Britain's Tom Daley topped the Chinese in the men's 10-meter platform diving preliminaries Friday, helped by the highest-scoring dive so far in eight events at the Rio Olympics.
He totaled 571.85 points, earning 103.60 for his forward 4½ somersaults in the fourth round.
The Chinese were in close pursuit.
Qui Bo was second with 564.75, followed by teammate Chen Aisen at 545.35. Qui earned silver four years ago in London, while Daley took bronze.
Qui's fourth dive earned 102.60 points, but Daley followed and bettered him.
"I know I can do my dives like that every single time," Daley said, "so it's a matter of making sure I go out and give it my all tomorrow."
Defending Olympic champion David Boudia of the United States overcame a poor third dive to qualify fourth in 496.55. His legs smacked the water on a front 4½ somersaults tuck and he dropped from second to fifth after receiving the second-lowest score in the round.
China is seeking its seventh diving gold of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. One more would allow the Chinese to match their total from 2008 in Beijing, when they won 7 of 8 golds on home soil.
"The standards were set really high after this event, so I'm not surprised that someone finished above us," Chen said.
The top 18 moved on to Saturday morning's semifinals, when scores don't carry over. The final is later the same night.
Chen began the six-round competition in first. Then Qui took over before Daley replaced him in the top spot after three dives and held it the rest of the way.
Daley received a perfect 10 for his fifth dive, a forward reverse 3½ somersaults. He predicted it would take about 585 points to win gold.
"I'm going to have to sharpen up a few things, like the toe point, just the littlest things that the judges might think was a nine or nine and a half," he said. "You want to make sure they go in there thinking, 'No, that was definitely a 10.'"
American Steele Johnson struggled on his last three dives and barely grabbed the 18th and last spot for the semifinals. He and Boudia earned silver in synchronized 10-meter in Rio.
"That was on my mind a lot," Johnson said. "I kept saying to myself, 'All these people are going to be watching me. What are they going to be thinking? What's going to happen if I do well or if I don't do well?' That was definitely an added sense of pressure that I was putting on myself that I will not come in with tomorrow."