Ronnie O'Sullivan last landed the world title when achieving back-to-back successes in 2012 and 2013, and the five-time victor will face Wallsend cueman Gary Wilson in his opener.
Runs of 62, 61, and 56 helped him to force a dramatic decider which broke the record for the longest in snooker history.
The pace of play was diabolical from pretty much start to finish, and it wasn't me.
Selby said: "Coming into the Worlds this year having won four ranking events, you could say I'm in the form of my life".
"It's wonderfully British and weird in today's world", Hearn added, "that in a time when everything's about money - and I'm the biggest exponent of that - and everything gets bigger and bigger, we come to Sheffield, at a venue with less than a thousand people and semi-finals that last three days".
Wilson said: "Playing Ronnie, it is a great draw for me".
Mark Selby will launch his Betfred World Championship title defence against Dubliner Fergal O'Brien tomorrow while Antrim's Mark Allen opens against Jimmy Robertson on Sunday and Monday, both sessions at 7.00pm.
"I have been to watch and you feel you can reach out and touch the players in the first two rows".
The already-infamous frame took 44 seconds longer than the current men's marathon world record.
"But I've always dreamed about playing there one day". "A two table set-up and old guys sitting round in chairs!"
Four-time champion John Higgins plays the unsafe Martin Gould, while the strongly fancied Judd Trump, the 2011 runner-up, has veteran Rory McLeod in the first round.
One of the highlights of the first round is the all Chinese encounter between Ding Junhui, last year's runner-up, and 19-year-old Zhou Yuelong.
Chinese 17-year-old Yan Bingtao became the first player born this century to earn an appearance, with a 10-4 win over Swiss Alexander Ursenbacher.
Graeme Dott, the 2006 world champion, recovered from 4-0 down to beat Jamie Jones of Wales 10-8, while fellow Scot Stephen Maguire defeated China's Li Hang 10-5.
"You're dreading making a mistake on one of the colours that could lose you the match and haunt you again for another year".