Ronnie O'Sullivan last landed the world title when achieving back-to-back successes in 2012 and 2013, and the five-time champion will face Wallsend cueman Gary Wilson in his opener.
Davis, snooker's dominant figure in the 1980s, only retired a year ago during the World Championship.
Mark Selby will launch his World Championship title defence today against an opponent who was accused of playing anti-snooker to reach the Crucible.
And he revealed the extent of his distress at receiving a letter from disciplinary chiefs after he criticised a referee and photographer during January's Masters.
Wilson turned to driving taxis when the early years of his chosen career proved a struggle, but better recent fortunes have seen him able to concentrate on snooker.
O'Sullivan has deliberately and repeatedly given one-word answers to questions he has faced after matches, while in an ITV interview at the World Grand Prix in February he gave a series of responses in a robotic voice.
Moments later, a spectator in the second row, close to the players, lurched out of an ill-timed afternoon nap and loudly said: "Oh f****** hell, excuse me".
"I'm letting my lawyers sort it all out and not getting involved because I'm not being bullied or intimidated ever again". I like Barry, but I am not being intimidated any more.More news: Els on the Masters: 'This tournament was just not for me'
The Masters champion had two centuries and eight further breaks of above 50 against the debutant, but he is reluctant to open up about his matches, and revealed the reason why that is his stance.
"I need to be in the right frame of mind to have a chance". "It's all about business".
Ding, who has the one ranking tournament win to his credit this season, the Shanghai Masters, and reached the final of the International Championship, has proved an inspiration to many young Chinese.
"No disrespect to Fergal who's a great guy, but at 8-1 I was devastated when he won that frame".
A thankful White said: "I haven't won the World Championship, but I'm not finished yet".
He said: "There's so much excitement around the World Championship, it's a buzz but it can drain you being a part of it".
"I've always had the talent but maybe haven't worked quite hard enough, and combining those factors this year I've probably been achieving the results I should have been having the last five years".