Style: Aerial Rushdown
Most Similar To: C. Viper, Ibuki, Akuma
Strengths: Sadira has very strong air mobility which lets her both run away and rush down opponents from multiple aerial angles. She can change her jump arc at will with her double jump and vertical dive kick to avoid anti-airs and find the weak spots in your grounded defense, and convert any hit into a combo. Her instinct mode is very strong and allows for difficult to avoid mixups.
Weaknesses: Sadira's only truly invincible reversal is not an attack but rather an escape, often punishable by wily attackers, which means Sadira has weak defense and needs to block a meaty attack on her wakeup often. Her grounded footsies are good but not as strong as her air game, so if she's forced to stay on the ground in a matchup, she will be missing a large part of her gameplan. Since she relies so heavily on her jumping attacks, she doesn't have a grounded overhead.
Best Counter-Breaker Combos
0 Meter: HP double > medium Blade Demon > HP double > light Blade Demon > HP double > light Blade Demon > Web Cling ender (45%)
1 Meter: HP double > heavy Recluse > HP double > light Recluse > Shadow Blade Demon > Web Cling ender (53%)
2 Meter: HP double > heavy Recluse > HP double > light Recluse > Shadow Blade Demon > Shadow Recluse ender (58%)
( Damage calculation notes)
Notes: Sadira wants to use Recluse as the linker, but it's quite a bit slower than Blade Demon, so it only works well in the 1-meter and 2-meter combos so that shadow Blade Demon extends its last two hits past the lockout window. In instinct, these combos will be quite a bit different, since Sadira can tiger knee shadow Widow's Bite mid-combo, which does considerably more damage than shadow Blade Demon in much less time, and Sadira's webs may take the place of certain doubles. However, the execution for tiger knee shadow Widow's Bite must be perfect, or else you will expose yourself to the end of the lockout window, and you'll only gain about 1 or 2% damage, so the above combos are much more stable.
Openers: Blade Demon (shadow OK), Recluse (LK and MK only), Widow's Bite (HP only, shadow OK), Widow's Drop
Blade Demon, a forward-traveling spinning attack, cruses low attacks and is safe on block, making it her go-to block string move while grounded. Widow's Bite and Widow's Drop are her openers from the air. Heavy Widow's Bite throws a diagonally downward projectile which pulls Sadira close on hit or block; it can be punished on block (including via shadow counters), so mixing it up with LP and MP versions, which do not pull Sadira towards the opponent on contact but rather send her at different angles, is important to keep the opponent tentative. Widow's Drop is her +MK vertical dive kick which can transition directly into auto-doubles on hit, but is very unsafe on block.Other Combo Starters: Shadow Recluse & Fang & Throw(launches for juggle)
Sadira is primarily an aerial fighter, so she has a few different ways to launch an opponent into the air. Comboing off both forward and back throws with a juggle is perhaps the most common way, and since Sadira is commonly jumping and being in the air is a good strategy to bait throws, Sadira's throws are particularly tricky to defend against. Shadow Recluse is fast but not fully invincible before the freeze, but if you manage to hit one in neutral, as an anti-air, or as a combo ender, you can perform follow-up juggle hits. Fang is her +HK command normal, which acts as a strong anti-air. Both the neutral version and the target combo that starts with standing MP will lead to more juggles.Linkers: Blade Demon (shadow OK), Recluse, Widow's Bite (high-jump cancel, shadow OK)
Recluse is her most damaging linker, but unfortunately it starts up slow, which doesn't allow her many reps during lockouts, but it is more difficult to break as all hits from any Recluse linker come in fast succession during a single backflip. Blade Demon will push the opponent closer to the corner. If you're in instinct mode, you're able to jump cancel your auto-doubles and linkers, which means you can jump cancel and land a tiger knee version of Widow's Bite mid-combo. HP Widow's Bite will very quickly max your KV, so you're recommended to stick with shadow Widow's Bite in this situation, which does considerably more damage and raises the ender level faster than her only grounded shadow linker, shadow Blade Demon.
Shadow Linkers: Sadira really only has one commonly used shadow linker, and that's Shadow Blade Demon. Catching the first hit is very fast after the freeze, although a lockout is possible if you are haphazardly mashing. As far as relative timing goes, Shadow Blade Demon is ever so slightly slower than Jago's Shadow Wind Kick, and faster than Sabrewulf's Shadow Ragged Edge, but if you choose to break hits 3, 4, and 5, you should have no trouble keeping up with the rhythm after the first two hits are played for you. Shadow Widow's Bite can only be used in an air combo or as a linker that has been jump canceled during instinct, so it is much less common, but it does quite a bit of damage and raises the ender level faster than her other options, so it is a good use of meter. Shadow Widow's Bite's last hit has a 22-frame breakable window, which starts before the final web throw even leaves Sadira's hand. This window is so large that the game gets confused and the normal breaking rules don't apply; it can accept two of your three break attempts if you perform one at the start and one near the end!
Sadira's enders are pretty limited. She has no battery ender, which means she has to work for her meter through normal means, and has no wall splat ender, so being in the corner does not gain her any strong combo advantage. Her Blade Demon ender will launch the opponent, which allows for similar follow-ups in the air to some of her neutral launcher starters (like a throw). The Recluse ender will switch sides and cause a hard knockdown, but will not allow for a juggle. Use this ender if you are looking to set up some tricky setups involving double jump crossups or instinct mode webs. Like many characters, Sadira has two damage enders, one that uses a bar of shadow meter and one that doesn't, but in Sadira's case, they are split between two different moves. Use the shadow version of Recluse if you want to cash out heavy damage and earn yourself a juggle opportunity, or if you are looking to cash out the damage from a previous juggle. Use Widow's Bite if you're looking to save a bit of meter.
Recapture & Flipout: Standing LK and Jumping LK (flipout)
Sadira has no recapture, but she does have two strong flipout options, depending on whether she is in the air or on the ground. Performing a flipout at a surprise time helps Sadira's air and juggle combos become more unpredictable, and Sadira can jump cancel the standing LK so she can immediately get back into the air for more mobility or mixups. The value of her flipout becomes even stronger in instinct, since she can do tricky mixups such as canceling standing LK into Blade Demon, causing her to pass under you, and then place a web during Blade Demon so you will land on top of it. There are lots of potential paths for these mixups to find in training mode for those interested in digging deep. If you choose to not use flipout, Sadira has multiple ways to keep air combos going, including jumping target combos involving LP, LK, MP and MK, and Widow's Bite with various timing. Sadira can even land and launch the opponent higher into the air with Fang and complete another juggle sequence.
Normals to watch: Sadira's jumping HK is her money maker. It has a very deceptive cross-up hitbox, which makes it difficult to consistently block while Sadira is double-jumping above your head at odd angles. She also has a jumping target combo with LK, MP or LK, MK, both of which must be blocked high, which can be tricky to block correctly when Sadira is throwing in the higher block stun jumping HK or doing an empty jump into a low attack or throw. Widow's Drop (+MK in air) is great for avoiding anti-airs, faking crossups, or punishing throw whiffs, but it has recovery on landing and is unsafe on block. Use Salticidae (+HK in air) to pester characters with big hitboxes, bouncing off their heads and changing your descent angle to make retaliation difficult.
When forced to stay on the ground, Sadira is equipped with a decent set of footsies pokes and is far from helpless. She can pester with a decently long-range, low-hitting crouching MK, cover the space well in front of her with standing MK, or make her hitbox less susceptible to lows with crouching LK. Both crouching and standing HP are good at occupying space in front of Sadira and are useful when fighting against armored characters.
Specials to watch: Sadira spends a lot of her time throwing out the various strengths of Widow's Bite, her air projectile special. She throws a web projectile at a downward angle towards the opponent, and then continues on her current path with the LP version, flips towards her opponent with the MP version, and pulls herself toward the opponent if the HP version hits or is blocked. When combined with Web Cling, a strictly air mobility special which sends Sadira to the wall behind her and then towards the opponent at various angles, Sadira is extremely difficult to anti-air. She can even do Web Cling and Widow's Bite in the same jump. Heavy Recluse is an upper-body invincible anti-air, and keep your low pokes in check when Sadira is near you and grounded, since a low crush Blade Demon is likely on its way.
General strategy: Like SFIV's C. Viper, it's difficult to keep Sadira still. She spends more time in the air than just about any other Killer Instinct character, and why shouldn't she? Using her unique air mobility tools (two separate trajectory-altering special moves, a double jump, and a dive kick) takes some practice, and her instinct mode will require some practice mode time to fully optimize, but her potential is very high when mastered. If you find yourself grounded or your air normal blocked, pestering with Blade Demon is probably your best bet. But it's best to find your way back into the air quickly for more mobility or mixups. Sadira has no attacking reversal that can avoid a meaty attack that hits her torso, so she either must try to escape using shadow Web Cling, backdash (both of which can be punished), or block it out. Learning some instinct mode setups is crucial if you want to go far with this character.