KAZAKHSTAN – Aliya Mergenbaeva. She is highly regarded amongst pageant fans and pundits with her great looks, but she has not figured in any challenge events. Her best hope is that she charmed the judges enough in the interview to secure a Top 20 slot.
KENYA – Evelyn Njambi Thungu. Prior to her arrival, the buzz over who would take the Continental title for Africa tend to veer towards other ladies like South Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria, or even D R Congo. But as the days went on, the one pulling away from the pack is this lady, as she has the Top Five finishes in both Top Model and BWAP (for her campaign against female genital mutilation (formerly called female circumcision). She looks likely to advance to the Top Ten and probably even beyond…
KOREA – “Miriam” Hyun Wang. Koreans with strong English language skills typically did well in this pageant, and this lady fits the bill as she is studying arts at the University of Southern California. She also was among the 37 short-listed for BWAP with her art therapy project. I’m rooting for her to make the final cut and hope there would be room for her even if there are a whole host of Asians who secured their slots already.
KYRGYZSTAN – Perizat Rasulbek Kyzy. She’s raw and unpolished and not figuring in any of the challenge events do not help matters. She’s likely an also-ran.
LATVIA – Linda Kinca. She made the cut in the “homely” challenges, as she made the Sports shortlist for the White Team and her rhythmic gymnastic/contemporary dance routine to Rachel Platten’s 2015 smash hit “Fight Song” gave her a deserving Top Ten finish in Talent. It’s commendable for her that she has already made her mark.
LEBANON – Sandy Tabet. She’s a significant step down from last year’s stunning rep, Valerie Abou Chacra, and with her not figuring in any challenge event, it’s unlikely she’ll make the final cut.
LESOTHO – Rethabile Anacletta Tšosane. Basically plain and unpolished. Enough said.
MALAYSIA – Tatiana Nandha Kumar. There seems to be obstacles to her making inroads in this pageant, like in Multimedia–she doesn’t have the support of her national director, which caused her to not have access to her own Miss World-Malaysia account. Can she make a strong impression in interview to overcome that?
MALTA – Anthea Zammit. Like Croatia, she made a major splash in the “homely” challenge events of Sports and Talent, placing third for the Red Team in the former and making the Top Ten with her contemporary dance inspired by a person she encountered in her BWAP project. We’ll see if that would be enough for her to break the 47-year-long drought since Mary Brincat’s Top 15 finish in 1969.
MAURITIUS – Véronique Allas. Her features are clearly African (instead of Indian as is typical). She’s likely another also-ran as she failed to figure in any challenge event.
MEXICO – Ana Girault. Pageant fans and pundits have rated her as a favorite, though some are wondering if her personality seems a tad over-the-top on some of the Facebook Live videos shown, like during their New York boat cruise. There was also a scandalous release of a risque selfie that she has since reportedly apologized for with the organization. Now, there was talk she was one of the selected few who were granted a second interview–does this mean she made the final cut despite not making the grade in any of the challenge events (unless perhaps she was actually Top Ten in Multimedia, though only the Top Three was announced).
MOLDOVA – Daniela Marin. Her features veer from attractive to raw depending on the angle. For a 17-year-old she seems well-spoken so I think she deserves some credit in the interview round.
MONGOLIA – Bayartsetseg Altangerel. Like Dominican Republic, she’s a veteran of other major pageants (a well-regarded contestant in Miss International 2014 and a highly-regarded Top 16 semifinalist in Miss Earth). It looks like she’s making an even bigger splash here and she is likely to improve on her Miss Earth finish. So far she is the winner of the Talent challenge with her combination of a magic show, calligraphy demonstration and quick-change techniques, was Top Three in Multimedia, and was among the 24 screened (and 37 deliberated upon) for BWAP with her Brothers-and-Sisters Mentorship project. She has already brought forth the Mongolian breakthrough with her Talent win and she seems to go beyond and has her sights to the Top Ten, if not the crown.
MONTENEGRO – Katarina Keković. She’s a worthwhile contender who figured in the Sports challenge under the Blue Team.
MYANMAR – Myat Thiri Lwin. There are a bunch of strong powerhouse Asians this year, and as worthy as she is, she’s easily overlooked.
NEPAL – Asmi Shrestha. Lookswise, most pageant fans and pundits would say stick to India, but she does have an ace with her BWAP project building a classroom for children, which is one of the Top FIve projects.
NETHERLANDS – Rachelle Reijnders. She’s good looking but it seems she’s likely one of the Holly Carpenter candidates as she didn’t make the shortlist in any challenge event.
NEW ZEALAND – Karla de Beer. She’s good looking but her main achievement of note so far was making the Sports shortlist under the White Team.
NICARAGUA – María Laura Ramírez Castillo. She is the sort who would be deemed gorgeous in real-world terms but falls short in pageantry standards. Not making any of the challenge shortlists doesn’t help her cause.
COMING UP: NIGERIA to SOUTH AFRICA