Sheik (シーク, Sheik) returns as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. 4. She was confirmed during the Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8th, 2014, a day before the Australian releases of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Jun Mizusawa, who is also the voice actress for Zelda, reprises her role as Sheik, albeit via recycled voice clips from Brawl.
Sheik currently ranks 3rd on the SSB4 tier list, as one of seven characters in the S tier, a striking improvement from 25th place out of 38 characters in Brawl and her best tier placement to date (only when modern tier lists are taken into account, as she was 1st for a long time at the start of Melee). While not as overwhelmingly dominant as Meta Knight in Brawl, Sheik was near-universally considered the best competitive character in the early metagame of SSB4 due to her extremely fast and safe attacks. In addition to her combo strings, Sheik has gained formidable killing tools in her up aerial and her new down special Bouncing Fish. If played correctly, nearly everything she does is near-unpunishable, giving her an unrivaled neutral game. This is supplemented by an excellent projectile in Needle Storm; its speed and transcendent priority allow Sheik to outcamp almost every other character in the game and make her all the more difficult to approach. While most of her moves generally deal very low damage and knockback, this is compensated by her strong combo ability, and even if she fails to pull off a KO setup, her advantages mean that she can afford to KO later than other characters.
Sheik does have shortcomings, however. Sheik's low overall damage output, mediocre smash attacks, and lack of setups at high percents means she has to rely on hard reads to properly take a stock. This may cause her to be vulnerable to the effects of rage and can make her open to momentum shifts. Her endurance isn't impressive either; she suffers from being tall and light, which makes her take more knockback while still being relatively easy to hit, which means she has to play cautiously to gain the upper hand. Sheik still has the tournament results to match her reputation, though, being used by many top players and achieving notable competitive success as a main or secondary for many top players, and in the previous tier list she was ranked as the absolute best in the game. However, Sheik would go on to receive notable nerfs in update 1.1.5, leaving players to drop her in favor of characters that weren't nerfed as greatly in said patch, such as Bayonetta or Cloud. This has caused her tier position to drop slightly, but nevertheless she has still earned strong tournament results and is still considered by many as one of the best characters in the game.
Sheik is a character that, as a ninja of sorts, fits the "hit-and-run" character archetype. Sheik's overall mobility is among the best in the game, boasting the 5th fastest walking speed, 8th fastest dashing speed, above average air speed, and the 9th fastest falling speed. Her recovery is also versatile and extendable, as she has two recovery options that can be used in tandem with each other: her down special, Bouncing Fish, covers good horizontal distance, and can be followed up with Vanish, which grants her invincibility and invisibility, making it hard for the opponent to predict. Both these moves are also difficult and risky to intercept, as they both can deal high knockback.
Sheik's greatest strength is her nearly-unrivaled frame data. Her moves have generally negligible amounts of startup and endlag, making her extremely difficult to punish, and many of her attacks have good reach as well. The best example is her forward aerial: it has little startup and endlag, autocancels in a shorthop, and has slightly disjointed reach, giving it great versatility, allowing it to be used to approach, pressure, and combo. She has an excellent projectile in Needle Storm, with the needles being fast, long-ranged (covers about half of Final Destination), transcendent, and causing hitstun. Coupled with her range, her needles give her a strong camping ability.
Sheik's mobility, projectile, and frame data grant her an outstanding neutral game. She can pressure from afar and zone without any trouble. She can choose to play 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 setups.
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. These can notably set up long chains of forward aerials, with her up and neutral aerials 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. Up tilt and down tilt send opponents into the air, and can confirm into aerials, or her forward tilt, which can chain into itself at lower percentages. Her forward tilt has reliable follow-ups all the way into KO percents as well. She also boasts an effective jab cancel that leads into her tilts. With proper spacing and timing, she can even carry out pseudo-chain grabs.
Despite being among the best characters in several ways, Sheik still has her flaws. Most notably, though she has a strong damage-racking ability, she 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 sweetspot, but it is hard to land outside of a read, and is hampered by its large, weak sourspot. Her forward smash and her down smash are surprisingly weak for a smash attack, the former is very prone to SDI, and all of the aforementioned attacks have punishable endlag as well. In the air, she is limited to using up aerial or Bouncing Fish to KO, and even then they must be relatively close to the blast lines for maximum effectiveness; her other aerials do not KO until 200% or more, and are otherwise only useful for gimping characters with particularly weak or linear recoveries. Furthermore, her aforementioned forward and down throws have too much knockback scaling for reliable KO setups. With all of this working against her, it is not uncommon for her opponents to survive in excess of 150%.
Despite her good combo game, Sheik also has a poor damage output overall. Thus, 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. Combined with low knockback on almost all of her attacks, her overall damage output is among the lowest in the game. She also has a high short hop which may make SHFFing less effective, but still limits Sheik to perform only a single aerial attack while doing so. Additionally, the introduction to rage hinders Sheik: without rage, she has trouble KOing outside of the mentioned attacks (and those are difficult to hit with in the first place) and with rage, her comboing ability is hindered, which when combined with her below-par damage output, it can make bringing an opponent to KO percents difficult. In addition to this, despite her moveset's versatility, Sheik possesses a few moves that have very low utility. These include her down air, for its weak knockback and being a stall-then-fall, down smash for little KO power, and Burst Grenade for its slow explosion, helplessness if performed while airborne, and little usage outside occasional spacing.
Sheik also 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, have slightly increased amounts of risk and reward for using them over their standard counterparts.
All in all, Sheik's strengths outweigh her weaknesses, and due to her big advantages, she has some of the highest tournament representation of any character in SSB4, with some of her mains such as Mr. R, VoiD, and Vinnie being considered to be among the best players in the world. However, her recent nerfs to her kill power and range in 1.1.5 have slightly affected her standings and representation compared to other characters.
Changes from Brawl
Sheik has been buffed significantly from Brawl, which has allowed her to become a dominant character in competitive play as she was in Melee, only more so. Many of her attacks have been partially reverted or changed, giving Sheik many options back that she lost in Brawl. Her grab game has regained much of its utility: her grabs have overall less ending lag, forward throw sends at a better angle for follow-ups, and back throw has less ending lag. The changes to hitstun have helped restore her combo potential: her down throw and forward throw can set-up other moves more reliably, forward aerial combos more effectively with its higher launch angle, and up tilt has less ending lag. She benefits greatly from the reintroduction of pivoting, which improves her movement and allows her to extend combos with her tilts. Needle Storm deals more knockback and the needles travel faster, making it more effective for spacing. She now has better mobility: her walk, dash, and especially air speeds are faster. The removal of edge-hogging, her much faster air speed, and her new down special have made her previously mediocre recovery among the best in the game. Her KO'ing ability has been slightly improved, thanks to the addition of Bouncing Fish and the increased knockback on her up smash and up aerial.
However, she has suffered from a few nerfs. She has lost her DACUS technique, which she relied on in the previous installment. On top of this, her already weak attacks deal even less damage, which forces players to rely on combos to rack up damage. Furthermore, the new rage mechanic also hurts her comboing ability while at mid-high percentages. Sheik has also been nerfed in several game patches, with update 1.1.5 removing many of her 50/50 KO mixups. As a result, Sheik has a very high technical learning curve, requiring precise use of her attacks and mobility in order to land her KO moves efficiently.
Despite these noticeable flaws, Sheik's buffs significantly overpower her nerfs, and she is a dominant force in the metagame with many high-placing tournament results on the national and international level, and prior to 1.1.5, she was regarded by many as the best character in the game.
Sheik has been heavily nerfed over time in game updates, in a similar vein to Diddy Kong. Update 1.0.4 considerably weakened her up aerial and Bouncing Fish, her strongest KO moves, and also weakened her neutral game by lowering the damage of forward aerial and increasing the ending lag of Needle Storm. Update 1.0.6 lowered the damage of down tilt and back aerial noticeably, with the latter losing its great KO potential as a result. Update 1.1.0 further reduced the damage of forward aerial, as well as switching the priority of its hitboxes. Update 1.1.1 made Penetrating Needles less threatening to shields. Update 1.1.4 made Vanish KO 2% later and reduced the explosion's size. 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 long-range neutral game weaker, and her pivotal forward and down throws have increased knockback scaling and angle alterations which reduces their combo potential, and removes any semi-guaranteed KO set-ups without making them strong enough to KO at realistic percentages. The only buff she received was a very slight knockback increase to her down smash, which continues to be one of her least-used attacks regardless of the buff. Overall, Sheik is noticeably worse compared to how she was in the original version, with professionals such as ZeRo no longer considering her the best character in the game and having dropped her as a result, though despite the nerfs, she remains a dominant, perceivably top-tier character.
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 needles, extensive combo ability 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 VoiD and 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 and remain a top-tier character, with her placing 3rd on the second version of the tier list, remaining on the S tier.
In Event Matches