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Crocodile doesn't even know the basics of Haki and was defeated by Luffy. How did such a weakling became a warlord?

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  • I wanted to say that Oda didn't even think of haki when he made that part if the manga, but then I realized haki appeared in the first few chapters when Shanks defeated the Sea king (I assume that was a Sea king).
    – Bálint
    Oct 22, 2016 at 10:59
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    Also, Buggy became a warlord too. So pretty much everyone can.
    – Bálint
    Oct 22, 2016 at 11:00
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    Devils advocate here; warlords are likely chosen for strategic and political reasons as opposed to just strength. Before revealed to be Mr 0 publicly he was portrayed as being benevolent (if I remember right). And he has at least one big secret according to Ivankov. There is a possibility he was chosen for more than just strength and we don't know the details. Nevertheless, he is not weak.
    – kaine
    Oct 23, 2016 at 11:31
  • @Bálint it was a sea king. It was brought back up that Luffy beat the same sea king when he first set off in the flashback sequence after Sabo's "event".
    – Callat
    Dec 16, 2016 at 8:00
  • Moderator's note: this question looks like asking 2 different questions: 1) How did Crocodile become a Warlord (as per title), and 2) Is Crocodile weak? (mentioned in passing). Please focus the answer on the Warlord part, not only on the weakness. Answers that only address the latter without the former may be deleted as not answering the question.
    – Aki Tanaka
    Nov 8, 2023 at 3:39

5 Answers 5

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The exact nature of how Crocodile was selected to be a Warlord is not known.

However, this is what Oda has to say about it

Similar to Luffy, back when he was young, Crocodile's name spread across the seas with incredible momentum, but soon after he was admitted into the Shichibukai in his mid-20's, he tried to fight Whitebeard and was completely and utterly crushed by him.

Source: SBS Vol. 78, Ch. 779, emphasis added


Aside from that, the following is my explanation: Crocodile was one of the strongest Warlords. He had a powerful Logia fruit with great control over its abilities. He could use its effects over large areas of land. His strength is compared to Jinbei and Ace in the Impel Down Arc.

Bartholomew Kuma, Gecko Moriah, and Jinbei may or may not have Haki.

Crocodile was one of the most important villains in the One Piece universe. He beat the protagonist not once but twice. Had an interesting power, introduced us to the Shichibukai, and created a very vast organization almost taking over a country single-handedly.

Also, I am not sure if Crocodile doesn't have Haki. He considered himself strong enough to attack Whitebeard head-on. We simply don't see him having any need for it to be used anytime he has been onscreen.

Moving out of the universe, Oda had thought of Haki before the series started, but hadn't used it before the Sky Island Arc (Mantra as Observation Haki). We have at least one clear example of this. Shanks scaring off the sea king. Mihawk may have used Observation Haki to beat the shit out of Zoro on Baratie too.

These may be the reasons that he had left them for later,

  • He was still fleshing out the idea about Haki. The three colors, their interactions, etc.
  • He saved them for the time skip region to show a clear way that our protagonists could have a major power-up. Ussop, Zoro, and Sanji after Haki are a thing to be feared as learnt by Doflamingo.
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You're missing some critical details.

Crocodile handed Luffy his very first huge loss. Luffy was at such a disadvantage against him in their first fight, through five minutes of futile attacks. If it wasn't for Robin saving him, Luffy would have been dead from impalement and being buried alive in the desert.

The second time, even when Luffy comes prepared with Crocodile's weakness, he still loses. Why? Because Crocodile was smart enough to train his power to counter its own weakness. The fact that he can absorb moisture from both humans and even the land around him to create his own personal desert just highlights how experienced he was. And once again, Luffy was brought to the brink of death.

Do you see where I'm going with this? It wasn't that Crocodile was weak, but for the purposes of the story, he couldn't keep defeating the main character over and over. The fact that it took so many times to actually succeed in the fight just goes to show how dangerous a threat he was.

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It's not really hard to understand. Crocodile was just simply strong enough to be a Shichibukai/Warlord. You can't become one unless you demonstrate your power and influence in some way (the only exception is Buggy) and that includes Crocodile. Don't let Luffy beating him fool you, Crocodile was/is still a veteran who's leagues beyond him in skill/experience like any other Shichibukai (again, excluding Buggy lol). We simply place limits on Crocodile's capabilities because he lost to Luffy but the fact is he's never shown his full strength, especially against Luffy.

He was able to directly clash with Doflamingo (resulting in a massive shockwave), tank a blow from Jozu, the physically strongest fighter on a Yonko crew, and recover immediately, he was able to party Mihawk's blade and emerge from a battle with him unscathed (whereas Luffy could only Dodge and run away from him), and he's one of the most skilled DF users with one of the deadliest DFs and knowledge (and highly likely mastery) of DF Awakenings. All these feats are a cultivation of his physical abilities, skill, and battle experience.

The problem is a fairly simpleminded segment or the OP fanbase population has gotten so caught up in the increased usage of Haki in the New World chapters that they were misled to believe any and every Logia (minus the hyped Admirals) is helpless against Haki, even a highly trained Logia like Crocodile with techniques that can counter conventional Armament Haki defenses and decades spent in Paradise/New World.

Different people have different strengths. The level of effectiveness depends on its user, whether it's relying primarily/solely on Haki, DF, etc.

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Power Scaling

I can work with the premise that Crocodile is weak, however, I would first like to point out how ridiculous the power scaling is in One Piece, because no one seems to be acknowledging that it makes the entire world nonsensical. In fact, any story that follows the Sorting Algorithm of Evil and involves the protagonists training and powering up tends to become nonsensical, often because there are no guardrails to keep everyone else in the world from getting as strong as the protagonists.

I examined Koby in this question, but let's examine another case. That would be Rebecca and her father. These two are pretty strong. They go toe-to-toe with Doflamingo's officers, so I would guess that they could curb stomp most of the early bad guys in One Piece, probably all the way up to Crocodile before they get into trouble. Heck, give them some free haki, and they might even be able to beat Crocodile and Eneru.

What did Rebecca and her father do to get so strong though? Nothing but ordinary training and fighting, as far as I could tell from their backstories. Their power is scaled up simply because the story needs them to be on the same level as Doflamingo's subordinates. This begs the question of why everyone in the East Blue doesn't just do some training and get this strong, and there's no real answer because this kind of power scaling is nonsense.

So, power scaling is nonsense. And it's a continuous process due to always needing a bad guy tougher than the last (Sorting Algorithm of Evil). That's why we get cases like Crocodile in the early series who seems to be incredibly weak when compared to characters later in the series like Doflamingo and Whitebeard, etc.

Justifying Crocodile Being a Warlord Despite Being Weak is Easy

With all that being said, there's a very easy explanation for why Crocodile would be a warlord even though he's so weak. He's stationed at the beginning of the Grand Line, and he's knocking out all the rookie pirates before they get too strong. As Rayleigh would say, he's nipping all those buds before they sprout. And since the power scaling works the way it does in this world, Crocodile is an invaluable warlord for stomping out threats early on.

There's proof of this claim, of course. Initially, the people of Alabasta view him as a hero for protecting them from pirates. So he is indeed fulfilling his warlord obligations to the World Government.

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Shichibukai is not selected based on strength, like a bounty, it is determined by how big the threat posed by the pirates. For example, Buggy is not that strong, but he has control over the dangerous pirates who are free from Impel Down.

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