AcadArena's CONQuest comes to Manila with biggest convention line-up to date

Michelle Lojo - Philstar.com
AcadArena's CONQuest comes to Manila with biggest convention line-up to date
AcadArena's CONQuest will be making its first appearance in Manila

MANILA, Philippines — The country's premiere gaming and pop culture festival is finally returning after a two-year hiatus as AcadArena's CONQuest Festival 2022 is set to make its Manila debut on July 23 and 24 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Originating back in 2017 as a high school project back in Iloilo City, the continuous growth of the festival-goers had prompted organizers AcadArena to look at a change in location for its festival.

In an interview with Philstar.com, Chief Operations Officer and AcadArena Co-Founder Justin Banusing, along with Director of Events Peter Pham spoke about the evolution of the event.

"CONQuest started out as my high school graduation project in 2017 with about 700 attendees. Back then it was difficult to get both brands and attendees to join because it was a grassroots student-run production in Iloilo. By 2019, we had grown to exceed the limitations of the Iloilo Convention Center, and [we] were looking at Manila as the next possible location and we all know how 2020/2021 went." recalled recalled Banusing.

Fast track to this year's festival and their team has grown with former volunteers now part of the team as full-time staffers, with team members working remotely from other countries like the United States and Brazil.

But why wait until 2022 and not have a virtual CONQuest during the last two years?

As Pham puts it, events like CONQuest are better experienced live.

"There’s something special about wandering through a row of artists looking for that piece you didn’t know you wanted. Something entrancing about cheering with strangers over [a] mutual love for a game. Something uniquely heartwarming about listening to personal stories in person from people you’ve only seen online. Those feelings are hard to describe and even harder to foster in an online setting," explained Pham.

But even though the festival has been absent for the past two years, it wasn't easy to just plan one for 2022. 

Pham mentioned how the team has been monitoring the different events scene inside and outside the country and how events similar to CONQuest have adjusted to the different health and safety protocols.

"It’s our responsibility as organizers to provide fans with a safe and fun experience," he added.

Additionally, moving the festival from Iloilo to Manila seemed like an immense hurdle as it was their first time establishing a presence in National Capital Region.

"The most challenging thing about CONQuest 2022 is establishing ourselves in Manila (as an event that has historically been produced in Iloilo). There are going to be a lot of eyes on us." added Banusing.

Bigger and bolder CONQuest 2022

This year's festival boasts an array of guests, all big names in the gaming and pop-culture industry.

Headlining the event are Mobile Legend champions and star duo of Blacklist International Johnmar “OhMyV33nus” Villaluna and Danerie James “Wise” del Rosario, known as "V33Wise" fresh from their Southeast Asian Games win in Hanoi.

Genshin Impact stars Anne Yatco, Christian Banas, and Ratana, who all have Filipino heritage, will also make an appearance, along with fellow Genshin Impact voice actress, LilyPichu. 

Also in attendance are popular streamers Kyedae, Tuonto, and Atsu, as well as local casters Uomi, Midnight, Santie, Daks and Riku.

"Each CONQuest was bigger and better than the last, roughly quadrupling in attendance each time in the past three iterations. During the two years that CONQuest took a break, new online communities were born that never got the chance to come together in person. We intentionally invited key figures from these communities (such as Valorant and Genshin Impact), to help bring the fans together. Any event can be “big”, but we wanted to produce something that would make the fans feel that sense of reunion," said Pham on their guest line-up.

And fans have certainly shown their excitement for CONQuest as nine passes have already sold out since ticket selling was opened with roughly a month to go before the festival kicks off.

"It’s not every day a gaming and pop culture convention books out the entirety of SMX. We want to show that we’re here, and we’re serious about play," said Banusing.

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