Sheik (シーク, Sheik) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Her return to the series was announced during a Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8th, 2014. Jun Mizusawa reprises her role as Sheik's voice actor, albeit via recycled voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Sheik is ranked 4th out of 55 on the tier list, placing her at the top of the A tier, and making her the highest ranked The Legend of Zelda character in the game. This is a significant improvement over her mid-tier placement in Brawl, where she was ranked 25th out of 38. While not as dominant as Meta Knight in Brawl, the sheer effectiveness of Sheik's moveset saw her almost universally perceived as the best character in the early metagame of SSB4. Sheik's extremely fast frame data grants her an excellent neutral game and a potent combo game, which are supplemented by Needle Storm and her improved grab game, respectively. Her KO potential has also improved: up aerial now consists of multiple hits and concludes with a very strong hit, while her new down special move, Bouncing Fish, deals respectable damage and has high knockback scaling. Lastly, the combination of Sheik's much faster air speed, Bouncing Fish's horizontal travel distance, and the removal of edge-hogging have greatly improved her recovery.
Although she has outstanding strengths, Sheik nevertheless has noticeable weaknesses. Her overall low damage output offsets the very high knockback scaling of her smash attacks and up aerial, which results in her KO potential being unimpressive at best. When coupled with her lack of KO set-ups at high percentages, Sheik is forced to rely on hard reads to properly score a KO. While rage helps alleviate her KO potential, it also hampers her combo game. By extension, Sheik is unable to utilize rage more often than not, owing to her above average height and very light weight collectively rendering her endurance as unimpressive. Lastly, nerfs from game updates have further hindered her by decreasing her already light weight, worsening her forward aerial and grab game's combo potentials, and weakening up aerial and Bouncing Fish's KO potentials.
While Sheik's flaws and nerfs from game patches have resulted in her losing her status as the highest ranked character in SSB4, she is still widely considered to be a very viable character in competitive play.
Sheik is a character that, as a ninja of sorts, fits the "hit-and-run" character archetype. One of Sheik's greatest strengths is her overall mobility, being among the best in the game both grounded and aerial, boasting the fifth fastest walking speed, eighth fastest dashing speed, above average traction, high air speed and air acceleration and the ninth fastest falling speed. She also has high gravity, which makes her mobility better, but leaves her more vulnerable to vertical knockback. However, she is the eleventh lightest character; when coupled with her gravity and tall height, these traits collectively make her very susceptible to combos. Her crouch is also very low, making her difficult to hit when doing so. Sheik can also wall cling and crawl.
Aside from her excellent mobility, another of Sheik's greatest strengths is her nearly-unrivaled frame data. Her moves have generally negligible amounts of startup and ending lag, making her extremely difficult to punish properly, and this is supplemented by the good range of her moveset. She also has an excellent projectile in Needle Storm, with the needles being fast, long-ranged (covers about half of Final Destination), possessing transcendent priority, and causing hitstun. Coupled with her range, her needles give her a strong camping ability. Overall, her mobility, projectile game, range and frame data all combined form her greatest strength: her outstanding neutral game. She can play both defensively, by pressuring and zoning from afar without much trouble, or aggressively, with her fast attack speed giving her an unpredictable approach. Sheik can poke and pressure her opponents with her aerials and tilts, all of which are safe options. If they choose to drop shield, they are wide open to these attacks. At the same time, holding shield presents her with an opportunity to grab and use her throw set-ups.
Sheik's excellent frame data, combined with the low power of many of her moves, gives her among the best combo abilities in the game. Her throws can easily lead into other attacks, with her forward and down throws being particularly effective at starting combos, as they can set up long chains of forward aerials, with her up aerial and Bouncing Fish being useful combo finishers. Her combos are not limited to her air game; all of her tilts can start and extend combos since they send opponents into the air, and can confirm into aerials; her forward tilt particularly, can chain into itself at lower percentages, and has reliable follow-ups all the way into KO percents as well. Down tilt, while not chaining into itself as effectively, has even lower power, giving her access to KO confirms as well. She also boasts an effective jab cancel that leads into her tilts. With proper spacing and timing, she can even perform pseudo-chain grabs.
All aspects of Sheik's moveset are solid overall. A sole few number of her aerial moves possess great versatility; forward aerial in particular, has little startup, decent ending lag, auto-cancels in a short hop fast fall, and has slightly disjointed range, making it an all-purpose move: it can be used to approach, pressure, combo and set up edge-guards. Neutral aerial is her fastest one, allowing her to break out of combos and finish or extend hers, notably into Bouncing Fish. Up aerial is her strongest one of her aerial moveset, and also sends opponents into a great angle for juggling, both of which give it good utility at both KOing and finishing combos. Her back aerial is her second strongest one, though due to its low damage output, it is overall best suited for edge-guarding and ending a combo. It also has the longest range of Sheik's aerials, and when fast-falled and sweetspotted (at the foot), it is even safer on shield than her forward aerial.
Outside of her Needle Storm, Sheik's special moveset also possesses good utility: her up special, Vanish, grants her invincibility and invisibility, making it hard for the opponent to predict where she will appear. It also has a hitbox on disappearance that is decently strong, and another one and a windbox when she reappears, making it nigh-impossible to punish. Meanwhile, her down special Bouncing Fish, is famous for being her primary KO move, being similar to Flip Jump on some regards: it deals good damage with high knockback scaling, has KO confirms on it from her neutral aerial (both clean and late), forward aerial and aerial Needle Storm, and is safe on shield if it hits. Both Vanish and Bouncing Fish also conform Sheik's last strength in her recovery, as they make it versatile and extendable, both of them and can be used in tandem with each other, and they are difficult and risky to intercept, as they both deal high knockback enough to interrupt an edge-guard. Combined with her wall jump, this makes Sheik hard to edge-guard or gimp, without disabling her midair jump, and enables her to reverse edge-guard effectively.
However, despite having immense strengths, Sheik still has notable flaws. The most notable of them is her frailty: despite her recovery being amazing, in a similar vein to Fox, her on-stage endurance is fairly weak, succumbing to strong enough blows, whereas her above average height, high falling speed and gravity make her easy to combo. This is further compounded by her poor damage output overall: despite her strong damage racking ability, she requires very long strings of attacks to deal the same amount of damage that super-heavyweight characters such as Bowser and Donkey Kong can inflict in noticeably fewer hits. While the low damage and power on her moves grant her an awesome combo game, Sheik also struggles to secure her opponent's stock. She has a few moves with high knockback, but she has difficulty landing them; her up smash has a powerful first hit on her arms as she rises them, but it is hard to land outside of a read or confirm, and is hampered by its much weaker second hit as she lowers her arms. Her forward smash and her down smash are among the weakest smash attacks of their kind, and they have punishable ending lag as well. In the air, she is limited to using her up aerial or Bouncing Fish to KO, and even then they must be relatively close to the blast lines for maximum effectiveness, since her other aerial attacks do not KO until 200% or more, and are otherwise only useful for edge-guarding and gimping characters with particularly weak or linear recoveries. Furthermore, her overall below average grab game has no throws that can KO reliably, and her aforementioned forward and down throws have too much knockback for truly reliable KO set-ups. With all of this working against her, it is not uncommon for her opponents to survive in excess of 150%. Lastly, the introduction to rage hinders Sheik: without rage, she often has trouble KOing, though as her rage increases, her combo game is slowly hindered, which when combined with her poor damage output, it can make bringing an opponent to KO percents difficult. Besides, this also brings opponents to a high level enough of rage to KO Sheik herself with a strong enough move.
Other weaknesses include a few moves that have very low utility, despite Sheik's moveset versatility. These include her down aerial, which is the slowest of her aerial moveset, has the highest landing lag and is a stall-then-fall, which give it the lowest utility of Sheik's aerial moveset despite it meteor smashing an opponent. Her smash attacks are difficult to land overall and outside of up smash, have little KO power. Lastly, Burst Grenade has a slow explosion, renders Sheik helpless if performed while airborne, and has only situational usage on edge-guarding predictable recoveries (such as Little Mac) and extending the damage of a hard punish.
Sheik benefits a good amount from her custom moves. Penetrating Needles only shoots three needles instead of six and has less range, but it deals extra shield damage, granting her a new pressuring option. Gravity Grenade loses the suction effect, but the grenade can be thrown much farther and pulls enemies towards Sheik, allowing multiple follow-up opportunities. Pisces, while having a much more shallow flip, removing her forward throw combo, gains more horizontal distance, is faster, has little lag if the follow-up attack is not executed, and is significantly stronger, being able to KO 59% earlier than the default Bouncing Fish. Her other custom moves, like Paralyzing Needle and Abyss, are slightly riskier, yet more rewarding than Needle Storm and Vanish.
All in all, Sheik's strengths outweigh her weaknesses, to the point that she has some of the highest tournament representation of any character in SSB4. By extension, her playerbase includes the likes of Mr. R, VoiD, and Vinnie, who are considered to be among the best players in the world. However, Sheik's nerfs from 1.1.5 have slightly affected her standings and representation compared to other characters.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Sheik has been buffed significantly in the transition from Brawl to SSB4. The partial reversion to some of her attacks and the outright updating of others have restored many of her options that she lost in Brawl, while changes to gameplay mechanics also greatly benefit her restored strengths. For example, Sheik's grab game has regained much of its utility because of synchronization between such changes: her grabs and back throw have less ending lag, which grants the latter combo potential, whereas forward and down throws greatly benefit from both their altered angles and the changes to hitstun canceling. The removal of chain grabbing also heavily benefits her as she was previous extremely vulnerable to them.
Sheik's special moveset has also largely improved: Needle Storm has increased knockback and travels faster (although the move has seen various nerfs as well); Vanish's reappearance is safer thanks to it receiving a hitbox alongside its windbox; and her new special moves, Burst Grenade and Bouncing Fish, provide greater utility than Chain and Transform respectively. Sheik also benefits greatly from the changes to pivoting, which improves her grounded mobility, allows her to extend combos with her tilt attacks, and improves Needle Storm's mindgame potential. Although Sheik's KO potential is not as potent as it was in Melee, it has nevertheless improved, thanks to the increased knockback scaling on her smash attacks and up aerial, as well as the additions of Bouncing Fish, the changes to DI, the removal of momentum canceling and the introduction of the rage mechanic.
In addition to her moveset, Sheik mobility has also improved, as her walking, dashing, and most significantly her air speeds are much faster. While her dash speed saw a fairly standard increase to its speed which most returning veterans received, her air speed saw a much higher increase going from being fairly poor to being very high. It is especially useful in two ways: it now enables her aerial combo game to flow much more fluidly, which is especially evident with her forward aerial's altered properties, and it significantly improves her recovery alongside Bouncing Fish's horizontal travel distance, and the removal of edge-hogging.
However, Sheik also received a few nerfs, some of which are due to gameplay changes. The removal of DACUS significantly weakens her up smash's versatility while her up smash itself is slower and weaker. Sheik's forward tilt was also considerably nerfed as it was her most oppressive move in Brawl. Although it is still a very useful combo starter, its combo potential was nevertheless worsened due to its increased knockback and ending lag. On top of this, her already below average damage output has lowered even further, which forces players to rely on combos to rack up damage before attempting to score a KO. While most characters had their damage output nerfed, Sheik's was reduced even more than most returning veterans. Her overall frame data is also slightly worse although it still remains among the best in the game.
Despite rage alleviating Sheik's KO potential, it also offsets her combo game at medium to high percentages, and her unimpressive endurance means that she cannot utilize it as consistently or effectively as other characters while they can easily use rage to kill her even earlier. When combined with the fact that she does not have a powerful ladder combo, kill confirm at low percents or a move with extremely high set knockback, this makes her one of the characters who benefits the least from rage. Lastly, game updates have nerfed Sheik in certain ways, with update 1.1.5 most notably removing many of her 50/50 KO mix-ups.
Despite these noticeable flaws, Sheik's buffs significantly outweigh her nerfs and the new mechanics help her much more than they hinder her since they either alleviate or outright remove the main flaws she had in the previous game while further increasing her strengths. Because of this, she was regarded by many as the best character in the game especially after Diddy Kong was nerfed significantly more than her in updates 1.0.6 and 1.0.8. Despite her former dominance, update 1.1.4 added Bayonetta and 1.1.5 nerfed Sheik significantly. As a result, Sheik's results dropped and she is no longer considered to be the best character in the game although she is still widely regarded as a top tier.
Much like Diddy Kong, Sheik has been nerfed significantly via game updates. Update 1.0.4 considerably weakened her up aerial and Bouncing Fish, her most reliable KOing options, and increased Needle Storm's ending lag. It also decreased her forward aerial's damage output, worsening its edge-guarding ability and the effectiveness of combos involving it. Update 1.0.6 noticeably decreased down tilt and back aerial's damage outputs, with the former's knockback compensated, removing the latter's KO potential almost completely. Update 1.1.0 decreased forward aerial's damage output and made its sourspot take priority over its sweetspot, but also compensated its sweetspot's knockback scaling; this slightly improved its edge-guarding potential, yet slightly worsened its sweetspot's combo potential. Update 1.1.4 decreased the knockback scaling and size of Vanish's disappearing hitbox, making it more difficult to land and KO with.
The most detrimental update, however, was 1.1.5: as of said update, Sheik is much more susceptible to early KOs as she is four units lighter, the range reduction of Needle Storm made her neutral game weaker, and her pivotal forward and down throws have increased knockback scaling and angle alterations which reduce their combo potential, and removes any semi-guaranteed KO set-ups without making them strong enough to KO at realistic percentages. Overall, Sheik is noticeably worse compared to how she was at the release of SSB4, with professionals such as ZeRo no longer considering her the best character in the game and having dropped her as a result. Despite these nerfs, Sheik has nevertheless managed to retain her status as a top tier character throughout SSB4's lifespan.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Sheik has always been perceived as a top-tier character since the game's release, which was eventually reflected in her ranking at the very top of the first official 4BR tier list, with the previous nerfs to Rosalina & Luma and Diddy Kong paving the way for Sheik to be considered the near-indisputable best character in the game, in a similar manner to Meta Knight in Brawl and Fox in Melee. Players noticed her fantastic frame data, the ability to control the neutral game by spacing effectively with her forward aerial and camp with Needle Storm, extensive combo game that allowed her to rack up damage quickly and efficiently, dominant offstage game, and reliable KO set-ups off of low-committal grab set-ups. This led most players to believe she lacked losing match-ups and had only a handful that were arguably even. As expected, Sheik's position was cemented by a stellar playerbase that included highly talented players such as ZeRo, Mr.R, VoiD, K9sbruce and RAIN, among others, all of whom achieved great results with the character on a consistent basis.
However, Sheik's overwhelming dominance took a blow with patches 1.1.4 and 1.1.5, which removed her most reliable KO set-ups, worsened her survivability, and weakened her camping ability. As a result, her most notable player, ZeRo, eventually dropped her, and others such as K9sbruce have been using secondaries more often. Despite her heavy nerfs, Sheik's neutral, combo, and offstage games are still among the best, allowing her to continue to gain strong results from players like VoiD and Mr.R and remain a top-tier character, placing at 3rd and 4th on the second and third version of the tier list respectively and remaining on the S tier.
Currently, Sheik is ranked as 4th on the fourth tier list, but has since then dropped to the A tier due to her results being worse than the characters ranked higher than her, although they still remain strong with many top players still having high opinions over Sheik as VoiD won Smash 'N' Splash 4 defeating top players Mistake, Dabuz, Light and Salem marking the first time Sheik won a major since patch 1.1.5, Mr.R getting 2nd at Hyrule Saga defeating top players DSS, Nairo, Samsora, Cosmos, ANTi, and Dabuz before losing to Tweek, 1-3, and Nietono getting 3rd at EVO 2018 defeating top players Charlie, Shuton, falln, Choco, Mr E, and Mistake before losing to Captain Zack 0-3 (Although he used Diddy Kong to beat Choco and Mr E). These recent spike of results have been rare for Sheik as she hardly ever achieved these results after the nerfs. These results have also been more impressive than Diddy Kong and Cloud as they have failed to go this far in tournament without the use of a secondary in recent history. Due to this, some smashers have debated that Sheik should be ranked higher than this with Dabuz Mr.R and MKLeo agreeing that Sheik should be ranked slightly higher. Other players like ESAM, however, believe that she is overrated due to her inconsistency at killing as he puts her at 8th on his tier list.
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