Also known as the Pirate Hunter, and famed for his usage of the Santoryu in One Piece, Roronoa Zoro is the combatant of the Strawhat Pirates and is second to Luffy in terms of strength. He aims to be the greatest swordsman in the world and set out to sea seeking Dracule Mihawk, the current strongest swordsman in the world. Over the years, Zoro's skills have grown exceptionally, and right now, he could be regarded as one of the finest swordsmen around. He's defeated a lot of prominent swordsmen along the way, yet there are still those who stand above him. In this article, we'll list five swordsmen that Zoro has surpassed, and five he is yet to surpass.
10 Surpassed: Kin'emon
The leader of the Nine Red Scabbards, Kin'emon is one of the finest samurai, and he hails from Wano Country. As a retainer of Oden, he's a valiant warrior, and with training, he has even learned how to cut fire, earning him his moniker 'Foxfire.' Despite all that, when compared to Roronoa Zoro, he isn't all that impressive. Even though he leads the Scabbards, he is weaker than some of them, like Ashura Douji and Inuarashi. Zoro's level of skill is beyond Kin'emon's, thanks to training with Mihawk for two years.
9 Yet To Surpass: Dracule Mihawk
Dracule Mihawk reigns supreme over all the swordsmen in the world of One Piece. He carries the legendary blade Yoru, which is one of the 12 Saijo o Wazamono grade swords. Thanks to years of experience, Mihawk has turned Yoru into a black blade with his haki. Whichever way you look at it, Roronoa Zoro pales in comparison to him right now. There is a massive gap between the two, but it'll gradually get shorter, and Zoro will likely be around his level towards the end of the series.
8 Surpassed: Cavendish
Cavendish, also known as the Pirate Prince, is one of the most ferocious swordsmen in One Piece. He carries the famed sword Durandal, using which he slices his enemies with high precision. Cavendish possesses the ability to use both busoshoku and kenbunshoku haki.
However, Zoro's Santoryu is undoubtedly superior to his swordsmanship, which is evident from the fact that Dellinger was giving him a hard time until Hakuba awakened. Cavendish may be a genius when it comes to sword fighting, but Zoro's incredible technique and haki have evolved to a level where Cavendish can't hope of reaching right now.
7 Yet To Surpass: Shanks
One of the Yonko of the sea, and the former rival of Hawkeye Mihawk, Shanks is a top-tier swordsman who wields the legendary sword Gryphon. His skills with haki and his sword are such that he became one of the emperors at just 33 years of age. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that he did it without any devil fruit, and just one arm. While Zoro is tremendously powerful, he is no more than a fly when compared to Shanks. Zoro still has ways to go until he is out in the same bracket as the red-haired emperor.
6 Surpassed: Pica
A member of the feared Donquixote Pirates of Dressrosa, Pica holds the spade seat in the pirate crew. He is also a devil fruit user and possesses the Ishi Ishi no Mi, which allows him to control any stone terrain freely. Pica's swordplay is considered elite by Doflamingo. However, he was utterly crushed by Roronoa Zoro at Dressrosa. In comparison to Zoro, his haki, along with his swordsmanship, is not impressive at all. Zoro was able to defeat the monstrous Pica without even getting so much as a scratch, and that says a lot about how far he has come over the time-skip.
5 Yet To Surpass: Shimotsuki Ryuma
Shimotsuki Ryuma is a legendary swordsman from Wano. He possessed the O Wazamono grade swords Shusui, which is considered to be the national treasure of Wano Country. Ryuma was known as sword God in his prime, and one of his multiple feats include slaying a dragon.
Under his care, Shusui was turned into a black blade, which makes him the only person other than Mihawk to turn a blade black with haki. It is easy to see that, right now, Zoro isn't anywhere close to the level of Ryuma. His haki is inferior to Ryuma's, and so is his skill.
4 Surpassed: Undead Ryuma
Ryuma was brought back to 'life' by Moria in the Thriller Bark arc of One Piece. He possessed the soul of Brook, and he even defeated him in combat several times. His skills with a sword were still incredible, despite being dead and possessing the shadow of a weaker swordsman like Brook. Roronoa Zoro clashed with him at Thriller Bark, and in an intense fight that lasted just a few minutes, Ryuma was beaten, fair and square. As a reward, undead Ryuma gave him his most prized possession, the black blade Shusui. While Zoro might've been weaker than the actual Ryuma, he was undoubtedly superior to undead Ryuma in terms of swordsmanship.
3 Yet To Surpass: Kozuki Oden
One of the former division commanders of the Whitebeard Pirates, a member of the Roger Pirates, and the daimyō of the Kuri region of Wano, Oden was an extremely skilled swordsman. He used two swords in combat, namely Enma and Ame no Habakiri, both of which belong to the O Wazamono grade of swords. Using Enma, he dealt a nasty wound to Kaido, which remains the only wound he has received to date. Without a shadow of a doubt, Kozuki Oden is superior to Zoro when it comes to swordsmanship and ryuuou usage. Of course, Zoro will surpass him in the future, though.
2 Surpassed: Basil Hawkins
Basil Hawkins, also known as 'The Magician,' is one of the members of the Worst Generation and the captain of the Hawkins Pirates. He possesses a Paramecia Devil Fruit, named Straw-Straw Fruit, which allows him to manipulate straw freely. As his primary weapon of choice, Hawkins uses a straw sword called Warabide-tō. At Wano Country, Basil Hawkins clashed with Roronoa Zoro, and put up a good fight against him. Unfortunately for him, if Zoro goes all-out, he's more than likely to lose the battle. There's no denying that Hawkins is powerful, but Zoro is more than likely to defeat him, even more so after acquiring the legendary sword Enma at Wano.
1 Yet To Surpass: Koushirou
The dojo master of the Shimotsuki Village, and the teacher of Roronoa Zoro, Koushirou is undoubtedly a strong swordsman. While we've never seen him in combat, he has enough knowledge about swords that he can train others in this art. He also holds knowledge about haki and advanced concepts such as ryuuou. Koushirou is the person who explained the concept of 'breath of all things' to Roronoa Zoro, which goes to show how much he knows about this art. He is likely a sword master, and certainly one that is stronger than Zoro at the moment.