Mark Selby comfortably won his opening qualifying round fixture for the German Masters with a 5-0 drubbing of Sam Baird in Barnsley on Tuesday.
Selby, who has been the constant world number one ever since his 2015 triumph in Berlin, knocked in runs of 94 and 80 as he put behind him the disappointment of his early exit in the UK Championship earlier this month.
It’s been a strange enough season for the world champion so far, with an impressive defence of the International Championship sandwiched in between more mediocre displays in the majority of the other events he’s contested.
Selby will face Jamie Jones in the last 64 on Thursday in an effort to seal his spot at the Tempodrom in the new year – the German Masters representing the only tournament on the calendar that requires two preliminaries to be completed before the venue stages.
Defending champion Anthony Hamilton also moved one step nearer a return to the scene of his greatest moment in the sport, with his 2017 glory ending a long and overdue wait for a ranking title.
Hamilton won the last three frames to edge Chen Zhe 5-3 with Mitchell Mann now standing in the 46 year-old’s way of making it back to Germany.
Meanwhile, Ireland’s Josh Boileau recorded a desperately needed victory, coming from two frames adrift to pip Kurt Maflin in a decider.
It marks only the second win of the season for Boileau who, playing in his second year of two in his debut stint on the circuit, must finish this term impressively if he has any hope at all of surviving the cut.
Boileau’s countryman Fergal O’Brien, who has been struggling for a period as well, inflicted a 5-1 defeat on Akani Songsermsawad.
The Dubliner will battle with Robin Hull in the second round after the Finn caused one of the upsets of the day at the Metrodome when he ousted Paul Hunter Classic champion Michael White 5-3.
Stephen Maguire and Yan Bingtao, both runners-up in ranking events this campaign, bowed out tamely too with the Scot falling to Gary Wilson in a limp performance and 17 year-old Yan missing out against Matthew Selt.
Elsewhere, Ding Junhui narrowly avoided another headline exit as he scrambled home in a 5-4 win against Gerard Greene while former champions Mark Williams and Martin Gould advanced alongside the Chinese number one.
Ben Woollaston, David Grace, and Peter Lines were taken the distance before squeezing through but it was more straightforward for Xiao Guodong, Matthew Stevens, Yu Delu, Aditya Mehta, and Hamza Akbar – the latter enjoying a 5-1 triumph over Allan Taylor.
Among the other players to claim an opening round victory were Nigel Bond, Jimmy Robertson, Thor Chuan Leong, and Chris Totten.
The likes of Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Ken Doherty, and Jimmy White enter the fray on Wednesday.
Coverage of the German Masters qualifiers will be provided on the Eurosport Player.