Defending champion van Gerwen remains on course for his third World Grand Prix title after surviving an early scare before conquering his Belgian opponent.
Huybrechts took the first set 3-1 and forced a deciding leg in the second set but the world number one showed his class, landing a vital maximum, to win what was arguably the game’s pivotal leg.
He then took the third set with the aid of a 160 checkout before taking three legs in set four without reply to book his place in the quarter-finals.
“I’m really glad I won but it wasn’t the performance I wanted and I struggled to hit double top at times,” said van Gerwen, the 2012 and 2014 champion. “I felt fantastic in the practice room but I was a bit nervous when I got on stage.
“I didn’t want to lose and I’m still in the tournament, which is the most important thing. I was annoyed with my own game because I can perform a load better than this but the win will give me confidence.
“I want to retain this title and make this the hat-trick, and I know I can do that.”
van Gerwen will meet Jamie Lewis on Thursday for a place in the semi-finals.