Shanks vs. Zoro: Who Would Win & Who Is the Better Swordsman?

Shanks vs. Zoro: Who Would Win & Who Is the Better Swordsman?

One Piece is undeoubtedly a series that has its fair share of strong and powerful characters. Due to these characters’ powers and abilities, there’s more than enough characters we can use for our comparisons. The protagonists of this comparison are going to be Zoro, a member of Luffy’s crew, and Shanks, one of the Yonko, both of who are among the best swordsmen in the world of One Piece. In this article, we are going to analyze the two, as we are going to pit Zoro against Shanks to finally determine who the stronger and better swordsman is.

There is no denying that Shanks is much stronger than Zoro and he is also, at this moment, a better swordsman than him. Shanks is one of the most powerful characters in the whole franchise, whereas Zoro could become its best swordsman but even with that title, Shanks would have a much more diverse set of powers with which he would defeat Zoro.

The rest of this article will further elaborate on the above-given answer, as we are going to compare Shanks and Zoro in more detail. Through several categories, you are going to see who the stronger of the two is and why our answer is like it is, i.e., why Shanks would ultimately be able to defeat Zoro in a direct fight.

Physical abilities

Shanks’ actual abilities remain unknown, as he has yet to be seen seriously engaged in battle. However, as a member of the Four New World Emperors, his raw physical power is believed to be immense, and he is known to be one of the four most powerful pirates in the world. Shanks did not fear even Whitebeard, the strongest man in the world, and even had enough strength to stand against him, while some pirate captains trembled at the mere mention of his name.

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Zoro is one of the physically strongest characters in the series. He demonstrates the strength of him when he was fighting Daz Bones, he easily lifted a building despite the injuries he had. He is seen training on the Thousand Sunny with ton weight dumbbells. His strength is surely equal to or greater than that of a giant as he was able to parry a direct hit from Oars with his swords. After the time skip, Zoro greatly increased his strength.

We have to consider only one fact here: we know absolutely nothing about Shanks’ real powers and abilities and he is nevertheless one of the most feared pirates in the world. Zoro doesn’t stand a chance here.

Points: Shanks 1, Zoro 0

Devil Fruit

Shanks is the only one among the Four Emperors that doesn’t have Devil Fruit powers, as he has never eaten one; from what we can gather, it seems that Shanks never had any desire to eat a Devil Fruit whatsoever.

Does Shanks Know Where the One Piece Is? (& How?)

Roronoa Zoro is a very powerful character. He is known as one of the most powerful characters in the series and one of the series’ best swordsmen; he is, by all means, probably going to surpass even Mihawk in the future. Now, Zoro’s powers and feats definitely merit a conclusion that he has consumed a Devil Fruit, but is that really true? It’s not – namely, Roronoa Zoro has never eaten a Devil Fruit.

This makes Zoro one of a very small number of characters (the most notable other one being Mihawk) who are extremely powerful, but have not actually consumed a Devil Fruit; most of the other powerful characters have to thank their Devil Fruits for their individual reputations.

Like we’ve done before in such situations, we are not going to award a point to anyone. The result is going to be the same, but the difference from our usual approach is that we’re not going to share the points, but rather not award them at all. Since neither of the two has any Devil Fruit powers, they actually don’t deserve a point here.

Points: Shanks 1, Zoro 0


Shanks can use all three types of Haki. Even Whitebeard complimented him on his Haki when he used it during his “visit”. He demonstrated the use of Royal Haki and Armament Haki. When Shanks and Whitebeard clashed, the “heavens” above them split apart, showing the incredible power of Armament Haki that both Emperors had imbued on their weapons.

During the Battle of Marineford, he imbued Armament Haki onto his sword in order to block a Logia-type attack from Akainu. Shanks can use Observation Haki, and at a fairly strong level since he spots a strange presence among the people of Wano Country. Shanks can also use Royal Haki, an ability only one in a million can use.

After saving Luffy from a sea monster, he scared the monster away with an angry look using his Haki. Later, as Shanks boards Whitebeard’s ship, many of Whitebeard’s men (experienced men who survived in the New World) have been knocked out by his super-powered Royal Haki and the ship itself even began to take physical damage from the mere presence of Shanks, indicating that he exudes great power.

Oda mentioned in an SBS that Shanks could have eliminated the 100,000 pirates and fish-men opposed to the Straw Hats during the Fishman Island Arc with his Royal Haki, while Luffy managed to eliminate “just” 50,000 of them.

Zoro is one of the few people to possess all 3 forms of Haki. Zoro possesses the Royal Haki, the rarest Haki, whose users are said to possess the qualities of a King. He is first mentioned to hold this power by Kaido after Zoro’s nine-sword attack. During his fight against King, he uses the Royal Haki to coat his sabers, a very advanced form, and at the same time members of the Hundred Beasts Crew are seen fainting around.

He didn’t use the Haki offensively against Monet but still managed to beat her as she thought he was going to use the Haki and therefore she was going to die. The fear that Monet felt at that moment completely destabilized her. He has learned to imbue his sabers with Haki to make them more effective against Haki or Devil Fruit users.

He also used the Armament Haki on Pica to slice him which means his Haki is more advanced than Pica’s. Using the Haki also allows him to counter Devil Fruit powers, as he did to temporarily stop the Birdcage.

He first uses the Observation in his fight against Nuru, a Fishman capable of blinding his opponents thanks to the lantern on his forehead, even telling him that he only used his eyes to see and that was why he was weak; he made use of it again to find Caribou in the palace. He also uses it during the Arc Dressrosa, to find where the one who stole his saber is but also to find Pica during his fight against him.

Okay, both of them can use all three types of Haki which put us in a bit of a tight spot, but only for a second. Namely, Shanks’ mastery of Haki is on such a level that Zoro cannot even compare properly, which is why the Yonko wins this point.

Points: Shanks 2, Zoro 0


Shanks is usually portrayed as a great swordsman. Ten years ago he was able to swim, so it was assumed that he did not have any fruit and to date there is no indication that he has consumed any. Before losing his arm, his fights against Mihawk were famous, even reaching the ears of Whitebeard himself. Although he has not been seen fighting with his sword long enough to know any of his techniques thus far, he has been seen in situations where he needed to show his true strength, such as when he clashed swords with Whitebeard, appearing practically at his level, despite having only one arm.

Since Mihawk is ranked as the best swordsman in the world and Shanks is his old rival, it can be assumed that he is a very proficient swordsman. It is believed that the redhead favored his left arm before losing it, as he is always seen holding his sword in his left hand during flashbacks, although there is also speculation that he used to use dual swords, which would explain Mihawk’s disinterest. for fighting him after losing his arm and would match the double swords of the redhead’s Jolly Roger.

In the beginning of his journey as a pirate, Zoro only mastered the Santoryu, his conventional fighting style; but over time he began to master techniques from other schools, such as Nitoryu, Ittoryu, or even Mutouryu. Currently, Zoro and the rest of the crew have improved their abilities to face the New World.

Zoro is known to be able to cut through a Pacifista the caliber of those found in the Sabaody Archipelago, so it follows that Zoro can relatively easily cut through materials even harder than steel without using any Shishi Sonson-like moves, very probably because he has learned to use busoshoku haki.

And while we still do think that Shanks is a better swordsman than Zoro at this point, we have decided to split the points to give some credit to Luffy’s swordsmaster, as he really is giving it his best to become the best one out there.

Points: Shanks 3, Zoro 1

Shanks vs. Zoro: Who wins?

And now for the most important and interesting section of our article – the analysis. Here, we are going to use what we have found out about these two characters and analyze how all these facts would (or would not) help them in a fight against each other. Let us continue.

Now, this comparison was a relatively easy one as the difference between our two picks was truly obvious. Sure, Zoro is a formidable fighter, he is a master swordsman with enormous physical strength, which makes him one of the toughest opponents you could face in the franchise, but we have Shanks on the other hand. Red-Haired Shanks, the guy who stoped a sea monster with his Haki and the guy who seems to know absolutely everything that is going on in the world of pirates.

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And while we still know comparatively little about Shanks’ actual powers, the fact that he was granted an audience with the Five Elders and that he managed to stop the Marineford War simply by appearing there speaks enough. The Five Elders would never let a weakling reach them, nor would a weak character be able to stop a war. On top of that, even the cunning Blackbeard is clearly aware that he should not clash with Shanks, being aware that he would lose.

We could list Shanks’ feats until next month, but it wouldn’t really change anything. Zoro is good, but Shanks is simply better. There is a possibility that Zoro might surpass Shanks when swordsmanship is concerned, but Shanks is – at this moment – a better swordsman as well.

  • Arthur S. Poe has been fascinated by fiction ever since he saw Digimon and read Harry Potter as a child. Since then, he has seen several thousand movies and anime, read several hundred books and comics, and played several hundred games of all genres.