Rob Cross set up a battle of former World Champions with Michael van Gerwen at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy as the year's second European Tour event began on Friday.
Cross was pushed all the way by emerging Hungarian thrower Patrik Kovacs at the Europa Sports Park before taking a 6-4 first round win in the £140,000 event.
The 2018 World Champion had found himself 4-3 down before levelling with a 152 finish, capitalising on missed doubles from Kovacs to move 5-4 up and then firing in an 11-darter to secure a second round tie with Van Gerwen.
"There's a lot more left in the tank and it will have to come out tomorrow," said Cross. "Michael's a great player but if I come out and I play, Michael will have to play well."
Kim Huybrechts was the day's most impressive performer as he began his bid to win a first European Tour title for six years with a 105 average in a 6-2 defeat of Russia's Boris Koltsov.
Callan Rydz also recorded a ton-plus average and finished six doubles from eight attempts as he defeated Host Nation Qualifier Justin Hewitt 6-1 to move through to a tie with Peter Wright.
All four Gibraltarian representatives were eliminated on day one, as Dyson Parody went down 6-4 to Kenny Neyens, Adam Smith-Neale overcame Justin Broton 6-1 and Mervyn King whitewashed teenage prospect Craig Galliano.
Recent World Cup of Darts winner John Henderson was brought back to earth with a bump as Croatia's Boris Krcmar averaged almost 98 in his 6-2 win over the Scottish ace, creating a tasty round two tie with UK Open champion James Wade.
Germany's Florian Hempel produced an 11-darter to win the deciding leg of his tie with Stephen Bunting, and he now meets Gerwyn Price in Saturday's second round as the 16 seeded players enter the action.
Top seed Joe Cullen will play Joe Murnan, who survived four missed match darts from Martijn Kleermaker in the deciding leg of their first round tie.
Simon Whitlock's 6-1 win over Wayne Jones set him up for a meeting with Michael Smith, while Ryan Searle came from 5-2 down and survived four missed match darts from Martin Schindler to create a tie with Krzysztof Ratajski - the 2019 Gibraltar Darts Trophy winner.
German number one Gabriel Clemens came from 2-0 down to defeat UK Open runner-up Luke Humphries 6-4, creating a meeting on Saturday with South African star Devon Petersen.
Ritchie Edhouse plays Nathan Aspinall following his 6-4 defeat of Steve Beaton, while Adam Hunt's whitewash of Geert Nentjes set up a meeting with Australia's Damon Heta.
Sweden's Andreas Harrysson takes on Danny Noppert after seeing off Irish teenager Keane Barry 6-3, while Ted Evetts survived five missed match darts from Ryan Murray before taking out 108 in the deciding leg of their clash.
The Gibraltar Darts Trophy is being streamed through PDCTV and bookmakers' websites worldwide.
2021 Gibraltar Darts Trophy
Friday September 24
Andreas Harrysson 6-3 Keane Barry
Joe Murnan 6-5 Martijn Kleermaker
Adam Hunt 6-0 Geert Nentjes
Adam Smith-Neale 6-1 Justin Broton
Ted Evetts 6-5 Ryan Murray
Rob Cross 6-4 Patrik Kovacs
Boris Krcmar 6-2 John Henderson
Mervyn King 6-0 Craig Galliano
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Florian Hempel 6-5 Stephen Bunting
Kenny Neyens 6-4 Dyson Parody
Ryan Searle 6-5 Martin Schindler
Simon Whitlock 6-1 Wayne Jones
Kim Huybrechts 6-2 Boris Koltsov
Callan Rydz 6-1 Justin Hewitt
Ritchie Edhouse 6-4 Steve Beaton
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Luke Humphries
Saturday September 25
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Ted Evetts
Brendan Dolan v Mervyn King
Danny Noppert v Andreas Harrysson
Damon Heta v Adam Hunt
Mensur Suljovic v Kim Huybrechts
Michael Smith v Simon Whitlock
James Wade v Boris Krcmar
Krzysztof Ratajski v Ryan Searle
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Jonny Clayton v Adam Smith-Neale
Jose de Sousa v Kenny Neyens
Devon Petersen v Gabriel Clemens
Peter Wright v Callan Rydz
Gerwyn Price v Florian Hempel
Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
Joe Cullen v Joe Murnan
Nathan Aspinall v Ritchie Edhouse
All games up to, and including, the quarter-finals, are the best of 11 legs. The semi-finals are the best of 13 legs and the final is the best of 15 legs.
Sunday's games played in Draw Bracket order.
Winner - £25,000
Runner-up - £10,000
Semi-Finalists - £6,500
Quarter-Finalists - £5,000
Last 16 - £3,000
Last 32 - £2,000
Last 48 - £1,000
Total - £140,000