Note that the above question asks who will be in not who should be.
There is no should be when it comes to the Premier League. It’s Barry Hearn’s event and he can invite whoever he likes. He shouldn’t have to adhere to any criteria other than what is best for Matchroom.
(I point this out only because it’s amazing how many people in snooker get caught up in the phoney concept of ‘fairness.’ A governing body has to be fair; an independent promoter does not.)
We know Ronnie O’Sullivan, as defending champion, and Judd Trump, winner of the qualifying tournament, the Championship League, will be among the seven man field.
Hearn knows that having the world champion in the event will give it credibility, so John Higgins will also take part.
To facilitate TV sales to Asia, one of Ding Junhui, Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo can expect a call up.
Ding has taken part the last few years but has not too well of late and Fu is now Asia’s top ranked player, which may enhance his chances.
Fu also has an excellent record against the likes of O’Sullivan and Higgins and is a former champion.
Liang would bring his entertaining brand of snooker to the Premier League and would not struggle with the 25-second shot clock.
So that’s four spots taken care of, what of the other three?
Steve Davis has already been told he won’t be in the field for the first time since the Premier League began – as the Matchroom League – in 1987.
However, I’d expect Hearn to invite Stephen Hendry once again as his presence adds prestige to the tournament.
I expect the remaining two spots to be filled by two of the following: Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy, Neil Robertson, Ali Carter and Mark Allen.
Robertson’s great plus is that he is Australian and so may bring in extra TV revenue down under.
Selby was runner-up to O’Sullivan last season and has become one of the modern game’s most popular players.
Murphy is UK champion and was World Championship runner-up and so would bring an extra edge of credibility to the event.
Carter had an excellent year, finishing runner-up to O’Sullivan at the Crucible in 2008 and winning his first ranking title, the Welsh Open, last February.
Allen brought his bustling, exciting, pumped up form of snooker to the World Championship and reached the semi-finals.
So some excellent candidates but only seven places.
One thing the Premier League could do is have two groups of five with the top two from each going through to the semi-finals, which would actually mean one less match.
This is unlikely to happen and I understand the final seven will be announced within the next few weeks for the competition which starts in September.
But to return to the first point I made: whatever Hearn decides, nobody can complain.
It’s his event and he can pick whoever he likes.