Levon and Liren are the last two men standing, after six tough rounds of the KO being played in Tbilisi.
In the next four days, the two top players will play 4 standard games, with time control 90 30. Rating-wise Aronian is favorite over Ding, but we have seen so many top-seeded players surrender during the World Cup, starting from Magnus and down to all the top ten, excluding the two final contenders, that predicting the final winner is almost impossible. The World Cup format is an excellent way to show that the elite players are able to "stay elite" only because they play only elite events. Looking at the LIVE rating list makes it evident that if the so-called elite players played open tournaments, the ratings at the top would be not so monstrously inflated. All of them have lost a bunch of rating points, and all of sudden we only have two players over 2800, after months with 4-6 players in the Olympus.
Liren Ding is the first ever Chinese player to participate in the Candidates' tournament that will take place in 2018, setting an important milestone for his country.
Aronian, getting back to what was "his" position for years in the live rating list, played a fantastic match with the super-strong fFrenchman with two names, and the sportsmanship showed by Maxime after the encounter was stunning.
A refreshing "move" by the French!
And his fierce opponent didn't wait long to reply, in the same friendly and wonderful way:
Thank you brother! That’s what friends are for, to challenge one another and face the inevitable...— Levon Aronian (@LevAronian) September 21, 2017
It is always a pleasure to see two top players exchanging cordialities, even after a long, tense and nerve-wracking fight over the board.
Here is the Armageddon game that decided the match
So far, the list of the Candidates who will battle to face Magnus Carlsen in the World Championship Match is as follows:
- Sergey Karjakin (RUS)
- Levon Aronian (ARM)
- Liren Ding (CHN)
- 2 out of Mamedyarov (AZE), Grischuk (RUS), Radjabov (RUS), MVL (FRA)
- 2 out of Caruana (USA), So (USA), Kramnik (RUS)
GM Alex Yermolinsky, with his unique and intriguing style, recapped for us the semifinals, and you can watch and enjoy his fantastic video here