Ding Junhui delighted the home crowd at the Haikou Open by beating Michael Holt 5-4 in a final-frame decider to reach the second round.
The Chinese favourite led 2-0, 3-2 and 4-3 but was made to battle all the way by the world number 27 before getting over the line with a 50 break in the ninth frame.
The home favourite looked in top form early in the match as breaks of 76 and 95 saw him quickly open up a lead.
Having been pegged back to 2-2 and then 3-3, a poor positional shot by Holt allowed Ding to make 65 starting with a double, but a break of 99 for Holt took the match to a decider.
Holt was unlucky not to leave the balls safe after missing a long red, but was punished after missing an easy red and then a plant from distance as Ding wrapped up a 5-4 win.
The result thrilled the hitherto sparse and quiet crowd at the venue on Hainan Island - and they could be rewarded with a clash between Ding and Marco Fu, two of the biggest players to emerge from the east in recent years, should the Hong Kong player beat Mark Williams.
There was no such joy for Ding's 15-year-old compatriot Lu Haotian, who was beaten 5-0 by world number two Mark Selby.
The reigning UK and Masters champion went 3-0 up with breaks of 52, 48 and 69 and then took the fourth frame with a composed 73 after Lu had been first in with 64.
A 57 and an exhibition clearance of 73 rubber-stamped Selby's passage to the last 16 where he will face Barry Hawkins, his conqueror at last year's World Championship.
Hawkins made breaks of 60, 93 and 112 in beating Ian Burns 5-1, while Nigel Bond received a bye after Ali Carter's withdrawal due to a recurrence of his Crohn's disease.