Now Carlsen has permanently secured a Fischer-esque "what-if" status in this World Championship cycle, without having had to risk anything against the veterans that have been giving him a few too many whuppings lately.
It's a brilliant career move, but dang if it ain't annoying for chess fans.
Of course, it might all just be part of the negotiation process. Who's to say at this point?
That all being said, I think his queasiness with the WC cycle is justified.
Why not take the top 4, 8, or 16 rated active players, match them up randomly in slow-time-control mini-matches, and have the last two GMs standing face it off in an old-timey classical match? I'm partial to the 'first to X wins' rules in such a situation myself, but that's as a bloodthirsty fan, not as a participant.
The pace and gigantic scope of our current KO system is just all wrong. And, like in the World Cup, I agree that I would love to see even the champions start at the bottom and fight their way up.