Ronnie O'Sullivan has told snooker's straight men to lighten up or risk sending the Crucible crowds to sleep.

The defending champion and firm favourite to land the World Championship title has been handed a first-round assignment against Finland's Robin Hull, the world number 122.

O'Sullivan urged his poker-faced title rivals to show their human side during the 17-day tournament.

"I think people would maybe watch it a little bit more if there was more of an effort to play attractive snooker,” O’Sullivan said. “But people play the way they play to get a result, no matter what.

"I always believe we are in the entertainment business. It is important for people to leave a match thinking it was good, and want to come back again. The fans are buying tickets to be entertained, not to be bored."

"If I have 10 minutes left to live, I won't be thinking: 'I wished I'd won more world titles'" - Ronnie O'Sullivan

Five-time champion O'Sullivan accepts a large burden will fall on him in Sheffield to win matches in a swashbuckling manner and keep snooker in the spotlight.

He said in a Eurosport blog: "I know there are expectations on my shoulders. People want to see me do well, but it is tough because sometimes you are up against guys who are really top players.

"You feel the weight of expectation, and if you don't do it, you feel their disappointment. It can be tough, but you know you make a lot of people happy if you can win a few matches.

"I think the longer I've gone on in my career, I'm not so hard on myself when I lose because I've won a few trophies. If I have 10 minutes left to live, I won't be thinking: 'I wished I'd won more world titles."'

China's Ding Junhui begins his bid for a record sixth ranking title in the same season by playing English qualifier Michael Wasley. Another English qualifier, Robbie Williams, starts against Australia's 2010 champion Neil Robertson.

Alan McManus landed the draw he wanted as the veteran Scot, who knocked out two-time world champion Mark Williams in the qualifiers, was paired with compatriot and four-time champion John Higgins.

Judd Trump starts against Leicester's Tom Ford, Mark Selby has a testing-looking opener against Welsh youngster Michael White, who reached the quarter-finals last year, and 2013 runner-up Barry Hawkins faces an opener against David Gilbert.