best if we recap all of Sheik's methods of killing in the first place. Her reliable kill moves (including edgeguards) are as follows: Up Air, Fair, Dair, Bair, Bouncing Fish, Vanish, Burst Grenade, Up Smash and F-Smash. Up Air is comboed into via Tipper D-tilt and F-tilt, Fair is not comboed into as a kill move, Dair can be comboed out of Footstool. Bair can come from a Ledge Trump. Bouncing Fish can be comboed out of Nair, Fair, Needles, F-throw on an airdodge read and Burst Grenade. Burst Grenade is not comboed into. Up Smash can be comboed out of Burst Grenade or an Up Tilt Jab Lock. F-Smash is not comboed into.

Let's start with how to set up Up Air kills, as they will be your most used aerial kill move. There are a few good ways to land an F-tilt 50/50 at death percent, one of which is by way of conditioning your opponent. This can be done by constantly punishing their shield with Grab so that by the time they are at high percents, they will likely either roll or Spotdodge OoS upon your approach. If they do start doing this, figure out which option they use most and cover it with a pivot or Instant Needle Cancel F-tilt. If they don't usually use defensive options to counter your approach, but rather challenge you offensively, to land the F-tilt you can use Crouch Slides or C-bounces to bait out an offensive option and then punish. You can use it as a punish when your opponent hits your Shield up close with a Smash Attack or Ledge Getup Attack. Fair is only a kill option when it comes to egeguarding or pressuring on Smashvile's platform when it's near the blastzone. When edgeguarding, you will mainly just be using it to intercept moves like Fox, Pit and Rosa's Up Bs. This is done just by either running off and Fairing or shorthop Fairing when the situation calls for it. To get kills on Smashvile, you should make sure that they are conditioned to not constantly shield for fear of being grabbed, and that you have control of the platform. You can try to catch a jump or punish an escape attempt such as a spotdodge or roll in order for this to work, both of which are pretty easy to force in a situation like this just by applying pressure the same way you would in neutral. Dair is an extremely situational kill move. It has a surprising number of setups that lead to Footstool Dair (see Dair's attack section), but all of those are either very unlikely to come up in a game or not optimal for the situation at hand. Other uses for this move are to spike an incoming Fox or Falco Up B, spike below the ledge by way of 2-frame punish and, as a mix-up, Dair to Bouncing Fish on-stage. In general you will only be killing with this move if you feel that your opponent is simply reading your limited conventional kill options. Weak Nair can confirm to Bouncing Fish at around 110%, and could be used to punish quite a few things or be used as a mixup on the way down from a fullhop. Bair is literally just for confirming off ledgetrumps.

All of your specials are able to kill, although only Needles and Bouncing Fish are reliable. Needles are able to kill via gimps and Needles to Bouncing Fish. In order to successfully gimp your opponent, you need to get a read on when they will jump and time your Needles to intercept it. To set up Needles to Bouncing Fish, you need to catch them when they are about the distance of a full Bouncing Fish away from the ledge if they are parallel to the stage, and farther away for the lower they are. Don't go for this if they are over 2 Sheik heights below the ledge. Burst Grenade works at high percents as an edgeguarding tool, but it requires very precise prediction of where the opponent will be when the bomb goes off. Only use it for catching moves like low Dolphin Slashes that have hitboxes that would make them otherwise extremely difficult to punish. Vanish can work as a method of catching recoveries paralell to the ledge, but usually standalone Bouncing Fish is better at this job.
Match Ups
This section will cover Sheik's MUs in as much detail as possible. The legacy section covers old, outdated MUs in a very poor manner, and will be removed when the characters in the section are all added. For reference, click the attachment below for the official second 4BR tier list so you know who's coming when: Tier List 1.1.6.png

#1: Ryu
Ryu is almost unquestionably Sheik’s worst Matchup, being 40-60 in the eyes of most players. Ryu has a fairly strong Neutral, allowing him to contend with Sheik, but his real strong point is the fact that once he gains an advantage he goes and beats the crap out of you with it. His U-tilt can lead to death at pretty much any percent, Focus Attack is really hard for us to break and his overall combo game is arguably even better than ours. If you don’t know how to play the MU, you are gonna get bodied.

Ryu has a unique feel to him that other characters lack. He has above-average weight (104, putting him at 14th in the game) but has a very average fall speed (1.6, tied for 24-27th in the game). This means that when comboing him, you will be able to continue using combos that would apply to lower percents for longer. However, unlike most characters that the previous fact applies to, Ryu won’t fall pray to nearly as many of the combos that work on fastfallers. You can still use F-tilt strings on him for days, but he won’t fall victim to Strong Nair to Boost Grabs.

The first order of business is learning how to play Neutral in this MU. The biggest factor here is learning to avoid coming within 10 feet of Ryu as much as possible. Ryu’s biggest weakness is his lack of ability to deal damage from a distance, what with his slower movement and lack of a good projectile that is used for damage. You, on the other hand, have both of those things and are thus able to constantly run around and throw out Needles. Beware, however, as the Ryu will most likely be able to simply walk forward and powershield Needles. The only time that you should ever try to fight up close at low percent is if Ryu throws out a move like Heavy F-tilt, any variation of Hadoken or a Focus intended to beat out Needles while you are within Boost Grab range. From here you should be able to secure a very easy win in Neutral off throw combos as Ryu is extremely easy for us to combo the carp out of. When you have the advantage, just make sure that you don’t run into Nair or Fair. Other than those, Ryu has a fairly hard time getting neutral back.

But let’s say you don’t want to run away for the entire match and actually enjoy yourself. First of all, what are you, a normal human being? GET. OUT. Still here? Ok, good. Luckily for you, there is another way to handle this matchup in Neutral, albeit much riskier for you. Here, you need to treat Ryu almost the same way you would Marth: Stay JUST out of his max range, use C-Bounce Needles to bait out and punish offensive action, and DO NOT approach when he is grounded (basically just play Bait and Punish to the most absurd extreme imaginable). The main difference between the two neutral styles is that Ryu, thanks to his Focus Attack and projectile, has at least a little bit of a ranged game and has the ability to tank almost anything based on percent, which just generally give him better ability to control space and thus make it harder to play this way in general. When playing like this, if you are not playing perfectly safe unless punishing you are getting hit by Utilt, Dtilt, Focus Attack or pretty much anything else and dieing, but if he slips up you can punish almost equally hard. The only exception to this is if he blocks on the ground fearing Needles, which you can punish with a grab thanks to Ryu’s limited OoS options. You can condition the Ryu to make this happen more by keeping and trying to hit him with two or more Needles a lot throughout the match, but finding time to charge the Needles is an issue with no real work around.

As soon as a match against Ryu begins, you should charge a full stack of Needles unless the Ryu threatens goes in for a Dash Attack, in which case you should cancel the charge and try to punish the opponent for running at you as soon as they start to get close.. Most Ryu players will try to take center stage as the game begins, making this a usually safe option. Also, charging Needles is even more important is even more important in this Matchup then it is in others due to it being your second best method of beating Focus. You should then immediately try to engage in footsies, getting just outside his range. Be prepared to punish RAR Bairs as Ryus will often approach with this if you get closer then they are comfortable with. This is a threat due to the low landing lag and the move has a large hitbox, great damage and knockback and low landing lag. Another common habit that you can take advantage of is overuse of Focus Attack. When falling from a string of aerials or F-tilts, a lot of Ryus seem to try using Focus on the way down, which you can space around and punish with a grab just by standing out of range of the punch. Also be ready for his D-tilt at all times, as Ryus will often walk up to you to apply pressure, meaning in times like this he will have access to the attack. It has a suprising amount of range but will miss aerial opponents, so if you predict it try to punish with Fair. This is about as far as teaching footsies can really go, because from here so much of this part of the game is simply being patient and properly baiting on top of getting reads.

Focus Attack is Ryu’s most universal tool that can help him win almost any matchup. It lets him get through gimping projectiles when recovering, effectively acts as a counter when on stage against most moves and leads to multiple kill confirms after about 60%. It also acts as an air dash when canceled, making Ryu the only character in the game besides Sheik to have something of the sort. Fortunately, our Needles, grab, mobility and spacing should make it so we do not need to deal with it being used as a counter in neutral, but in essentially any other stage of the game it can be a real nuisance. When trying to edgeguard him (which is nearly impossible in general due to the absurdity that is Shoryuken), he can use it to eat basically any of our attacks besides Needles and get out unscathed. Since the invincibility begins on frame one, he becomes almost entirely immune to our Tilts and aerials when using it. This mean that if you find that the opponent throws it out when we combo him, we need to have a feel of when he will do so and be ready to work grab, Up Air, Up Smash or multiple Needles into the combo to avoid it. As an air dash, he can use it as a small extra burst of speed to be able to reach us when we think we are out of range, so be aware that he can always get just a little closer then the currently is in the air at a moment’s notice and try to space around that. As a closing note, if you do end up playing this MU the optimal, yet extremely boring style you should almost never need to deal with this move ever. Bouncing Fish, Needles, UAir, USmash, Jab and Up B are all safe on Focus Attack.

It is very common to be hit high into the air in this matchup due to the angles on most of Ryu’s best attacks. While Ryu doesn’t really have many options to keep opponents in the air for very long, he can and will mercilessly punish your landing if you stray too close upon your landing. Ryu’s best and most common method of safely catching landings is running up to where you will most likely land after falling and shield. Since Sheik dosen’t have a command grab, you can’t do anything about his shield. Since Ryu has a great Bair for things like this, you can’t really land behind him without expecting a punish. So, your best option in this situation is to try and mix up your landing as much as possible. Thankfully, Sheik can do this fairly well by using Bouncing Fish and choosing what direction and what distance that you want to travel. Do your best to be unpredictable.

Ryu’s projectiles are not exactly the best at keeping people out or forcing people to move in, but the way they are built around his playstyle can make them at least a little useful nonetheless. He uses them to cover his slow, walk-based approach and block out a lot of projectiles as well, Needles included. This situation calls for you to just sit there and charge more Needles as throwing them is just a waste. However, if you catch on to a pattern of when the Ryu uses it, you can begin to use it as an opening in Neutral by BFing over the Hadoken. If Ryu uses Hadoken while you are in the air, your best bet for beating it is to Fair as it will cause the fireball to disappear of contact. This may give Ryu an opportunity to punish with a Fair of his own but combos from EX Hadoken are worth avoiding for just taking 13%. It just continues to show how careful you need to be about all of your movement in Neutral here. EX Hadoken, due to it’s multiple hits, can be a great way for Ryu to walk up to you and Strong F-tilt to break your shield if you decide to block it. So, always hit it with an attack or crouch under it if he uses it at close range.

Killing Ryu is a gigantic problem for Sheik. The entire goal of fighting Ryu is to stay as safe as possible, and for Sheik to kill she either needs to punish a large mistake or at least commit to attacking the opponent on some level. This could easily result in disaster due to Ryu’s combo game being so absurdly strong. Our best bet for landing a kill is probably baiting with C-bouncing, Perfect Pivots and B-reverse Aerial Needles. If Ryu makes a mistake and tries to punish you approaching with fadeback aerials, grabs or anything else, you can use Needles to knock him airborne and attempt to maximize from there. We can also attempt to go in for a rouge grab or Fair, as the rest of the match has probably conditioned the opponent to not expect aggression from you. This is easily the biggest risk you should reasonably take in approaching Ryu overall. Aside from these two setups there is no real good way to kill him.

Assuming Ryu does not convert to a kill immediately after winning Neutral, it's actually surprisingly easy to reset it. Aside from his guaranteed combos and first follow up after wining Neutral, it's generally pretty easy to read and counterattack his options when he wins Neutral, as they basically boil down to Hadoken, Fair, random Focus Attack and walk-up Heavy F-tilt, all of which have their own single states Ryu needs to be in order to use. If he jumps at you assume he will Fair and Spotdodge or Airdodge it as necessary, and preferably punish with a grab. Hadoken at close range is asking for a Bouncing Fish, Focus Attack should be a free grab so long as you react within a third of a second, and roll followed by SH Fair if he tries to walk up slowly and break your shield. As with before, don't approach him at random, especially in the air; Utilt is a godlike antiair.

Knowing how to be able to do what you can to Ryu’s kill combos is important, but not essential to the MU. In general the most we can do is screw up his positioning when he goes for the last hit in the combos, but it’s better than nothing. While Ryu’s U-tilt can kill from just about any percent, you can move around quite a bit from within the U-tilt range itself by way of SDI. During U-tilt strings, SDI either as far left or right as you can to try and screw up the Shoryuken positioning. His D-tilt should either be SDIed in or up to mess with where the Medium D-tilt and Tatsumaki can hit. In general this really only messes with the microspacing of the moves unless you are a god as SDI, and a good Ryu player should be prepared for all of these anyway, but there is always the chance that you screw them up in their execution. You can’t do anything about Focus Attack if he hits you with it.

Ryu has a lot of methods of killing without landing combo starters. He has F-smash and Bair to punish raw approaches, run-up Shoryuken as a random mixup, Up Air to catch landings on platforms above him and Dair as a spike. To avoid him using F-smash or Bair to catch an approach, try to approach by walking and crouching once you get into his range. The nature of these moves makes them impossible to land on crouching opponents at the right range, so you can punish with a tipper D-tilt into Up Air at high percents (the only percents you should be aggressively approaching to begin with). Be aware of when he approaches and counterattack or at least block if you see him running at you at high percents. Counterattacking is usually better because it beats grab, but if the Ryu predicts and outspaces you he can go for a Focus Attack and kill you that way. If you have enough room to do so, it’s best to just throw Needles. Don’t airdodge or Dair to land on platforms and you are safe from his Up Air and don’t abuse Bouncing Fish as a recovery option and you are safe from his Dair.

Taking full advantage of when you to win Neutral VS Ryu is very important. You need to keep in mind his Focus Attack and Nair and when he is most likely to use those to try to get out of non-true combos. This particular aspect of a Ryu’s play comes down to personal preference, so make sure you are keeping track of when he uses his options. You can punish Nair with any of your aerials, and if you can predict when the Ryu will use Focus Attack during strings to try to break out you can shorthop over him and hit him with a falling Nair to avoid the punch and knock him out of armor or catch his cancel.

Edgeguarding Ryu, while nearly impossible from below the ledge due to Shoryuken being invincible and having a hitbox when grabbing the ledge with it, is pretty doable if he is parallel to or above the ledge. From here these positions, Ryu’s large hurtbox works against him by making it very easy to punish his air dodges. Thus, he is forced to use either an aggressive option like Nair or an attack that moves him forward, like Focus Attack or Tatsumaki. All of these options are beaten by a full charge of Needles to Bouncing Fish. So, Sheik can simply Needle to Bouncing Fish at pretty much any percent and kill with it at high percents. As a result of this, Ryu will often be trying to get to a position where he can recover with Shoryuken, so be aware and try to punish him for doing so.

Ledge situations are very advantageous for Ryu in this matchup when you are the defender and not very advantageous when you are the attacker. As a defender, you have no real options to stay safe and are basically forced to commit to an aggressive option, which as we have already established Ryu can take care of very easily. If you jump in, Ryu can use his Light Up Tilt as an anti-air and kill you. If you run in he can hit you with his weak F-tilt, F-smash or fadeback Bair. If you try blocking he can break your shield with Strong F-tilt or pressure it with EX Hadoken, and if you roll he can Shoryuken you for a kill on reaction. The only good option you have here is to try to jump over Ryu because none of his aerials have an arc to them like your Fair does, meaning they are difficult to space correctly to hit you. However, if the Ryu reads this he can just run back and Bair, which will beat your aerials if you try to challenge it and put you back on the ledge if you air dodge it. Your best bet is to just try to be as unpredictable as can be. When you are the aggressor, all you really gain is knowledge that he can’t just run away if things are going poorly for him, making things pretty close to the same as they are normally.

As far as stages go you will want to avoid Final Destination (no alternative approach or retreat options, making it harder to space yourself relative to him), Lylat (tilting stage kills Needle camping) and possibly Duck Hunt (Like FD if FD had combo-killing laughing dogs popping out of the background at regular intervals). Your best stages here are Battlefield (that many platforms are a joy to have), Dreamland, (same reason as BF but with a lower upper blast zone, causing you to die earlier to Shoryuken), and Smashvile (all around amazing Sheik stage, see stage section when I get to revising that). Town and City is indifferent, and the smart Ryu will probably take you here game one.

Above is an example of what Ryu can do if you are too aggressive (running into Fairs, trapped by Bairs, not respecting the Hadoken, etcetera); Trella beating one of the top Smash 4 players in the world definitely warrants attention. Just count the number of times VoiD loses Neutral by his own hand.
On the other hand, this match shows how Sheik does have a decent fighting chance if you play the matchup patiently enough. Mr. R just generally takes less risks than VoiD and ends up coming much closer to winning as a result.

#2: Cloud
Cloud may be just below Ryu on the tier list, but for Sheik, he is MUCH easier to handle, with an approximate matchup ratio of 55:45. Since Cloud relies so much on getting his Limit, Sheik can take advantage of how most Clouds will play and use her movement and Needles to make it very difficult for Cloud to find time to get his Limit. Be aware of Cloud’s giant sword at all times, as it gives him a very good way to punish approaches, meaning mindlessly trying to punish him for charging Limit is not a good idea and thus you need to put a bit of thought into how you do it. Cloud is fairly easy for us to combo due to his above average weight (100) and fall speed (1.68). He won’t take 70+% off a grab like Fox or Falcon do, but we can still use some combos reserved for characters that fall faster than normal.

Cloud players will almost always immediately begin a match either by charging Limit or retreating to a platform (such as that of Smashvile) and then charging Limit. The best way for Sheik to deal with this is if the player doesn't get on a platform is by running just into Needle range and charging Needles. If they Cloud stops charging cancel the charge and approach him. If he starts running at you he is almost definitely going to go for a Short Hop Nair or Grab, which you can get around by C-bounce to Instant Needle Cancel. If he keeps running, he is going for a grab and you can punish. If he jumps, assume that he will use an aerial and block. If he chose to hop on a platform at the start of a match, you have no choice but to try and challenge him with an aerial. This will most likely result in you getting hit, but that’s better then letting Cloud get Limit.

Cloud may as well be two different characters, as his playstyle with and without Limit are extremely different. If he has Limit, he is going to constantly be going for Shield pressure and kill setups, due to his increased mobility and amazing kill options. Without Limit he is going to be zoning you out with his massive sword and taking every chance he gets to charge his Limit. Being able to deal with both is difficult but a must in this matchup if you want to come out on top. So, let’s talk about how you should approach each if these.

Dealing with zoning-based Cloud is all about making proper usage of Needles and getting past his wall of aerials. Cloud will almost always be trying to get space so he can charge limit, but he can’t simply acomplish this by running away lest he wishes to be hit by Needles. So, he needs to hit you away from him. His aerials, grab and F-tilt are all good tools for this, but his aerials are his best tools for this because his F-tilt is not safe on block and his grab lacks the range of his sword, making it less practical to use. So, you simply need to make sure that you are at closest just inside the range of his sword but not inside of the range of his grab and block his aerials when he uses them so you can punish them with Shield Grabs, F-tilts OoS or Fairs depending on just how far away he is.

Playing around the aggressive Cloud you see when he has Limit is a much more difficult endeavor. In this state heHe will be using his added mobility to be trying his best to space aerials perfectly on block if you continue playing like before and chasing you down if you try to run away. So, to combat this you have to be able to either act perfectly out of shield with Perfect Pivot tilts or something of the nature (not likely) or be able to bait out his aerials and punish them. You can punish Nair, Bair, Uair and Fair after he lands with Grab and his Dair as he is using the move with Nair. This isn’t easy by any means, but it’s a lot better then just taking the hits. It’s just better overall, however, if you just keep him from getting Limit in the first place.

On rare occasions you might come across a Cloud that plays very conservatively with their Limit. These players usually jump around on one side of the stage to avoid Needles and make you come to them. Just as before, this is disadvantageous for Sheik. The best way to play against this is to throw Needles from a distance regardless of weather or not they will hit most of the time and sometimes fake an approach at the Cloud. This is a battle of patience, as both you and Cloud have really good ways to punish approaches. Once/if the Cloud approaches, punish him for it. This works very well unless you are behind in percentage or stocks, where you are legitimately at risk of being timed out. You are safe until about the last one or two minutes of the game doing this, but by that point if you don’t have the lead you need to go in. Do your best to avoid is approach punishes, as difficult as that is, and you might just get the kill before the game goes to time.

Cloud has a fantastic Juggling game thanks to his Up Air. The hitbox on this move covers his entire body from above, making him practically invincable well using it. The hitbox also lingers for ages, meaning it can hit people out of air dodges. To top it all off, the attack hits people at the perfect angle to land another one right away after the Cloud lands it and can just jump and use it again right away to keep using it. Sheik, however, is able to land from juggles exceptionably well thanks to her Bouncing Fish. As with Ryu, getting around Cloud’s juggles is just a matter of predicting his movement and using BF to get away from there. Cloud’s sword makes this a challenge, but not nearly as big of one as it is for most characters.

Cloud doesn’t have much in the way of long, drawn-out true combos like we do, but he is very good at keeping you from reseting Neutral after you lose once. The attacks that make up his objectives (aerials and grab) all send you into very unfavorable positions, those being in front and slightly above of where Cloud hit you from. This strange height doesn’t allow you to Bouncing Fish to get away without either having landing lag or expending your double jump, and the incredible range that Cloud possess can allow him to hit you again when you don’t have shield available to you. Using your double jump to get around Cloud is an option, but the Cloud can read or react to this and punish with Up Airs. It is in your best interest to land as soon as you can, so if you are sent into tumble it’s actually in your best interest to land and tech rather than jump away. This creates a tech chase situation for the opponent, which still gives Cloud an advantage thanks to his range but not nearly as much of one as when you are in the air. You can also try to jump and Airdodge the aerials and punish with a Dair or Falling Nair, but once again these can be reacted to unless your timing is perfect.

The movement that Cloud possesses is strong without Limit and amazing with it. Without, he has a great running speed, which allows him to run away, a good SHFF for getting out aerials, a decent Perfect Pivot that lets him microspace decently well, and the only dash in the game that lets the player turn around when Fox Trotting, which basically recreates the Dash Dance from Melee. He does lack range and speed on his rolls (his invincibility ends on frame 15, leaving 17 frames of lag at the end), however, and can be punished for rolling very easily. With Limit, all of this stuff gets even better. You can still punish rolls, but everything else becomes even better than yours. This means you need to totally out-think and outplay the opponent in baits and spacing rather than just outmaneuver them in neutral.

Cross Slash is a surprisingly strong tool considering how awful moves like it usually are. What sets this attack apart from moves like Roy’s Double Edge Dance is the fact that it links reliably into itself and will always do a large amount of damage regardless of what hitboxes of the attack hit. This attack comes out on frame 10 and does 19 damage, making it a great punish option. It also has a good amount of range, meaning it can be used to hit opponents out of shield. It is also pretty good for catching approaches. It can true combo out of Down Throw at low percent and Weak Nair at mid percents. For Sheik, this means that you need to be very careful and watch for this attack when you approach and never get too comforable pressuring his shield from either side. This attack won’t be used in the air very often, however, so there you don’t really need to worry about it much.

You need to respect Cloud’s Dair in order to stay safe in this Matchup. Cloud’s Dair covers a massive area below him with his disjointed hitbox, making him practically invincible from below. The move can be fastfallen and still autocancled out of a fullhop, meaning the move is very safe and hard to punish to use in general. The attack can lead into a lot of damage at low percents and into kill confirms at higher percents, making this move a force to be reckoned with to say the least. Clouds will usually use it in one of three situations: In Neutral if they have a significant amount of space, in edgeguarding if they predict a Bouncing Fish parallel to the ledge and when being comboed and they fear an Up Air. In Neutral, there is basically nothing you can do about the attack besides try not to get hit. Hit’s pretty close to unpunishable if the Cloud spaces himself so you don’t have room to hit his sides with Fairs, which he should be doing at all times. You should never be doing a Bouncing Fish back to the stage unless you are positioned to get the cartwheel animation, so just as long as you are not being an idiot and trying to do that you don’t need to worry about it. You almost can’t juggle Cloud at all thanks to this move. If he does it your only option to even possibly hit him is Vanish, which Cloud can try to avoid thanks to his air speed. Respect Dair; Cloud simply having it limits your options in these three situations.

Cloud has great kill options, even without Limit. They just become even stronger when he does have it. Knowing what his options are in a given situation is key to avoiding and punishing them. First are Cloud’s Smashes. Cloud will only really ever use Up Smash when punishing extremely laggy attacks out of shield, so if you don’t Dair his shield you should be fine. F-smash is primarily a punish option too, but can be used to apply pressure at the ledge. However, D-smash is much better at doing this because of the fact that it comes out faster and hits on both sides. His other normal kill options include Bair, which can comes out very quickly, is guaranteed from a Ledge Trump and is safe on block, Fair, which spikes and can catch you out of Bouncing Fish, Up B (a spike, basically only works as a reverse edgeguard) and Dair (also a spike, catches the 2-frame when spaced well). When he does have Limit, he can use Limit Climb Hazard to hit you OoS or when he is recovering, Limit Cross Slash to catch approaches, rolls, airdodges, Bouncing Fish and 2-frame recoveries, Limit Blade Beam to potentially edgeguard and Finishing Touch to catch airdodges when the Cloud is unsure of where you will be positioned after they airdodge. These are all basically guaranteed kills for the Cloud starting at around 90%h, so your best bet is to just try to avoid these situations in the first place.

Cloud has amazing option coverage when trying to prevent the opponent from getting back to center stage. He has Nair to catch both Jump and Dash Forward. Fair to catch Jump and defensive options, autocancle Dair to cover run-to-shields attempting to punish aerials, grab to punish block (duh) and everything but Blade Beam to catch rolls. Cloud will have the advantage in this situation at all times, as he can cover so many options at once most of the time and when you do try to do something that he can’t cover with a single option he can cover that with his other attacks if he reads or reacts to it. You just need to get lucky with the options you chose to use compared to what the player chose, and don’t get predicable. There is a very situational method of getting back to the stage consistently, however. If you Bouncing Fish from off stage in such a way that you will land on the stage with the cartwheel animation just behind him, you will get past all of the Cloud’s options if he is airborne, which Clouds will probably be 90% of the time when keeping you from getting back to the stage.

When you win Neutral against Cloud, it’s important to not overextend yourself. Once Cloud is out of range for direct follow-ups, he will be free to counterattack with pretty much any of his fast attacks if you get too close. The best thing you can do when you win Neutral is to get as much damage as you can for most of the string, but for the last hit use an attack that will limit his stage control as much as possible rather than end with a damage racking move. If you can either kill or set up for an edgeguard, though, do those for obvious reasons.

Cloud has one of the most exploitable recoveries in the game. His Up B, Climb Hazard, is a very simple attack in that it just moves Cloud straight up. It doesn't give Cloud invincibility, it doesn't give him exceptional height, it just moves straight up. It dosen’t even sweetspot to the ledge except at the very end of the animation. Needless to say, it’s incredibly easy to edgeguard Cloud. Clouds will usually use their double jump to put themselves in exactly the position to sweetspot the ledge when they can, so you can use this to intercept their recovery when they are recovering low with Needles, Drop-zone Fair or even Bouncing Fish if you time it right. Even if you don’t get to the ledge in time to catch his Double Jump, since Cloud has such a bad ledge grab animation you can hit his 2-frame window with a Bouncing Fish. If you can get Cloud into a position where he is recovering from right underneath the ledge, you can just run off and Bair him. There is an odd window near the end of his Up B animation (from frame 18 until the actual free fall begins) where, if hit during it, Cloud can’t tech. So, if you can land the Bair during this window you are basically guaranteed a kill. You should never need to edgeguard Cloud when he is recovering parallel to the stage; Cloud can’t recover parallel without leaving himself in his helpless state, so you can just let him fall low. Edgeguarding Cloud high is probably the hardest area to do anything to him from due to the fact that he can use his amazing aerials to cover his landing. Your best bet is to bait out one and punish with Vanish.

Cloud has a few small tricks for making his recovery slightly less predictable. He can use his Cross Slash to stall him in the air for a little while, in a manner similar to that of Marth’s Dancing Blade in Melee. This can mess with the timing of his opponent’s edgeguards, but it’s nothing major. Cloud can also initiate the second swing of Climb Hazard, a technique that is usually useless, to take opponents trying to edgeguard him down with him. Don’t get to greedy about punishing Up B and this won’t happen you you. Lastly, Cloud, if he nearly has full Limit, can finish charging it and use his Limit Up B to get back to the stage. While Limit Climb Hazard is far better than it’s standard counterpart, it’s not incinvible and it is possible to hit Cloud out of it with perfect timing. Beware that this attack, as mentioned before, is strong enough to kill so this is best done with Vanish due to the invincibility that it grants you.

Cloud’s other main weakness is his inability to deal with aggressive pressure if the opponent is fast enough. He has a great selection of tools to keep people at bay, but once they get in the opponent can just devastate Cloud. He is very easy to combo, he has a poor recovery, he has no real combo breaker like Yoshi’s Nair and no good get-of-me move like Naryu’s Love. As a result, you can afford to be almost recklessly aggrssive after you win neutral, so long as you don’t get above him or stay below him for long enough to let him get a Dair out. You should be aware than he can use Nair to hit you if you give him enough space, but this can be predicted or even baited out by recognizing the specifics of when your opponent goes for it. If you do end up letting the opponent land, you can still try to go for predict their options (they are limited by how much time that they have before they reach you, meaning you can rule out them going for Bairs, tilts or smashes) and counter them in order to keep up your aggression. The number one goal of attacking Cloud is to get Cloud to at least mid percent and set him up for an edgeguard so you can kill as early as possible. Be aware that if the Cloud has Limit they can use Up B as a semi-combo breaker, but unless you are at high percent you shouldn’t need to worry about it much.

As for stages, you will want to avoid Dreamland, Duck Hunt and if possible Battlefield. On DL, Cloud can and will jump back and forth across the three platforms and charge Limit while doing his best to cover himself with Dair if you approach. If a Cloud is good at this, it will be very difficult for you to find an opening on him while he is doing this. Also, having platforms provides an extra way out of playing footsies with you, wich you don’t want him to have. On Duck Hunt, Cloud can legitimately time you out if you are not aggressive enough. The trees also help him to get Limit the same way platforms on Dreamland do. Battlefield is a lot like Dreamland but with lower platforms, meaning you can hit him through the platforms with Up Tilt and Up Smash much more eaily. However, the platforms are still there and give Cloud the chance to both retreat and camp if he needs to. Smashvile and Town and City are neutral. Cloud has a great way to charge Limit on Smashvile in the form of the platform when it’s offstage because of how good Cloud is at approaching direct approaches, the only kind you can make when he is on the platform. However, Sheik’s combos using the platform on top of the smaller stage size giving Cloud less area to retreat to counterbalance this advantage. Town and City poses no significant advantages or disadvantages for either player. Final Destination and Lylat are both good for Sheik because Cloud has nowhere to run or camp.

Game 2 and the first stock of Game 3 of this set shows how brutally cloud’s recovery can be murdered.
The first stock of Game 1 is edgeguarding Cloud perfected.
A great example of what NOT to do against Cloud. VoiD vell victim to Bairs as punishes, impatience and resulting from shield pressure, and getting hit for not using his shield enough at mid range. This happened just 10 days before Big House 6, where VoiD only lost 3-2, proving that he adapted significantly to the Cloud MU since then.
The match that I just mentioned where VoiD won 2 more games than before.

#3: Diddy Kong
Diddy Kong is considered by quite a few to be the best character in the game, and for good reason. He has a generally great combo game, strong kill setups, a good recover, fast movement and one of the best projectiles in the game. This comes together to make for a great Neutral and late game. However, Sheik most of these same properties as well, save killing, to an even greater extent. Thus, the matchup is about even. Sheik can once again combo Diddy fairly easily, what with him falling relatively fast and being of average weight. However, you won’t be able to land combos consistently as long as you are against Cloud and Ryu.

Diddy Kong’s entire game plan revolves around his ability to get a banana. His banana is among the best projectiles in the game, as it can be used out of shield, dashes and in the air in all directions with basically no lag. The tripping factor of the banana sets the victim for pretty much whatever the Diddy wants, including massive combos and/or kill setups at pretty much all percents. So, it makes sense that he would want to be trying to get it whenever he dosen’t have it. This adds a certain layer of predictability to the way the opponent will play neutral, but not to a very great extent. Diddy Kong has two completely different methods of playing Neutral that make sense: Semi-aggressive zoning with aerials and what essentially boils down to intense camping. The style that the Diddy will use in part has to do with how you are playing Sheik (a campy Sheik will result in a campy Diddy) but for the most part the preference of the player will determine how they play. A good Diddy can and will switch between these as necessary, however, so be on your toes.

When zoning people out, Diddy will almost exclusively use Shorthop Fair and D-tilt to keep people from approaching. Shorthop Fastfall Fair is amazing because of how fast everything about it is on top of the actual attack’s damage, knockback and angle that it sends people it. This makes it devestating to be hit by and really easy to throw out in Neutral, which makes approaching Diddy Kong really hard for his opponents. Making this move still better, so long as it is spaced well, this move is safe on block, meaning that the Diddy just needs to react and fade back in the air if he sees the opponent running towards him to shield grab him. His D-tilt shares all of these properties except the ability to fade back due to being a grounded move. So, what can Sheik do about this? Well, there isn’t much we can do to get garunteed punishes on him for doing this due to how fast it is and that it autocancels, but we can read what he will do after landing and punish it. If you think he will try to Fair again, you can go for a Bouncing Fish. If you think he will block, go for a grab. So on and so forth. Just be aware that the Diddy can also read your read and counterattack if he is prepared.

Diddy Kong at a distance is scary. Once he gets his distance, he is almost certain to get a banana, making him almost impossible to approach on the ground for reasons that I will get to latter. The best you can do is getting into Needle range and throwing them until the approaches, but once he has a banana there is very little you can do to stop said approaches. You basically need to read his options perfectly or you will get hit by the banana. The most you can do to avoid getting hit is to stay airborne as much as you can, as the banana won’t trip in the air and when in the air Diddy can’t use his aerials to stuff approaching Fairs. The best thing you can do is keep him from getting his distance in the first place, which is done by applying aggressive pressure as often as you can.

A more aggressive-style Diddy is an option for the opponent, as shown by K9sbruce’s play, but is really not the best way to play the character. Diddy has the tools to deal huge amounts of damage if he does get a hit, but if he is playing too aggressively he will most likely be unable to space his attacks perfectly and thus be easily be punished for hitting the opponent’s shield. Be aware of his dash grab, Fair, D-tilt and Side B; these are Diddy’s best tools for approaching outright. These options are very easy to punish if you get a read on any of these with the exception of Fair because you can literally just punish with Fair or Nair; they cover every option. If you are certain that they will not grab or Side B, you can try to block and punish their approach from there as well, but again this will leave you open to grab and Side B, as opposed to just Fair. Beating Diddy’s Fair is the only real challenge with fighting Diddy as it’s impossible to react to and is so easy to randomly mix in with the rest of his attacks. The best you can do is just try to read him. Note that even with a more aggressive style a good Diddy should not be constantly approaching but rather waiting for you to commit to any action so you can’t cover as many of their options. These small committals include blocking inside Monkey Flip range, using retreating Fairs too close to Diddy and using Needles at mid range.

Before we get into how Diddy will behave at the start of a match and what exactly you should do about it, we need to go into more detail the massive threat in Diddy’s kit that single-handedly brings him from high to top tier. The banana is one of the most powerful attacks in the game. With it in his hand, he can punish actions from anywhere, approach at any time, set up combos and even kill confirms upon landing it when the opponent is grounded, control part of the stage without having to do anything and set up ledge traps and frame traps. On top of this, he can preform a lot different kinds of mixups and baits in the way that he obtainst he banana due to the fact that he can control the trajectory and height at which he pulls the banana out to begin with. Here, I’m going to go in-depth on all of these and what Sheik can do about them.

The most straight-forward use of Diddy’s banana is to punish the opponent for simply being grounded at close range. Due to Diddy’s fantastic item throw (second fastest traveling, comes out on frame 4 while dashing or facing forward, can act out of it very quickly compared to the rest of the cast, etc.), the banana will likely reach you in just a few frames, meaning that if you are on the ground without a shield or hitbox out he can set you up for banana combos without you having any time to react. This means that when Diddy has his banana, you are basically forced to stay in the air as much as you can, which Diddy can easially punish with Side B. Your best bet in this situation is to try to read his Fair or banana throw and punish with a Bouncing Fish or Shield Grab. However, Bouncing Fish is very punishable and shielding is countered by Side B, so everything basically becomes a match of rock-paper-scissors between you and the Diddy at this stage of the game. By extension of all of this, having a banana makes Diddy almost impossible to approach safely as almost none of the typical baiting options Sheik usually has are safe.

The next biggest thing that Diddy’s banana does is set up ground control by way of placing his banana anywhere on the stage, effectively meaning that he always has a hitbox out where ever the banana is. A Diddy will usually be doing this either on platforms or in the middle of the stage, as having it on a platform effectively means you can’t land on it from above and landing on it from below will require either Air Dodging or using an aerial and having it in the middle of the stage forces you to either Dash Attack to pick it up or jump over it when traversing the stage. The best thing you can do about this is to throw Needles at Diddy to punish whatever action the took to get the banana there in the first place. This is doable because of the fact that all of Diddy’s methods of getting bananas to these positions (Throwing it from a dash, using Down B, throwing it out of shield, etc.) all have significant amounts of end lag. From here you have no choice but to continue trying to play around these threats until Diddy either picks them up or they disappear.

Banana also has the ability to cover the Standard Getup, fall-off Double Jump Fair and Getup Attack from the ledge when placed right at the ledge. This allows Diddy to go for a 50-50 guess between covering Roll or Jump from the ledge. This is really difficult to deal with, as there are no real ways around it. A good Diddy with a banana can just throw this on the ground at the ledge after they knock you off and you have to deal with this upon reaching the ledge again. This all but forces you to recover high or Bouncing Fish at the Diddy unless you want to take a risk, both of which will lead to you getting punished anyway if they fail. Thankfully, if the opponent guesses incorrectly you can sometimes punish them very easially, either with a landing aerial if they tried to cover Roll will a move like F- or Up-smash (as opposed to D-tilt) or with a Bair if they tried to cover Jump with Fullhop Fair.

Even the action of pulling out the banana to begin with can be dangerous for the opponent. Diddy has the ability to control the distance and trajectory at which the throws the banana when pulling it out, meaning that he can either make it look like you can steal it from him before he grabs and punish you or let you grab it at the expense of not covering him and letting him take center stage. This is dangerous because it seems like it would be the obvious thing to do, especially considering the fact that steeling the item whenever possible is the objective best course of action in pretty much every other scenario in both this and other matchups. However, so long as you are aware that this bait exists and keep it in the back of your mind while playing you should never fall for it.

Now that all of that’s out of the way, we can talk about why Diddy landing his banana is so huge for him. The banana trips the opponent if it hits the opponent while they are grounded, meaning they can be followed up on with grab, Dash Attack, Fair off a tech chase or any Smash Attack. This means that landing this move, which comes out on frame 4 at the soonest and frame 11 at the latest depending on the direction thrown can lead into massive damage or a kill depending on percentage. On top of this, an upward-thrown banana can lead into Up Smash on an airborne opponent at any percent thanks to the banana’s fixed knockback. Furthermore, the banana can catch double jumps if timed perfectly. Basically, the banana is an incredibly fast kill tool.

The banana has several weaknesses, thankfully. When he has it in hand, Diddy can’t use tilts, grabs or Smashes. This means that by having a banana, Diddy is severely limiting his own grounded options in trade-off for one that would be game-breaking if not for this inherit disadvantage. This means that Diddy can’t kill with tilts, properly beat shield up close (The grab of Monkey Flip has 20 frames of startup, meaning it can be reacted to and avoided with a spotdodge or roll) or burst punish quite as easily with Dash Attack. His banana does serve Also, if Sheik uses her Dair so that she lands on Diddy’s grounded banana, Sheik will land with almost no lag, destroy the banana and be covered by Dair’s landing hitbox. This is not only a good way to get rid of a carelessly-placed banana but also a method of making Dair an actually good move, as without the end lag, Dair can combo into Bouncing Fish, Fair or Grab depending on positioning and percent.

The other main problem with the banana is that, with proper timing, the opponent can catch it right out of the air and use it against Diddy. This can be done by using an aerial, tilt, dash attack or air dodge just as the banana would hit you. The timing is extremely strict, but if you are able to do it consistently you should have a MUCH better time in this MU. At a distance, having the banana in hand is amazing. Since throwing Needles doesn’t require you to let go of it, you can force an approach with needles at a distance and punish that approach with the banana. Diddy’s Fair is basically useless as an approaching option since the opponent can easily adjust their spacing to be at the advantage after they block it and Side B as well as just dashing forward can be punished by throwing the banana OoS. Note that you will be at a 7-frame disadvantage if you throw it at his shield, but unless he is right in your face when you throw it you should be fine. Lastly, simply having their banana means that the opponent won’t, which is always a good thing.

Another great tool that Diddy has at his disposal is his ability to escape pressure while airborne. His Monkey Flip acts in much the same way that Bouncing Fish does in that it acts as an air dash that can get away from opponents when trying to land or when being pressured. It’s different from Bouncing Fish in that

Sheik, surprisingly, has no problem killing Diddy if she takes proper advantage of winning Neutral. She has all of the tools to get Diddy off-stage, and once he is off stage Sheik can just burttaly murder his recovery. When recovering from above, Diddy’s only reasonable option after using his double jump is Monkey Flip. This move, while a great punish tool and way to get away from the opponent, is VERY punishable when predicted. Sheik can just stuff him with Nair, Fair or Bair and he then has to recover low. Once he is recovering low, he has to use his Rocketbarrel Boost, which can very easially be sniped out of the air by Needles if your timing is on-point. Getting Diddy off-stage in the first place isn’t even that hard either; Once you have gained an advantage, just make sure to throw him off stage if you get a grab and don’t hit him back towards the center of the stage when comboing. Outside of edgeguarding, Sheik doesn’t have very many viable kill setups on Diddy. Her only good one is F-tilt to 50-50 Up Air, as the rest of her moves that set up for kills on-stage are beat out by Down Tilt.

Diddy has an easy time killing Sheik on-stage. Most of his attacks that set up into garunteed kills (Grab, banana, Down Tilt) are all very safe. However, none of them effectively cover both the ground and the air at the same time. Once you see that he is starting to try to kill you, make sure that when you try to approach him you are being unpredictable with your grabs and Fairs. Don’t try to punish these too hard; As I stated before, these moves are incredibly safe on hit.

The stages that you will want to avoid are Dreamland Town and City and, to an extent, Battlefield. These stages, due to their low ceiling, are very easy for Diddy to kill with Up Throw to Up Air on. He also benefits from having platforms so he can mix up his aerial movement. Neutral stages are Smashvile, Final Destination and Duck Hunt. Smashvile’s platform and size help both Sheik and Diddy about equally, and Duck Hunt and FD offer no real advantage for either. Sheik’s only advantageous stage is Lylat due to how awkward the layout is for Diddy to deal with. Just avoid getting staying on the platforms too often lest you wish to get sharked.

#4: Sheik
The Sheik ditto. The ultimate 50-50 matchup. This MU doesn’t have any major tricks to it, and it basically boils down to who has the supperior Neutral and more consistant and optimized punish game. Understanding how to play this MU is especially difficult because, thanks to the two main ways people play Sheik being so different, you essentially need to learn the MU twice and quickly identify which way the opponent will be playing in order to counteract them while knowing that the opponent will be trying to do the same. Sheik’s ability to combo herself is slightly above-average thanks to her fast fall speed and slightly below-average weight, and has a REALLY hard time killing herself. Note that all advice here will also be aplicable to your opponent, all of this in mind for your opponent as well as yourself.

Patience is key in Neutral here. So long as you are just outside of the Sheik’s range and baiting an approach, the opponent should eventually overextend or outright whiff a punishable move (most noteably Dash Grab, which is best baited out by frequently shielding and mixing up your Oo

Needles can also be a useful part of Neutral here, but only if you have more than one and the opponent is above about 50%. If this is not the case, it’s virtually impossible to capitalize off landing them and thus a waste of time. Since Sheik is so fast, it’s possible for her to close the gap on you when retreating to throw Needles, so knowing how to do it is key. First and most importantly, make usage of C-bouncing. This is an incredibly useful feint in this MU in particular, as dashing forward almost always signifies losing patience and going for a Dash Grab, prompting an F-tilt or Nair in response. This can be punished by C-bounce Needles, of course, making it an effective mindgame. The only other situation where it is a good idea to retreat for the sake of Needles is when there is something like the Smashvile platform right above you and you are losing the spacing battle with your opponent. This effectively resets Netural and gives you free Needles for latter.

A full clip of Needles is the exception to them only being useful at certain times in certain ways. If you have all 6 Needles, you are able to basically cover any Shorthop Aerial on reaction via Perfect Pivoting back to make space and throwing them. This is because the durration of the Needles is long enough to catch their landing at any time. This effectively limits their strong options to grounded ones, forcing an approach, which can be countered based on what exactly it is that they are doing. Getting a full clip of Needles is a great advantage to have.

Being aware of how to limit Sheik’s option is yet another important factor to consider in building a gameplan in Neutral. Typically this is very difficult considering Sheik’s great manuverabilty, but is not impossible and successfully doing so will grant you a significant advantage. The first thing you need to do in doing this is to determine the opponent’s habits. Regardless of who’s playing, it’s simply not possible for a player to think in-depth about every single action both they and their opponent are making, thus habits are born to deal with common scenarios with simple solutions. This usually isn’t a bad thing so long as the option the habitually take makes sense and has no clear method of punishing, but against a character so great at quick punishes and option coverage as Sheik it can become incredibly dangerous. If a Sheik notices that another Sheik throws out a reterating Fair when the opponent rolls at them, the player can mess with the timing of said roll or mix it up with a spotdodge and punish with Needles. If one Sheik notices that another is using unconventional ledge get-up methods to get around the other player using SH Nair OoS, the player can start using Burst Grenades before the opponent grabs the ledge so that they are unable to use things like fall-off Double Jump Bouncing Fish. It’s difficult to find situations where you can acutally limit the opponent’s options, but one again, doing so grants the player a very sizable advantage in an otherwise-even Matchup.

Sheik’s juggling game is very poor and her juggle escape game is very strong, as we have hopefully established by now, meaning that her ability to keep an advantage state hinges on making sure the opponent is not too far above her. This means avoiding throws after percentage-oriented grab combos stop working unless they are setting up for kill confirms. This will make the punish game incredibly dependent on reading the opponent’s movement and DI, as failing do do so will just allow the opponent back onto the ground. However, relying soely on attacks that will send the opponent horizontaly won’t work either as once the opponent is off-stage it is incredibly hard to continue anything due to how great Sheik’s recovery and ledge get-up options are. With all of this in mind, it the matchup relies very hevially on long true combos to rack up significant amounts of damage, meaning practicing said long combos will come in very handy.

Sheik, due to being the subject of this guide, doesn’t have any tools that you need to watch out for in particular that we haven’t already covered back in the sections about her Moveset and Advanced Techniques. As a result of this, all that really needs to be said here is that grasping your opponent’s understanding and usage of the tools you already know about yourself is what is needed to not fall into traps your opponent may set for you.

As for stages, there is also not really that much to say. Since both you and your opponent both benefit exactly the same from any stage you would chose, it’s mostly just a matter of preference and comparability on stages. The only exception to this is Smashvile, where the player in the controller port with the highest value will start on the side of the stage with the platform, giving them more options at the beginning of the match. That said, just try to pick whichever stages that you have the most experience playing on

MU #1: Pikachu
What he has against you: This matchup is more difficult than most because of two large factors: His (yes, he. If it was female, its tail would be more smooth. #PokeNerd) small size/awkward weight and ability to edgeguard Sheik via spaced Thunder Jolt to stop you before you become invincible with up-b in combination with the long and large hitbox of Dair that can hit the Snap Back window on the edge.

How to beat it: To get around his small size, you need to make sure you are spacing your aerials closer to the ground than usual and stay closer than usual during combos. This is to make sure you hit the little guy as much as possible. As for managing the recovery, there are a few tricks you can use. First of all, you can save your Down-B and jump for when you need them most so you can escape the Jolt when it comes. Second, you can use your Needle Fidgets to mess with the timing of their Jolts. Lastly, to avoid the Dair at the ledge, you can hold down on the C-stick to avoid grabbing the ledge when you Up-B punish the Dair and in best-case scenario space a lagless landing.

What you have against him: Pikachu's approach is somewhat limited; basically coming down to Grab, Thunder Jolt or Fair, all of which are very easy to react to given how different they will look. If they dash at you, wait and see what they do. If they don't Shorthop, spotdodge to avoid their inevitable grab. If they do, Up-smash OoS. If they full-hop far before they reach you, then they are most likely to Jolt. Punish as you see fit. Lastly, Nair beats our Quick Attack almost every time.

The Meat: Pikachu’s defining factor here is his ability to land massive amounts of damage in very little time, almost on the same level as Sheik. His Grab, Up-air, Back Air, Fair, Dash attack and Neutral B are all ways he can start combos, which is really helpful in this matchup as many of those moves function as anti-air attacks as well. Thankfully, his neutral game is much worse than yours, and if you are hit by these it’s likely your fault for running right into them. Due to the anti-air nature of most of them, you will be better off playing a more grounded game than usual. Doing this will require a bit more patience overall, as grab openings are much less common than most types. You will be sitting farther back and keeping needles charged, but not fireing them; they are too important for the damage combos you can get. If you want to take a less campy approach, you can simply mix in C-bounces in the air to bait out his anti-airs. As far as the combos themselves go, you can afford to go for ones that are not true, as Pikachu has no real combo breaker. The D-throw to Up-Air reset chain grab is not very viable due to how light Pika is, so that should be left out of your combo list for this match up. Turn-around moves are not that great here, as your opponent will not being playing defensively enough to be spotdodgeing a lot. It’s just not how Pikachu is played.

You need to respect his Fair and Dair even more than the rest of his combo-starters. The threat that they pose is much more potent than they appear, due to the very large and long-lasting hitboxes it possesses, not to mention its near-endless priority. During some recent matches between top players, Pikachu’s have been able to keep their opponents sitting there in shield, too scared to approach from just one character length because of the Pika Full-hop Fair and Dairing just above or in front of them, then resetting back to their original position. Although this currently only occurs in the highest levels of play, it may not be too long until it becomes commonplace in the matchup. There is not too much you can do to stop it, so the best that you can hope for is to escape it. You can escape by dashing away and grabbing the ledge, and then preforming the ledge-switch. From here, you can reset the neutral and try again. To avoid having to do this, and keep Pika from getting you in this situation in the first place, you need to keep moving, even if it is a small area.

Dashing at Pikachu, and just approaching him in general, is a process much aided by having needles fully charged. The approach options offered by fidget-buffer-f-tilt are not nearly as valuable in this MU as being able to stop dashing and needle. This is because of the fact that he will not often be in a position to shield very often, and that all but guarantees the Needles will be landed and you will get your 10%.

Video of the MU done right:

MU #2: ZSS

What she has against you: The main reason she is such a threat to Sheik is not because of many MU-spacifc things but rather her being one of the few almost as good as Sheik. She has the ability to zone very well, and her ranged moves have long-lasting hit boxes the have priority over needles. She can fight up close with very fast and strong jabs, Fair, and Nair. And of course, she has her D-throw to multi-up air to up-B. She also has a very unpredictable recovery, with jumps, up B, Down B and a teather. This makes her very hard to edgeguard unless you are a needle sniper. She is just a very dangerous character overall. To get around the zoning disadvantage you must play a less Needle-heavy game. In place of this, make sure your constantly moving around and occasionally getting in range to bait out something. Most of her range moves (Zair aside) have long lag, so take advantage of mistakes. Don't fight her up close unless she forces you to or you have a clear opportunity. To avoid the former, practice spotdodgeing her grabs on reaction and jumping away from blocked dash attacks. These are the best ways she can approach unless you longer close to long, in which case you will get Naired, Faired and Up-aired to the face. You can't reliably stop her recovery, but you can put her in situations where she has to Up-B. This is the best way to do it, as it allows you to stale her Up-B and get a feel for their ledge get-up habits. To do this, try and make her recover low by threatening with false side-Bs and shortened Bouncing Fishes. This may put them in a state of fear of recovering parallel or high. If this dose the work, try and go for SnapBack D-tilts. It's your vest other option.

What you have against her: with the new shield stun mechanics in 1.1.1, you can actually pull a lot of shenanigans with Fair on her sheild (which makes punishes even easier: if the blocks she's still getting hit). Due to her ridiculous end lag on grab, you can Fair on block and buffer a grab before she can! If your a bit late, you're also able to buffer roll or spotdodge with ease. This aside, you don't have many tools to deal with her in particular.

Video of the MU done right:

Game one and set two game 4 in particular

MU #3: VS Rosoluma

What she has against you: Due to they way her Luma functions you will have a hard time using needles effectively. When Luma is close to Rosalina, it acts as a damage sponge for them, as they don't do knockback to Luma. When Luma is for from Rosalina, you have to devide attention between both if the two because of how much of a threat Luma is as far as combo potential and damage traps go (if you don't know what I mean, watch https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PLcMdMmtHkPpThpesoQXcndkBndunOuiD1&params=OAFIAVgJ&v=p9gMrBsEXEo&mode=NORMAL). In addition, her down-b pretty much nullifies any chance of gimping with Needles as well. On top of all that, she can control the area you move in with her excellent and unique lockdown game. Lastly, she loves center stage. Keep her off there. To beat out her anti-needle game, you need to be able to get rid of Luma. This takes a lot of practice in real matches, but I'll do my best to explain here. Due to Luma's Inability to sheild, you can use times like those to hit her with needles intentionally (it can only take 50%). Due to Luma's nature of movement, when it's far from Rosalina it is prone to Burst Grenade, giving it a use here. Lastly, since it can be killed by just knocking it off stage, Fair can be leathel to it when it's near the ledge. Once Luma's gone, use your 12 seconds to aggressively destroy Rosalina as fast as possible.

What you have against her: You don't have too much MU-spacific ability here. Basicly, her height makes her an easy target for a dash-in up-smash and her weight makes her very easy to kill in comparison to other characters.

Video of the MU done right:

MU #4:VS Metaknight:

What he has against you: The main thing he has in Sheik is a 29-to-death combo. If you are in that range, he can D-throw to multi-up air and kill with his Up-b. It's crazy. I also personally believe his Dash Attack is almost as good as 64 DKs. Yes, it's that awesome. It covers tons of ground, does tons shield stun, goes behind you on block and leads to Up-B at high percent. It's a crazy good punish, so stay on your toes. On top of that, his kill power is great, despite his limited range. He can end your stock with Up-B, Down-B, Side-B, any Smash, and possibly Nair in some cases. To stop his combo at 29, do your best to avoid getting grabbed, even if it means being hit with another move. You can do this by needing the approach (although he will block it; his run-to-shield is great) and jumping back and Fairing. As for his dash attack, don't block it but rather offensively challenge it. There is not much that can be done about kill power, unfortunately. Just try and keep him towards the edges of the stage.

What you have against him: You have one really amazing advantage in this MU: a 30-82 percent combo (which is perfect for a shorthop Fair>Land>fullhop needles>Double Jumb>Bouncing Fish). It goes: 2 F-tilts, Fullhop double Fair, double jump needles, land, up-tilt, bouncing fish. This, along with your ability to stay out of counter attack range when pressing forward, makes this MU significantly easier.

Video of the MU done right:

MU #5: Fox: What he has against you: There are a few things that make Fox dangerous, outside of his high tier. For example, he has a very pesky projectile that can force you to either take 10+ damage during an approach or sacrifice a grab, a reflector to beat needels (although thankfully it is much easier to punish than in Melee and Brawl), a Nair that can stop all of your aireals and break combos and a large number of kill confirms on your weight class. If you take in everything outside of this MU, he has a great set of kill moves in general, VERY fast movement, Fair-to-jab reset and as off 1.1.0 (IIRC) his Shine is a great edgeguarding tool (and lasts another frame! Yay!) Beating his laser used to be as easy as Needle, dash in, destroy. But after it was given like 10 frames more of lag it is more efficient and effective to escape to a platform and charge needels there (Ban FD if you wanna live). His reflector, although a pain at times, can be easy to bait out by charging if the opponent uses it very much. His Nair is something that is hard to deal with, so try and stick to the guaranted combos as much as you can, or start dashing up and blocking if they do it excessively on Fair strings. As for kill confirms, just try and tech avoid Dair and around 80-100%. Don't keep this in mind and don't let his movement overwhelm you.

What you have against him: One of the few good things for you in this MU is your ability to combo him to MUCH higher percents than usual due to his insane fall speed. F-tilt, F-throw to Bouncing Fish, Fair strings and more last FOREVER on him, so abuse that.
Micro situations
Here, I'll discuss what to do in various small situations. If you have suggestions to expand this, please let me know.

When opponent begins dashing at you from afar: begin charging needles. Wait for them to make a move. If they jump ahead of time, fidget and get below them and shield. Then, If they get right on top of you, Up Smash OoS. If they keep moving forward, rising Bair. Proceed to chase. If they keep dashing: Use your needles. If they hit, play close like we mentioned before and wait for a close attack opportunity. If they block, dash up and needle fidget, which makes them approach again and gives you more needles if they don't.

When approached up close Unless you have god-like reactions you can't needle here, so the best thing you can do is retreating Fair. There isn't a projectile in the game that can punish this on reaction, and then covers the remaining options. From here you can do a number of things. If they stopped and shielded, which is the only thing they could do unless they are small like Jiggs or wanted to get hit, you should either go for a grab or at least feint one and roll back or C-bounce. If you do the former, use the chance to beat the crap out of them. If the latter, punish based on what they did out of shield. If they spotdodge or grab, you get the needle. Follow steps above for this. If they rolled at you for some reason (For Glory, where you at?) fidget and F-tilt. If they rolled away, engage in your neutral game plan.

When you get walled out by projectiles (and the player knows what their doing):
This is much more difficult than stereotypical FG Link spam; when someone knows how to dodge, they will be able to camp much more effectively. Using platforms if abalible, you can approach using run-to-shield as needed. You need to either have really good habit-picking or reactions here, because they can escape and reset everything a number of ways. If they use a ranged physical attack, go over it and Fair. This means you don't waste precious time shielding for a not-even-garnered grab. If they roll or spotdodge, do as I said before. If they try and jump away, you have a perfect opportunity for an up-smash, as no zoners in the game have Dairs as fast as Sheik's up smash. Never make jump above them or you will eat an up-tilt or smash.

When you respawn and see them short-hop: Up smash. Your invincible. They're in range. Instant revenge kill.

When you used up-tilt to jab reset: More often that not, you should finish with in Up-smash. However, they could be at low precent and possibly won't die from it. In that case, go for a rising Nair. If you manage to ledge cancle it, you then get a Fair to Down-B. If not, you knock them off regardless and force a techchase. You can do it the legitimate way and react for a grab, or you can aireal C-bounce and needle their getup.

To escape juggles: Nomatter who you are playing as, this is a difficult aspect of Smash. Due to Sheik's Dair being an anti-fox tool and pretty much nothing else, you are often forced to spam airdodge in combination with Bouncing Fish, but if they for some reason get in front of you can Fair and Bair to get them off. MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE TO FASTFALL

When recovering from the ledge: This is always tricky, as you need to decide where to go instantly or risk getting trumped and punished. First, look at where they are and what they're doing. It they're charging a Smash, wait it out and getup-attack. It they're airborn, don't jump. If they're doing nothing, assume they're ready to intercept roll, normal and jump and guesse based on their apparent habits. If you need to stall, don't fear trying the ledge-switch I mentioned before; it can give you much more time to take the situation in.

When you are the one rushing in: Take note of how they are reacting. If they are sitting in shield, they are most likely to grab, roll or spotdodge. This is something you have to predict based on habit: If they grab a lot, you should roll forward as you get within their grab range. That way, you can punish the grab from behind free of worry that the opponent will be able to do anything. If they seem to like spotdodgeing, dash behind them and pivot-grab or pivot-f-tilt. This catches the spotdodge and gets your goal. If they always seem to roll, C-bounce and needle if they roll back, C-bounce and fidget to turnaround f-tilt if they roll at you; this is the most reliable way you can get damage here.

If they begin jumping around, they are most likely to try and hit you with an aerial: When this is the case, you should be able to just run up and block, as most characters can’t do anything about a shield in the air. You can than Rising Nair OoS, Grab or do whatever you want to take control of the match. In the case that they have a command grab, you can mix this strategy up and bait out said command grab, C-bounce (See? This tech is useful to learn!) and annihilate them with an aerial combo afterwards (or throw Needles in the case that it’s Wario and they didn’t stop holding B). If they wise up and begin charging at you, like they should, just follow the protocol for being approached up close.
Here, of course, I will be detailing what stages to pick, strike and so on, plus the reasons why. (Stage blast zone data: http://smashboards.com/threads/wii-u-stage-blast-zone-data.395357/

1: Battlefield

This stage is very good for Sheik, and is one of the two neutral stages you have a good chance of ending up on if you use your bans correctly. Here, she can shark, use fancy ledge cancels and tech, stage spike, edgeguard high and escape when required. The only real bad thing about this stage is the far blast zones (especially horizontal) which further worsens Sheik's KO power. Try and apply movement pressure here as much as possible, and attempt more percent combos for a tad longer than on other stages. With any character in Smash 4, it's important to note that the top platform is not as safe as in Melee as everyone has better jump height compared to there but Little Mac.

2: Smashvile
This stage is possibly the best Sheik pick in the game, with the reason being that it comes with all the advantages of FD's flatness (for combos), any stage with platforms (for edgeguards, escape routes, recovery and so on) and all small stages (for that extra boost in kill power that you may need). The fact that the platform moves back and forth means that 70% of the time it will not be in the way of anything, but it's size makes it easily accessible to anyone who is deliberately trying to get to it. The blastzones are quite small as well, making it ideal for KOing from edgeguards. As a final piece of advice, always, always go for the balloons. They grant an advantage so important that I can't even describe what it is.

3: Town and City

This is a large stage as far as the ground goes, making it a tad hard to camp with Needles, but it is still doable. Due to the way the platforms are laid out, can jump to the platform above you and charge needles, and in the process making it very difficult for characters like Kirby, Metaknight, Ganon and other characters with short jumps to hit you before you have a full Needle charge. This aside, this set of platforms doesn’t affect the match much either way. The second transformation has two platforms like Smashvile's that move back and forth. These tend to get in the way more than on Smashvile, but are useful in most of the same ways. Due to the low celling, you can kill off the top with Up Air almost 10% earlier. It is neither great or terrible for Sheik.

4: Lylat Cruse

This stage adores the technically proficient Sheik. The platforms are great for sweet spot Up smashes and U-tilts, the curves enhance to your ability to Crouch Slide, and your Bairs off-stage are brutal for getting people trapped underneath the space ship. The blastzones are also very close by, making for an easy Bouncing Fish kill. Depending on your playstyle, this can be one of your best stages.

5:Final Destination

As you may have noticed throughout the guide, this is a stage you should ban at all costs. The lack of platforms takes away many of your most vital movement options, the distance of the blastzones is not favorable, and you just don't have anywhere to escape to. One of the only redeeming factors of this stage is the fact that you can trap opponents with Needles much more easily, as they too don't have any platforms to escape to or tech on. Sheik's worst Neutral Stage.

6: Dream Land 64

This stage is also pretty bad for Sheik. While it appears similar to Battlefield, the platforms are much higher. This may not seem like a big deal, but it makes the stage completely different than it's Smash counterpart. It cripples your ability to land moves through the platform, messes with your jump height game, and all that jazz. The good thing about platforms this high is that it helps you edgeguard high, and the blastzones are very close, so it's not all bad. This should be your second ban in Game 2.

7:Duck Hun

No. Don't go here. Camping and interruptions everywhere. Don't.

Congratulations! You just took all of this advice from a 14-year-old with way too much free time.
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    I reworked the entire Neutral section to be MUCH more focused on the fundamentals of gameplay...

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This is Daymaster from a new account. My first attempt at any kind of long-form analytical writing, and it really shows. Non-existent argumentative structure, incomplete ideas, unreadable grammar, and an exhaustingly-passionate writing style. For that last trait alone I think its existence is somewhat justified, hence two stars as opposed to one, and obviously I'm thankful that I had this guide as a means to grind out my writing abilities such that I would eventually become competent (if you can believe it the writing here was *so* much worse when I posted the initial version), but regardless, as a guide to Smash 4 Sheik, this is a colossal failure. Two years and 46,000 words, all for an incredibly mediocre product. I was a 14 year old with way to much free time on my hands, alright.
Just everything I need to know about her
Great guide! One question; is the section labeled Down Air:Literal Garbage actually talking about FTilt? Or am I just misreading? Thanks!
Oh hey, a reason to log into this site again. And yeah, I just forgot to put the header separating Dair and F-tilt from each other.
Best guide I've seen for Sheik.
It helped me in becoming better at the game thanks fam.P.S. I am a jiggs main.
5 stars for the promotion! It seems I need to do some updating... Maybe if school lets up.
As someone who's looking into Sheik-of the same age, even-I found this guide useful. Kudos to you.
Age isn't anything but a number bro. At 14, 1 year ago, I won my first tournament.
Glad you made this guide, it really helped my (new) Sheik. I waited until she wasn't the best in the game to play her. Cause I hate being judged and i'm an idiot XD. Don't let your age or others discourage you . Good job!
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