Shiryu and King are similar in that they are both merciless right-hand commanders of Yonkos who love torturing people.But King was recently beaten by Zoro.
Does this mean Zoro is stronger than King? That Blackbeard’s 1st commander is stronger than Kaido’s?
In the One Piece world, a feat doesn’t necessarily mean that a character is stronger that the other.
Character-power is the summation of various devices – Devil Fruit abilities, Haki, weapons, inheritance, or even titles.
There’s a hierarchy in terms of stipulated strength-levels, like, we have the 4 Emperors and the Fleet Admiral at the top, and then the top commanders and the Admirals; but most of the big guys have seldom shown feats.
So, what does Zoro beating King mean in terms of strength?
1. Does Zoro defeating King make Shiryu stronger than King?
Zoro defeating King, the Lunarian Lead Performer of the Beasts Pirates, does not make Shiryu, the Blackbeard Pirates’ Captain of the Second Ship, stronger than King.
Power scaling in One Piece is not definitive and depends on in-match compatibility and circumstance.
To understand the complete reasoning, we need to break down the power scaling and understand it within the context of the narrative.
2. King the Conflagration
Devil Fruit – Dragon-Dragon Ancient Zoan-type Devil Fruit
Haki – Confirmed Observation and Armament Haki
Weapon – Katana
King is the only survivor of the Lunarians, a race that can create fire from their bodies. It is this that gives him an edge in battle; only when Zoro is able to figure out King’s secret, can he finally defeat him.
King is also a skilled swordsman, keeping up with Zoro’s triple blade attacks during the battle in Wano.
II. How strong is King? King vs. Zoro
King is the strongest of the Beast Pirates, second only to Kaido. He is not only physically a tank, but is also smart and plays to his strengths. He’s versatile and fast, and counters attacks with a variety of fighting techniques and styles.
So far, we’ve only seen King lose when it comes to feats. He could not kill Marco, nor could he off Sanji. King is defeated by Zoro and hasn’t returned since.
Zoro is the only one we can compare King with, but the two aren’t really comparable at all. After what we saw, King’s strength is undeniable but he still loses.This is not because he’s weaker than Zoro.
I think the thing – at least narratively – that gets King in the end, is Zoro’s “will”.
Zoro uses Conqueror’s Haki in conjunction with his swords, to take King down. Also, King has no self-motivation and determination, even though he has more years of experience than Zoro.
King’s only dream is for Kaido to triumph as Pirate King; Zoro does envision the same for Luffy, but he also has a goal of his own: to become the best swordsman in the world.
Zoro is fighting for Luffy, for Mihawk, but most of all, for himself. This is what King lacks, a sustainable driving force. So even though he should be stronger than Zoro on paper, he isn’t.
The thing is, if we throw Zoro and King together in a re-match, there’s no guarantee that Zoro will win.
It is because of the circumstances on the rooftop, the combination of Zoro’s luck, skill, and observation in that moment, that he was able to triumph over King.
To be clear, I’m not chalking Zoro’s win down to luck; I’m just saying that if Zoro and King were to have a 10-round match, it’s more than likely that Zoro wouldn’t come out at the top.
3. Shiryu of the Rain
Devil Fruit – Clear-Clear Paramecia-type Devil Fruit
Haki – None confirmed, but it’s obvious he has at least Armament and Observation Haki
Weapon – Nodachi, the “great sword”
Being the (ex-) head jailer of Impel Down, Shiryu has abnormal physical strength, speed, and endurance.
Additionally, even without his Devil Fruit power that grants him invisibility, Shiryu was known to be stealth master and could infiltrate any location undetected.
II. How strong is Shiryu? Shiryu vs. Zoro
Shiryu has no feats to show for post the time-skip, so it’s mere conjecture about what kind of power Shiryu currently has.
Shiryu is a bonafide sadist who, in his time as the head jailer at Impel Down, used to massacre whole floors of prisoners for his amusement.
He was imprisoned on Level 6 of Impel Down, which is where only prisoners who are atrociously powerful are restrained. This was pre-time skip, and he was already said to be as strong as his warden-predecessor, Magellan.
This is the same Magellan who fought the Blackbeard Pirates multiple times, and used his Venom-Venom Devil Fruit to poison and defeat opponents like Luffy. This put Shiryu at least at upper-Vice Admiral level before the time-skip.
We haven’t seen much of Shiryu post the time-skip, but as a Yonko commander, he’s gotta be at Admiral level.
Consequently, he has to be only one level below the Yonkos, i.e., below Blackbeard, Kaido, Shanks, and Big Mom, which makes him as strong as King. Zoro defeated King. Logically, Zoro should be “stronger” than Shiryu. But this is not the case.
We should also take Mihawk into the equation if we are talking about Zoro’s opponents. Mihawk, the strongest swordsman in the world, will likely be Zoro’s final fight.
Shiryu is bound to be Zoro’s penultimate battle, since Zoro needs to square off with the world’s greatest swordsmen.
With Shiryu’s skill and his Devil Fruit powers, it’s tough to say whether Zoro will defeat him at the first go.
Theoretically, Zoro can counter Shiryu’s invisibility with his Observation Haki and slam him in a sword-battle, since Zoro was trained for 2 years by Mihawk himself.
But all we can safely conclude is that Shiryu and Zoro are more or less at the same level now. Whether or not Zoro beats Shiryu, depends on where we are at the story when Shiryu is brought back and what abilities he has gained.
4. Zoro the Pirate Hunter, the King of Hell
Devil Fruit – None
Haki – Advanced Conqueror’s, Armament, and Observation Haki
Weapons – Enma, Kitetsu, Ichimonji
In Chapter 1036, Zoro mastered the 3 Sword Style and gained full control of Enma, channeling all of his Haki through it. Zoro can also use the Asura – the 9 Sword Style, which he summoned against Kaido.
II. How strong is Zoro?
It’s no secret that Zoro is powerful – or rather, has become powerful, for he was not always thus.
Zoro has worked hard to reach where he has, and it is not without struggle that he was able to beat King. He gives the epithet “The King of Hell” to himself, which only says more about his character.
It’s not all about feats in One Piece. Zoro has won every battle since the New World, but this isn’t necessarily a testament to his strength.
It’s all about the match-ups and narrative arc. This can be seen by the fact that Luffy wins against Katakuri, who’s a legend in terms of power. It’s about the circumstances, allies, and ideals; although of course, a win is still a win.
Zoro has defeated the likes of Kaku, Ryuma, Pica, and the most recent and most impressive, King. Zoro’s greatest strength is his determination.
In his battle with King, he is almost beat, but uses advanced Conqueror’s Haki and Armamnet Haki, along with his 3 Sword Style to deal significant damage to King.
He is also observant enough to pick up King the Lunarian’s weakness; this probably shows that he has worked on his Observation Haki and will be able to – eventually – overcome Shiryu and his Devil Fruit Powers.
Comparing Shiryu and King is like comparing Teach/Blackbeard and Kaido.
Every Yonko with their top commanders are, more or less, as strong as other Yonkos and their commanders Zoro defeating King does not mean that Shiryu is stronger than King, neither does it mean that Zoro is stronger than King.
And who knows, if King ends up returning as an Awakened Zoan, things would go a lot differently than they did now.
6. About One Piece
One Piece is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. It has been serialized in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine since July 22, 1997.
The man who had acquired everything in this world, the Pirate King, is Gol D. Roger. The final words he said at the execution tower were “My treasures? If you want it, I’ll let you have it. Look for it; I left all of it at that place.” These words sent many to the seas, chasing their dreams, headed toward the Grand Line, in search of One Piece. Thus began a new age!
Seeking to be the greatest pirate in the world, young Monkey D. Luffy also heads toward the Grand Line in search of One Piece. His diverse crew is joining him along the way, consisting of a swordsman, marksman, navigator, cook, doctor, archaeologist, and cyborg-shipwright, this will be one memorable adventure.