The world number one is the clear favourite to win a second title at Alexandra Palace but he put in one of the greatest performances of all time to get the better of his Dutch compatriot and friend.
Van Barneveld won the first set 3-0 but while he matched Van Gerwen blow for blow during the opening four sets, he was powerless to prevent him racing to victory, despite averaging 109.
The pair also shared 29 180s, while Van Gerwen missed double 12 for a nine-dart leg as he beat Phil Taylor's previous record of 111.25.
While Wright still averaged 99.83, he could not replicate his previous performances in the tournament and he only remained competitive due to missed doubles from his opponent.
Anderson would end the game with 15 maximums and he will now look to deny Van Gerwen the chance of competing a clean sweep of televised majors this season.