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 4th on the SSB4 tier list, ranking as the last character in the S tier, which is a striking improvement from her mid tiered 25th place out of 38 characters in Brawl. 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 KO options in her up aerial and her new down special Bouncing Fish. Sheik's neutral game is also extremely powerful, owing to a high number of effective and useful attacks that are safe to perform. 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. Sheik also has below-average survivability, as she suffers from being tall and light, which makes her take more knockback while still being relatively easy to hit.
Sheik still has the tournament results to match her reputation, though, and is used by many top players, either as a main or a secondary. Although a number of nerfs in 1.1.5 caused her to drop in the tier list from her former 1st position, she continues to maintain strong tournament results and a large playerbase.
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, which combined with her gravity, also makes her among the frailest characters in the game. 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 endlag, making her extremely difficult to punish properly, and this is compunded 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), transcendent, 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 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, 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 carry out 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 endlag, autocancels 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 edgeguards. 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 edgeguarding 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 reappers, making it nigh-impossible to punish. Meanwhile, her down special Bouncing Fish, is famous for being her primary KO move, being similar to Zero Suit Samus's 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 edgeguard. Combined with her wall jump, this makes Sheik hard to edgeguard or gimp, without disabling her midair jump, and enables her to reverse-edgeguard effectively.
However, despite having immense strengths in several ways, 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 tall frame, high falling speed and gravity make her easy to combo despite her slender physique. This is further compunded 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 sweetspot 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 sourspot 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 endlag 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 edgeguarding 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 setups. 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 comboing ability 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 edgeguarding 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, 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 and 4th on the second and third version of the tier list respectively, remaining on the S tier.
In Event Matches
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