Michael Van Gerwen started his quest for a first World Matchplay title in five years with victory over Damon Heta in front of a 2,000 capacity crowd at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
The third seed, who won this tournament in 2015 and 2016, claimed five legs in a row en route to a 10-7 triumph over the Australian debutant.
The Dutchman saw a 3-1 lead evaporate as Heta moved 6-4 ahead, but Van Gerwen returned from the break to take control and reach the second round, where he will face Ian White.
On the return of the fans, Van Gerwen told Sky Sports: “It is amazing. Everyone knows I am a crowd player. I love to interact with the crowd and play my game, it gives me more energy.”
Gary Anderson will face Nathan Aspinall next after beating Stephen Bunting 10-5.
The Scot, winner of the Matchplay in 2018, threw three maximums and averaged 94.42.
Aspinall held off a rousing comeback from Mervyn King to win 10-6 and gain revenge for his defeat in this tournament in 2019.
King reduced the deficit to 7-6 after falling 4-0 behind early on, but Aspinall reeled off three consecutive legs to claim his maiden Matchplay victory at the third attempt.
White beat Daryl Gurney 10-7 in a thriller in the opening match of the night.
The Northern Irishman won three legs in a row to fight back from 8-3 down and produced a 121 finish, his fourth ton-plus checkout, to stay in the game at 9-7.
But White held off Gurney’s comeback, taking out double six to eliminate the 14th seed.