Ding Junhui held firm against a spirited Mark King fightback to win their World Championship opener in a deciding frame.
The Chinese had to fight all the way to the line, eventually potting an excellent mid-range red before taking care of the colours required to avoid disaster in a 10-9 win.
King had fought back from 9-7 behind to force a decider and had his chances, but a difficult black went begging and from there it was a question of who would take their chance when it came.
In the end it was Ding, winner of the UK Championship prior to Christmas, and he could face Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round.
Afterwards, the former finalist, who withdrew from the Tour Championships in June over coronavirus fears, said he never considered pulling out of the Crucible - unlike over a dozen of his Chinese contemporaries.
"I wasn't going to pull out," said Ding. "The last tournament in June was too early for me, but I made the decision for the worlds and I practised for a month to get ready.
"I am feeling good and I am hitting the ball well, but it is difficult to play in the summer with this humidity. But I did not fear that I was going to lose this match."
Mark Williams won seven frames in a row to turn a 5-3 deficit into a convincing 10-5 victory over Alan McManus.
The Welshman took a tense ninth frame at the end of the opening session to reduce the deficit to one, and from that moment was far too good for his opponent, who had impressed in qualifying.
Six half-century breaks were enough for Williams in a match which rather petered out having promised plenty heading into Saturday night's final session.
Williams said: "After my 2018 win I've got nothing to prove to anyone. Those so-called doubters out there can't doubt me any more.
"I'm just going to enjoy it however far I get, and whatever happens it won't be for a lack of trying."
Stuart Bingham withstood a late fightback from Ashley Carty to book his place in the second round of the World Snooker Championship
Resuming 5-4 ahead, former world champion Bingham rattled in a clearance of 109 in the opening frame to move two clear.
He potted 12 reds and 12 blacks in the next with a maximum on the cards until a missed long red ended the break on 96.
Bingham eased into an 8-4 lead with Carty yet to pot a ball and a break of 58 left the 2015 champion one frame from a place in the second round.
A break of 83 finally got Carty on the board before a simple missed green by Bingham allowed the rookie to make it 9-6.
Then Bingham was frustrated by a black which looked destined for the corner pocket only to roll away as Carty closed the gap to two.
Carty got in first in the next but his positional play let him down and Bingham mopped up with a break of 82 to complete a 10-7 victory.
Bingham confessed that as Carty fought back, his mind wandered to last year, and a 10-9 victory over Graeme Dott - against whom he'd led 8-1 before being taken the distance.
“I felt great at 9-4 at the interval,” said 44-year-old Bingham. “I took my foot off the gas and memories of the Dott match started coming back. I threw my arm at a few shots and Ashley started playing well, so I was happy to finish it with a nice break in the end.”
As for the maximum attempt, the 2015 world champion confessed that bagging one at the Crucible is high on his list of things still to accomplish in the game.
"It’s definitely on my bucket list to make a max here," he added.
"The thoughts came in and the adrenaline was kicking in, even with no one here! I was dying to make it and punch the air, so I’m gutted as I felt I had a really good chance.
"I’m always determined whatever tournament it is - I've obviously got some special memories here, and I’m looking forward to hopefully having a run."
On the other table, impressive qualifier Kurt Maflin leads David Gilbert 5-4 as the theme of each match so far heading into the final session as close as it can be continued.
Gilbert, a beaten semi-finalist last year, did well to keep tabs on the Norwegian and a 131 break kept him within one heading into the final session, after Maflin himself had bagged a pair of centuries in a quality encounter.
Four-time champion John Higgins won four frames in succession to establish a 6-3 lead over Matthew Stevens at the end of the opening session of their first-round clash.