As with virtually all fighting games, Killer Instinct can be seen through two different eyes. You have the eyes of the novice, who believe certain aspects of the game are “cheap” and “unfair,” or who believe the game caters to “scrubs.” Then you have the high-level tournament-hardened players who dig deep into the game system to find strategies that only the best players will utilize and understand.
This unofficial Sadira guide is designed for advanced players who already know the basics and are looking to take their game to the next level. If you don’t understand the KI system mechanics, check out our How to Play and Beginner’s Tips articles. If you want to get a little more in-depth than that, read up on Sadira’s frame data. This article assumes you already know everything from the more basic articles.
To Air is Human
Sadira was designed to be in the air more often than not, and that’s exactly how you should be playing her. While her ground-based attacks are not terrible, she excels when she’s airborne. She can perform up to a total of three aerial actions before she has to land, including two jumps and a special move or Normal. This is extended if the special move performed is her Web Cling, which allows Sadira to attack again immediately following the Web Cling.
Many new Sadira players want to jump around using the Widow’s Bite projectile over and over. This is not a strategy that will work at higher levels of play. First and foremost, the heavy Widow’s Bite should only be used if the opponent is in the middle of an attack or in any situation where it’s virtually guaranteed to hit. If the opponent can block the attack, it means they can also use a Shadow Counter if they have meter available.
The heavy Widow’s Bite propels Sadira toward the opponent if it makes contact, which is great for starting a combo, but puts her in a bad position if it’s blocked. It’s not hard to Shadow Counter immediately after blocking the projectile portion of the heavy Widow’s Bite, which grounds Sadira and allows an opponent to start a combo. Even if the opponent doesn’t have the meter to burn, Sadira bounces off the opponent and is vulnerable to an anti-air attack. While it’s possible for one of Sadira’s aerial attacks to beat the opponent’s anti-air, it’s still a risk.
Never use all of Sadira’s aerial actions unless you’re safe from an anti-air attempt, or about to hit the ground. Many Sadira players like to use repeated cross-up jumps, which is a good strategy. However, after the second jump, the opponent knows Sadira’s options are limited. Every character has an invincible attack they can use as an anti-air, so if Sadira’s only remaining aerial option is to attack, it’s not difficult for a skilled opponent to react with an invincible anti-air attack.
With that said, this is where the Web Cling comes into play. If Sadira only has one aerial action remaining, as long as you haven’t already used the Web Cling, that option is still available to potentially get you out of harm’s way. In addition, if the opponent misses an anti-air, with proper timing the Web Cling allows Sadira to punish the attempt.
It’s not uncommon for a Sadira player to land an aerial attack, but not follow with a combo. This is usually because they already had their mind set on doing a second jump for a cross-up attack, going for a Web Cling or some other mind game or setup attempt. Always expect an attack to land and be ready to combo after it. There are very few instances in which Sadira will land a jumping attack (aside from a Widow’s Bite) and not be able to combo after it. Expect the attack to connect, but be ready with your mix-up option if it doesn’t. Sadira can have a hard time opening up a skilled player. Do not waste these random hits by not following with a combo.
As opponents become more and more accustomed to Sadira’s aerial tactics, they may try to get close and dash under when she jumps. A light Widow’s Bite used as Sadira is descending will almost always put a stop to this. In fact, a light Widow’s Bite used on the way up as Sadira is crossing up an opponent also works wonders. The point here is to keep an opponent where you want them. Do you need a specific angle or distance for your cross-up setup to work? Know which aerial options you have to keep an opponent at that distance, whether it’s a specific strength Widow’s Bite, a late Web Cling, a Web Cling followed by a Widow’s Drop or just a neutral jump. Always know where you want the opponent and how to keep them there.
It’s also important to remember that Sadira’s aerial movement is superior to all other characters. Leaving attacks aside, while in the air Sadira can use a second jump in any direction. For example, she can jump forward, then use her second jump to move higher with a neutral jump. She can neutral jump, then use the second jump to cross-up an opponent by jumping forward. Sadira is capable of a wide variety of aerial movement just by mixing and matching her ability to jump twice.
It’s Time to Wake Up
If Sadira has any glaring weakness, the one most players would agree on is her wake-up game. Once she is knocked down, it’s very difficult for her to avoid pressure. The most obvious advice would be to simply avoid getting knocked down, but that’s not really going to help many players. There are still a few things Sadira can do on wake-up, depending how the opponent is pressuring.
Sadira’s best option in many cases is to simply back dash. Her back dash is invincible for the first 7 frames, followed by an additional 4 frames of throw invincibility. If you’re expecting a throw, you can back dash or neutral jump. Sadira’s jump has 4 frames of throw invincibility before she actually gets into the air.
Obviously there are ways to punish a back dash attempt, as Sadira is vulnerable after the 7 frames of attack invincibility. But in most cases, an opponent has to use different attacks if they’re trying to catch a back dash compared to applying normal wake-up pressure. You won’t be able to rely heavily on back dashing during wake-up pressure, but it will get you out of trouble as long as you don’t abuse it.
The Shadow Recluse is what most Sadira players go to for their wake-up needs, but it’s extremely punishable if blocked (-17), and while it has some invincibility, it’s only active for one frame, which means it can be beat out with relative ease. A skilled opponent will time their wake-up pressure to beat out a Shadow Recluse unless they anticipate a back dash.
A passable alternative to the Shadow Recluse is the Shadow Blade Demon. It has the same 4-frame startup speed, but far more active frames. What makes it an option to combat wake-up pressure is the fact that it’s invincible to low attacks. If an opponent is applying pressure with low attacks, a Shadow Blade Demon goes right through it. If the opponent blocks the attack, Sadira is left fairly safe at -2, but of course there’s the option to Shadow Counter if the opponent has meter available.
Sadira has a hard time dealing with wake-up pressure, but she does have options. It’s more about anticipating how your opponent will react, rather than mashing out an attack in hopes that it will connect. Sometimes, just blocking during wake-up is your best option. Watch for a throw, and it’s difficult for an opponent to open you up if you have good blocking skills.
Patience and Block Strings
One of the big keys to success with Sadira is staying in the air and dictating the pace of the match. There are far too many Sadira players who get impatient and start advancing on their opponent, which leaves them potentially vulnerable to an attack. Sadira has enough tools to stay in the air and keep an opponent at bay.
We already discussed how the light Widow’s Bite can prevent an opponent from dashing under Sadira, or setup cross-up attempts. This is just one of the many ways she dictates the pace of the match. The medium and light Widow’s Bite would well to keep an opponent at a distance and stop them from being the aggressor. You want to stay at a safe distance until you can close in on your terms, with a Widow’s Bite to cover your advance, or a multi-jump setup in mind, possibly with the Web Cling involved.
While Sadira can stay in the air and really milk the clock by making it difficult for an opponent to approach, the air is not her only domain. She can use her block strings on the ground to bait an opponent into attacking. In many cases, opponents expect a series of quick blocked attacks, possibly canceled into a special move. With every blocked Normal, you’re generally pushed away from the opponent until you’re out of attack range.
Once you get a certain distance, most opponents expect you to stop attacking. This is where Sadira’s limbs come into play. While she doesn’t have the reach of Glacius, or even Sabrewulf, she does have deceptive range, which can play into her block strings. For example, if you start with crouching or standing light punches at close range, you can chain them into a standing far medium kick. While this isn’t a true block string, the distance and hit box of Sadira’s standing far medium kick can turn a block string into a pseudo-frame trap.
After a blocked standing or crouching light, Sadira has +2 frame advantage. Her standing far medium kick executes in 7 frames. Just going by the frames, it can be interrupted by a 4-frame attack and trades with a 5-frame attack. However, most 4-frame Normals have limited range, far less than Sadira’s standing far medium kick. In addition, the hit box on Sadira’s standing far medium kick is better than many of the 5-frame attacks that would be able to reach her after a few light attacks push her out to the proper range for a standing far medium kick.
The frame data aside, after a few light punches and no special move cancel, most opponents will assume Sadira is done attacking. This allows for the standing far medium kick to land as a counter hit and allows Sadira to follow with a combo. Of course, a smart opponent will catch on after getting hit a few times, but that’s when you can start using tick throws before the standing far medium kick. It opens up quite a few options, including neutral jumping in the middle of the block string, or going for a cross-up, or even a double cross-up.
Sadira’s Instinct mode is arguably the best in the game. Like Orchid’s, it allows Sadira to make all of her attacks safe from punishment. However, the web activates instantly, unlike Orchid’s Firecat, which has to travel from the edge of the screen. In addition, the web traps an opponent, allowing Sadira more time to start a combo or determine how she wants to proceed.
Instinct should rarely be used in the middle of a combo, unless you need it to kill an opponent, or you have a setup that allows for significantly more damage following the Instinct Cancel. In all other instances, Sadira’s Instinct should be used to entrap an opponent. Make an attack safe and continue your offense, or lay down a web, then use several cross-ups to get the opponent to block the wrong direction and be caught in the web.
One thing that many Sadira players fail to do is capitalize on every web trap. Orchid can keep an opponent in virtually infinite block stun while her Instinct is active, and Sadira can do the same thing. Assume every web trap will lead to a hit, because even if it doesn’t, you can simply lay down another web. Do not leave damage on the table because you failed to start a combo after an opponent was trapped in a web. Even if an opponent is caught in the air, go for an aerial combo into a Web Cling for a mix-up as the opponent gets off the ground. There are always options.
Another benefit to Sadira’s Instinct mode is the ability to use virtually risk-free Counter Breakers. If you have Instinct active during a combo, go for a Counter Breaker, then immediately activate a web trap. If the opponent attempts a Combo Breaker, then Sadira’s Counter Breaker connects and the combo continues with the opponent locked out for four seconds. If the opponent doesn’t bite, the web traps them, keeping Sadira safe and allowing her to continue the combo as if the Counter Breaker was never attempted.
While Sadira’s Instinct mode is an amazing tool, if you activate Instinct at the wrong time, it’s not difficult for an opponent to run away from Sadira until the Instinct mode expires. It’s important to use Instinct during a block string, or to make a special move safe, or any time you’re already in close proximity to an opponent. Make sure the opponent cannot easily run away.