Defending champion Ding Junhui and world champion Mark Williams both advanced from their heldover World Open qualifying round encounters with tight deciding frame victories on Monday in Yushan.
In a busy opening day of action in China, the pair was made to work extremely hard for their places in the last 64, while there were victories elsewhere for the in-form Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski.
Ding’s last ranking event success came when he comfortably beat Kyren Wilson to lift the World Open title almost twelve months ago but, in fact, the Chinese number one has struggled to reach that kind of peak form since.
It looked as though the 31 year-old, who typically attracted a big crowd that was in stark contrast to the other sessions of snooker that were played on the first day of the competition, was heading for an early exit when veteran James Wattana reeled off three frames in succession to establish a 4-3 advantage.
However, Ding dug deep and, after forcing a decider, produced a break of 80 in the final frame to set up an intriguing clash with young countryman Yuan Sijun.
Williams required a similar path through as he also fought his way back from 4-3 down, the Crucible champion raising his game at just the right moment with breaks of 94 and 77 seeing off the spirited challenge of talented young German Lukas Kleckers in another 5-4 thriller.
It was a much easier time of it for Robertson, the Australian former world number one who began the season so brightly a couple of weeks ago by triumphing in the Riga Masters in Latvia.
Robertson compiled a brace of centuries, his ninth and tenth of the campaign so far already, in hammering Chinese wildcard He Guoqiang with a whitewash display.
Also completing their heldover fixtures were Yan Bingtao, Mike Dunn, and Ben Woollaston, with all three safely negotiating their ways into the first round proper.
But Jimmy Robertson fell in a deciding frame to local amateur Chang Bingyu while arguably the biggest upset of the day occurred when home favourite Liang Wenbo was on the other end of a 5-1 thrashing by former professional James Cahill – a top-up for this event to make up the numbers.
Meanwhile, the last 64 round action produced outcomes that were generally expected, albeit some advancing courtesy of closer shaves than others.
Riga Masters runner-up Lisowski hammered Chris Wakelin 5-0 with a trademark speedy performance that boasted runs of 115, 94, and 70 but it was much more dramatic for Stephen Maguire, Marco Fu, and Luca Brecel – who all needed the allotted nine frames to make it into the last 32.
Ali Carter was dominant as he saw off the weak challenge of Rory McLeod, while there were 5-2 victories for Barry Hawkins and Ryan Day over Akani Songsermsawad and Robbie Williams respectively.
Three-time ranking event champion Ricky Walden continued his resurgence over the last few months with a 5-3 success against Dominic Dale and there were close wins too for Fergal O’Brien, Matthew Selt, and Robert Milkins.
Among the others to advance were Gary Wilson, Jak Jones, Noppon Saengkham, and Jamie Jones – the latter recording a more than respectable 5-2 defeat of Zhou Yuelong.
The first round will reach its conclusion on Tuesday with Ding, Williams, and Robertson among those hoping to build on their opening day exploits.