THE INTERNATIONAL Championship began in dramatic style as home favourite Ding Junhui produced a stunning fightback display to avoid a major shock.
Victory for China’s number one star Ding looked far from likely when Mitchell Mann took a surprise 5-2 lead in the preliminary round encounter.
But the Birmingham man was unable to clinch his biggest win yet of his career as the world number six fought back to win the next four frames to earn a place in the first round proper (Last 64).
Ding will next face last year’s surprise UK Championship semi-finalist David Grace.
One of the biggest ranking events in the snooker calendar, the International Championship started today at Daqing , China with the winner set for a huge £125,000 windfall.
Another top star who was made to work hard to clinch a place in the first round was world champion Mark Selby.
Things looked plain sailing for the world number one star when he lead Paul Davison 4-1. But Davison won three of the next four frames to reduce his deficit to a single frame at 5-4.
But Selby, yet to win the International Championship in its four-year history, closed out the tenth frame to seal a 6-4 win.
The other held-over preliminary matches saw defending champion John Higgins thrash Sydney Wilson 6-0 and last week’s English Open winner Liang Wenbo come back from 5-3 down to beat fellow Chinese player Mei Xiwen 6-5.
Elsewhere in the first round proper, Neil Robertson started off in impressive fashion beating Oliver Lines 6-0 while Shaun Murphy turned around a 3-1 deficit to beat Robin Hull 6-4.
World Open winner Ali Carter progressed to the Last 32 with a 6-3 win over Robbie Williams but this season’s Indian Open winner Anthony McGill suffered an early exit after losing 6-3 to China’s Zhou Yuelong.
Monday sees the remaining first round matches take place as Higgins and Selby look to continue their winning ways.
Five times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan meets Xiao Guodong and Judd Trump, winner of the first International Championship in 2012, starts his bid for glory against wildcard entrant Yuan Sijun.
World number two Stuart Bingham will face Zhang Jiankang – another Chinese wildcard player.