Not sure how anyone can read the Shanks scene and say he's not another competitor/antagonist and using Luffy for something.
The flashback very purposefully shows he took that fruit for a reason and "influenced" Luffy into becoming a Pirate (even Garp hates Shanks for this). The smile when he gets his arm cut off, implying that he made Luffy believe he owes him an unrepayable debt for saving his life.
Then the comments about Barto and the fucking last page and panels with Beckman. Like.... idk how clear this is meant to get, but when you combine all of this with his apparent advanced knowledge about Nika and relationship with the Gorosei....it knocks on a very particular door.
So.....with Shanks deciding to legit go after the One Piece, it kinda increases the odds of Mihawk joining him.
This theory always lacked a motive for this "co-op" happening, but since Shanks now has a goal, recruiting Mihawk, who's no longer a Shichibukai, could be an extremely powerful move.
Since a possible future scenario of SHP vs RHP is massive in terms of significance for the story, having the Zoro vs Mihawk duel there could be a most worthy stage for it to happen.
It could also catapult Shanks as the "last boss", unless we think Zoro will fight a swordsman stronger than Mihawk, if that was the case.
Kinda hyped to see where we are going, especially because it's all about the "main" antagonists now.
Goat Piece greatness is back.
Imo, it doesn't have to be that deep with him and Mihawk. All Mihawk needs to do is sense that Shanks and Luffy are on a collision course and use that event to clash with Zoro.
Mihawk will 100% be involved in the endgame, and it becomes increasingly clear that he fits with no other group in the story, save for his former rival, especially considering Beckman is evidently not a swordsman or sword user, which is 100% of all of Zoro's opponents.