The recent release of One Piece 1033 brought Zoro’s awakening of Conqueror’s and Advanced Conqueror’s Haki. With these two and his exceptional Armament Haki in hand, Zoro is now at a level where he can compete with almost any other vice-captain/right-hand man.
Looking at this One Piece 1033 powerup, it’s clear that Zoro is approaching the end stages of his goal of the World’s Strongest Swordsman. Yet for a goal as lofty as that, the endgame is still quite long indeed.
Regardless, Zoro’s attainment of Conqueror’s Haki and its Advanced form make the remainder of the path to his goal quite clear indeed. From One Piece 1033 onward, Zoro’s final goals are clear in sight.
One Piece 1033 lights the way to Zoro’s goal, with expected stops vs. Mihawk and Shanks along the way
One Piece Chapter 1033: Zoro’s final steps
Now possessing Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, Zoro is on par with almost anyone in the One Piece world in terms of strength and combat ferocity. Yet the two who still eclipse him are quite troublesome opponents indeed.
Before becoming the World’s Strongest Swordsman, Zoro still needs to defeat Dracule Mihawk and Red-Hair Shanks. Mihawk is currently the World’s Strongest, and based on context clues, it’s a fair assumption he won the title from Shanks. While there haven’t been any direct context clues, we can make some inferences based on some details.
For one, Shanks was able to stop Whitebeard’s two-handed blow with only his one hand and saber-style sword, Gryphon. Although this clash occurs before Haki is introduced, the sky is split just like it did during Roger and Whitebeard and Luffy and Kaido’s clashes. As a result, we can assume Shank’s has Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, and along with Whitebeard, used it in this clash.
There’s also the relationship that Shanks and Mihawk share. While they’ve interacted sparingly in the series, the two always seem to be friendly old rivals. Shanks even asks Mihawk if he has come for a match, which Mihawk declines, citing Shanks’ one-armed status. Clearly, the two have known each other for a long time and have seemingly battled before considering how casually Shanks offers a match.
As a result, it’s not unfair to assume Mihawk won the title of World’s Strongest from Shanks. Yet even with one arm, Shanks is still an exceptional enough swordsman that he feels he can take on Mihawk and his Black Blade. Yet, what does this mean for Zoro?
Essentially, there would be two “World’s Strongest Swordsman” that Zoro must test his strength against. While Mihawk currently holds the title, it’d be great to prove Zoro is undeniably the strongest by having him defeat them both. After that, there can be no doubt that Zoro is the World’s Strongest Swordsman, and that his final steps began in One Piece 1033.
One Piece 1033 gave Zoro and fans the clear-cut final steps to Zoro’s journey. With his Advanced and standard Conqueror’s Haki seen in One Piece 1033, Zoro can stand shoulder to shoulder with any of the Yonko's right-hand men.
The two final competitors Zoro must face may be even more potent than that. While One Piece 1033 has given Zoro the tools he needs, it’s still up to him to meet Mihawk and Shanks with said tools and use them appropriately enough to win. Thankfully, Zoro will have more time to practice these new powers than he did in One Piece 1033 itself.