Mark Selby survived a scare before advancing to the second round of the Snooker Shoot Out with a 41-31 win over Billy Joe Castle.
With Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan electing not to play in the event, Selby arrived at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as the highest-ranked player in the tournament.
The signs were not positive early on for the world number four, as he missed a red by so far it barely hit the jaws of the bottom-right pocket.
'Nearly took my head off' - Selby takes positives from Crucible after run-in with pigeon
- Evans: Snooker Shoot Out the perfect stage for women
- Imperious Trump has a taste for winning - O'Sullivan
- Snooker Shoot Out 2021: Draw, schedule and latest results
"He’s one of the great players in the game, but he’s a bit twitchy here,” Eurosport’s Neal Foulds said of Selby.
His miss gave Castle a chance and he compiled a break of 31, only to miss a tough black.
In the rapid-fire format, 31 is a decent advantage but Selby was able to get his hand on the table to edge himself in front and his crafty safety play was enough to ensure Castle did not cause an upset.
When asked for his views on the quick nature of the game, Selby said:
The first five minutes is not too bad. It sounds quick, but if you think clever and get round to the cue ball in plenty of time it is okay.
“When it got to the second five minutes of 10 seconds, I did find the beeps on me before I knew it so you do find yourself jumping a little bit.”
Stuart Bingham was the highest-profile casualty of the opening day, as he fell to a 54-1 defeat to Rory McLeod. The world number 13 could never recover from falling behind early in the frame, and departs in the first round.
Shaun Murphy made a solid start to the event by beating Luca Brecel 65-10. The Belgian was one of the toughest opponents a player could get in the first round, but Murphy took his chances to advance in good fashion.
'I've not been a fan' - Allen not impressed with Shoot Out despite record break
Robert Milkins has form in the Shoot Out, having been a finalist in 2011 and a quarter-finalist in 2016, and he made a bright start with an 86-0 win over Anthony Hamilton.
David Gilbert survived a scare to beat Lei Peifan 27-24. His opponent got to the table late in the contest and was on a decent break, but he ran out of time.
'You know Ronnie pays the price' – Davis on why O'Sullivan is the 'yardstick'
Yan Bingtao produces battling display to beat Selby in record-breaking match