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One Piece: Who Can Still Reasonably Challenge The Straw Hat Pirates?

Luffy May be strong enough to take on an Emperor, but there are still plenty of enemies who can make the Straw Hats’ adventures difficult.

The following contains spoilers for One Piece Chapter 1050, “Honor,” by Eiichiro Oda, Stephen Paul and Vanessa Satone, available in English from Viz Media.

Monkey D. Luffy has established himself as one of the strongest pirates in the world. By defeating the invincible Kaidō, he’s made it clear that there aren’t many people left who can challenge him to a fight. With that in mind, it sounds like the Straw Hat Pirates’ journey to Laugh Tale should be smooth sailing from here on out.

However, this journey is still far from over. There are many adversities in the New World that can make the search for the One Piece all the more difficult. Not counting things like natural obstacles and the potential trouble with actually locating Laugh Tale, there are also plenty of different people, groups, and entities who will more than likely stand in the Straw Hats’ way. If they want to continue sailing, they will have to keep these looming threats in mind.

RELATED: One Piece Chapter 1050 Recap & Spoilers: Honor

For one thing, the Emperors are still a very real threat. Both the Beast Pirates and the Big Mom Pirates are still massive forces with influence all across the New World. Even if the Straw Hats came out on top in Wano through miracles, assists, and X factors, there’s no telling what would happen if they were to try their luck again.

Likewise, win or lose, an Emperor is still an Emperor. So far, the only Straw Hats who have proven they can even stand up to an Emperor are Luffy and Zoro. Sanji is also at the Emperor Commander level, for what it’s worth. In any case, another fight with either Kaidō or Big Mom is all but guaranteed to be hard-fought and brutal.

RELATED: One Piece: How Yamato Would Get Along With Each of the Straw Hat Pirates

Besides Kaidō and Big Mom, there are still two more Emperors for the Straw Hats to contend with. The first and most obvious adversary is Blackbeard. Not only is he an old enemy, but he showed a distinct interest in Luffy’s Devil Fruit even before its true nature was revealed.

His knowledge of Devil Fruits and how they really work is what makes him especially dangerous. It’s such that he apparently knows how to take someone else’s Devil Fruit and make certain of who it goes to next. He’s even managed to acquire two of the most powerful Devil Fruits in the world for himself. He’s just as strong as he is cunning.

On top of all of this, the Blackbeard Pirates, in general, are a powerful force. Each member of the original crew has gone on to become a captain of their own ship. The ten Straw Hats will be spread thin if they go up against the Blackbeard Pirates in any kind of confrontation.

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Luffy’s eventual reunion with Red-Haired Shanks could also lead to a big battle. Be it competitive or friendly, Luffy and his crew will probably go up against Shanks and his crew to show how far they’ve come. Since Luffy is supposed to return his iconic Straw Hat to Shanks upon meeting him again, this confrontation could happen as late as the end of the series.

Luffy might also have to deal with the other members of the Worst Generation, especially Eustass Kid and Trafalgar Law. Besides the Emperors, they’re the top competitors in the race to find the One Piece. They could come after Luffy’s copies of the Road Poneglyph texts as soon as they’ve recovered from their raid on Onigashima.

Some of the remaining Seven Warlords should also prove to be worthy opponents. Edward Weevil is said to be comparable to Whitebeard in his prime; if this is true, then it would make him a good benchmark to assess Luffy’s power. Zoro still hasn’t officially surpassed Dracule Mihawk and become the greatest swordsman in the world. The Straw Hats might have to confront Bartholomew Kuma in the future, as unfortunate as that may be. Crocodile’s venture into the New World still hasn’t been built upon in the canon story. Buggy himself might not be strong, but he does have a large and powerful following. While Warlords aren’t supposed to be on the same level as Emperors, they should still prove to be difficult challenges which could certainly impede the Straw Hats.

RELATED: One Piece: Has Kaido’s Devil Fruit Already Awakened?

Cipher Pol Aegis Zero could also pose a threat to the Straw Hats at any given moment. One of them already cost Luffy a match with Kaidō, which also nearly cost him his life. Should they choose to interfere in another key fight, the consequences could be just as fatal.

CP0’s individual members may also pose a challenge in their own right, especially those who used to be members of CP9. They have made infrequent appearances throughout One Piece since the two-year time skip, most notably during the movies. It’s possible that, like the Straw Hats, they’ve been steadily improving since their last encounter and would still be a match for the crew.

RELATED: One Piece Theory: Luffy’s Latest Declaration Is Also His Secret Dream

Another obvious threat on the Straw Hats’ voyage is the Marines. A Vice Admiral here and there might not be too big of an issue, but if Luffy has really become an Emperor-level threat, he and his crew might have to deal with a much larger show of force. If the Straw Hats were to be surrounded by several powerful Vice Admirals on open waters, that could certainly still spell trouble for them.

There are also some key individuals that even Luffy might have to look out for when going up against the Marines. Obviously, there’s his grandfather, Vice Admiral Garp; he’ll probably be forced to give it his best even against his own grandson. Koby has also been shown steadily improving over the course of the series; it’s possible that by the time he meets up with Luffy again, he could prove to be a worthy adversary. Smoker hasn’t been prominently featured since the Straw Hats were on Punk Hazard, but he’s expected to make a big comeback sooner or later. Besides them, there are plenty more members throughout the ranks of the Marines who would at least give the rest of the Straw Hats their own troubles.

There are also the Admirals to keep in mind. Even if Luffy were able to take down Kaidō, fans were uncertain of how he would fare against even one of these admirals. Fujitora might not be an issue for Luffy, but Kizaru would definitely be tough to deal with, thanks to his light speed and laser powers. Then there’s Ryokugyū, a new Admiral who remains a complete unknown in terms of battle prowess. If the War of the Best at Marineford is anything to go by, these Admirals have the combined strength necessary to take on even someone like Whitebeard. If Luffy and his crew were to go up against them, there’s no telling how well they’d do.

And, of course, standing at the top of the Marines is Fleet Admiral Akainu. His Magma-Magma Fruit already makes him a deadly enemy, but now he’s at a level of strength that surpasses even the Admirals. Fans have deemed him a top contender to be Luffy’s last big opponent.

RELATED: New Official Art for One Piece Film: Red Shows a Familiar Face

Even if the Straw Hat pirates can handle all of these powerful individuals, they’ll still have the World Government to deal with. If they make big enough enemies of the world, they could see entire countries going to war with them. This isn’t like fighting a particular group like an enemy pirate crew or even the Marines, either; challenging global superpowers with their own militaries and armaments is something they simply aren’t equipped to handle. Not even the few countries they helped liberate could assist them against that kind of force. As things stand, the Straw Hats could spend the rest of their lives running from the over-170 nations that will now consider them a threat to world peace.

Kaidō may have been praised as the “Strongest Creature,” but his defeat doesn’t mean the Straw Hats’ troubles are all over. If they want to reach Laugh Tale, they still have to get through all sorts of massive obstacles, some of which can’t be overcome even with physical force. There’s literally a whole world of enemies standing in their way.

Marc York is a writer for CBR. He possesses an understanding of comics, video games, and movies, and his true expertise comes forth when it comes to the topics of anime and manga. His knowledge spreads to the past, present, and future of both the anime and manga industry, especially when it pertains to titles under the Shonen Jump banner. Marc also likes to write about the movies he’s watched in theaters; these aren’t officially published articles, but they may be seen on his Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/marc.york.7

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