Ebdon's last ranking title was the 2009 China Open
World champion Neil Robertson crashed out in the first round of the Shanghai Masters as Peter Ebdon won 5-4.
Both players had chances to win the deciding frame but 2002 world champion Ebdon settled it with a break of 62.
Six-time world champion Steve Davis lost a match which did not feature a 50 break, as Jamie Cope earned a 5-3 win.
Chinese wildcard Mei Xi Wen knocked in a 99 but lost 5-2 to Mark Selby, while seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry was beaten by Martin Gould 5-2.
Ebdon issued a statement at the start of the qualifying phase of the tournament in which he questioned whether he was playing well enough to reach the main draw, but he did so courtesy of a 5-1 demolition of Michael White.
But his match against Robertson was a scrappy affair, littered with missed pots and fouls.
In the decider Ebdon had the first chance but made only eight, then missed an easy black when 44-1 in front, allowing the Australian a good opportunity to steal victory.
But Robertson missed an equally straightforward pink and it was Ebdon who went through to the second round.
The 40-year-old was critical of the table but said: "Any time you beat the world champion, it's an excellent result.
"Usually I like to stroke the balls around but you can't do that on this cloth. Whenever you try to use side, the cue ball gets thrown off. There will be more tactical play this week because we won't be as confident in potting and break-building."
Robertson, who has returned to Australia recently to attend the birth of his first child, admitted he had found sleeping difficult since being in China.
"It's really disappointing," he said. "I've struggled to sleep since I've been here and maybe that's why my record in China is not very good.
"Peter's a tough draw and he had a bit of luck today - sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. It wasn't an attractive game."
In the afternoon session, China's Ding Junhui recovered from a 4-1 deficit to defeat unheralded compatriot Jin Long 5-4.
Former world champion Shaun Murphy also won four frames in a row to recover from 3-1 down against Stephen Lee, and gritty left-hander Mark King beat Joe Delaney 5-3.
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