January 2022 Rating List

January 2022 Rating List

NM SmarterChess

It's 2017 and Magnus Carlsen is still the world champion after defeating Karjakin in Rapid tiebreaks.  In this post we will project the World Top 10 List in January 2022.

Projection Methodology

  1. Find the World Rank and Age of a player
  2. Find 5 players with similar ranks at that age
  3. Calculate the mean and median 5-year rating change for those players
  4. Project a rating change for the player based on similar players

Falling out of the top 10

Vishy Anand (Current: 2786, Ranked 6th.  Projected: 2754)

Vishy is currently 6th in the world with a rating of 2786 at age 47.  All five comparable players to Vishy at this point in his career dropped between 20 and 40 points in the next 5 years.  His comparables are Smyslov, Karpov, Portisch, Petrosian and Spassky.

Levon Aronian (Current: 2783, Ranked 8th.  Projected: 2770, Ranked 11th)

After being the 2nd best player in the World for many years, Levon is currently sitting in the 8th position at age 34.  Similar players to Levon have all lost between 5 and 35 points over the next 5 years.  His comparables are Stein, Portisch, Hort, Bareev and Timman.  He's projected to barely fall outside the top 10.

Projected top 10 in January 2022

1. Magnus Carlsen (Current: 2839, Ranked 1st.  Projected: 2870 (+31))

At age 26 and ranked first in the World puts Magnus Carlsen in the same company as some of the greatest players of all time.  His comparables are Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, Kramnik and Anand.  Kramnik was an outlier at that age since he lost about 60 points over the same stretch.  The others all gained between 30 and 65 points.  Magnus is projected to increase his lead over the field with a very impressive 2870 rating.

2. Fabiano Caruana (Current: 2828, Ranked 2nd. Projected: 2855 (+27))

Fabiano is two years younger than Carlsen at age 24, but many of the top players didn't do quite as well between ages 24-26 as they did between 29-31.  His comparables are similar to Carlsen's with Kasparov, Kramnik, and Karpov all on the list joining Ivanchuk and Salov.  The top two players should have a rivalry for a very long time.

3. Wesley So (Current: 2816, Ranked 3rd.  Projected: 2825 (+9))

Wesley was the player of the year in 2016 and he is a year younger than Fabiano.  Being a bit younger and near the top again decreases his projected gain slightly.  His comparables are Kramnik, Ivanchuk, Anand, Karpov and Leko.  Kramnik gained 27 points, but the others all gained between 5 and 12 points.  Look for Wesley to keep climbing even after 2022.

4. Anish Giri (Current: 2772, Ranked 10th.  Projected: 2805 (+33))

Anish was recently 2nd in the World, which would have most likely improved his comparables had he stayed in that spot.  Currently sitting 10th in the World he is still expected to gain a very healthy 33 points.  His comparables (Short, Svidler, Leko, Dolmatov and Shirov) are not the same big names you see with the top 3 players, but most of them gained around 30-40 points over a 5-year period.

5. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Current: 2797, Ranked 5th.  Projected: 2803 (+6) with low confidence)

MVL is a bit older than the players above him and has the most unpredictable projection out of the top 5 players.  Some of his comparables gained 30+ points (Salov +30, Anand +65) and others lost 20+ points (Ivanchuk -21, Jussupow -35).  Bareev was the median comparable at +5 rating points.  If MVL really puts in the effort that had him sitting in the 2nd spot in the World it's very possible we see him back up to 2nd or 3rd in the World.  There's also a chance he slips down to 10th in the World similar to what happened to Aronian.

6. Vladimir Kramnik (Current: 2811, Ranked 4th.  Projected: 2800 (-11))

At age 41 Kramnik is projected to be the Vishy Anand of 2022.  He will be 46 years old and still sitting in 6th place (Anand's current position).  His comparables are some of the old greats that had long successful careers: Spassky, Tal, Polugaevsky, Portisch and Karpov.  All of the players but Karpov (+30) lost between 5 and 25 points.  Look for Kramnik to slowly slide down the list while continuing to play top-level chess.

7. Hikaru Nakamura (Current: 2781, Ranked 9th.  Projected 2796 (+15))

Hikaru is still in his 20's and should see a small rating gain over the next 5 years.  He is expected to pass Aronian and Karjakin along the way.  His comparables are Shirov, Gelfand, Timman, Topalov and Short.  He's at a spot where his comparables seemed to have extra motivation to stay in the elite group in their early 30's.

8. Sergei Karjakin (Current: 2785, Ranked 7th.  Projected 2795 (+10))

At two years Nakamura's junior, it's a bit surprising that Karjakin's comparables gained less points than Nakamura.  Look for these two to battle it out somewhere in the 5-10 ranks.  Four of Karjakin's comparables (Short, Adams, Salov and Svidler) gained 4-15 points.  His fifth comparable, Topalov, gained an incredible 44 points over the next 5 years.

9. Wei Yi (Current: 2721, Ranked 28th.  Projected 2786 (+65))

With two players falling out of the top 10 there is room for some new GM's to make their way onto the list.  17 year old Wei Yi has a list of comparables that all did very between ages 17 and 22.  Kamsky, Polgar, Grischuk, Radjabov and Leko all gained between 40 and 113 points over a 5 year stretch.  If Wei Yi makes a strong run he could find himself in the top 5 in the World in 2022.

10. Jeffery Xiong (Current: 2667, Ranked 85th.  Projected 2775 (+108))

16-year old Jeffery Xiong has had tremendous results in the past few years and is one of the World's most promising junior players.  His comparables are Grischuk, Leko, Kamsky, Ponomariov and Volokitin.  They averaged slightly over a 100 point increase between ages 16 and 21!  

A few players just missed the list.  Ian Nepomniachtchi's comparables on averaged gained about 10 points, putting him right around 2775 as well.  At age 26 though it's difficult for Ian to gain more than about 30 points over the next 5 years.  Jan-Krzysztof of Poland is 18 years old and is expected to go from 2684 --> 2714.  Yi Yangyi and Ding Liren aren't expected to top 2750, even though they are currently both in the top 25.  4 out of 5 of Ding Liren's comparables actually lost points over the next 5 years.  There is a chance though that either of them could crack the top 10 as they are both in their early 20's.

What is your projected top-10 list for 2022?