My take on how the power scaling works in One Piece. I’m gonna use Databook, Manga and common sense to explain to you why the Fleet Admiral + 3 Admirals are as strong as the 4 Emperors individually.
In the end i am also going into detail about the Marineford War and the Admirals’ individual fights against Whitebeard.
First off the word Yonko means “Four Emperors”. This is important because many people don’t know this. In One Piece Databook Green “Secret Pieces” it is stated that Yonko = Marine Headquarters + Shichibukai, this means that the 4 Emperors + their Crews + all of their allied units are equal to all the Navy has to offer + the Shichibukai. The reason for this is that, when they said it is going to be war against Whitebeard, the only one they mentioned was Whitebeard himself. But obviously it was not only Whitebeard who showed up, but also his crew and all of his allies. This means within the word Yonko, the crews as well as the allied units are included by default.
In One Piece chapter 432 Garp states that the Yonkos are the most powerful and also most influential pirates in the world and the Navy are allied with the Shichibukai in order to counterbalance their power.
So you can see, that it is not only the Yonko’s individual strength that they are worried about but also their influence within the whole world, especially in the world of pirates. This further proves that the word “Yonko” itself includes, not only the individual pirate captain standing behind it but everything he has to offer in an all out war, if it would come to it.
I’m now going to explain why the Navy needs the Shichibukai and why the Shichibukai’s existence does not mean that the Admirals are individually weaker than the Yonko. If you look at Whitebeard’s allied forces at the Marineford War you could clearly see, if all of the Yonko would team up, their combined military power would far exceed the Navy’s by sheer force of numbers, hence why the Navy needs the Shichibukai in order to balance things out. But by the fact that the Shichibukai consist of fighters like Buggy, Hancock, Crocodile who got defeated by Pre Timeskip Luffy, Kuma or even Jinbe, most of whom, even so some might be pretty powerful, are not even anywhere near the Yonko’s commanders in terms of strength, it is very doubtful that they will be much of a help when it comes down to one individual of the Yonko themselves, except of Mihawk.
But by going with what i said prior, Mihawk will already have his hands full dealing with the overwhelming numbers of strong pirates the Yonko have to offer. So what I am trying to say right now is that the powerscale works exactly like the numbers say, we’ve got 3 Admirals + 1 Fleet Admiral and we’ve got 4 Pirate Captains, these are supposed to play in the same league and both fractions have a 50/50 chance of winning a battle against the other. The Shichibukai are there to make up for the missing numbers on the Navy’s side and kind of act like another Yonko crew on their own, with Mihawk being the captain and the others being the commanders. Though in their case they are still missing many more crewmembers and also allied forces, which means it only comes down to their respective individual capabilities.
Now I am going to explain the Whitebeard vs Admirals scenario. First off I am still going by the manga here so if you’ve only seen the anime, you have no way of knowing how strong the Admirals actually are, since the anime did a really bad job at following the manga. I would highly recommend to anyone, who hasn’t done this already, to read the Marineford War in the manga, so you can see for yourselves what actually went down.
The first battle we’ve seen was Aokiji vs Whitebeard.
This one ended in both being uninjured but Whitebeard had to be protected by Jozu, in order for Whitebeard to not get injured by an Admiral. If Jozu had not interfered in the end, Whitebeard would’ve been pierced by Ice Spears. So this short fight portrayed Aokiji as, at least in this battle, having the upper hand against Whitebeard.
The next fight was between Kizaru and Whitebeard.
The first attack of Kizaru which was even before Aokiji vs Whitebeard, was blocked by Marco. The next encounter between Whitebeard and Kizaru ended in Whitebeard getting holes blasted through him, while Kizaru was still casual and basically just toying with him. So this battle portrayed/showed Kizaru as actually being highly superior to Whitebeard in battle.
Now to the real battle between Akainu and Whitebeard and the reason for why so many people believe Whitebeard or Yonko are stronger than the Admirals.
Akainu’s first encounter with Whitebeard, which was a fair 1v1, started off with an exchange of blows, that resulted in a stalemate. Right here was an equal portrayal of physical power between both of them. Their first encounter ended with Whitebeard, after his heart attack, on his knees with a burning hole in his chest. Also wanna point out that you could see this as a cheap-shot by Akainu, though Whitebeard did the exact same in their next encounter, which means you either claim both did a cheap-shot or both didn’t. On top of it Akainu backed off after this, even so he had the chance to finish Whitebeard off, but apparently chose not to do so. Coming to their second encounter. This started off by plot enraged Whitebeard jumping Akainu from behind, striking him with a full powered quake blow to the back of his head, which was retaliated by Akainu immediately after by almost taking off Whitebeard’s entire head. The battle ended with Akainu getting hit with a quake to his ribs while he was still in midair and falling into the fissure that opened up below him. (In the anime it is portrayed as Akainu being incapacitated and sliding down the ground, until he falls into the fissure, in the manga though you can clearly see that Akainu simply had no footing and he did not fall onto the ground, instead he straight fell into the fissure with the ground collapsing below him)
Also I want to add in favor of the Admirals that they never had any kind of outside help unlike Whitebeard who was constantly protected by his crew.
Last but not least I want to point out that i do know that Whitebeard was old and ill, BUT people like to bring this up in order to make up excuses for why Whitebeard actually was stronger than them but this was plainly not the case. Whitebeard was outclassed in his fights against Aokiji and Kizaru rather easily. It was just when he caught Akainu from behind that he become troublesome to an Admiral, but even so Akainu in the end was still up to fight the entirety of the Whitebeard Pirates only by himself and even made them retreat with only fodder marines as his backup.
*Theory by scoobie33