Friday, July 10, 2015

Sheik Shield Pressure

Shield pressure with sheik is so exciting and underdeveloped!! First I will explain why I think it is relevant/useful...why do I even need to talk about this? Non sheik players will benefit from this as well, since I talk about how to beat things that sheik players normally do.

  • Ground moves on shield are so unsafe! Here is how most characters can punish your ground moves as a sheik player:
    •  Jab is shield grabbable at anything but *max* range, and the second jab is always CCable (well, ASDI down-able). I don't know how it isn't common yet, but as soon as someone sees a jab they can input shield grab and hold down. If sheik does a second jab it gets ASDI'd down into a grab, if she doesn't then she gets grabbed after the first time. No, jab-->spotdodge/dsmash/ftilt do not actually work if your opponent reacts effectively. At max range jab is a respectable tool to throw off your opponent's timing and still pressure them.
    • Forward tilt, even when spaced, is directly punishable by: fox, falco, marth, falcon, jigglypuff, and maybe sheik (I forget if nair OoS punishes at max range). Fox can wavedash into shine, as can falco; jigglypuff can wavedash and rest you. Marth can fair out of shield or shield grab. Falcon can nair/upair (though both can be ASDI'd down, so it's actually not that bad an option against him). Even if they don't have a direct punish, if they react fast enough they are at advantage! For example in the sheik mirror, I frequently wavedash forward if someone ftilts my shield. If I do it fast enough, I'm at roughly 3-4 frames of advantage (and thus can force a mixup, if I so choose), and if they throw out another move after the ftilt I can CC grab them and kill them.
    • Down tilt is punishable in the exact same ways as forward tilt (it is actually 1 frame more disadvantage than ftilt, if I recall correctly). Since you are crouching, it is slightly more effective vs. falcon than it otherwise would be, but otherwise it has all the same issues.
    • Down smash, unless it gets all 3 hits on your shield, is punishable by WD grab with every single character. Unless you shield DI towards sheik, she'll pretty much never get all 3 hits on your shield, even when she does it in your face. Even if she gets all 3 hits, it is about as safe as ftilt (aka still wavedash rest-able and you're gonna die LOL).
    • Uptilt is always punishable by shield grab in between the hits. If you get the second hit to hit their shield, I believe you are +2, which is admittedly pretty absurd. The biggest thing with this is that even if they react too slowly to punish in between the first and second hit, they can just ASDI down and punish the second hit. For example if you uptilt fox's shield, he can always just input shield grab on reaction (with no intention to punish the first hit) and simply hold down during the grab startup. He will then proceed to waveshine you across the entirety of FD (because you deserve it, for uptilting his shield) and probably kill you if he's any good, or at least get like 60 damage.
  • Grab is a good counter to shield, but if that's your only counter to shield then it becomes fairly easy to both avoid and call you out on it. Generally speaking, if you only have one effective way of beating a situation, a good player can design a counter strategy that will have strictly neutral to positive expected value. Your grabs will also be scarier if you have an appropriate mixup with them, for your opponent to fear.

Primarily for these two reasons (although there are others) I feel that exploring alternative forms of pressuring your opponent is beneficial. Additionally, sheik's aerial pressure options are actually really good, as opposed to just being useful for the aforementioned reasons.

I'm going to break down each aerial individually (roughly from worst to best), because they each have a use on shield.

  • Up air: Okay I lied, they don't all have a use. If you find yourself upairing someone's shield as sheik when they aren't above you, you should probably reset that match and try again >_>. It's her laggiest aerial (12 frames of lag, I believe), and pretty much does nothing lmao. I guess you can use it if you like being different.
  • Down air: Surprisingly good imo. Despite being a move that looks like it would be extremely laggy, it only has 10 frames of lag. Now, this is a little too unsafe to be doing point blank on someone's shield, but its not nearly as criminal as upairing someone's shield. Dair is actually very big, and has very high reward if it hits. You can use it when you expect someone to roll towards you, and if it whiffs you've pretty much lost nothing. If you want to be more aggressive with it (and think they might whiff an attack/grab) you can always drift behind them and be fairly safe against most of the cast. It's easily big enough that you can even space outside of falco and fox's shine out of shield. I wouldn't recommend doing this often, but it's not useless for sure. High reward, good drift options, can be spaced effectively and not have horrendous frame disadvantage.
  • Back air: Depending on the range, you can do weak bairs and dash before someone can shield grab you. This is definitely very spacing dependent if the opponent grabs as soon as possible, but situationally it is certainly usable. If you get a sweetspot bair on someone's shield (which will be rare) you will be anywhere from 0 to -2 (most likely) depending on how low you hit their shield. Since sheik outranges pretty much everyone, this is actually a pretty solid advantage given that you have a the space and time necessary to setup further pressure.
Before I continue, it is important to note that there is a way of doing aerials that sheik players currently do not do. It is generally standard to do your aerial first, and then fastfall during the startup frames of your aerial. The advantage to doing this is that you can actually start the aerial BEFORE sheik can actually fastfall, and then during the startup frames you will reach the point in your jump where you can fastfall. While this is optimal in certain situations for sure (when you want the aerial to be as soon as possible), it is not always. Sheik has a relatively high short hop, as well as fast aerials. This is a unique combination that allows her to short hop, input the fastfall, and then input the aerial as she is already fastfalling. This technique is very useful for doing aerials as low as possible on someone's shield, giving you the maximum possible frame advantage. It has other uses as well, but I want to focus on this particular use for now.

Relevant information regarding sheik's short hop and fastfall: The earliest possible frame for sheik to fastfall is frame 19 of her short hop. If you hold down starting on frame 16, it will buffer (so there is a 3 frame window, for frames 16, 17 and 18) your fastfall frame perfectly on the 19th frame.
  • Forward air: There are two ways to forward air on shield in terms of timing, and three ways in terms of spacing. As far as timing, you can either go for the auto cancel fair, or the lowest possible fair and l-cancel it. If fair is done at the lowest possible point relative to the ground, it is -1 on shield.  The auto cancel is also -1 if done perfectly, but in practice I feel like it is generally -2 (since if you're going for the auto cancel, you usually want to do the fair as early as possible to cover the possibility of them preemptively moving). To execute a fair that results in maximum frame advantage, you can input fair and fastfall on frame 16 of your short hop as long as don't let go of down until frame 19 (which is when the fastfall will begin). In relation to spacing, you can either space your fair totally outside of shield grab range, in shield grab range but still somewhat spaced, or point blank. In the first two cases, you can always dash backwards before the opponent can shield grab. In the last case, you can dash through your opponent before a shield grab will hit you. Auto cancel fair is generally better, because it allows you to attack earlier with similar frame advantage; mixing up your timing, however, is often beneficial in order to create a different set of expectations for your opponent, particularly when combined with varying visual cues.
  • Neutral air: If you use the technique where you fastfall into the nair, it is actually +0 on shield, which is incredible. This means that with port priority, you can actually grab your opponent before they can shield grab (because you have initiative as the aggressor, your timings should be better anyway, and port priority aside you should generally do all your actions more perfectly than your opponent will). Much like fair, you can also dash back before they can shield grab. After doing a delayed nair, sheik can also short hop (even point blank) over shield grab (even a marth height shield grab); this allows you to play reactively and potentially set up more pressure, or to go for a higher reward play which is still safe. For example, you can do a delayed nair-->SH setup, and react to what they do from there: if they whiff a grab, falling upair/nair/fair, but if they keep shielding reset your pressure with another delayed nair. If you want a higher reward, you can do a delayed nair-->SH dair (then drift behind them). Assuming they are out of ASDI down %, you can get a pretty juicy combo if they try to grab, while staying safe by drifting behind them (and depending on the character, actually pressuring them because they have mediocre options behind them). Even if your opponent doesn't just try to shield grab, the threat of delayed nair-->grab is pretty huge, since it will beat attempts to wavedash (a common higher level option vs. sheik, since most good players expect sheik to dash back after aerials to stay safe vs shield grab, they will either chase her down with a WD forward or escape with a WD back). Many fox players might even just full hop out of shield as soon as you hit their shield (and they all get destroyed by armada's upairs LOL), but if you just SH and prepare yourself to react, you are at an advantageous position below them.
I just listed some example uses, but there are, of course, more situations to consider. The tl;dr is that sheik's aerials (particularly fair, and especially nair) are actually quite effective if the opponent gives you enough setup time (which sheik can easily force!). Oh, and the rest of the tl;dr is that her ground moves are pretty much garbage on shield. I hope that, in particular, more sheik players mess around with fastfalling into an aerial rather than the other way around, and figuring out the many situations that it can be used in. I currently suspect that delay nair is probably an optimal combo tool in many situations, but I'll talk about that another time!

Thursday, July 9, 2015


It's been a couple weeks since CEO now, but I still want to take the time to get my thoughts down about it. I still want to post shield pressure stuff and vs. falco stuff, so both of those will probably happen within a week or so. For now though, CEO!

So I got there a few days early, which allowed me to attend the Tuesday local, as well as getting friendlies throughout the week with various players. The local went decently for me, but not great: I played a bunch of randoms until Eikelmann, beat him by pretty large margins, then lost to wizzy 2-1 and played pretty mediocre. I went to losers, played pretty mediocrely vs captain crunch and pengie...just couldn't play how I do in friendlies. I went up against gahtzu next and 3-1'd him, I think with two 3 stocks? The game he won he 3 stocked me though, and it got me featured in his 90 second combo video LOL:

I played a bit better but it was still not great (though I have learned to not let this negatively affect me). I come up on wizzy next, and I beat him 3-2. I'm glad I beat him, but I know I can play far, far better. I sorta rushed through all that to get to talking about loser's finals with hbox. God I was *sooooooooooo* motivated after losing to him 3-0. I never want to lose to hungrybox again, period. Every game we played was totally in my grasp, then I would misjudge a situation, or have a small mental lapse and just die...that matchup is something I need to brainstorm more. I've watched plup play it, and honestly there's a lot of stuff he does that works vs hbox that I don't want to do. Soft actually does a ton of sick stuff that hbox doesn't do and it changes the matchup drastically. Namely, every single tilt and smash attack is punishable on shield by REST. Ftilt, dtilt, and dsmash are all punishable by WD rest and it's actually pretty insane. Plup plays a game where he seems to go either full defense, or full offense (when he has an advantage) and pressure hbox, but so much of that pressure comes from potentially unsafe things. Not to say that he's not amazing at the matchup, beating hbox consistently now, but still. I've thought so much about it, but I need to keep working on it; I need a way to keep pressure on puff without resorting to doing unsafe things on her shield. I'm confident sheik wins, but executing it is definitely non trivial...especially if I want to win in a way that I can be happy about (i.e. not by dsmashing puff's shield).

Moving on, I stayed with harriet and got to play him, plup, abate, and tai in decently extended sessions. Playing harriet was lots of fun, and I like to think all our practice helped him beat chillin in winners pretty convincingly, but he probably coulda done that anyway to be honest. Playing plup went about as expected: pretty even, and our games look a lot different than most people's games. We have a fairly similar approach to the game at a fundamental level, and anytime I get to play him I feel like I can *actually* play melee for once. Playing tai was also super fun since I haven't seen/played that guy in forever; he'd improved a lot, and he did a lot of both good and creative things. That said, I had been working a lot on marth vs. sheik (ever since losing to the moon) and I think it really showed in how our games went. I mostly played falcon against abate and that honestly was fairly easy; falcon is just sooooooo easy to play vs. luigi. Abate is definitely really good, but I'm starting to realize more and more that all the luigi players are far too used to doing extremely punishable things that work vs most people. When I played blea later with falcon it went pretty much the same; they're both amazing players, but it is too easy to just rely on CC'ing their jabs and unsafe nairs, or attacking out of shield between double aerials. Like if luigi does a rising fair/dair/bair on my shield, as falcon I just nair OoS before the second aerial comes out and potentially death combo him, its great. I'd like to see more players keep the good luigi players honest, and see how it helps them improve!

CEO itself also went pretty mediocre for me, but again, it happens. I played a terrible set with milkman in winners semi's of our pool...he just played so badly, and I know he's way better than that. I go to play s2j on stream, I'm in control the entire first game, but I just don't close out any of the edgeguards and I end up suiciding at literally 0% and lose a last stock last hit game. I proceed to play terribly game 2, likely as a result of what happened game 1, and he honestly just dominates me. He definitely deserved to beat me, but I would like to play him again without being a total buster; I think it's pretty unlikely that I'll lose unless he plays notably better. I play milkman in the runback in loser's finals, and he plays far better which I was happy about; we had a dead even game 1 that he probably should have won, but I stepped it up game 2 and won very solidly. First round of bracket (loser's, since I lost in pools and its fgc style) I fight porkchops. Ever since I played zhu, even though I beat him, I worked a lot on cleaning up my vs. falco game; I had the right idea, but there were some rough spots. I'm pretty happy with 3 and 2 stocking porkchops, although its definitely a matchup he's not very familiar with, I definitely feel like I played it cleanly. I played wizzy afterwards, and lost 2-0 in last stock games. Game 2 was a little unfortunate, since SFAT got up from the setup next to me and blocked the screen long enough for me to get stomped at 0 (this led to a death combo, since its wizzy). I wasn't really salty, since I didn't particularly feel like I deserved to win anyway.

Outside of actual tournament matches, I did a 0 dollar MM with laudandus (we just agreed to play seriously) and won pretty solidly with chaingrabs. I did real MMs with darkrain (3-0 win), gahtzu (3-1 win), arc (3-0 and 3-2 wins), and colbol (3-1 win). I also played arc in about an hour of friendlies, and as I said with playing tai, my work vs marth definitely showed. Fuck marth though, that matchup is even or marth's favor LOL. Anyway, also got to play $mike (definite improvement from last time, dude is mad good) and frootloop(rusty tucan, bring him back to form!) in a decent number of friendlies which went well.

The last set of games I want to talk about is a friendly set I played with armada, which I was pretty happy about. I sat down to play him, and beat him in peach sheik in a last hit match on dreamland. Peach is my probably my worst matchup (see me 3 stocking macd, then getting dsmashed for 2 games straight Kappa) so I was actually really happy that I was able to play well (I don't care that much about the actual win, just that I played the matchup decently). It was just supposed to be a single game, but it turned into a set; he beat me in game 2 on FD which also went to last stock lsat hit. Game 3 he switched to fox and we got dreamland, though I'm not sure if it's because he got tired of peach vs. sheik or just because he wanted to try out his fox. I took the first 2 stocks without gimps, taking only 6%, and ended up winning the game pretty solidly (JV 2, though I had the JV 3 and was a buster on the edgeguard and got shined lmao). He immediately goes back to peach, and I guess we play a 3/5 now? He wins a last stock last hit game on yoshi's game 4, and then wins game 5 on battlefield, last stock and around 50% on him (not quite last hit, but still close). It was just a friendly set, but it still gives me confidence that if I can at least do decently in my worst matchup vs. armada, then I really just need to keep focusing on my tournament mentality and maintaining composure and everything else will work out from there.

Now it's time for evo, where I'll do the best I can, and move on from there! I'm super excited ^__^

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sheik On Peach Action

I haven't abandoned the blog, I have just  been playing a ton of melee! Later today, or maybe in the next couple days, I'm going to post a summary of the florida local/CEO for my own benefit (and if anyone is interested). For now though, I'm going to post a better arranged version of sheik dthrow on peach stuff. This will probably soon be followed up by some sheik vs. falco matchup ideas, and a sheik shield pressure post! I'm super excited to talk about shield pressure with sheik, but I've been holding off because I lost my capture card so I can't record examples...I'll probably make a post anyway, and trust that everyone can figure it out based on just text. Anyway, onto some sheik dthrowing peach:

DI Away

Chaingrab on DI away works, but is technically speaking port dependent. If sheik's port number is greater than the opponent's (4 being the greatest) then she has a true CG on peach which requires you to be frame perfect. I am not sure how long the CG goes, but I'd estimate 20-30%. If you are the lower port number peach has 1 frame to escape.

If she times her DJ correctly she'll jump out, and if she buffers a float she can punish your whiffed grab with fair-->combo.

Of course this also means she's at risk of losing her DJ if you opt for something besides regrab, and slightly delay it to catch her jump.

I'm fairly sure dash attack doesn't combo on DI away, but again, it forces them to jump to avoid it. In practice I've had success with it, but peach players don't seem to know the counter strats out of dthrow very well.

Finally, you can always go for SH or FH fair. FH fair can be good, especially if you have some charge of needles; this is because after the fair hits peach, she is directly at the 45 degree angle below you. This allows you to pressure with falling needles or falling fair/nair. If you go for the SH, your goal should be to auto cancel as soon as possible and go for a mixup afterwards. Depending on her DI, you can go for an immediate grab with high likelihood of success (if she doesn't go into the ground immediately, but also isn't high enough to mash nair out). Otherwise you can DD bait, ftilt, or set up more SH pressure.

I shortly explain usage for ftilt/nair on slight DI away that is relevant for this DI as well, so reference that.

Slight DI away

On slight DI away ftilt isn't that bad, but it's not that great either. You can always go for the regrab and just ASDI down in case of her mashing nair out, but again if she acutally buffers float or DJs out then you'll get punished. 

Dash SH upair does work, and while it won't true combo into anything it has its benefits. You can uptilt afterwards and it'll always hit her before she can jump/float out, though she can trade nair with this. More and more I'm realizing sheik has a lot of *almost* real combos in general, and I think option selecting an ASDI down with c stick at low % actually leads to great stuff. You can SH upair, auto cancel, uptilt then ASDI down; if she nairs it will trade with your uptilt and she'll be in normal stun, while you'll be able to move almost instantly because of the ASDI. Of course you can also just wait below her, DD grab or shieldgrab the nair, or even just crouch and wait/react (then throw out a move, react to her jumping, etc).

On even slighter DI, walk uptilt should combo, or at least hit her before a nair can startup. Again, the closer she is to you, the more viable ftilt is as an option. This includes being a decent option on DI behind. In general ftilt/nair can both be used for a similar purpose: if you can't true combo her, both are likely to put her high enough in the air to either be in an awkward position or land on a platform. This usage of ftilt/nair is also viable on full DI away.

No DI and DI behind

On no DI and DI behind, uptilt is probably your best bet until you can start upairing (which becomes viable at pretty low % vs peach in particular). Make sure to turn around uptilt on the DI behind, and ideally mix up your uptilt timing as much as possible (this is the case in every matchup). The more delayed the uptilt, the better, but this makes your timing predictable insofar as the opponent using SDI to escape a followup. The best SDI to escape is SDI'ing upwards on the uptilt, but then that is mediocre DI vs. ftilt.

Other stuff

Upsmash does not true combo off dthrow at any %, regardless of port as far as I can tell. At low % she can always nair out, at higher % she can DJ out. The fact that she has to DJ/float at higher % forces a mixup though. If she relies on jumping out, you can do delayed tilts or fairs to catch her out of a jump. If you fair peach out of a float/DJ at like 80 and she goes off stage, you probably get a guaranteed kill. If she refuses to jump, tipper upsmash kills at very low %.