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The Queen of Smash - Sheik Beginner's Guide

The Queen of Smash - Sheik Beginner's Guide

Game Versions
Smash 3DS, Smash Wii U
***This information is out-of-date because of the most recent patch. A lot of the information still holds, but some - especially the grab and Fair sections - will be off***

So you want to play Sheik, huh?


In this guide, I'll be covering some of the basics of using the Queen of Smash. There are other guides on the Sheik board that go much more in-depth into her moveset, movement/kill options, tech, etc., so I definitely recommend reading them once you have a better understanding of the character.

If you're brand new to Super Smash Bros. as a series, then I honestly don't recommend that you start with Sheik. She is a fighter who requires a good deal of skill to use well and about as much skill to use at all. That being said, if you're up to the challenge of mastering one of the best fighters in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, then you're in the right place! Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen:

Sheik.


Pros:
+ Fast movement - Sheik is very fast, with one of the best walk/run speeds in the game and great aerial mobility
+ Fast attacks - Most of her attacks have very little startup and recovery time
+ Combo Queen - Her low-knockback moves almost all chain or combo into each other
+ Excellent recovery - Her double jump height, Bouncing Fish, and Vanish make her incredibly difficult to punish off-stage
+ Tons of options - As you get better with her as a fighter, you'll see that she has options for just about any situation she's put in
+ Stylish - Just watch her

Cons:
- Very light - Sheik is one of the lighter fighters in the game, being heavier than only about a dozen others
- Weak individual attacks - Even her most powerful attacks are pretty weak compared to others
- Fast fall speed - This keeps her in combos longer than most others


Recommended Controls
It's certainly possible to play Sheik with the default controls, but there are some key optimization that can be made.

The most popular is probably to set the C-stick to Attack over Smash, since her smash attacks are lackluster compared to her tilts, and using Smash stick in the air affects aerial momentum.
Another key change is to assign Jump to one of the triggers - L/R/Z on a GameCube controller or L/R/LZ/RZ on a Wii U controller. This allows you to easily input attacks as soon as she jumps, which is often happening.
Another common change is to set Special to a trigger in order to use the C-bounce tech (link at the bottom of this guide).
Finally, make whatever other changes you feel most comfortable with. If you like attacking with L or grabbing with X, then go for it! Whatever feels best to you is what you should use.


Information on Key Attacks
This is by no means a complete look at her moveset; I've simply chosen the attacks that I've found to be her most useful and the ones that new players should become especially comfortable with.

Forward Tilt (Ftilt)
Sheik's primary grounded attack for combos. Like most of Sheik's attacks, this one comes out quickly and has little recovery. It's not uncommon to see Sheik users chain a couple of these together, and at low percents, it can chain or combo into itself, Fair, Nair, Utilt, grab, and many other attacks.
  • Ftilt isn't only useful at low percents, as after a while, it combos into her up aerial

Forward Aerial (Fair)
Sheik's infamous Fair. This attack comes out quickly (hitbox on frame 5), has surprising range, and has little knkockback. Because of this, it is a valuable comboing move, with followups including grab, Nair, Bouncing Fish, Up smash, Bair, and others, depending on the opponent and their percent.
  • This attack is generally used in one of three ways:
    • Short Hop Fast Fall (SHFF) Fair - Sheik performs a short hop and at the top of her jump uses Fair and immediately fast falls
    • Rising Fair - Sheik executes the Fair as soon as she leaves the ground in a short hop
    • Full Hop Fair - A rising Fair but into a full hop instead
  • Each style has its own uses. Some examples:
    • SHFF Fair is probably the most commonly used, as it auto-cancels into other options. It's also a popular zoning move
    • Rising Fair comes out quicker than a SHFF Fair but has fewer followup options and can miss some short/crouching characters
    • Full hop Fair is generally used at higher percents when the attack sends the opponent far above Sheik's short hop. She can often hit the opponent with another Fair on the way down
  • Learning how, when, and where to use Fair is key to good Sheik play

Up Aerial (Uair)
This multi-hit aerial is one of Sheik's most common kill moves. It's generally recommended to keep this move fresh, as killing power is precious with Sheik, and stale Uair is far less effective. Catching the opponent in one of the early, weak hits almost guarantees that they'll also be hit by the strong finishing kick.
  • This is also used in a few combos but isn't really worth it. Save it for kills
  • It's often effective to jump as if to attack, pause a bit, and then attack, catching the opponent off-guard

Neutral Special - Needle Storm
This is one of the best projectiles in the game. Sheik begins charging her needles and continues until either she has six needles or the attack is cancelled. This can be done by either shielding or pressing the Special button again. Inputting a direction while charging will cause her to roll or spot dodge. This attack fires horizontally on the ground or downward at a 45° angle while in the air. It's useful from far away or close up, both to disrupt the opponent's movement and in combos. When possible, it's a good idea to charge a full hand and use it when needed.
  • Charging and releasing a single needle can be very effective at disrupting the opponent
  • A popular use is to disrupt the opponent's landing. They can only stay in the air for so long, so why not punish them for doing what they can't help?

Up Special - Vanish
Sheik's incredible recovery is due mostly to this attack. When used, Sheik disappears behind an explosion and reappears elsewhere on the stage. The hitboxes on either end of the attack, the invulnerability in the middle, and the windbox at the end make this a very difficult attack to punish. Simply inputting Up + B will cause Sheik to reappear directly above where the attack was used; it can instead be steered after the initial input to have her reappear in just about any direction.
  • This attack also has powerful KO potential but is risky on a miss
  • Sheik only experiences any noticable landing lag if no directional input is used. For this reason, it's recommended to never use it directly vertically and to instead aim it elsewhere, if only slightly to one side
  • There's a mixup out of a down throw for Vanishing to punish an air dodge. This kills much earlier than Uair but isn't guaranteed
Down Special - Bouncing Fish
Sheik's classic combo finisher and another popular kill move. Sheik flies through the air and then bounces back after hitting any target aside from the ground. This attack has some pretty great knockback but is risky, as whiffing an attack leaves her lying on the ground for a while, giving the opponent ample time to punish. For this reason, it's recommended to not simply throw it out in hopes that it will hit someone.
  • It's possible to shorten or extend the attack as needed for the situation
  • If this attack hits a shield, Sheik will bounce off, and some opponents will be able to punish her during her recovery
  • Inputting B before the attack lands will cause Sheik to kick early. This is often recommended, especially before the second kick

Forward Throw (Fthrow)
One of Sheik's two most useful throws, this is probably the most versatile. Most of Sheik's followups are available at lower percents, so this is often a good way to rack up damage early on. One of the most common followups is Bouncing Fish; this is often considered her bread-and-butter combo, or one of her most useful, her simplest, and her most commonly-seen combos. Fair is another common followup, and at low percents, Fthrow > Fair > (Fair >) regrab > whatever is especially effective.
  • Fthrow > Fair and Fthrow > Bouncing Fish are probably Sheik's most popular throw combos

Down Throw (Dthrow)
The primary attack used out of this throw is Uair, though others such as Fair and Nair can be used. This throw sends the opponent straight into the air, allowing for vertical kill setups. While not as effective on stages with high blast zones, it allows Sheik to force the opponent into some nasty situations or at the very least into a juggling situation.
  • Because Dthrow leaves the opponent in the air longer than Fthrow, it can be especially effective against fighters with weak aerial games, such as Little Mac


What to practice
Practice makes perfect, so what needs perfecting? Sheik is a character with a very high skill ceiling, meaning that she takes a long time relative to the rest of the cast to master. Mastery, however, isn't impossible, and with dedicated practice, many of her more advanced options will become second nature. Her options and playstyles are constantly evolving, so mastering the basics is crucial to mastering the character.

Fairplane
The high speed and low knockback of Fair allow Sheik to use it multiple times in a row and even carry some characters across the stage. In practice, this attack will only combo a few times, as an opponent will eventually be able to jump, air dodge, or interrupt with an attack of their own; nevertheless, it's a good idea to practice this for as long as possible. Keep in mind that the rising Fair is the form of the move most used and that you should fast fall as soon as possible to jump again.

I recommend practicing on a large, flat stage - I made my own huge stage and recommend doing the same - and trying to carry a fat character like Donkey Kong across the stage. This will get you used to the fast fall timing on hit, proper range of the attack, and a general idea of the move's knockback growth. Of course, once you're familiar with the feel of the attack, it's best to practice on a variety of characters of different weight, fall speed, etc.

B-Reversal
A lot of Sheik's basic and advanced techniques revolve around her needle usage. I recommend beginning by simply starting and cancelling her needle charge and later adding in the B-reversal. Next, tack it onto the end of a dash, or use it in the air. Finally, get a bit fancier by perfecting the wavebounce (dash > turnaround > jump > B-reverse), C-bounce, or when you're really good, Instant Needle Cancel.

Sheik can also reverse her Bouncing Fish. This isn't anything fancy, but it allows the use of BF in either direction. The timing is tight, though, and be careful to not accidentally throw a grenade while trying to recover.

Throw combos
A lot of Sheik's damage comes from her grabs. There are articles on SmashBoards for specific followups from her Dthrow and Fthrow. Back throw has a followup or two, and Up throw doesn't really have any. This means that you only have two throws to get used to, so it's simpler for you but more predictable for the opponent.

Practice the different throws and individual followups. You may want to start by throwing and then only using one attack in order to perfect the timing in which Sheik can act after a throw. It's also recommended to mix up your followup attacks when possible in order to keep the opponent from catching on. Not all of her throw followups are perfect combos, so be aware of that before attempting them.


Notes on practice: Practice is boring. You just sit there doing the same things over and over again, only getting a little bit better as you do it. The thing is, though, that you won't improve nearly as quickly or to near the extent that you can if you simply play and hope to learn. Hard work will give you the results you want more than any other factor. If you're really not enjoying it, though, then stop. Take breaks so that your opinion of the game doesn't become soured by the experiences you have outside of even playing with others. That's what the game's all about!

Additionally, don't get discouraged if you can't do more advanced techniques when you first try them; instead, take them into steps. For example, if you're learning to C-bounce into a fidgeted BF, start by working on the C-bounce, then an aerial C-bounce, then work on needle fidgeting, then fidgeting into BF, then C-bounce to fidget, and finally, put it all together.



A few more general notes:
  • You may have noticed I didn't mention any of her smashes in the moves above. Sheik's smashes are risky, as they have uncharacteristicly long recovery. When starting out, I recommend focusing more on her lighter attacks
  • Don't use her side special off the stage, as it sends Sheik into free-fall
  • Seriously, be careful with her grenade. Screwing up an Up Special to the stage or extended/shortened Bouncing Fish is an immediate lost stock
  • Don't get too greedy for kills. It often only takes one or two good hits at higher percents for Sheik to die. Patience and smart playing will get you what you want
  • It's a good idea to avoid her down air altogether, especially when new to the character. When missed, Sheik stays uselessly on the ground for a long time, allowing for free damage, and the move isn't useful enough to justify that risk
  • If people give you crap for playing Sheik, meh. If you enjoy the character, then you enjoy the character, and you shouldn't let anyone else make you feel bad for that


Additional Reading
Sheikah Library: Your source for all things Sheik
Hyrule Warrior - The Sheik Matchup Database

New to Sheik? Look here to learn how to get started/Need help with Sheik? Ask your questions here.
[WIP] Sheik's best true combos, including kill setups/strings
The Sheik Compendium of Advanced Techniques, Combos, and Tricks (Wii U)
Needle Fidget
Sheik Tech: C-Bounce

New Sheik Tech: Instant Needle Cancels
Ninja 101: Underused Tech.
Sheik's Frame Data
Sheik Fthrow into Bouncing Fish Combo's. Complete!
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This is the most helpful sheik thread that I've seen. Thanks Moose
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