This team is an interesting mix–there are three UK contestants, two Commonwealth contestants from Malta and South Africa, two French contestants, most of the black contestants, and the two “odd” guys who doesn’t fit in the above categories are the reported laid-back “chill” guys from Lebanon and Philippines. They have their share of wins, like in sailing (where they dominate), football (contributed three of the five goals scored against Torquay United all-stars plus four members of this team were among the last six standing in the penalty shootout), comprise a significant chunk of the Top 15 Talent finalists (five, only the Green team had more with six), If they lost in a challenge, typically they’re the team that came in second, like in bowling or tug-of-war.
BAHAMAS – DeVaughn Gow. He might be one of the latecomers, but he has more than made up for it by standing out in the Sports and Talent challenges. He is the individual champion in the sailing portion of the sports challenge, and is co-winner with India in the shot-put. He also made the Top Seven in Talent with his Caribbean-style song-and-dance number. I have a gnawing feeling he’ll be the champion in the Sports challenge and may even make it as far as Top Five. It’s also interesting to note he’s also the most mature of the 46 contestants by age as he’s 28 years old, and it does show in his contestant profile speech below.
ENGLAND – Jordan Williams. He’s attractive in real-world terms but in pageant or modelling terms his looks are rather plain and ordinary. But he more than makes up for that in other aspects as proven on how he aces the challenge events–he made the Top 10 in Extreme Sports, he was second in both bowling and the penalty shoot-out challenges in the Sports challenge, scored two goals against Torquay United all-stars, and is the non-Green Team member who would get to perform his talent in the finale. He is dubbed as a Michael Buble sort of singer, and much respect he does have the chops that he might actually be the Talent winner in the finals. He could’ve been a contender for Multimedia, too, if he didn’t stop updating his profile after the first week–but well, he might make up for that as he’s probably the one responsible for the “Blue Steel” team video, which unlike the other team videos actually integrated the sights of Torquay. He seems like a shoo-in for the finals, and despite better-looking contenders might even go all the way to Top Five.
FRANCE – Thibault Marchand. There are some pageant fans and pundits who deem him a serious contender, but besides contributing to the winning sailing team and the 2nd place tug-of-war, it will be an uphill battle for him to make the final Top Ten.
GUADELOUPE – Borys Marester. I wonder if his unusual white suit that he wore during the D-Day commemoration would make him a possible short-list finalist for Fashion & Style? To be honest, I find this year’s group of black contestants to be rather plain looking (with one exception), but they all delivered something that people should take into serious notice. In his case, besides the white suit, he made the Top 24 in Extreme Sports, contributed to the winning team in the sailing challenge and was part of the second-place tug-of-war team.
LEBANON – Ayman Moussa. At first it seems based on the lack of updates in the earlier days, he may not be as outgoing as his very successful predecessors. But it turns out he’s simply laid back and when the ice is broken he is as engaging as his predecessors. Still, it’s a very competitive group out there, and I fear that the five-edition streak since 2000 could be broken this year. Let’s see if he still has what it takes to charm the judges.
MALTA – Bjorn Demicoli. He is one of the plainer looking contestants, but he has a buff bod and he delivered in the Sports challenge, placing third in the individual sailing challenge thus contributing to the Blue team’s dominance in this round. He seems to also be one of the driving forces to the Blue Steel’s morale.
NIGERIA – Emmanuel Ikubese. He made the Talent finals with his singing (though he had to seek an assist from Ghana for instrumentation), was part of the winning sailing team and second-placed tug-of-war team, and scored a goal against Torquay United all-stars. These are achievements that he can go home and write about whatever the final outcome.
NORTHERN IRELAND – Dwayne-Andrew Kerr. Of the black guys in this year’s group, this for me is the best looking of them all. It’s quite interesting to see a black guy representing this very lily-white country, much less actually speaking in an Irish brogue. But I think it could be properly explained that he was born in Jamaica but was raised in this country. He was part of the winning sailing team and the second-placed tug-of-war team, and is one of the 15 Talent finalists, performing a Bruno Mars song with his guitar on that show. I think he is a possibility for the finals as I think he has humor and charm about him.
PHILIPPINES – John Spainhour. For the longest time I have been mispronouncing his name as “Spain-hoor”. And I started fantasizing legions of men chanting his surname as such and as I visualize the chant, I had visions of ancient gladiators or Greco-Roman soldiers. But then I’m reminded his name is actually prononced like the way the two words that form his name were pronounced–“Spain” and “hour”. As I tried to chant it, I had visions of pirates instead–a less sexy vision, but still very masculine and testosterone-y. It is interestingly coincidental that part of their tour of Torquay involved visiting a pirate ship…
I was convinced he is the best fit to represent our country in this pageant with his superb supermodel looks and background in the US Marines. I was hopeful that he will outdo Andrew Wolff’s 1st runner-up finish. But as the events wore on, little did I realize everyone else is stepping up their game and it is at a much higher standard than last year. I’m still very proud of what he had achieved–he placed 7th overall in the Extreme Sports challenge, he with his roommate England placed 2nd in bowling, he was one of the last six standing in the football penalty shootout (ironic considering our country is lowly ranked in this sport, despite the rising popularity of the Azkals), and contributed to the victorious sailing team and the second-placed tug-of-war team. He will not succeed Andrew Wolff’s mantle as Multimedia king, but I have a feeling he has a major advantage in the Fashion and Style challenge–he looked effortlessly impeccable and elegant during the D-Day Commemoration. It’s still in the realm of possibility that he can win but I’ll be more than pleased if he makes it as far as Top Five. If he wins, it also makes for some delicious trivia–he and the reigning Manhunt International winner, June Macasaet, competed at the 2012 Century Tuna Superbods contest, where John won and June was 1st runner-up.
SOUTH AFRICA – Matthew Cole Fincham. He has an enviable physique, but he also had a pulled hamstring that prevented him from competing in Extreme Sports. But he is fit enough to compete in sailing and tug-of-war that he contributed to their strong showings. But his best chances of making to the final Top Ten is if he can parlay his looks and personality and communication skills to charm the panel of judges and insiders.
SWAZILAND – Bonelelwe Makanya. He is reported to have oodles of personality and brought joy and laughter to his peers. He also had some sterling moments with a 2nd place showing in the sailing challenge, one of the last six standing in the penalty shoot-out, contributing to tug-of-war, and being able to showcase his dancing skills in the Talent finals.
WALES – Michael-Rae Formston. His noteworthy performance thus far was in the Extreme Challenge, where he placed 6th overall despite not being among the ten who competed in the mudflats. He’s actually an attractive guy, but so far his thunder has been overshadowed by England and Northern Ireland.
Before I trot out my leaderboard, I have to note that like last year this is a pretty competitive group–even the perceived weakest links (especially in looks) have redeeming qualities and have delivered their own highlights. I also notice that compared to last year’s group, this group is less wacky, but still a lively band of very likeable blokes/dudes.
Let’s now proceed with my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS; MEXICO, MOLDOVA, NETHERLANDS
SHOO-INS: BAHAMAS, ENGLAND, PHILIPPINES
LIKELIEST: AUSTRALIA, AUSTRIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, DENMARK, INDIA, IRELAND, ITALY, LATVIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, PERU, PUERTO RICO, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, UKRAINE
TALENT FACTOR: CURACAO
FASHION & STYLE FACTOR: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GUADELOUPE
EXCELLENT: ARGENTINA, GHANA, LEBANON, NIGERIA, POLAND, RUSSIA, SWAZILAND, VENEZUELA, WALES
VERY STRONG: BOLIVIA, CANADA, FRANCE, GERMANY, JAPAN, KOREA, MALTA, ROMANIA, SRI LANKA
STRONG: CHINA PR, PARAGUAY, SWITZERLAND, TURKEY
Here is my “Fearful” forecast:
TOP FIVE: ENGLAND, MEXICO, MOLDOVA, NETHERLANDS, PHILIPPINES
TOP TEN: AUSTRIA, BAHAMAS, PERU, SPAIN, UKRAINE
BUBBLING UNDER: AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, DENMARK, INDIA, IRELAND, ITALY, LATVIA, NORTHERN IRELAND, PUERTO RICO, SOUTH AFRICA
STRIKING DISTANCE: ARGENTINA, CURACAO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, GHANA, GUADELOUPE, LEBANON, NIGERIA, POLAND, RUSSIA, SWAZILAND, VENEZUELA, WALES
I foresee that England is likely to win the Talent challenge, Netherlands the Multimedia challenge, Bahamas the Sports challenge, and perhaps Mexico or Philippines for the Fashion & Style challenge to join Moldova in the winners’ circle. Two buddies from the Green Team, Netherlands and Mexico, are likely to duke it out for the title, though England, Moldova, and Philippines could usurp the title from those two. But whatever the case, I salute the brotherhood and camaraderie that has developed amongst the 46 contestants, and I wish all 46 contestants the best!