Who is Ready to Challenge (and beat!) Magnus Carlsen?
The World Championship Candidates/Championship competition is coming up in 2018! We do not even know who has clinched their seats into the Candidates tournament (well, except Karjakin for his efforts to win the 2016 Candidates), this is early, though we will look at who is likely (and not) to be able to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the throne... AND beat him.
Winning the Candidates is one thing, though defeating Magnus is another. You may disagree with my rankings, I may disagree with your opinion! Enjoy!
#5: Vladimir Kramnik
Vladimir Kramnik, despite his age, has proven he can still play with the elite and stay within the top. Though his win against Kasparov in 2000 may be his last time dethroning a champion, hey, Big Vlad knows how to beat Magnus...
#4: Fabiano Caruana
Fabiano has been impressive in that he is able (like Kramnik) to stay within the 2800 range, and has spent quality time in the world #2 spot. And he was a game away from challenging Magnus last year... you can't really get wrong with that. Why is he not ranked higher on my priority list? Fabiano this year has been a sitting duck for lower rated players to gain points on like GMs Nigel Short and Hou Yifan... oh, and just look at his most recent US Championships... ugh.
#3: Shakhiyar Mamedyarov
New member of the 2800 club (OK, he did recently drop a couple), Shak has proven a consistent and worthy player within the top 5-10 in the world... and I don't think he is done yet. What do I mean by consistent and worthy? Mamedyarov this year boasts 13 wins versus 2 losses in classical play. Not bad.
#2: Levon Aronian
I have no doubt Levon Aronian can win the Candidates competition, and if he does, his match against Magnus will be worth tuning in! Aronian and Magnus have played exactly 50 times in classical time controls (according to 2700chess.com), and they post a score of 13-11 in Magnus' favor (the rest draws). If Levon plays solidly in the Candidates tournament, I don't see too much that can stop him from challenging Magnus and giving him a fight.
#1: Wesley So
Absolutely no question. 60+ classical games without losing (almost a year!). Undisputed USA #1, and he knows how to win tournaments! Just get some wins against Magnus in classical play, and we're on!
Also considered: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Karjakin
While MVL was hot last year, he does not have very many tournament wins in his resume. Anand is no stranger to World Championship matches, and Sergey proved defeating Magnus is not out of reach.
Sorry, maybe next time: Hikaru Nakamura, Anish Giri, Ding Liren
I know... this sounds harsh, but Nakamura first has to stop losing to his countrymen, and then maybe prove he's worth something to Magnus. If the World Championships is 1/0 bullet? Different story. I don't believe Ding Liren is ready to face let alone beat Magnus for the title and Anish just draws too much!
Hope you enjoyed. Let me know your opinion or any other thoughts in the comments section!