Raymond van Barneveld showed his class with a fine victory over home hope Liam Maendl-Lawrence at the Interwetten European Darts Grand Prix as the Sindelfingen event began on Friday.
Van Barneveld claimed his only European Tour title 11 years ago in Germany, but opened his bid for a second success on the circuit with a stirring comeback against the emerging German.
Maendl-Lawrence led 2-0 and took out 100 for a 12-darter to move 3-1 up, but Van Barneveld responded in style with five straight legs, including a ton finish of his own, to sweep to victory.
Van Barneveld ended the tie with a 98.11 average and six doubles from ten attempts to move through to a tie with UK Open champion Andrew Gilding on Saturday.
Another former European Tour winner, Krzysztof Ratajski, will meet Dimitri Van den Bergh in round two after a superb 6-3 win over Graham Usher.
The Polish number one ended the contest with a 107 average and reeled off legs of 14, 12, 14 and 11 darts in turning around a 3-2 deficit to race to victory.
Gabriel Clemens fended off a late fightback from Lee Evans to set up a blockbuster all-German showdown against Martin Schindler on Saturday, closing out a 6-4 success having raced into a 5-0 lead.
Veteran star Steve Beaton - who tasted European Tour glory in Sindelfingen a decade ago - will now meet European Champion Ross Smith following his narrow 6-5 win over Ricardo Pietreczko, who levelled three times before missing out in a deciding leg.
Masters champion Chris Dobey, who received a late call-up when Ryan Joyce was ruled out through illness, overcame Graham Hall 6-4 as he set up a showdown with top seed Luke Humphries on Saturday evening.
Ricky Evans landed six 180s and hit checkouts of 154, 113 and 122 in his excellent 6-3 win over Ian White, setting up a clash with Premier League runner-up Gerwyn Price on Saturday.
Scotland's Ross Montgomery also fired in three ton-plus checkouts as he defeated Finland's Marko Kantele 6-4, following up earlier 119 and 120 combinations with a match-clinching 161 finish.
Former World Youth Champion Keegan Brown set up a second round meeting with the current incumbent, Josh Rock, courtesy of a 6-3 win over Swiss debutant Marcel Walpen.
Dutch giant Martijn Kleermaker produced legs of 11, 12 and 13 darts and a 152 checkout as he averaged almost 99 in a 6-4 win over Alan Soutar, moving him through to a clash with Rob Cross on Saturday.
Ritchie Edhouse came from 5-0 down to force a deciding leg against Madars Razma, but paid for missing a match dart at tops as the Latvian returned to finally seal victory with a third-dart double seven and move through to play Ryan Searle.
Gian van Veen will meet Danny Noppert following his narrow victory in a high-class opener with another Dutchman, Jermaine Wattimena - who averaged 101 but saw the youngster claim a deciding-leg win.
German youngster Pascal Rupprecht hit back from 5-4 down to claim a deciding-leg victory against Christian Kist, setting up a tasty second round tie with third seed Dave Chisnall.
Jose de Sousa survived a missed match dart from Nico Kurz, who wired the bull in the deciding leg, as the Portuguese star landed a third-dart double ten to progress to a second round date with Nathan Aspinall.
Adam Smith-Neale will play World Cup winner Damon Heta on Saturday after producing four ton-plus finishes in his narrow 6-5 win over Czech ace Roman Benecky.
Daryl Gurney reeled off five straight legs from 3-1 down to see off emerging star Dylan Slevin, moving through to play second seed Dirk van Duijvenbode in the last 32.
Josh Payne meets Joe Cullen on Saturday following his 6-3 success against Simon Whitlock, capitalising on a strong start which saw him win the first three legs without reply.
Saturday's double session of action in the £175,000 tournament will see the 16 seeded stars enter the action against the first round winners.
The tournament then concludes on Sunday with the third round in the afternoon session and the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in the evening session.
The tournament is being broadcast live on Viaplay, DAZN and PDCTV (excluding Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and through bookmakers' websites worldwide.
2023 Interwetten European Darts Grand Prix
Friday May 26
Gian van Veen 6-5 Jermaine Wattimena
Madars Razma 6-5 Ritchie Edhouse
Pascal Rupprecht 6-5 Christian Kist
Krzysztof Ratajski 6-3 Graham Usher
Ross Montgomery 6-4 Marko Kantele
Ricky Evans 6-3 Ian White
Keegan Brown 6-3 Marcel Walpen
Martijn Kleermaker 6-4 Alan Soutar
Jose de Sousa 6-5 Nico Kurz
Adam Smith-Neale 6-5 Roman Benecky
Daryl Gurney 6-3 Dylan Slevin
Chris Dobey 6-4 Graham Hall
Steve Beaton 6-5 Ricardo Pietreczko
Raymond van Barneveld 6-3 Liam Maendl-Lawrance
Josh Payne 6-3 Simon Whitlock
Gabriel Clemens 6-4 Lee Evans
Saturday May 27
Afternoon Session (1300 local time, 1200 BST)
Josh Rock v Keegan Brown
Dave Chisnall v Pascal Rupprecht
Ross Smith v Steve Beaton
Ryan Searle v Madars Razma
Rob Cross v Martijn Kleermaker
Danny Noppert v Gian van Veen
Damon Heta v Adam Smith-Neale
Dirk van Duijvenbode v Daryl Gurney
Evening Session (1900 local time, 1800 BST)
Andrew Gilding v Raymond van Barneveld
Nathan Aspinall v Jose de Sousa
Luke Humphries v Chris Dobey
Gerwyn Price v Ricky Evans
Joe Cullen v Josh Payne
Martin Schindler v Gabriel Clemens
Jonny Clayton v Ross Montgomery
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Krzysztof Ratajski