Only two of the twentytwo competitors reached the automatic qualifying mark of 20.50 on their opening throws - defending champion Manuel Martinez of Spain (20.59) and the Birmingham bronze Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine (20.79), the latter ending with the day's best.
Year leader Christian Cantwell of the US, by virtue of a poor start, was forced into taking all three throws, but his final effort of 20.77 was just behind Bilonog's qualifier.
The three throwers immediately behind Cantwell on the season list also advanced but not all without problem. Carl Myerscough of Britain and Paris champion Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus, both at 20.41, easily made it through, but European indoor silver medallist Joachim Olsen of Denmark just squeaked by as part of a three-way log jam at 20.28. The other two at that distance were American Reese Hoffa and Poland's Tomasz Majewski.
Notable non-qualifiers were Hungary's Zsolt Biber (season best 20.81), Rutger Smith of Netherlands (season best 20.75), European bronze medallist Ralf Bartels of Germany (season best 20.66) and three-time outdoor world championship finalist Ville Tiisanoja of Finland (season best 20.59).