Gerwyn Price will face Gary Anderson for first time since their infamous Grand Slam of Darts final when they meet in the US Darts Masters on Friday.
Both players negotiated their first-round matches against North American qualifiers at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino to set up an eagerly-anticipated quarter-final clash.
The Iceman battled past Gary Mawson 6-4 at the start of the night before the Flying Scotsman overcame a sloppy start to defeat Elliott Milk.
Anderson will now look to gain a small measure of revenge for what happened on that controversial night in Wolverhampton last November, when Price triumphed to claim his maiden televised title.
The Welshman's "overly aggressive" behaviour against Anderson - and also in his earlier clash with Simon Whitlock - meant he was slapped with an unprecedented £21,500 fine by the Darts Regulation Authority, which also included a three-month suspended sentence, although he is currently appealing the decision.
Anderson's withdrawal from the Premier League earlier this season due to injury as well as his subsequent lack of playing activity has meant the duo haven't collided on the oche since then.
Neither player will be particularly enthused by the form they showed in their opening round matches, however.
Price, who suffered a shock exit to Dawson Murschell in last year's edition, found himself 2-1 down early on but three legs in a row gave him a 4-2 cushion.
Mawson battled back to level - capitalising on five missed doubles in leg seven - but Price rallied to take the next two legs.
Price, who threw four 180s in an average of 94 but only hit 28.57% of his doubles, said: "I lost here in the first round last year and I really wanted to win here more than ever. I was a bit edgy.
"I wasn't at my best but I got through and I can prepare for tomorrow now."
Defending champion Anderson trailed 2-0 against his opponent - a prison warden from South Dakota - as he missed his first six darts at doubles but eventually came through by the same scoreline.
The recently-crowned World Cup of Darts champion alongside Peter Wright averaged 96 and ended up with a checkout percentage of 40% despite his poor start.
"It's been a while since I played so I'm relieved to get through," said the two-time World Champion. "It was a bit nervy and there were some good darts and some terrible darts.
"Elliot played well and he was up for it, so I'm glad to scrape through. Gerwyn's playing well so I need to score better than I did today," added Anderson. "I'm a bit rusty but I've got to work through it because it's a big day on Friday."
The winner of that quarter-final will meet either Michael van Gerwen or Michael Smith after the World Championship finalists also had to come through close battles.
The world number one had to average almost 100 and hit nearly 50% of his doubles in a 6-4 triumph over Darin Young, who thrilled the crowd with a 105 checkout in the fourth leg before going on to make MVG sweat at 4-4.
"I think I played okay, especially at the beginning of the game, but then I missed some doubles in the fourth leg and I was a little bit inconsistent," said Van Gerwen.
"I want to get my title back and I will have to play good darts on Friday, but I'm feeling good. It's always nice playing in venues like Mandalay Bay and I want to win this tournament."
Smith although breathed a sigh of relief against Canadian ace Jim Long 6-4 to set up a quarter-final clash with MVG.
At 2-2, Bully Boy was under pressure but checkouts of 126 and 131 helped move him 5-3 ahead before sealing victory after Long had forced a 10th leg.
"To get over the winning line was the main thing and it's nice to get through," said Smith. "I knew I had a tough game but the 126 saved me and I kept hold of the lead from there.
"I know my game is there but I'm trying to force it at the moment. Form can change from day to do and tomorrow's a different day."
Earlier, the 2018 runner-up Rob Cross claimed a 6-0 victory over Leonard Gates, whose only dart at a double came in the sixth and final leg.
"I'm happy with my performance," said Cross, who averaged over 101. "My finishing early on took the game away from him but he'll be better for that stage experience.
"I've had some time off recently so I wasn't sure how I was going to play and I was nervous today, but I'll be better on Friday."
Peter Wright survived a real scare to edge through a last-leg decider against Jeff Smith, averaging 93 and hitting just six of his 20 attempts at doubles.
Smith, the 2018 North American Championship winner, produced some outstanding finishing to lead 1-0 and 4-3, including combinations of 88 on the bull, 106 and 126.
Wright landed tops in leg eight to level and finished 81 to move ahead, only for six missed match darts to allow Smith in on double 16 to maintain his flawless finishing record and take the game to a decider.
The World Cup winner, though, was first to a finish and took out 67 to finally complete a hard-fought win.
"We all know Jeff is a good player, so I knew it was going to be tough when the draw came out," said Wright. "His finishing is excellent but he didn't score as well today and he let me in.
"I felt confident anyway and I wasn't worried - I always felt I would win."
Nathan Aspinall enjoyed a winning World Series of Darts debut with a 6-2 victory over Canadian Shawn Brenneman.
The UK Open champion averaged 98, hit three 180s and nailed six doubles from 11 attempts in a confident display.
"I'm a happy man," said Aspinall. "I loved it - I had a few nerves beforehand but once I got on stage I felt at home and it was a steady performance.
"I didn't know how Shawn would play but I played a solid game and came through. I'm loving being here and it's a dream come true - and I don't want it to end."
Daryl Gurney, the 2017 runner-up here, eased to a 6-1 win over Daniel Baggish, who was making his debut on the big stage.
The Northern Irishman averaged 97 and landed a high checkout of 116 in a one-sided contest.
"I'm pleased with that," said Gurney. "People were telling me that I'd drawn the most consistent player from the qualifiers, so I knew he was a good player.
"He was one of the dangers and I wasn't going to take him lightly. I was lucky in a couple of legs but it was a good win."
Thursday results & Friday schedule
Thursday July 4
First Round (Best of 11 legs)
- Gerwyn Price 6-4 Gary Mawson
- Nathan Aspinall 6-2 Shawn Brenneman
- Daryl Gurney 6-1 Daniel Baggish
- Michael Smith 6-4 Jim Long
- Rob Cross 6-0 Leonard Gates
- Gary Anderson 6-4 Elliot Milk
- Peter Wright 6-5 Jeff Smith
- Michael van Gerwen 6-4 Darin Young
Friday July 5
Quarter-Finals (Best of 15 legs)
TV Coverage: ITV4 from 8pm BST
- Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
- Gary Anderson v Gerwyn Price
- Rob Cross v Nathan Aspinall
- Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright
Semi-Finals (Best of 15 legs)
- MVG/Smith v Anderson/Price
- Cross/Aspinall v Gurney/Wright
Final (Best of 15 legs)
- Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2