In Wano, Sanji was not strong enough to win against King (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Roronoa Zoro and Vinsmoke Sanji are two fan-favorites in One Piece, as the second and third-strongest members of the Straw Hat Pirates, respectively. All fans know that Zoro fights enemies mightier than Sanji’s and that the former is objectively more powerful than the latter.
It’s rather evident that whichever opponent that Sanji defeated, Zoro could have won against as well, and with even greater ease. However, Sanji could never beat some of Zoro’s foes, like Mr 1 in the Arabasta Arc, or, when the time comes, the World’s Strongest Swordsman, Dracule Mihawk.
In the final part of the Wano Arc, Zoro defeated King, a Lunarian survivor who served as Kaido’s strongest and most loyal subordinate.
Follow this thread to know if Sanji could have accomplished the same feat or if the difference in strength would make this achievement prohibitive for him.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga.
As of now, One Piece‘s last surviving Lunarian may be too much for Sanji
Sanji overpowered Queen, but King is a different matter
Sanji beat Queen, but King would soundly defeat the latter as well (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
During the Wano Arc, Sanji fought against Queen, the third-strongest member of the Beasts Pirates after Kaido, the captain, and King, the latter’s right-hand man. Initially, Queen was manhandling Sanji. However, at one point, the cook of the Straw Hat Pirates unlocked a power-up based on his genetic traits.
Factoring in the Ifrit Jambe, an upgraded version of the Diable Jambe, as well as an exoskeleton that boosted his physical features, especially his durability, Sanji was able to overwhelm Queen. Whether this feat is enough to allow Sanji to fight on par with King and possibly beat him is a whole different thing.
Queen is just one of Kaido’s three All-Stars, while King has a superior status. He is the second-in-command of the Beasts Pirates as Kaido’s right-hand man and the leader of the All-Stars. The crew is a meritocracy. Thus, Kaido is the captain because he is the strongest, King is his number two because he is the second strongest, and so on.
King is not a first name but a position. Alber was named “King” by Kaido to emphasize him as his strongest subordinate. The hierarchy of the Beasts Pirates is clearly based on poker, where the “king” card holds more value than the “queen” and the “jack” ones. Likewise, King is meant to be stronger than Queen, and Queen is meant to be stronger than Jack.
Nothing Queen and Jack can do even remotely compares to King’s powers as a Lunarian, a race hailed as gods. In every parameter, including offensive might, defensive capabilities, speed, and all other indicators, King is superior to Queen.
Not only is King much more dangerous than Queen, but he is also a better and more collected fighter. Queen seems more like a mad scientist than a warrior, as he is often clumsy, hitting himself and even losing focus in the most decisive moment of his battle against Sanji.
The visible difference in scale between the two fights nicely portrays the gap in strength between these fighters. The confrontation between Sanji and Queen barely destroyed some walls, while the battle between Zoro and King wreaked havoc on a whole different level, crushing pieces of the Onigashima island just as collateral.
One Piece author Eiichiro Oda featured King together with Rayleigh, Zoro, Benn Beckman, Marco, and more, in the color spread, which confirmed the second-strongest members of the major outlaw groups. As of now, the number two of the Beasts Pirates, King, should still be superior to the number three of the Straw Hats, Sanji.
Even after his power-up in Wano, Sanji was still not at King’s level
Sanji never found himself before attacks as powerful as King’s (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Beating Queen doesn’t seem enough for Sanji to contend with King, let alone defeat him, as the Lunarian survivor is a much more dangerous fighter than the former scientist and member of MADS. Slow and static, Queen relied on his passive durability to block Sanji’s attacks.
Once Sanji unlocked enough power to hurt Queen’s body, the fight became relatively easy for him. This won’t happen against King, who is a completely different fighter. Combining his Lunarian abilities and his Ancient Zoan powers, King is so tough that he can come unscathed from Zoro’s attacks, despite these hits being powerful enough to injure Kaido.
On top of that, King can fly at high speeds to dodge incoming attacks and charge his opponents with magma-like flaming dragons as well as mountain-crushing strikes. This makes him a troublesome opponent for Sanji, who, even after his latest power-up, struggled a bit with Queen.
Sanji needed several hits to defeat the scientist and even got struck and damaged twice. Moreover, the fight didn’t end with a final head-on clash, but with Queen getting distracted by a woman and losing focus on the fight, leaving himself open to Sanji’s strikes.
Unlike Queen, who is more of a scientist, King is a deadly fighter (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Before going down, Queen could endure an esoskeleton-powered Sanji’s Hell Memories. King’s abilities gift him with durability high enough to come totally unscathed from the same attacks that Zoro used to cut through Kaido’s dragon scales and deeply wound the Emperor, so the Lunarian survivor would easily endure every non-Ifrit Jambe attack from Sanji.
Moreover, Sanji, even after powering up himself, couldn’t dodge several attacks from Queen. Thus, it is rather obvious that King, who is much faster than his colleague, would be able to do that with even greater effect. While Sanji’s new body easily blocked Queen’s sword attack, it has to be noted that the latter is not a proper swordsman. His blade wasn’t even coated in Armament Haki.
Sanji performing Ifrit Jambe as seen in the One Piece anime (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
King wields a sword enhanced with Armament Haki Hardening. He can perform close-quarter-combat and long-range attacks coated with his Lunarian flames, which are the same as magma. In the One Piece world, magma is stronger than fire, meaning that King’s magma-like flames would overpower Sanji’s flaming kicks.
Sanji lacks any noteworthy feat with Armament Haki in the entire One Piece series. King could contend with Zoro’s Haki-enhanced blades, at least before the latter unlocked the Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, bringing his capabilities to a whole different level.
Only Ifrit Jambe may potentially have a chance to contend with King’s Lunarian magma attacks, and even then, that’s just speculation. However, King could just use his Lunarian abilities to endure the strike. His Lunarian DNA is the source of the Seraphim’s extraordinary durability, which Luffy likened to that of Kaido.
King’s natural-born Lunarian powers may be too much for Sanji (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
At one point, Sanji, while empowered by his Raid Suit, had a brief clash with King, ending up immediately overwhelmed and flying, despite his enhancements. King only used a portion of his capabilities, and yet, for his own admission, Sanji would have died had it not been for the Raid Suit protecting him.
While Sanji has become much stronger now, it is debatable if he has bridged such a gap. If King were to use his real Zoan powers, which grant him enough offensive might to destroy pieces of Onigashima as collateral damage from his attacks, Sanji would likely be overpowered.
To fight King on equal grounds, Sanji would need to go all out from the start, using his maximum speed and the Ifrit Jambe. However, when using these assets, he quickly exhausts himself, while King can use his Lunarian and Zoan abilities with seemingly no stamina issues.
Sanji would be left with only his Diable Jambe, a level of power that wasn’t enough to defeat Queen, a fighter far weaker than King. The Lunarian can also attack from long range, while Sanji can only strike at close range, meaning that the battle would be even more difficult for the cook of the Straw Hat Pirates.
King is substantially a stronger and better version of Sanji
King’s skillset is a better version than Sanji’s (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Both fighters have enhanced durability, but King’s is much greater, as surpasses Kaido’s by direct comparison. King’s toughness was also likened to that of the Emperor as per Luffy’s words concerning the Seraphims, who were created with King’s Lunarian DNA. In comparison, Sanji’s exoskeleton got damaged by Queen.
Both Kaido’s second-in-command and the Straw Hats’ number three are flame users, but King can use magma, which in One Piece surpasses fire. They both can move at exceptional speed, but while Sanji tires himself quickly, King never shows any stamina issues, and can freely switch between his modes.
Based on all evidence, there’s no way that Sanji would have been able to beat King in Wano. The right-hand man of Kaido was an opponent notably above Sanji’s pay grade. Even Zoro, despite being already strong enough to fight valiantly against Kaido and Big Mom, was having trouble with King.
Based on what One Piece has shown so far, King’s power output significantly surpasses Sanji’s (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Zoro’s strikes were so powerful that they made Big Mom worry for Kaido, warning the fellow Emperor to dodge. Zoro blocked Kaido and Big Mom’s combined attack and wounded the former, even leaving him with a scar. He demonstrated himself to be even stronger than Kid and Law, who couldn’t replicate his individual feats.
Even then, King was able to put significant pressure on Zoro, almost cornering him. Although Zoro may have been weakened by his sword Enma constantly draining his Haki to test him, most of his difficulties certainly came from the impressive strength of his opponent.
To beat King, Zoro needed to decipher how his Lunarian abilities worked. This is not an easy task, as Sanji himself, despite being engaged in battle with a Lunarian-enhanced cyborg, has not yet been able to understand the difference between the flame-on mode and the flame-off mode.
Moreover, Zoro needed to empower his attacks with the addition of Conqueror’s Haki. Admittedly, Sanji’s Ifrit Jambe is impressive, but it doesn’t even remotely compare to the usage of Advanced Conqueror’s Haki, a power that Kaido himself hyped as the signature skill of the absolute strongest characters.
Throughout the One Piece series, the gap in power may fluctuate, but the opponents Zoro has defeated are stronger than Sanji’s. Sometimes, Zoro didn’t defeat his opponents but still performed very well against them, like against Fujitora in Dressrosa or against Kaido and Big Mom in Wano.
In Dressrosa, Sanji was immediately overwhelmed by Doflamingo in one of the most one-sided fights in the entire One Piece series. In Wano, he didn’t even meet Kaido and Big Mom, let alone fight them valiantly like Zoro did, even outshining the other Worst Generation members.
When against opponents of similar strength, such as Vergo and Pica, Sanji’s performances are objectively inferior to Zoro’s. Sanji was overpowered by Vergo, despite the latter holding himself back and not even using Haki, while Zoro completely annihilated an all-out Pica.
Summing up, why Sanji can’t beat King in One Piece
Sanji still has a way to go (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
While Sanji now holds remarkable might, he still doesn’t seem prepared to fight against an opponent who even Zoro needed the all-powerful Advanced Conqueror’s Haki to beat. At least in Wano, Sanji didn’t stand a chance against King, who is a fighter much stronger and more dangerous than Queen.
However, with One Piece having entered its endgame, every Straw Hat needs to step up his game. As a member of the crew’s Monster Trio, Sanji will prove his might. If he develops enough in Egghead, he may become strong enough to finally surpass the latest surviving Lunarian.