With Olympic champion Matt Mitcham back in action after two years of injury problems and home favourite Tom Daley, who beat Qiu to win the 2009 world title, in career-best form, the spotlight had fallen on the 19-year-old Chinese competitor.
Qiu responded by easily qualifying in first place from tonight's first round with a score of 563.70 while his rivals faltered.
Daley survived a major shock as he left it until his final dive to qualify in 15th - some 115.25 behind Qiu - while Mitcham was ninth.
David Boudia, who finished second to Qiu at last year's World Championship, progressed by even finer margins as he sneaked the final place on offer for tomorrow morning's 18-man semi-final.
Daley, 18, said afterwards: 'I've done my job today but not by the most comfortable of margins. But I'm through to tomorrow and tomorrow's another day.'