Star of the Orient Ding Junhui made two centuries in a 5-3 defeat of Gerard Greene to reach the last 16 of the Sanyuan Foods China Open.
It was a patchy performance from the Pukka Pies UK Champion but he sent a bumper crowd at the Beijing Students University Stadium home happy by setting up a second round meeting with Mark Selby or Rod Lawler.
Northern Ireland's Greene won the opening frame with a break of 73 then 22-year-old Ding took control by winning the next four with top runs of 100 and 61. He should have closed out victory in the next but played a loose positional shot from blue to pink, and Greene doubled the black for 4-2.
The weight of expectation was growing on Ding's shoulders when Greene won the next for 4-3, but the Wuxi Wonder finished in style with a superb 107.
"I felt really bad and didn't play well, especially from 4-1 to 4-3," said Ding, who won this event in 2005. "But in the last frame I focussed on every strike and just concentrated on the balls."
Betfred.com World Champion John Higgins was also not at his best, but he too battled through 5-3 against Fergal O'Brien. The Scot made 74 and 50 in going 3-1 up then O'Brien rolled in a 77 to halve the gap. The next two were shared before Higgins completed the job with a 74 to set up a match with Mark Williams.
"Iím very happy to win but there were lots if mistakes from the two of us," said Higgins. "If I play like that against Mark Iíll lose. The last time I played him here was in the final four years ago and I lost 10-9, so I owe him revenge. Thereís always pressure on your first round game so hopefully Iíll have more confidence in my next match.
"Itís tough to win two events in a row Ė Peter Ebdon beat me in the final here last year then he lost in the first round at Sheffield. I hope I have a repeat of last year, lose in the final here then win the World."
Asked for his opinion on the recently released calendar for next season, Higgins added: "I'm very happy. We want to play more snooker and we should be very busy."
Mark Allen enjoyed runs of 102, 60 and 86 in a 5-1 defeat of Graeme Dott, while Ryan Day beat Rob Milkins by the same scoreline