Ding is amazingly strong. He suffered during COVID from Chinese travel restrictions and I would chalk yesterday up to rust. I still expect a dog fight.I've just been assuming that Nepo was a foregone conclusion. As rough as the last one was for him, I just don't think there's any substitute for the experience that he got. There were some epic games in a championship environment against the best player in the world. There were two ways he could have gone -- he could have folded and decided that it just wasn't worth the effort of getting back up to the top or he could have doubled his efforts.
Once he blitzed through the candidates, it was clear that it was his to lose. Even if Carlsen had played I think Nepo would have had a decent chance. He was just super motivated to get back.
Ding admitted after game 1 that his mind wasn't right. I think he's completely fucked. Wouldn't be surprised if this were over by game 12.