Premier League players leaked

There has been a fair bit of speculation regarding the identities of the  seven players who will be competing in the Premier League next season but according to the official website of Ronnie O’Sullivan at least, the places have now been allocated…

To view the information directly, please click here to see Ronnie’s schedule.

So who do we have?

As defending champion and world number one, Ronnie O’Sullivan was of course sure to return in pursuit of his ninth Premier League title, as was world champion John Higgins who made the final back in 2007. Add to that Championship League winner Judd Trump and that left just four spots up for grabs as Matchroom looked to complete their line-up.

It was always likely that one of Marco Fu and Ding Junhui would be selected in order to take advantage of the popularity of the sport over in China and it turns out Matchroom have gone for Marco Fu. I am slightly surprised at this as despite Ding’s poor form recently, I thought that his attacking style would swing it in his favour. It is hard to argue against Marco’s inclusion though as up to career high rank of number eight and having last season reached the UK Championship final for the first time, he is clearly in the better form at the moment.Though he is a former winner of the event back in 2003, this is only the second time that he will have played under the shot clock and the first since 2005, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to that.

The next man confirmed however is no stranger to the competition as six-time champion Stephen Hendry returns for another crack at the title. Although he did not enjoy the best of seasons last year, he is still capable of playing to a very good standard as he showed at the World Championship recently and as one of the all-time great players, he is still sure to bring the crowds in which is inevitably going to be a consideration for the organisers.

Next up is UK Champion and recent World Championship finalist Shaun Murphy who despite his success I did not really expect to be selected, but given his results you cannot argue against it. With his attacking style and excellent long-potting, he will be hoping to do better than his last attempt at the competition back in 2005 when he exited in the group stages.

Finally we have the man who Murphy beat in the semi-finals at Sheffield, Australia’s Neil Robertson. His last shot at the Premier League title came in 2007 but he never seemed to get to grips with the competition and finished bottom of his group as a result. Hopefully he will have learned from the experience and be able to perform to a higher standard this time.

This means that surprisingly for me, last year’s finalist Mark Selby will not be back again to try and go one step further, despite topping the league table last season. Based on his form in the ranking events compared to the other players selected (with the exception of Hendry), it is hard to argue too much against his exclusion but even so I still expected them to find a space for him.

Otherwise Mark Allen misses out though he was always going to be a long shot, as does world number two Stephen Maguire who also endured a mixed season. Also of course Welsh Open champion Ali Carter has missed out which again is perhaps slightly surprising, though inevitably with the quality in the top 16 at the moment, some big names were always going to miss out.

Despite the absences it is an excellent line-up once again, but will anyone be able to end O’Sullivan’s winning run?